Well, here is the final chapter of this novel length story that I started so many years ago. It's been a long road, with lots of ups and downs. I have bittersweet feelings about finishing the story - a mixture of regret, sadness and relief, joy. I hope that all of you who have read will find emotional closure with this final chapter as I did. Thank you to everyone who have left me so many kind, wonderful reviews. I truly appreciate you taking the time to feedback. It means so very much. : )

Please permit me a moment to list some statistics.

Conceived: May/June, 2003
Started: December 9, 2003
First chapter public posting: July 31, 2004
Number of words: 120635
Number of pages: 216 single spaced

So, with this final posting, I bid this story a fond, fond farewell and put that particular muse to a well deserved rest.

See warnings, disclaimers, and notes in first chapter

Words between / / are thoughts or mental speak
Words between * * are flashbacks
Words between ~ ~ are lyrics to any songs that may be used in the fic

Notes 2: Those sentences that end with (1) and (2) the blessings of the twins that Storm gives are direct quotes from an episode of the anime series Kyou Kara Maou!

Notes 3: Dialog lines followed by an * are either direct or paraphrased words from the song The Reason, owned by the band Hoobastank. The lyrics at the very end are also from The Reason.

CH 33

Waking up in a room that resembled a cross between a hospital and a researcher's lab was enough to seize a man with a soul-clenching horror born of haunting memories. It had taken several terrifying minutes for Remy's mind to catch up to what his eyes were telling him. He was not in his master's lair; was not in danger of being sliced open for the sake of knowledge. The room, he was placed, was the first exam room past the entrance to the medical bay of Xavier's mansion. Beyond this room, there were several more in a row, with the doctor's office towards the back of the wing. Each room was separated from the connecting hall by a curtained doorway. The hallway, itself, was relatively dark; low level runway lighting along the floor providing a modest means of navigating. Remy imagined it had to do with keeping light levels low, to avoid disturbing sleeping patients.

The big, blue doctor came and went, multiple times, injecting this or withdrawing that. Finally, with a smile and a pat on the thigh, he deemed Remy well enough to leave. Despite being incredibly sore in his shoulders and arms, Remy was relatively healed. It helped that McCoy had used some sort of alien device on him that reduced the micro tears in his muscles. He supposed he should be grateful that the master had considered him valuable enough to keep healthy, even with the torture. A shudder ran through him at the thought of Essex. Remy had to believe the scientist was truly gone from his life. The alternative was too unbearable to consider.

Remy had just finished donning the clothes that Hank had so kindly provided, and pulled the curtain back to enter the hallway. The action caused him to nearly collide with Warren, who was exiting the room beside him. For several tense moments, both men stared at each other. It was Gambit that broke the silence first.

"De doctor tol' me what y' done." He watched for any kind of reaction from the winged mutant.

One fine, golden brow rose. "There was never any doubt that I would get us out of there." A smug tone coated his voice, a feeling of superiority for a few moments. Finally, though, a smirk tugged the edge of his lips. "Though I suppose it helped that a large portion of the structure caved in and produced a hole straight to the sky." The words, once said, sobered the billionaire. "We were very lucky."

But Gambit knew it had been more than luck. Hank told him how Angel had pulled him away from the collapsing ceiling; how the man carried the Cajun's dead weight while flying through falling debris. Those beautiful white wings had been struck multiple times, but despite the pain, Angel pushed forward. They weren't going to make it; the structure was demolishing too quickly and the entrance was too far away. When a large area ahead of them completely caved, it was a miracle to see the inadvertent small up-flowing tunnel it created that led to the outside. Without hesitation, Warren had adjusted his flight and soared straight up, pulling the Cajun's body with him. Hank's final words about Angel's damaged extremities, the weeks of therapy ahead, and how close Angel had come to losing his beautiful white wings, overwhelmed Gambit with guilt.

As much as he wanted to avert his face in shame, Jean Luc had always taught him the importance of looking a man straight in the eye. "T'anks for saving me."

Warren blinked for a moment, caught off guard by the sincerity he could sense in the Cajun's words. It made him pause and consider the boy, before clarifying a few things. "You misunderstand. There is a fine line between justice and revenge. Once crossed, there's no turning back. A man must live with the consequences for the rest of his life. So, I did not rescue you to save your life. I did it to save mine."

"With the Professor's help," the golden-haired mutant continued, "I've come to realize that it wasn't fair to blame you for the problems I had with my father. You may have been the first boy he took to his bed, but you certainly weren't the last. No, the fault lies completely with him." Warren sighed as he looked at the young, demon-eyed mutant. "Don't get me wrong. I still don't like you."

Remy stared straight ahead as the winged mutant stepped forward to pass. The golden haired businessman stopped as he came even with the younger man. Canting a sideways look at Gambit, Warren smirked. "But, I guess I no longer hate you, either." With that, the other mutant walked out of the med bay, leaving the Cajun standing there. Remy could feel the truth of those final words, and it made his throat swell with emotion. He continued standing there, as he collected himself. A few moments passed before Remy noticed the light and sounds from another room further down. He couldn't help himself from investigating, and stole to the curtain's edge, remaining in the hall where he wouldn't be seen as he observed the occupants.

It was like something out of a picture-painting he had once seen; Jean was holding one infant in her arms, while Ororo stood beside her holding the other. Both women were smiling down at their charges, giddy with excitement and maternal feelings. Watching them from the darkened hallway, he half-closed his eyes to prevent them from seeing the red irises that seemed to be brighter with the emotions swirling around him.

"They are truly wondrous, Jean," Storm cooed at the little girl she held, while sliding a finger gently down the cheek of the baby boy in Jean's arms. "A girl and a boy. You are blessed."

The wind rider was as radiant as the mother as she lovingly gazed at the babies. Remy was awestruck watching his beloved weather goddess bestow a kiss on the child's forehead and say a blessing over each, starting with the little girl in her arms. "Walk straight, and be true to yourself. Radiate a greater brilliance than anyone around you. May you become everyone's shining sun."(1)

He strained closer to catch her words as she continued her prayer for the infant boy. "Illuminate the way with a gentle light shining in the darkness, the one who nestles close to the sun, may you become the glowing moon."(2)

Jean felt him in the shadows, turning to see the bare light of twin red orbs in the darkness of the hallway. Sensing his unease, she called out to him with her telepathy. /Remy, why do you hide yourself? Come and meet my babies./

He jumped slightly at the unexpected contact. After a pause, he thought back at her. /Can't. Don' deserve to be anywhere near dem./ Sadness colored those unspoken words as he watched the familial scene.

Storm had her back mostly facing the door, and knew nothing of the conversation taking place. As she continued to smile and hum at the babies, Jean frowned in the general direction of the hall. /Why do you say that? You saved my children./

Remy shook his head slightly, though he knew she could not see him. /Mais, dey wouldn'a been in danger, if it weren't for me./ There was genuine regret, underlying his mindspeak, and it made Jean's heart ache for the boy. She studied the darkness just beyond the curtain's edge, and it dawned on her what the boy planned.

/You're leaving./

/It be best for everyone, if I go./

/You know that's not true!/ She didn't know how to convince him. For a moment, she thought about saying something to Storm, who was happily interacting with the child in her arms and oblivious to the conversation. But, in the end, all she managed was a heartfelt plea. /Stay/

Remy's eyes closed and his brows drew together as if in pain. Overwhelmed at the warmth that suffused him from her words, he could feel the emotions of everyone in the house. With the Professor's help, Remy had managed to gain some control over his empathy. But despite this, his empathy was so strong now, that he wondered if it might ultimately undo him. In that moment, he hated his power more than he could remember ever hating anything before. He didn't want to feel her frustration and sadness. This was a time for her to be happy, to revel in the two little miracles she brought into this life. Ever the master of obfuscation, he redirected her thoughts. /Dey beautiful, chere./

He watched her look down at the boy, then adjust her sight to the infant girl, with a mile-wide smile on her face. The pride in her eyes was obvious. It made his chest tighten at the scene. As much as he knew his mutant power could be a curse, there were times when it was, also, a blessing. He mentally called to her, to gain her attention once more. /Let Remy give you somet'in'./

Seeing the puzzled look she directed his way, he continued. /Can you trust dis ol' Cajun one last time?/ He noted the frown, and waited for the answer.

/Of course I trust you, Remy. You would never do anything to harm me or my children./ It was spoken into his mind with such confidence, that he had to catch his breath to blink back the sudden tears prickling his eyes.

/Den, close yor eyes, chere, and open yor shields./ There was no hesitation as she did as he requested. It was there, within reach, and he gathered it all to him, cradling it as the most precious thing and growing it with care. /Now feel/ And he sent all of it straight into her; a tidal wave crashing through her, filling her to overflowing.

Jean gasped and said aloud, "My babies!" It was stunning. She could feel her babies' raw emotions, swirling within and around her; as vivid as all the colors of the rainbow, with the warmth and brilliance of a thousand suns. The intensity of the crystal pure love that she felt from them bled over into Storm, whose sharp intake of breath and awed expression showed the power she could feel. In another room, further away, the link she had with her unconscious husband allowed the rapturous maelstrom to wash over him, breathing new life into him. The machines began to beep and hum, causing the doctor to flit between them in utter amazement, completely unaware of the small smile that formed on the unconscious leader's face or the single tear that formed to track a path down his temple from the edge of one closed eye.

The ladies gushed over the babies and laughed, drunk with the feelings they were receiving. Remy observed it all, a wistful smile of his own, and took the opportunity to slip away from them.

/Oh, I can't…can't believe it. Oh Remy, this is…/ Jean was overwhelmed, tears flowing freely from her own eyes. It took a few moments to realize that he was no longer at the doorway. /Remy?/ Her smile slowly faded. /Remy!/

His mind voice drifted back to her. /Love yor bebes, de way all chilr'en deserved to be loved./ It was a mere whisper of a thought, now. /Never let dem fall, chere. Never let dem fall./

Briskly, Remy moved down the corridor, each section of the hallway he traversed lighting before him as the previous section dimmed to darkness. As sore as his arms and shoulders were, there was nothing wrong with his legs, and he used them now to escape before his heart could stop him. In his mind, he knew that it was best if he left these people. After all, he was a thief and a swindler, wasn't he? Lost in thought, his footsteps faltered when he registered the figure near the elevator. The Professor was outlined in white by the light panel above him, giving a halo effect to the telepath, even as it shadowed his facial features.

For a moment, they stood contemplating each other, until finally Xavier cocked his head to one side and asked, "Where will you go?"

Remy wasn't sure if he felt relief or disappointment that the Professor didn't press him to stay. "Dunno. Ain't really t'ought dat far ahead."

"Your shields are even stronger than before. With more practice, I suspect you will have little difficulty with blocking the empathy." The Professor arched a brow. "If that is what you truly want?"

But, Remy didn't know what he wanted anymore. Or rather, he knew what he desired, but he didn't know if he was worthy, even if there was a chance. He lowered his head, looking down and not facing the man. Xavier smiled warmly at him. "You must not continue to blame yourself for events that were beyond your control. It is the choices you made in the end, that truly matter."

A deep inhalation before Gambit shook his head and moved forward to pass the Professor and enter the lift, he said "T'anks for all y' done for me, Monsieur. 'spect I'm in yor debt." He pressed the button and waited for the doors to close.

"No more so than we are in yours." Xavier watched the boy turn to face him, disbelief clearly written on the Cajun's face. "You will always have a place with us, Remy LeBeau. Never forget that." There was no time for Remy to respond as the metal entrance shut completely and the elevator began to ascend. Remy took a shuddering breath, fighting to keep his pent-up emotions under control. Slowly, he banged his head against the back wall of the car, relishing the slight ache it produced. How could these people even stand his presence? Hadn't he nearly destroyed them all? It made no sense, and the sooner he could leave this place far behind, the better. But, he couldn't seem to make his heart understand. The intensity of the pain in his chest as he thought about leaving Logan almost made him double-over gasping for air. He knew it was the right thing to do, the best thing for the feral, even if it killed Gambit to do so.

He made it all the way to the hallway just outside the den. The plan was to apologize to the man for the hurt he had caused; maybe beg for forgiveness though he thought that might be asking for too much. After, Remy would grab his meager belongings and flee into the night, like the thief he was. Inside the room, he could see several of the X-men gathered. Rogue, Bobby, and Jubilee inhabited the couch, bickering over the remote control, while Logan leaned against the fireplace. It appeared that he was brooding, as he scowled into the fire, and Remy swallowed hard when that hard glare turned his way at the clearing of his throat.

"Uh…" he stammered, suddenly nervous as all pairs of eyes turned his way. A natural charmer, he was completely at a loss for small talk, as sweat began to bead at the back of his neck. So, he decided to get straight to the point. "Logan, can I talk to you?"

The feral mutant stared hard at the boy, relishing the minute fidgeting his enhanced vision could see. The boy was obviously worried. Good. "Whatever ya gotta say to me, ya can damn well say it in front of them."

"Right" Gambit muttered. "Look, mon ami." Remy paused. Would Logan still consider him a friend, let alone a lover? "Eh, not a perfect person, me."* One hand came up to rub the back of his neck as he continued. "Dere's many t'ings I wish I hadn't done.*"

Logan nodded in agreement. No one was perfect, and everyone had skeletons in the closet. But, he kept his focus on the boy who owned his heart, and broke it with lies and subterfuge, instead of delving into the fragments of his own past.

"I never meant to do anyt'ing to hurt you." Ruby eyes captured baby blue, desperately wanting the older man to believe him as his voice quivered with emotion. "So, I want y' to know, before I go, dat I found a reason for me to change who I was; a reason to start over again and try to live on de right side for once.*" Fire-red eyes glittered with unshed tears as he said, "And de reason is you.*" A blush graced his cheeks as he looked from Logan to the three on the couch. "All of y'all, actually."

There was complete silence from his audience, not even the sound of breathing could be heard over the hard thumping in his chest or the roar of blood rushing through his veins. Though he was talking to them all, he once again focused on Logan. "I'm sorry dat I hurt all of y'all. It's somet'in' I'm gonna hafta live wit' every day.*" Remy broke his gaze from the feral, and swept it around the room to face them all. "And all de pain I put y'all t'ru, I wish I could take it…*"

But he never managed to finish the sentence as he was suddenly tackled and thrown backwards against a wall, the older man's mouth crushing his in a brutal kiss. It was raw, impassioned, and demanding all at once. It poured everything and all of them into each other as Remy returned the kiss with fervor.

"Uh, yeah, I think that's our cue to leave." Jubilee jumped up and scampered from the room, face flushed over the ardurous display.

Rogue began to follow, but noted that Bobby was rooted to the spot, staring slack-jawed and wide-eyed at the two men. She chuckled as she placed a gloved finger under his chin and pushed the boy's mouth closed, before leading him from the room. "C'mon, sugah. Let's get you outta here before y'all nosebleed to death."

When both men came up for air, they simply stared at each other. Logan had two fists full of Remy's collar as he pressed his lover into the wall. "Listen here, fool, 'cause I'm only saying this once. I'm no skirt." He snarled, eyes glistening with too many emotions for Remy to grasp. "Ya fucked up and pissed me off. But, tell me yer sincerely sorry, promise me ya'll try to never do it again, buy me a beer, and we'll be right as rain again." A slow smirk appeared on his face, as Logan added one last item to the list. "And, of course, a little make-up sex will always seal the deal."

Remy blinked at the man for a moment, and then slowly smiled. "Oui, chere. Make-up sex sounds just fine to dis here Cajun."

Maybe, just maybe, he wouldn't have to leave this eclectic mix that had become his family, after all.

~and the reason is you…..~