I do not own the X-Men, Marvel does, just barrowing them for the hell of it, no profit intended.

A Need for Love

Do me wrong, do me right,
Tell me lies but hold me tight,
Save your goodbyes for the morning light,
But dont let me be lonely tonight.

Say goodbye and say hello,
Sure enough good to see you, but its time to go,
Dont say yes but please dont say no,
I dont want to be lonely tonight.

Go away then, damn you,
Go on and do as you please,
You aint gonna see me gettin down on my knees.
Im undecided, and your hearts been divided,
Youve been turning my world upside down.

Do me wrong, do me right (right now baby),
Go on and tell me lies but hold me tight.
Save your goodbyes for the morning light (morning light),
But dont let me be lonely tonight.
I dont want to be lonely tonight.
No, no, I dont want to be lonely tonight.

I dont want to be lonely tonight. - James Taylor

It was around 8:30 pm and all was quiet in Charles Xavier's Institute for Higher Learning, except for in the Rec room. Logon was peering over his hand of cards at a frowning Warren who was sitting across from him. On his right was Bobby, grinning like a Cheshire cat, trying to make out like he had a killer hand. On his left was Pyslock who sat with a quiet smile on her face. Wolverine growled with inpatients.

"Wings! Starring at yer cards ain't gonna change em'. You want that hit er what?" A puff of cigar smoke came billowing out from behind the cards as he cocked an eyebrow.

"Yes...No! I...Damnit I fold!" Arc Angle threw his cards down in angst.

"Wooooweeee! Smart decision goldy locks, cuze I'm about to beat the paints off 'a Wolvie and Bets' here."

"That would be highly unlikely Ice man considering you only have a pair of 7's to my pair of Jack's." Betsy smiled and lay down her cards with a wink.

"What! She cheated! That's why you should never let a telepath play poker!" Bobby sulked as he slammed down his cards.

"Chill out Popsicle! It doesn't take a physic to know what your holding. I can read you like a comic book." With that Logan lay down his full house and smirked. "But, Betsy darlin, for a ninja telepath you ain't that stone faced either." Wolverine sighed, "It just ain't as fun with out Gambit. You never know what that Cajun's got up his sleeve."

"Speaking of Gambit, anyone know where he is?……He took off yesterday morning after the danger room practice and hasn't been back since." Bobby asked allowed to the whole room of X-men.

Bishop and night crawler were on the couch watching "I love Lucy", and reacting in very different ways. Kurt was laughing while the time traveler was frowning.

"What is so amusing about this whinny, annoying red head?" He asked in a gruff voice.

"Come now Bishop, I think I speak for us all when I say Jean Gray is neither whinny nor annoying." Hank was sprawled out on the carpet in front of them reading some science magazine.

"Thank you Henry." Jean said in an overly serious tone.

"That's right Bishop, and don't you forget it!" Scott added hiding his smile.

"Cyclops, Phoenix, I" Bishop began before hearing the chuckles, huffing he turned back around.

Jean and Scott were sitting together watching Colossus as he carefully sketched Kitty Pryde who was posed in her X-men costume. The drawling would be a present for her grand mother. Peter looked up then sighed in frustration.

"Kitty please! I can not drawl you if you insist on moving."

"Uhgh! Ok but can you hurry up, my arms are getting tired."

Near by Ororo was drinking lavender tea and reading a book of poems by Mya Angelo. She looked up when first hearing Bobby's question about Remy. The truth was she her self was beginning to worry about him. She could sense his dark mood as of late and knew more then the others, about his methods of coping. How he berried himself in the empty offerings of sex, drugs and alcohol, dispirit to fill the loneliness inside him with something, anything that remotely resembled affection, even if only for a moment. Cyclops's voice broke through Storm's thoughts.

".Storm?…………..Did Gambit mention to you were he was going."

"No Scott, I am afraid he did not."

"Well he must have told some one. Has any one heard from Gambit?" Cyclops turned on his commander and chief voice that he used on missions.

Every one got quiet and turned to Rouge who hadn't said a word. She was leaning over the pool table aiming at the eight ball, trying her best to look unconcerned. Suddenly she felt all eyes on her, she glanced up at Sam who just shrugged his shoulders as he leaned on the other pool cue waiting for his turn.

After a few moments she sighed and rolled her eyes.

"No, I ain't got the slightest idea where the Swamp Rat ran off to…… Side's," She added sinking the ball, "He's probably just off with some Flusey and lost track o' time." With that she took her last swig of beer. And left the room.

Every one remained quiet for a moment, before Wolverine spoke.

"Guess their on the out's again." He said in a nonchalant tone before setting down his cards and pulling all the chips in the middle toward him. "That'd explain why he's been sulking around here past few days like his favorite dog just got run over."

Well if he's up for auction, then I'm willing to put up a bid! Betsy smiled seductively as she projected her thoughts to the other three women in the room.

"Meow!" Kitty said in agreement, giggling.

"I second that!" Jean said winking at Psylock.

"What? Second what?" Cyclops asked confused. "Did I miss something?"

"Nothing of importance Scott." Storm chuckled.

"Speak for your self wind rider." Betsy chimed in. Now all the women were laughing, while the men looked at each other for clues.

"I do not comprehend." Bishop said in his always serious tone.

"Nor do I. But then, sometimes Bishop, there are things that are not meant for us mere men to understand." Beast surmised with a smile.

"Yeah, like women!" Bobby scoffed.

"Amen to that." Logan added.

"Excuse me heir Logan, but I believe that is my job." Nightcrawler chimed in.

Every one gave a little chuckle then went back to what they were doing. All except for Storm who looked down at her book but was unable to concentrate. She was afraid for Remy. Afraid he would once again fall back into his care free ways that always led to self destructive behavior. Afraid of his willingness to let others use him just to receive some form of approval or praise. Ororo knew his stubborn independence, and that cocky, do as I please facade was all an act. That deep down he yarned for some one to take care of, and to take care of him. She knew how much he envied Scott and his relationship with Jean, but even more so his relationship with the Professor. Remy had always been egger to please, but had determined early on in his life that he was no good at it, worthless, and so decided to stop trying, even to go out of his way and annoy others just to prove he didn't need or want their approval, that he lived his life on his own terms. So instead of seeking love and affection from those he would call his friends, he sought it from all the wrong people in all the wrong places and all the wrong ways.

"How desperately lonely you must be my friend………To hid your heart from those who care most for you, Only to offer it instead to those who care for nothing but the pleasure of your flesh." Storm sighed, she supposed he felt safer that way. Having ones heart trampled on by strangers was bound to hurt less then having it crushed by friends and loved ones. If Rouge only knew how much pain she inflicted on him, and how harmful it was for his mental health, perhaps she would stop playing her little games, stringing him along and raising his hopes, just to let him fall. It angered her to know end but she was at a loss at how to explain it to Rouge with out betraying her friend's confidence.

"What was that?" Cyclops turned toward Storm who had absent mindly, spoken out loud.

"Hmmm,….excuse me?" She looked up a little flustered.

"You said something about a lonely heart and pleasure?" Bobby looked over at her from the card game, as did the others.

"Oh,…..I…..was simply musing on one of the poems….That's all." She smiled sadly to herself as they turned back to separate conversations. Except for Wolverine, who locked eyes with Ororo in a knowing stare. One that communicated in silence that he knew who she was talking about and what she was referring to. Storm folded in his stare, her forehead crinkled in concern, and her eyes betraying her deep sadness. Logan sighed and put out his cigar, raising an eyebrow and gesturing his head toward the door. She nodded and closed her book, leaving it on the table as she left the room. A moment latter Wolverine fallowed, their exit barley noticed, but for Jean who had picked up on their wordless communication and the soft vibrating concerns that lingered even after they were gone.

Curios and slightly troubled she too headed for the door.

"Jean where are you going?" Scott rose up after her.

"Just for a breath of fresh air, I'll be back." She smiled.

"I'll go with you." He stretched.

"Yes,…it is a lovely night let us go for a walk." Beast rose as well.

"Actually I…." She began.

"Well I'm coming,…..this game sucks any way!" Bobby slammed down his cards.

"You only say that when your losing Robert." Betsey grinned.

"Where shell we walk to,…around the lake?" Night crawler suggested.

"I was gonna start my rounds any how." Bishop added.

"No,…..I just wanted to clear my head,….I'll be back in a moment." Jean tried not to sound frustrated.

"There I am finished!……Now we may accompany the other's on their walk." Peter sighed handing the drawling to kitty.

"My hips aren't that big!" She protested.

"NO!" Jean half yelled in Frustration. Every one turned to her in surprise. "I mean, you all go ahead with out me,….I, I'm going to lay down, I have a head ache." She walked hurriedly out the door, before they could say another word.

She could sense Storm and Wolverine near by, down the hall and around the corner. Their voices were muffled but their thoughts were clear. They were discussing Gambit. She edged around the corner casually not wanting to appear as if she was eves dropping.

"I have seen him like this before when we first met. We were both so young, I, a child and he a youth not yet 21.……..I remember being captivated by his presence, and in aw of his unique skills, as well as his mastery of thieving. He was confidant to say the least, if not arrogant, so full of life and passion, it made a young girl's heart swoon." Storm smiled fondly at the memory. But then sighed as if coming to terms with the truth. "But,…behind those laughing devil eyes, and that smile that could cure cancer, was a scared little boy, desperately hiding himself from the world, a world that had shown him love only in the most cruel and sadistic sense of the word……..He once told me that, "People only love you if you have something to offer.…..So he became adept at offering himself to others,…allowing them to use him to suite whatever purpose they thought he had. He knew the Thieves had prophesized that he would unite the guilds, that even after he was adopted, he was just being used. And as he fell in love with Bella Donna, he knew well not to trust it, not to hope it would last." They both turned to see Jean Standing a few feet away sheepishly.

"Your worried about Gambit,……about him going out at night. About what he's doing and how it will effect him in the long run." Jean's voice was calm and sympathizing.

"It already has." Wolverine grunted.

"Oh Jean!…..I can't tell you how many times he left for days, only to return to our apartment's and condo's completely intoxicated and strung out, exhausted from endless parties and meaningless sex…….He would just climb in the shower for hours, until the water was so cold I thought he would freeze…….Most of the time I would have to turn off the water and wrap him in a towel, dragging him into bed, holding him as he shivered……He longed for his family, for his wife. He was so lonely…….I think that is part of the reason he took me under his wing. He wanted some one to care about, to give his life meaning…..He was so protective of me,…..like a brother." Storm closed her eyes as a tear fell.

"He knew he was screwed up and didn't want you turning out the same way." Wolverine surmised. She nodded in agreement.

"That is why I brought him here!……Because he disserved a second chance, a family to count on, to love and be loved……….And it worked,…..for a while. The dream gave his life new meaning, and our love,……..Rouge's love, gave him hope…..But every time she rejects him,……..or the team question's his loyalty,……it leaves him utterly devastated,…..and he falls back on what he knows,……..running away from us and into the beds of complete strangers…….Drinking away his misery and clinging to the first warm body willing to hold him…….But their embrace is never long, so he finds another and another,…….until he's surrounded by people who only want one thing……..they take his body and he sacrifices his soul." Storm was almost in tears.

"Ororo,……you make it sound as though he hopes into bed with anyone that will have him,………even………….men." Jean's face was shocked and her words whispered.

"He dose darlin!………More then once he's come home reeking of cheep booze and sex with more people then I could count………..Always figured it weren't my place tah judge……But lately I can tell it's getting worse……..The people he's been screwing are getting scummier by the minute,…..and if we don't talk some sense inta him soon, he's gonna catch something nasty." Wolverine wrapped a reassuring arm around Ororo.

"We could have a team meeting,…….like an intervention." Jean suggested half heartedly.

"Yhea right!…….The kid would be out of here fast enough tah make your head spin……Plus, no offense Red,…….but I saw that look of disgust you made…..Most of the X-Men are pretty strait laced,……probably can't even imagine a life like the Cajun's had……..how do you think ol' Ctke is gonna react if you tell him Gambit's off suckin dick and smokein crack to help him cope with living life on the right side of the tracks." Wolverine snorted.

"I have to admit,…….all of this has quite taken me by surprise…….I never would have thought,………never could have dreamed that Remy's persuasion was so……….lose." Jean looked away embarrassed.

"That is because none of you understand!" Storm pushed away in anger and frustration. "Remy loves women,…..loves being in love, loves the act of making love!……..But Sex,……that's different…….For him sex is not about passion or even lust,…….it's about distraction…Something to take his mind off of his loneliness, and provide him with a quick fix. He doesn't revile in the climax of sex,……..he just needs the human contact, to know that some one cares, even if it is only for his body………Don't you see Jean,…..he's so dispirit for love and affection,……that who he sleeps with dose not mater,…….only that they have accepted him." Storm whipped tears from her eyes.

"Your right…….I don't understand,…….and I'm afraid the others wouldn't either…….do you Logan?" Jean looked to Wolverine in confusion.

"Darlin,…..I have been on this earth a long time, and I seen a lot of things that just don't make no sense……The way I figure it,.…all a body can do in this big bad ol' world in try tah survive…..The Cajun had tah learn that lesson the hard way and younger then most…..It don't bother me who he sleeps with,……..just the reason's he's doing it ain't right…..But how's he gonna know any different when that's all he's been taught…….Don't think it makes him any less a man,……….he just needs our help is all." Wolverine shrugged and crossed his arms.

"The real problem is how do we explain to Rouge the damage she is causing without betraying Remy……..I just don't know if she'll understand." Storm sighed.

"Understand what?….What damage have I done tah that no good, two timing, son of a thief?……..He's probably out their right now,……..seducing some other poor girl and braking her heart!" Rouge huffed as she put her hands on her hips. "He's always declaring his love fer me but he can't keep his damn paints zipped up!" Her voice boomed and the other X-Men were soon gathered in the hall.

"Oh Rouge!….You foolish, naive child!……It is you who drives him away when all he wants,….all he needs is your love and understanding." Storm's voice boomed back and out side lighting filled the sky.

"LOVE!…..Ha!…He don't even know the meaning of the word!" Rouge stammered.

"OF COURSE HE DOSE NOT!…….He has spent his entire life being used and abused by those who clam to love him…….And you are only helping to continue the cycle!" Ororo spate in anger. The other X-Men looked back and forth from one to the other, well aware of who they were speaking of.

"Look Suga!…I know you care about Remy but that don't give you the right tah go blabbing our business tah the whole team!" Rouge was hovering in the air, fists clenched.

"I am not the one airing out dirty laundry for the whole team!…It is you and your constant need for attention that has drawn such a crowd." Storm was also in the air now and the other's were on their toes, ready to brake up the fight before the whole mansion could be destroyed.

"Ladies,...If you please!….." Beast began but was cut off.

"Attention!….Well I think your just Jealous!" Rouge sneered.

"Jealous?.…. of you!" Storm's beautiful face turned to disgust.


"You are nothing more then a spoiled little brat who treats a good man like a toy ……Stringing him along only to crush him!…….Using him as a trophy,…. Hanging his heart on the wall, just to throw darts at it when you get board!" Storm's voice was low, but her eyes were white and her hair was blown back.

"Your Jealous because Remy loves me instead of you!…….You've always loved him!" Rouge pounded the air instead of the wall.

"Both of you!….That's enough!" Cyclops tried to sound firm but it came out too gentle.

"Your right!…..I do love him, as a brother!….and that is why I cannot stand to see what you are doing to him!………He dose love you Rouge,……with every ounce of his soul……But he is not perfect! No one is! And every time he doesn't live up to your damned Romance novels,…..you punish him for it!……As if he dose not have enough shame in his life, you continue to add insult to injury!……..He tries to be perfect for you!…..For the X-Men! Live up to the pedestal we have put him on!……..But when he can't quit make it, and he falls off,……..who is their to catch him?…….You?….You turn away and cry! As if his need for help is some how an insult directed at you. And the X-Men….." She turned her rage on to her team mates. "We scorn him for his efforts!…..Telling him he's not good enough,….not worthy of the prestigious title we give him as an X-Man…..Can't you see how hard he tries to please us!……..How scared he is to fail us or let us down?" Storm's voice turned from anger to dispirit pleas. "I know you don't understand him,…..but after all how can you?….How can you understand someone who has lived his life in a world so different from our own? A world of Thieves and assassins, Pimps and Drug dealers, junkies and whores. A world were survival means at any coast…..This is the reality he grew up in,…..the obstacles he faced as a child!……He was picking pockets and sleeping in abandon buildings while others were playing with toys and resting their heads on clean linen……He was learning to fight while we were learning to read! He was selling his body when………" She gasped and tears filled her eyes. "Oh Remy…….. I'm sorry!" She fell to her knees and covered her mouth. Wolverine knelt down next to her, stroking her hair.

"Wait!……Did she just say…."

"Can it Ice cube!" Logan growled.

"But she said he sold….."

"I said can it or I'm carving Ice!" He drew his claws. They all stood in silence for what seemed and like an eternity. Each full of questions, but weary of Wolverine's claws. Just as Rouge was about to speak, they heard the failure roar of Gambit's Harley in the drive way. Storm quickly scrambled to her feet and they all held their breath as the sound of the engine died. They turned toward the front door, unsure what to expect. Slowly the front door opened, and a most inebriated Cajun stumbled inside. He was wearing ripped up blue jeans and black boots, the laces untied. His black shirt was tucked in his back pocket, and his brown Trench coat hung open, revealing a smooth, muscular chest covered in bite marks and hickies. His shoulder length hair was hanging over his exhausted face and a cigarette protruded from his puffy bruised lips. He shut the door gently and looked up slightly surprised at the gathering of X-Men that stood about thirty feet away from him. He leaned back against the door casually smoking his cigarette, his blurred demonic eyes searching their faces for clues as to what was going on. After a moment he had a fair idea of what had transpired.

"Meard!……….Knew I shouldn't have come home." He laughed bitterly at his choice of words. He opened the door and flicked the bud outside, then turned back around, a wild grin grew on his face. "Well,……..ain't ya gonna ask me what mischief I been up to?…….What criminal and deviant acts I been performing?…….What sexual misconduct I been engaging in?" His speech was slurred but his words were clear. They answered him with silence, unsure of what to say. "Don't you care?" For a moment sadness was apparent in his voice, but then quickly turned hard as steel. He laughed again and santure forward, stumbling yet still remarkably graceful and fluid. He stopped short a few feet away swaying where he stood. A certain look lit up his face, one of seduction and sex appeal, he was in a playful mood, still drunk and a little high.

"Well?…..Cyclops, where is my lecture!……..After all,….I been a very, very naughty boy!…Taken off and not paying you no never mind!……Simply shameful!……….It shows blatant disrespect for your authority,…wouldn't you agree?" Remy's tone was suggestive, his head tilted in a flirt, lips curled seductively. He bit his lip like a shy child and pushed his hands deep into his front pockets, lowering his hip hugger jeans so the slightest hint of hair peaked threw. Storm breathed a painful sigh as the others stared at him speechless, unable to deny their attraction to him and feeling confused by it. Cyclops's eyes were wide beneath his visor, unsure how to react.

"Remy, please!…….that's enough!" Storm's tone was hushed and her eyes were pleading. His smile faded as the response he wanted refused to come. He studied them closely for a moment, annoyed at their continued silence. When his patients finally ran out, he turned to Rouge. "Well,…Chere?…..Ain't you gonna tell me that I'm a no good, worthless t'ife?….A lying sac of shit?" His eyes flared from beneath his mop of hair. He grabbed her solders and shook hard, and her eyes grew wide, emerald green. "Ain't none of ya got nothing tah say tah moi?" The question was filled with a torrent of emotions. His eyes looked at them cold and distant. "Fine!…..I'm goin tah bed!" He released Rouge and stumbled toward the stares. Every one of them were racking their brains for words to say, a way to smooth the situation.. But really, they were caught up in their own confusion, unsure how they felt. It was Wolverine who broke the silence, his gruff voice sounding like sandpaper.

"I know where ya been Gumbo!……We all do!……..You reek of cheep liquor and sex!………Smells like you got fucked by half the scum of New York!" His tone was stern but not judgmental. The others gazed at one another, jaws dropped, shocked at his bluntness. Gambit slowed to a halt, raising his head he turned back toward his team mates, a smile masked his face.

"Qui,…….Woulda got tah de other half tonight but I ran out of crystal and I jus' ain't as young as I use to be!" He sneered and continued toward the stares.

"You couldn't do it cause it made you sick inside!…….Made your skin crawl!" Logan kept his voice low and neutral. This time the young Cajun jerked around in frustration, his eyes burning with rage.

"What you know about it homme!…ehe?……What makes you t'ink you got any idea how I feel!" His accent came out stronger as his anger built.

"I know that you going out at night and crawling inter the gutter, taking whatever god awful drugs are shoved your way…..letting who ever do what ever to ya, ain't making things any better, only worse!" He stepped forward his arms crossed, walking up to the young man. Gambit was breathing heavy threw his nostrils, teeth grinding.

"It be my own damn business Logan,…..and none of yours!" He snapped, eyes glowing.

"Then why are you so eager fer us tah ask you unless you plane on sharing?" Logan cocked an eye brow. Remy opened his mouth then stopped, at a loss for what to say. "I'll tell you why!" He edged closer to the Cajun, grabbing him by the collar of his jacket. "You wanna shock us,…..disgust us!……Make us push you away so you don't have too!……Well not this time bub!…….We're on to you!…….Can see threw that bull shit grin you always wear!……….Common kid! Admit it, your hurtin in side and the only way you know how tah deal is by getting wasted and fucking till you pass out!" Logan was inches away from his face, their eyes locked. Remy stared back in defiance, but then his shame and embarrassment took hold and his eyes dropped.

7"Gotta go take a shower now………gotta get clean." He whispered.

"No amount of water can make you clean Remy!…….You…….You…….whore!" Rouge cried out, tears racing down her face. Logan released Remy and growled angrily at Rouge.

"Now ain't the time Darlin!" He barked at her.

"Whore!………What you know girl?………What you know 'bout sex, ehe?………Nothing!……Not a God damn t'ing!" Gambit drunkenly shouted back.

"Remy!,……Please!" Storm walked up to him, setting her hands on his shoulders.

"She don' understand!……She can' understand!" He whispered in despair, his anger turning to grief.

"Your Goddamn right I don't understand!……….You clam tah love me!…..Telling me I'm your heart!……..You lying cod fish!…….You sharp tooth gaiter!" She wailed in angst.

"Rouge!……..Leave him be!……Let him explain himself in the morning." Jean interjected, sympathizing with them both.

"No, Rouge's right!……..He can't be in love with her and able to have sex with other people." Bobby frowned.

"Robert,….it would be wise if we refrained from further unnecessary involvement In this already complex issue." Beast rest a hand on his friends shoulder.

"Fuck you Bobby!….You don' know shit!" Remy spat drunkenly as he pushed away from Storm.

"I know that you're a cocky, arrogant prick, who thinks he's God's gift to the world!" Bobby glared.

"God damnit Popsicle,…learn tah keep yer trap shut!" Logan snarled.

"I ain't God's gift,……I be de Devils!" Gambit's demonic eyes were filled with resentment. "Got his eyes,….got his charm,……and damned to his fate!…….Falling from grace,……….forever!" Their was a bitter sadness in his voice mixed with hate.

"Don't you give me that self pity bullshit Gambit!…….So what you've had a tuff life!….You disserve every thing you get!" Bobby said coldly.

"Oui Bobby!….….….We finally agree on something!…….But de last person I wanna here it from is a strait lace square like you!…….Hatched in de suburbs and raised on your family night board games and granny's apple pie!…….Your half a shade darker den "Leave it tah Beaver!" His tone was laced with bitter resentment and a tint of envy.

"What, so now I'm the Freak?………..You're the one with the problems Cajun, not me!" Bobby spate.

"Bobby that's enough!" Scott interjected. "Gambit!…….Go upstairs and get cleaned up,……..we will talk about this in the morning when your sober."

"Non!…….You don' order me around,……..I be my own man!" Gambit backed away.

"Why?…….Cuz now you fuck for free instead of sellin it?" Rouge's tone was low and sharp, her words burned him like acid. "I'm sure after so many years of practice you're a real pro, a fist class fuck!" She hissed, with a bitter smile twisted with resentment. Remy tensed as he looked into her eyes and saw that she knew. All his shame that he had forced behind him, along with the painful memories of lustful hands, harsh and unyielding, grabbing at his sensitive young body, forcing sex upon a child to desperate to fight back. Rouge's own expression softened when those fiery, passionate eyes she was so accustomed to, suddenly looked lost and scared and so filled with pain it took her breath away. He slowly turned to look at Storm, whose tearful eyes and hand covered mouth were enough to verify that Rouge knew, that they all knew. He suddenly felt cold inside, wiriness soaking into his bones as a nauseating sickness threatened to overwhelm him. With out another word, he turned toward the door his tear-filled eyes fixed dead ahead, his balance barely able to keep him up. He staggered toward the door, dispirit to get away, but the pain and the hurt was so heavy that it weighed him down. The room was spinning as visions of the trauma's of his youth flashed before his eyes. In the back ground he could hear his team mates calling to him.

The door flew open as he leapt down the stares and into the grass. Falling to his knees, his body began to contract and he violently heaved, his head throbbed as he emptied the alcohol from his stomach. One hand on the ground holding him up, and the other gripping his stomach. It was several moments before he could feel her there, behind him, holding back his hair with one hand as she wrapped the other arm around his chest, pressing her warmth against his shaking body the way she had done so many times before. Storm knelt behind him, holding him firmly as he threw up. Her touch was soft and comforting but her eyes were cold as ice, glaring at those who stood in the doorway and on the steps. Were they happy now? To see the cocky, arrogant Cajun brought to his knees, humbled by the shame of his tortured child hood! Sickened and disgusted by the feel of his own skin! Fools! Heartless, bitter fools! Ororo's thoughts were so severe and so filled with emotion that Jean could not help but hear them. She winced at their strength then projected them to the others, deciding they all disserved the scorn.

Wolverine descended the stairs and stopped a few feet away from Remy who had finished vomiting. Logan crouched down and handed him a handkerchief.

"Ya feel better now Gumbo?" His voice held concern but not pity, compassion instead of disgust. Remy opened his wet eyes and looked up at Logan with confusion mixed with gratitude.

"Qui." He choked out as he wiped his mouth with the bandana. Slowly, he gathered himself and rose to his feet with some assistance from Storm and Wolverine. After a few sobering breaths, he turned sharply toward his team mates, his red yes narrowing in on Rouge, who stood like a statue, caught in his demonic gaze. He smiled a sly, bitter twist of his lips as he headed toward her, his steps deliberate. Still half drunk, he let his shame and humiliation subside, and give way to a sort of hostel hummer, one that had helped him before in such circumstances. The expression that decorated his face was one of, "Fuck you, eat shit." And he wore it as naturally as his usual shit eating grin.

"So, now you know!…….Qui Rougie,…..I was a whore,…..according to you, still am,…..and was a damn good one too!……..Hell, by eight I gave better head den most women I been wit', and we already established dat be quite a few!" He sneered at the shock on her face as he lit up a cigarette, inhaling deep, the much needed nicotine. "Matter o' fact,……by eight, I had been passed around more times den de money I was making." He laughed, a cold, uncaring laugh. "Fagan always said I was a natural born whore, wit a face pretty 'nough fo' a strait man tah fuck!…..Said I was jus' as good on mah hands and knees as I was at picking pockets." His smile grew as his team mates shifted uncomfortably, Rouge's eyes began to tear. "What?……You don' wanna hear no more?" His tone turned angry as he stepped closer, his face inches from her own. "You don' wanna know what it felt like?….Tah have your body torn apart night after night?…….Throat too sore to swallow food,………cold hands gripping at your flesh, rubbing and pinching, and scratching and spanking, till your body's numb wit pain, and all you can do is cry cause you need de money and if you don't do as your told den you get beat fo' being worthless!……..Is dat what ya wanted to know?" His voice had been steadily rising, and his hands began to glow. Rouge was in tears now and she shook her head, unable to form words. His voice became quiet but stern, his own fiery eyes dulled and glazed over. "Den don' ask!" With that he turned a way and headed for his bike.

He hesitated for only a second, then took off for the garage not wanting to see that all too familiar look in their eyes, the one that drove him away, the look of disgust. A moment later he sped away as fast he could, leaving his friends in shocked silence. As the roar of his motor faded off into the distance, they were broken from their trance like state when a painful sob erupted from deep inside Rouge's chest, bringing her to her knees as she cried out to the man she loved and the man she hurt. Before Cyclops could even form a clear thought of what to do, Logan spoke up.

"I'll keep an eye on em'!" He grunted as he headed to the garage for his own ride. He was on his bike and down the drive way after Gambit in the course of a few seconds. They watched him go, still numb and confused. Storm looked over to the ground were Remy had just gotten sick. A few feet away was his black tee-shirt, that had fallen out of his pocket. With a heart felt sigh, and a tear, she picked up the shirt, damp with sweat and spilled liquor, torn nearly in half as if some vicious animal had ripped it from his body. With an angry stare of ice she looked down at Rouge, still sobbing on the ground, Bobby and Kitty kneeling beside her offering comfort. Storm headed toward the front door, thronging the shirt at the grieving women with a look of contemned. As she surmounted the steps, she could feel the eyes on her back.

"Where do you think he is going?" Scott asked in a humble voice.

" Back to the dens of iniquity he had just escaped from. Back to the mind numbing substances that will help him not to think, not to care." She continued up the steps and paused at the door." And into the beds of strangers instead of the arms of friends……….I should never have brought him here,……..I had hoped to offer him a family,…instead I gave him heart brake and shame……..he is better off in the gutter with the rats, then at home in the lion's den, waiting for us to pounce and rip him apart!" her voice broke and a sob escaped her lips as she hurried through the door. Jean ran after her, the rest only looked helplessly at one another and at Rouge who's tears were still flowing.

The wind blew his tears dry before they could leave his eyes, as he raced away from the mansion and towards the city. Gambit knew Logan was fallowing him but he didn't care, not even Wolverine would have the stomach to fallow him into the pit he was headed to. He had only been there once, and still had scares from that visit. It was the most sleazy, rundown, deviant sex club he had ever been to, at least in this city, and he hoped what ever pain he would receive their would be enough to drive away the anguished cry that was threatening to escaped his lips. The drugs would help, let him forget, even if for only a moment. He needed to get away, from the X-Men, from their looks of disgust and pity, from his shame and guilt. He wanted all to be gone, to be over, he wanted to escaped. The pressure of always doing the right thing, of knowing they were just waiting for him to make a mistake so they could be rid of him, just like the thieves. He was tired of trying to live up to their expectations, of trying to guess what to do. He failed time and time again, bringing only pain to the woman he loved. And now she was lost to him, disgusted by what she saw beneath the mask. She found out that her Prince Charming was a fraud, a frog in disguise.

Those thoughts were enough to drive him insane and he raced faster as he saw the lights of the city, half hoping to crash his bike and end it all for good. Wolverine saw him pulling away and increased his own pace, wary of how easy it would be for either man to lose control, especially Gambit who was still not completely sober. Logan could guess where he was headed and felt a pang of dread in his stomach. The Cajun was hurting so bad, he could smell the salt of Remy's tears through the racing wind. If only he could catch him, keep him from diving head first into the cesspool of scum he was headed for. Gambit was a stubborn man, especially when it came to condemning himself, so sure that he wasn't worth the effort of saving, it made Logan sick. That was why the Cajun was so care free and reckless, he had a death wish, but not the conviction to carry it out. So instead he just took pointless risks, performing dangerous stunts, not caring if he survived as long as he had a cheap thrill. It was all he could hope for, the only satisfaction he would allow himself. He had decided long ago that he wasn't worth the love others offered him, only the hate. He let people use him because he didn't think he had the right to say no.

Remy raced into the city and down the countless blocks deeper and deeper into the areas no man felt safe. Then he stopped short, tires squealing as he turned down an ally, parking his bike behind a dumpster before knocking on a back door, painted green with rust spots. A slot in the door shifted open and two blue eyes peeked through at the restless man with the devil eyes. Remy had placed on his sunglasses and looked up, jaw locked.

"Why do the birds fly south?" The man behind the door grunted.

"To escape winters icy breath." Remy mumbled in a hushed tone, aware Logan was probably near by. The door opened and he stepped inside, vanishing down the dark hall tinted red, and down the narrow stare case to another door were a woman dressed in back leather, with more piercing' then one could count stood waiting. She put an e pill on her tong and grabbed Remy's crouch hard, squeezing until he moaned in pain, then forced her tong in his mouth, delivering the e-pill. He swallowed the drug then broke his embrace and shoved a twenty down her paints, his finger grazing her pubic hair. He left her smiling as she licked her lips, then walked through the door.

Logan parked his bike next to Remy's then fallowed his noise to the green door. He banged three times before the slit opened.

"Why do the birds fly south?" The voice came with the icy eyes.

"Cuz it's fucking cold!……Now let me in or I'll carve up your turkey ass and serve it on a platter!" Three long daggers extended from his knuckles as the blue eyes grew wide. The door was unlocked and the man stepped aside for the shorter, fierce Wolverine. Logan sniffed then fallowed the scent down the hall way and stares to the pierced woman, who stuck out her tong with the e-pill ready. "Sorry darlin, I don't kiss broads with more metal in their body then me!" he grunted as he shoved past her and through the door. Instantly he felt overwhelmed by the intense sexual musk of hormones and sweat. His ears were assaulted by blaring music with enough base to vibrate his bones and the painful cries and moans of the sexual deviants. He focused his eyes in the dark room glancing around at the naked or leather clad bodies, gagged and tied up, whipped and electrocuted, fucked and fucking. He felt sick as the scents and sounds ran strait to his crouch, peaking his arousal. He shook his head, regaining his composure, and made his way through the sea of bodies, to a back room. There much to his dismay, was Gambit, kneeling on a bed, hands tied behind him, naked with a ball gag in his mouth. Their were people all around him, men and women with lust in their eyes, hungry for his beautiful body. Two women were in front of him, stroking and licking his body, hands pinching and twisting his nipples, teeth biting and bruising. A man was behind him, his hand harshly yanking at Remy's man hood, as his other pulled back the Cajuns head by his hair, so hard he could feel it ripping. Remy's eyes were closed, and tears stained his cheeks.

Wolverine watched for only a second before he lurched forward shoving past the sex craved zombies and to his team mate that was in danger weather he knew it or not. Wolverine growled and shoved the women to the ground. Gambit opened his eyes and looked in horror at the growling animal before him. It was then that Logan felt it, a strong wave of lust, mixed with pain and fear, all neatly tied up in a heap of Cajun charm. The X-Man had to take a deep breath to focus his mind and prevent him from joining those he was prying off of Gambit. Logan punched the man holding Gambit, then Caught Remy as he fell forward, cutting his bonds and removing the ball gag at once.

"Common Cajun, time to come home!" He growled slightly at the wipe lashes on Remy's back.

"Non,…..leave me be!" His voice was small and muffled as his slumped body struggled to push away from the tight grip of Wolverine.

"Forget it kid!……Ani't gonna happen!…….Now stand up so we can find yer cloths." Wolverine dragged the reluctant man to his feet, only to have him collapse once more onto the bed, unable to support his own weight.

"Hey!….There's enough of him to share, It's our turn!" The girl protested getting off the ground.

"No, it ain't!" Logan barked as he searched for Remy's pants.

"Just cuz you're his master doesn't mean you have to be selfish!" A large man spoke up. Challenging the shorter man. Logan growled again impatiently as he saw that the man who spoke was holding Remy's paints firmly in his grip.

"Look bub! I ain't his master, no one is!………Now toss those here or I'll make you eat em'!" The man smiled then began to rip the pants apart, but not too far before Logan's claws were at his throat. " I don't think you heard me right!" The man dropped the pants and backed away as did every one else. Logan sneered then picked up the torn paints and slid them on Remy who was barley conscious, the result of exhaustion and too many drugs. He heaved the younger man over his shoulder and out the door, drawing the attention of the room. Once back out side the club, he dumped the Cajun on his bike, and prompted him angst the wall. Gambit was covered in sweat, his eyes half opened as he painted, dehydrated and confused. Logan reached in the survival pack on his bike and pulled out a canteen of water, and held it to Remy's lips. The Cajun eagerly took it and swallowed hastily the refreshing liquid. Finally his arms dropped, the canteen falling to the ground.

"Mercy." He crocked as his heart raced in his chest, his head swarming with unfocused thoughts. "Why you here Logan?" Was the first thing that made it's way threw the fog in his skull. Logan looked hard at the Cajun, choosing his words carefully. At the moment it took every thing in him not to smack Remy upside his head for being so stupid, then their was his damn animal instincts, that made him painfully aware of the still present musk of sex. He wasn't in to men, but the beast with in was easily aroused, and the Cajun was dripping with sex appeal normally, let alone now. Not to mention the ecstasy, which had a powerful effect on the Cajun, tapping into his charm power, and letting it ooze from his pours, enhancing his spicy, Cajun scent.

"I'm here to bring you home Gumbo!…….You got problems?…Fine! We all do!…..Don't mean we go fuck our self's over worse!….You know, you make it real hard to defend ya when you're the one letting people treat ya like shit!" His voice was a mix of impatiens, anger, disgust and compassion. And in this mind state Remy's empathy was not under control. He felt sick, and hurt and pathetic, and mostly about to die from shame. Fortunately, his empathy worked both ways and as his feelings projected to Logan, the Canadian sighed, realizing he was only making it worse by judging the kid. Gambit's eyes were down to the side, as he swallowed hard, trying his damndest to maintain some dignity.

"T'anks Logan, but I be fine!…….Don need you or non one else to tell me how to live moi life!………Now if you excuse me!" He pushed himself onto wobbly legs, then instantly fell to his knees, cursing in French. Logan reached down to help him up but he pulled away, So Wolverine just grunted and took a few steps back, leaning against the wall as he lit his cigar. Remy tried to pull himself up, but felt exhausted and sick. He made it up, and took a few steps toward the club, but fell again, this time with a muffled cry of defeat. He looked so shattered and beaten, on his knees, hunched over and shirtless, shivering in the cool spring night air. Wolverine was a few feet behind him, but could feel Gambit's utter humility and vulnerability, along with fear of rejection. Logan walked up right behind him and crouched down. In the softest voice he could muster he whispered.

"Just say the words Remy,………I'm right here, I ain't going no were. You're an X-Man God damnit,…….start acting like one." He was met with silence, then a heavy sigh, and finally a small request that was humble but bitter.

"Help,……….Si vous plate?" Gambit shut his eyes against the tears and locked his strong jaw, feeling resentful that Logan was taking advantage of his weakness. Why wouldn't he just leave him alone? Wolverine put out his cigar and grabbed the Cajun, careful not to put pressure on the lacerated skin of his back. He put Remy back on his own bike then sighed.

"I'm goanna call the mansion and have some one bring the small plane so we can load both our bikes. I sure as hell ain't leavening mine here, and you'll through a fit if something happens to yours." He pulled out his phone and was about to call, when Remy made a dispirit plea.

"NON!……Si vous plate!……I don want dem to see me dis way,…………I don' wanna see dat look in dere eyes." His voice was so low, Logan could hardly here him. He sighed and placed a hand on Remy's shoulder.

"Look Gumbo, don't worry about them. They got no right tah judge ya, none of em. They just don't understand why ya do this to your self."

"Neither do I." He said solemnly, head hung, with his hair draped over his face like a curtain hiding his embarrassment. Logan looked at him with a deep sadness, wanting to say something, but at a loss of what.

"Hey, it's Wolverine, I got Gumbo." He spoke gruffly into the com badge, as he turned away from the half conscious man. Over the slight static he could here Jean's voice as the others sighed in relief in the background.

"Oh thank god Logan!……..Is he alright." Her voice was laced with concern. Logan peered over his shoulder at his team mate. Remy was hunched over, with his knees pulled to his chest, mumbling what sounded like a French prayer.

"He's been better……….Tell Csyk to send the small plane, so we can load both our bikes."

"Why can't you just rid them home?" She asked, confused and distracted. From the sounds of it, Rouge was throwing another fit.

"Look, The Cajun can't hardly walk, let alone drive an hour home. And we ain't exactly in the nicest part of the city, so leaving a bike ain't an option!……..Just hurry up and send a plane!………Oh, and Jeanie?" He sighed, exasperated.

"Yes?" She was only half listening now.

"Tell Rouge if she doesn't want him to leave fer good, she better shut the hell up!" He grunted.

"Will do." He could here her smile over the com. Turning back around, he growled as a hand full of men and an arm full of women came out from the club, with wipes, chains, and other fun toys. He thought some of them might come after them, once they got up the nerve.

"Well, Well, what we got here?……..A little ferry man, trying to keep his pet tiger all to himself?……….Didn't anyone ever teach you to share?" A large man was in front, smacking and stroking a baseball bat, as he eyed up Wolverine, then turned his attention to Remy licking his lips. The large man had a thick beard and a deep voice, with tattoo's covering most of his flesh that wasn't obscured by his leather pants and vest. His eyes were cold. And full of lust, his hands rough and calloused. Behind him were equally sleazy creatures of the night, each eager for their pound of flesh. Logan growled again, moving him self between Gambit and the sex crazed mob.

"He ain't a piece o' meat tah be drooled at yah pot bellied freak!……..Go back inside yer damn club, and mind yer business!……I'm sure there's some body in there just waiting tah spank yah!" Logan half growled half laughed.

"Look squirt!……We want some of what your fucking! If you don't wanna share, then don't let yer bitch otta his cage!" A tall, ugly woman stepped up as she cracked her wipe, an inch from his face. To her surprise he didn't move, or even flinch. Remy stood up, as if sobered by her words. He sauntered forward, his demonic eyes burning strait threw them. He stood tall next to Wolverine, shoulders back and head up, but tilted with a strange smile.

"Excuse et moi?……..But Gambit ain't nobody's bitch!………You de one suppose to be in a cage!…….Help protect the public from wakening up next to a face dat ugly!" He sneered at her shock, as three glowing cards appeared from no were. As if fallowing his cue, Logan unleashed his claws, ready to strike.

The mob stepped back, eyes wide, and mouths open.

"There both freakin muties!" A man in the back squeaked, running back into the club. The others fallowed with the exception of the bearded man, and his medusa side kick. Logan sniffed the air and growled. He should of known right off that the two in front were mutants, alpha level at that. Normally he'd welcome a fight, especially with the Cajun by his side. The two of them had torn up enough bars, teaching low life's a lesson, that Logan knew he could count on Remy to watch his back and keep him from going completely bezerk with out being a tight ass like Csyk and ruining all his fun. Tonight however, he could sense Gambit's lack of strength, through the slight wheezing of his breaths and the rapid beating of his heart. He knew at any moment, Gumbo's knees were gonna give out, and he was fighting just to remain standing. As the two mutants in front of them began to display their powers, the man had horns growing out of his head, and the woman cracked her wip again, but this time with an electrical current running through it, Logan whispered a growl to his team mate.

"Through yer cards then stand down Gumbo, I can handle this pair of bondage freaks!"

"Forget it mon amie, I ain't letting you have all de fun, ehe!" Remy chuckled, as he began to sway on his feet. He felt hot and sick, a little over whelmed from his lack of control over his empathy. His vision was fuzzy and he knew at any moment he was about to black out, but Logan had already seen to much of his pathetic ness, and he was despret to regain some of his self respect. Logan sighed, picking up on the Cajun's feelings, annoyed at his stubbornness.

"Look Cajun, yer in no shape to fight. Take a breather."

"Non, you take de lead, I jus be back up."

"Damnit Remy, yer more of a handy cap then a flippin asset right now! Do us both a favor, and sit down before you pass out!" Wolverine growled, knowing the moment he said it, it was the wrong thing to say. Gambit lurched forward, gracefully twisting in the air as the three cards sailed toward the tall, ugly woman, hitting her center line in the head, chest and stomach. Three more were release before his feet even touched the ground, bringing the ogre like man to his knees, and dropping the woman cold as she flew against the wall. However, that brief explosion of energy, came at a heavy coast and for the first time in so long, Gambit did not land on his feet, but on his hands and knees, painting and shaking from the enormous strain of consciousness. He had closed too much distance, and was in reach of the leather clad demon, when Logan's roar drowned out all sound, right before the melody of broken bones filled the air, accompanied by a scream and then a myriad of swear words. It was over in seconds.

Logan scoffed at the bearded man as he crawled back to the club crying. He turned around, prepared to chew out Gambit for being a flippin idiot, but stopped when he saw the condition of his friend. Remy was laying on his side, covered in sweat and shivering, eyes half opened, with alarmingly shallow breaths. He growled and decided to save his lecture, it was better off left to Scott any way, and scooped the Cajun into his arms, forcing him to sit up to help the flow of air through his lungs. After about a minute, a raspy voice spoke up.

"A smoke?….Si vous plate!" Wolverine couldn't help but laugh.

"Ya know Cajun, you'd probably smoke even if ya had asthma!……..Your freakin addicted!" He reached down and grabbed the smashed pack in the back pocket of Gambit's jeans, and pulled out the only one not broken, but bent. He rest the cajun against the wall, and put the cigarette in his own mouth to light it, then stuck it in Remy's. He inhaled deep, eyes shut in bliss, a half smile on his lips. Logan snorted and popped his cigar in his own mouth. "How ya feelin?"

"Fine,….you?" Remy peeked at him through hooded eyes.

"Ya don't look fine." Logan grunted, roughly pushing sweat soaked bangs back out of Remy's eyes. "You high?" He questioned, raising an eye brow. Gambit nodded, not taking his eyes off of Logan as he smoked his cigarette, hand shaking. "On what?"

"Ecstasy,….Coke." He mumbled, looking away.

"That explains way yer heart is beating through yer chest and yer eyes keep rolling into yer head………..I can smell liquor to,……..Tequila?" His tone was neutral, as he leaned back against the dumpster, studding the Cajun's profile.

"Oui." Another mumbled answer.

"How much?" This time he was answered by a shrug. "You just don't say no,……do ya?" He smirked. Remy shook his head, feeling depressed once more. "Ya gotta learn when tah call it quits Gumbo,……it ain't healthy, none of it. You got Ro' at home worrying every time you leave the grounds. Not to mention Rouge." He stopped when he saw Remy flinch, feeling his anxiety and heart ache. "She didn't mean it Cajun,……you know that. She just got flustered, upset. You know she lashes out when she's angry, when she's hurting. Don't excuse what she said, but don't mean ya gotta take it all tah heart either." Logan leaned closer to Gambit, whose head was down, eyes shut tight against the threatening tears. He touched Remy's shoulder only to have him pull away, grunting at the touch, and roughly wiping the tears from his eyes.

"Don't matter if she meant it, point is she's right!…….Ya'all are!….And it be time I stopped pretending tah be somthin I ain't." He sat up strait, his eyes puffy but dry, jaw locked indetermination.

"What's that?" Wolverine asked hesitantly.

"An X-Men." His voice was full of certainty, and made Logan sit up in alarm. Before he could argue, the sound of a stealth air craft landed on top of the roof, and the almost in audible foot steps of team mates echoed down the quit ally way. Wolverine, lifted Gambit to his feet, helping him walk toward Storm and Jean, who stood anxiously waiting in the entrance of the ally way. Remy, kept his eyes plastered to the ground, unable to look his friends in their eyes. Jean used her telekinesis to lift the bikes up to Cyclops and Bishop, who then loaded them into the plane. Storm kissed Remy on his forehead, before summoning the wind to raise them up to the roof. Once inside the plane, Gambit took the seat farthest away and kept his eyes closed, head down, arms hugging himself. Cyclops opened his mouth to speak but was mentally warned to keep his trap shut, by Jean. Wolverine elbowed Bishop with a growl, indicating he should turn around and stop staring at Gambit, and Storm wrapped a blanket around his shoulders, receiving only a muffled mercy. The ride back to the mansion was short and silent, the tension thick. All those aboard could feel the slight vibrations of distress and discomfort coming from their silent team mate as he struggled with his empathy. In turn he was being bombarded with their emotions, and he wanted desperately for the trip to be over, feeling more and more exhausted from the strain of filtering their emotions and trying to conceal his own. He knew once the Ecstasy funneled through his system, his empathy would be back under control, but the next few hours would be difficult at best.

When the plane finally landed, every one was in a rush to get off, except Gambit, who continued to stare ideally at the floor.

"Come on Gumbo, won't be so bad." Wolverine offered, but wasn't at all convinced. He and Storm provided support as Remy staggered ungracefully from the plane. The mix of emotion hit him hard, like a wave crashing against his open shields. And it took every thing in him not to cry out, releasing only a muffled moan of pain through a locked Jaw.

"What is wrong with him?" Beast asked in concern as he bounded toward them. Logan could feel Remy's resistance, and his desperation.

"Easy Hank!……He's drugged up, and it's screwing with his empathy. His shields are down, so he can feel every thing!" He glared over at Rouge who looked back innocently, as if promising she was feeling only positively toward the Cajun.

"With his shields down, now's the best time to talk with him. We'll be able know weather he's lying or not." Bishop suggested, causing Gambit to pull away.

"Non, si vous plate!…….Let me go!" His voice was a half plea half demand as he struggled against the sturdy grip of his team mates.

"We most certainly will not!" Storm's voice boomed in the large hanger, echoing off the walls, causing every one to stop. "We did not bring him home to safety only to interrogate him!…….Remy will speak only if and when he wants to!" Her tone was challenging and angry. Remy had collapsed on his knees and was leaning against the nearest sturdy thing, in this case, Logan's leg. His forehead was pressed against his team mate's thie, his hooded eyes, glaring at them with exhaustion and delirium.. Before another word was spoken, a familiar voice entered all their minds.

Normally I would agree with you Ororo, however, in this case, I must make an exception. Remy's health and over all well being is in to great of jeopardy to simply allow him to take his time, and grant us his trust. He was been trained and conditioned against such openness, and I'm afraid we must make good use of his candidness tonight, or we may never truly reach him. The Professors voice was soft and gentle, meant to calm and sooth Gambit, who was becoming increasingly agitated by the constant pounding of conflicting emotions.

"Non, I be fine!……Leave me be!" Remy's voice was small and child like, his stare, distant as if he were a million miles away.

"Not this time Remy, this time your gonna open up to us. This time you'll make us understand. God knows we've tried." Cyclops mumbled as they headed out the door. "Logan, help Gambit get cleaned up and dressed. Then bring him to the Professor's study. The rest of you, lets head on up there." His tone was a mix of annoyance and relief, for no one was more thankful then he that the Professor had come home early. In truth, he didn't have the faintest idea how to deal with the situation.

"I will assist Logan." Storm said firmly as she crouched down by Remy, stroking his hair.

"I'll make some coffee and tea,………are you hungry Remy?" Jean asked in a maternal tone. He just shook his head and continued to stare absently at the floor. Behind those dull, almost lifeless eyes, his mind was racing, trying to find ways out of the inevitable. Why couldn't they just leave him alone? Why did they insist on embarrassing him? Couldn't they just leave him to his shame? It didn't matter he decided, none of it did. They had caught a glimpse at what lay behind the mask, to the ugliness that he had tried to hid, his true form. And once they saw it all, he would be rejected. He was not sad, or angry or upset in any way. He was numb and complacent, and in a way relieved that the shared was finally over.

They waited in uncomfortable silence, each consumed in there own thoughts and feelings. Xavier was patiently sipping his tea, briefly discussing his trip home from Muir island.

"It would appear, that my time would have been better spent attending to the needs of my X-Men, rather then reviewing research." He commented.

"I'm sorry sir, I don't know what happened!…..One moment were all relaxing in the rec room, the next…………Gambit shows up drunk and god knows what else…….He must be instructed that this behavior is simply unacceptable!" Cyclops sighed rubbing his temples.

"Scott!…..Its not that simple!" Jean fumed at his ignorance.

"No, it certainly is not!" Xavier agreed. "Cyclops, in order to best help Remy, we must first try to understand him without judging him!…….Gambit is having trouble adjusting to life as an X-Men, and we have certainly not made it any easier on him!"

"Is it too much to ask for him not to go sleeping with every girl that bats him an eye!" Rouge asked in a sulking voice.

"Or guy for that matter!" Bobby added.

"Shhhh,……..I hear them coming!" Jean whispered.

A moment later the three X-Men entered, each wearing a different expression. Gambit's face was crumpled in concentration, forcing his empathy to stay at bay, Storm wore her look of compassion and worry, glancing around the room then back at Remy, while Logan's glare told them all that he heard every thing and was not pleased. Reluctantly Remy staggered toward an open seat, trying his best to keep control of the situation. He sat up right and folded his arms, jaw locked, and eyes narrowed as if challenging them to try and brake him. Xavier sighed, well aware of the head ach soon to come.

"Remy,……Let us start off by saying, we are not here to interrogate you, or lecture you about your behavior. We are here because we care about your welfare and are concerned that your,…………. extra curricular activities may be causing you harm, weather it be physical or psychological." He sighed again as Gambit shifted uncomfortably in his chair, emanating small waves of resentment to all those staring at him. "We will try our best to help you deal with….."

"Who said I wanted or needed your help!……I most certainly don' member askin for it!" Remy interrupted in a snide voice as he scoffed and rose from his chair.

"You don't have to ask, because we are giving it to you, weather you like it or not!" Scott answered in an equally snotty voice. Gambit glared at him, but then sat down, as if excepting his fate.

"Please try to understand Remy,…..we only want what's best for you!" Storm reached out to him but he turned away.

"By telling de whole team bout moi past? By opening moi self up for every one to take a look at moi weakness, moi guilt moi shame!" He turned back to her with anger and betrayal in his eyes. "I trusted you Stormy,……why you do dis ehe?…..Why you stab moi in de back!" His expression shifted from rage to hurt confusion. He looked away, feeling a swarm of emotions both familiar and foreign. Storm closed her eyes as tears escaped down her cheeks. Her guilt and remorse hammered his empathy and before she could even speak he turned back around and embraced her, pulling her into his warm arms. "Je suis dessole Stormy, I know it was a mistake……Lord knows I make more den moi fair share. You dry your tears ehe,….save em for some one more disserving!" he released her, feeling once more cold inside.

"And why do you feel as though you are undeserving of her tears Remy?" The Professor asked carefully. Gambit's response was surprising, as he turned and laughed.

"Oh no you don',…….don' try an' pull any of dat psychoanalyzing bull crap on moi!…….I can figure out moi own head mercy." He snorted and turned away.

"Oh, and hows that working for ya!" Wolverine snickered at his annoyed glare.

"Remy Suga,…..we jus wanna know why ya do what ya do?……… It,…….it an't right?" Rouge sighed in frustration.

"Dis coming from de women who can never be touched!………How I spose to explain how much I need it!……..Just to feel another person next to me, holding me,…..dere presence all around me………It's comforting." He had started off strong but ended with a hushed whisper as he leaned forward his face in his hands.

"I understand Gambit." Jean said cautiously to which he looked at her skeptically. "No,……I,…I really do. You see, telepathy and empathy can be very similar at times. At first when I began to share a bed with Scott, it was unnerving. I was always aware of his presence, conscious or not. And now, I can't sleep well with out him,…..I feel,….detached and alone." She looked over at Scott finally understanding, at least a bit, were Gambit was coming from.

"Is that how it is Remy? You need the presence of another, for comfort?" Hank asked gently. Gambit looked up to him then away, fighting with his hands and wishing he had a deck of cards.

"Oui, but it ain't like a security blanket,……it's just,………better den sleeping alone!…..It keeps,….." He paused then shook his head, standing up and sauntering over to the window, still a little unsteady on his feet. They could feel his reluctance, his hesitation, his indecision. He felt relief in expressing himself, but the sensation was so unnatural to him, denied for so long, it didn't feel right and made him anxious.

"Please Remy, don't hide behind silence. It is an invisible cloak that all may see through." Storm offered softly.

"It keeps the nightmares away." All turned surprised as Logan finished the thought. Gambit studied the man, then nodded, turning back to the window. "Ain't just telepaths and empapaths that can sense a body near um.'……..Just knowing someone's with you, there next to you,……hearing em breath, smellin em, touching em. Keeps the loneliness and all the crap that comes with it at bay, and lets ya rest peaceful." He looked over at Iceman who's jaw was dropped. "Shut yer pie whole Frosty! Some of us 'tuff guys been through too much not to have nightmares. When I close my eyes at night you can rest assured I ain't dreaming of bunnies and flowers!" He grumbled as he crossed his arms. "Ain't that right Bishop?" The Canadian smirked as he put the always serious time traveler on the spot. Bishop, looked up with surprise then around the room, before clearing his throat and looking down at his hands.

"It is true,…….that on many occasions,……I……find myself unable to rest and achieve adequate sleep…… due to…… unfounded….. paranoid…… delusions…. that cause great anxiety……..Perhaps that is the real reason I insist on patrolling the grounds until the early morning,……to,……reassure myself that no danger is present." He shifted uneasily and glanced up at Remy, who offered a sympathetic, but amused smile. Cyclops scratched his head, slightly taken aback by the omission from two of his fiercest X-Men. He suddenly received an elbow in his side and a mental shove from Jean, to speak.

"Not that I,…..uh,…..well there is nothing wrong with,……you see…." He stumble over his words, unsure what to say.

"We all have nightmares,……including Scott and myself. And at times physical contact, like a hug, will offer more then words ever could……….Bobby, when you were young, what did your parents do when you woke up from a nightmare?" Jean smiled and nodded at Iceman who was still confused as to the point of the meeting.

"Well my mom would,…….wait,……. why are we all talking about us,……I mean, I thought we were here cuze Gambit's got issues, not me!" He crossed his arms and looked around at the annoyed faces. With out warning Archangel slapped him in the back of the head. "Ow!……What?"

"Oh, Bobby! Sometimes you can be so clueless!" Kitty scoft. "When I was younger, my number one nightmare was that I would lose my parents in a crowd,…….then when I got older, I dreamed that I would go intangible, but wouldn't be able to come back, that I would pass through life like a ghost! Each time I would wake up crying, and both my parents would rush in and hold me, and my mother would bring me warm milk with honey……..Now, if I have a bad dream, I just make myself a mug full and I feel better." Shadow cat smiled

"Oui, but in Cajun country we got a different recipe. Works a lot betta' with a fifth of Jack and a cigarette!" Remy muttered, still facing the window.

"Did Tantie Mantie never sooth you after a nightmare? Or Henri or Jean-Luke?" Rouge asked in a small voice. Remy faced her, and shook his head with a smirk and a shrugged.

"Qui,…….In dere way…….But a good t'ife don't let others know his fears, cuze fear make you weak. Make you second guess your self, make you unsure,……and if you start having doubts in de middle of a pinch,…….you shit out-a-luck!……..Dey say, "Le Deblia Blance, knows no fear. Dat de past be de past an' Remy gotta focus on de future of de guilds." Gambit sighed and rubbed his temples aware that he was becoming too chatty because of the drugs.

"That is a lot of pressure to place upon a child,…..especially one that was robbed of his childhood to begin with." The Professor commented. Remy shrugged again.

"Weren't so bad……I survived, more den I can say for some. I got lucky, got adopted." His voice was hushed, and his forehead wrinkled. They felt the sadness of a harsh youth, and the remorse over his own helplessness for those that could not make it.

"Remy,……I, am sorry for what I said earlier,…..I had no right." Rouge twisted her hair, and squirmed in her seat.

"No matter chere!…….I already told you, you was right. I did what I had too, same as you hooking up wit' Mystique. Desperate times call for disparate measures, ehe?" He smirked but would not face her and she felt his hurt, deep and bitter. She bit her lip, then suddenly blurted out, feeling flustered and upset.

"But what ah still don't seem tah understand, is how after living through that hell as a child,……….you would go willingly hand your self to them same types of people now?" Rouges tone was exasperated, but then softened and became sad. "Do you really think you deserve to be treated like that?" He was silent for a long time, forehead pressed against the cool glass window, eyes shut tight. Finally he replied in a horse whisper.

"Hurts less then how you……" He trailed off, biting his lip, and squeezing his eyes tighter, fists clenched. Rouge's mouth opened as if to protest, but she stopped slowly hanging her head, sitting down with a thud.

"Empapaths are known to be extremely sensitive to physical and emotional feelings. Much like telepaths they are capable of projecting to others as well as receiving, but the impact leaves emotional imprints instead of psychological. Thus, one may be cognitively aware of a situation, but emotionally crippled by conflicting feelings leavening them in a perpetual state of turmoil. Being victimized as a child, and force fed others sexual wishes and desires, while confronted with the pain and guilt resulting from such, Is it any wonder he should find solace once again in the sexual cruelty of others?" The Professor paused then turned to an iron jawed Gambit, who stood by the window, starring hard outside and blinking to keep back the tears. "Gambit, you were not properly allowed time to develop your empathy, and so instead created strong shields to limited the constant stream that would other wise drive you mad. But years of trauma, and the training necessary to become a thief, have caused you to shut out not only others emotions, but your own as well. This may be why you find your self needing a release and craving emotional contact,………finding it the only way your accustomed to. But Remy, let us be that emotional life line and not strangers. You will find the love through friendship much more fulfilling, then the lust and obsession of these sadistic sexual deviants." He moved closer to the window, and reached out mentally, gently offering reassurance. "We are your friends, and we are your family. The X-Men, love you!" Charles said the last words slowly and deliberately, out loud and mentally to leave a permanent impression, one that would remain in the forefront of Remy's mind. He mental urged the others to focus all there compassion and love toward Remy, letting it rock his unshielded mind with comforting waves.

With in a minute or two it became more then Remy could take, a stifled breath was released, and with it a tear, then two. His knees gave wave, and he crumbled to the ground, unable to hold back any longer. Quivering breaths were accompanied by a light flow of tears, as he attempted to turn away from his team mates, to hide his shame. But they would not let him, and surrounded him on all sides. He wanted to get up and run out the door, but he couldn't move, his body shook and through clenched teeth cried out in frustration, in anger, in helplessness, in humility, in desperation. He felt their hands on him, rubbing his back, arms wrapped around him, embracing him. He fought them off, pushing away, but they would not stop. He could sense each person, their overwhelming desire to comfort him, to hold him, to ease his pain. Finally he gave in, his own body responding in kind as he leaned into them, hands grasping at their clothes, gasping as the warmth of their connection washed over him.

It was Rouge who held him last, rocking him in her arms, as his head lay buried in her chest. Her own tears rain down her face, as she stroked his hair and kissed the top of his head, mumbling how sorry she was over and over. Remy's breaths slowed, his mind settled and the tears dried. Tired eyes, full of sleep drifted shut, as his body relaxed in the cocoon of compassion created by his friends, his family, his X-Men. Asleep, he was a beautiful angle, unscarred by the sharp, jagged pieces of his life, now dulled through love and understanding. Rouge scooped him up and with a heavy heart, carried him to his room, and tucked him into bed. The rest of the team watched him go and sighed to them selves, with fingers crossed that one night of healing might lead toward a path of recovery from damage years in the making.