Disclaimer: I'm quite certain you all know who actually owns these characters.

Summary: A disturbing tale in which Death tries to destroy what remains of Remy's psyche by exploiting Remy's penchant for guilt and self-punishment. Will he succeed or will Remy reconcile the atrocities he has committed and overcome Death's corruption?

WARNING: Though the content will never be too directly explicit, this story deals with darker elements and will attempt to explore the motivations behind self-destructive behavior in a mature and serious manner. This story is absolutely not intended for a casual good time.

Author's Note: I don't know how long this will go on. I've got ideas, of course, tons of them, enough to creep this towards quite a novel. They are always pounding the walls of my noggin' after all. For those who have waited so patiently for updates to my other fics under this and my alternate penname, please forgive the continuing delay. I'll get to them eventually. Maybe I'll get lucky and you will enjoy this or even the eventual traditional publishing of one of my original stories or scripts in the interim.

Chapter One

Sounded a lot like a pot of crawfish dumped on a table when her slack flesh impacted the hardwood floor. The smooth expanse of interlocked planks that made up the floor of the bulk of the basement studio shone with the polish of her blood and his love and the buffing their feet had given it when they had slid and kicked against it. Before he was done with her, he expected to have plied the full wealth of his knowledge and capabilities upon her so giving body. He would employ every trick he'd had up his sleeve, every slippery twist of his tongue, and most especially every tool tucked into his coat and pants for the duration of his unfortunately exhaustible agility and stamina.

Two hours, he'd lasted this time. Two hours, non-stop. He'd do better next time.

It was only fair trade, after all; since she'd come to him, she pestered him twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. And she never tired of it.

He had a lot of practice ahead of him to match her level of torture.

He shut the door behind him. Shut out her dry, sticky sobs. Shut back her persistent magnolia and low-tide stench. But he couldn't shut off the tap she'd stabbed in his back.

Twenty-four hours a day. Seven days a week.

He didn't bother locking it before he strode off into the oil slick night. Why bother? Who'd dare mess with Death's private haunt?

Light from the rechargeable lantern entered the antechamber of the ancient tomb seconds before Logan did. He swept the light from one side to the other until he spotted his quarry: a tawny gem the size of his booted foot was nestled atop a stone pedestal. It was pretty much centered in the apparently otherwise empty room. Well, not counting the hieroglyphs (or whatever archeologists called such Indian relics) and broken pottery that had been near the entrance of the room.

Disgruntled, he huffed. With his enhanced senses, the light had done him more harm than good. Now that his night vision was ruined, he'd need the flares so he could use both hands to get the gem free of its setting before he destroyed it. In his blithe opinion, playing it the X-Men's Boy Scout ways wasted time. This was a perfect example of just such an occasion.

Standing a few feet away from his goal, he set the lantern on the sandy ground. He lit two flares and tossed them on either side of the pedestal's base. If he'd tossed them a little further out, he would've discovered the sinewy figure hiding in the oily dark recesses of the tomb. If he'd not lit them at all, he might have smelt his tomb-mate's stench, which was now overwhelmed by the burning magnesium and sulfur of the flare. Thoughts resembling these—though with no more prompting than his own instincts, experience, and well, impatience—provoked Logan to lose what remained of the mood to play it the Boy Scout way so he simply slashed the gem while it was still in its setting. With no reason to linger, he headed back the way he'd come, leaving the flares to burn off, but taking his lantern with him. If he wasn't in and out so fast, he might have noticed the familiarity of his tomb-mate's taint in the air before he got what he came for. Same probably could've been said about another scenario that had taken place three days ago too.

Death knew exactly what possessed him to approach his quarry early. In the dying light of Logan's discarded flares, the gem had glowed like dark honey in sunlight. It conjured recent memories. In the throws of ecstasy (agony), her voice had slathered him thick and syrupy as the most opulent of nectars.

In another Apocalyptic time and place, someone else slid a different kind of gem upon her hand. It was small and cheap and imperfect, but still she gave him a son in return.

He had hidden in the shadowed recesses of the room when he'd slipped inside ahead of Logan. He had watched as Logan stuck with the X-Men's careful directions before giving in to his own ways and simply smashed the gem to disable it full potential. If Logan had taken it whole, he would've had to make a move sooner, but as it was, Logan actually helped his own goals, so he was content to let the sometimes-feral man have his way. However, as he watched, he found impatience was contagious and so he was moving out of his hiding spot as soon as Logan had turned his back to leave. Silent, nimble, and grave, he matched his footfalls to Logan's. He should've at least waited until Logan was through the doorway and in the upward sloping tunnel, but his fingers twitched with the need to touch it, to touch her again. Before Logan's lantern light had even completely abandoned the antechamber, Death palmed one of the broken shards of the innocuous looking gem.

A little misdirection of Magneto's goals was all it would take (had taken) for him to discover a way to touch her. To pursue and win her. It was (would be) intolerable.

Death's jaw twitched in anticipation (trepidation). Sure these memories were proof of her hold on him (twenty-four seven), but they also gave him brilliant ideas for future torments. For that, he sometimes indulged the other resident of his body, Remy. Sometimes, he even stirred them up on purpose for the instant ache they bore.

Magneto took up the mantel of Eric the Red to sabotage her esteem for me (Remy). He was so angry (jealous) when he forced her lips to mine (Remy's). Bet it had galled him something fierce to see her stick by me (Remy) for so long and then so readily with Joseph, his own clone, after she'd turned him down flat when they were leaving the Savage Land. Just goes to show how little he knew about her. Got to leave her room for excuses to play the feelings down or play them off as something else or she get scared off.

Distracted by the ebb-and-eddy of those hot-cold reflections, Death accidentally allowed his foot to crunch in the sand. Logan, only a mere few feet up the tunnel, however, did not overlook it. In the awful stillness following the miniscule noise that Death had made, the snikt of Logan's claws seemed downright cacophonous.

Claws sprang from her hands. Logan had touched her once upon a time too.

Death tucked the gem shard into a pocket and he lifted his voice to carry. He cruelly jibed (confessed), "Missin' Rogue?"

Tears sprang from her eyes; there'd be no cure for her. Logan tucked her within the hairy, muscled lengths of his arms. A flannel blanket separated their skin but not their spirits. He'd touched her there too.

Logan stalked back into the antechamber and pierced Death with snarly eyes.

Touched a nerve, apparently.

Her arms sprang around Logan's neck tight enough to grip the back of his head with one hand and stroke the sideburn on the opposite side of his face with the other. She returned his crushing kiss. Neither seemed to care they were ankle deep in the sewer sludge any more. Regardless of the excuse the Golgotha had given them, they'd touched each other that way too.

Death let his slow menacing grin fully form before he taunted, "She goin' t' kiss it and make it all better when I'm finished wit' y' here."

He had meant it to be a question. Why hadn't it come out as a question? The taunt wasn't right if it wasn't a question. It was Remy's twisted curiosity that had planted it in his head and he'd only permitted it to come out his mouth at all because of the potential torture the answer could cause him. Without a question, there'd be no chance of pain. He needed to know: if she were where she was supposed to be, would the grisly Canuck have welcomed a chance for her to play nurse? Would he have expected it even, despite his famed healing? Knowing those things is where the pain would reside. It didn't work if it wasn't a question. He gave away his own dealings too much if it wasn't a question.

Death steamed.

So did Logan. He growled. "Where is she?"

She'd been gone three days now. It wasn't enough. She was no holy ghost, just Death's victim (redemption).

Curls of cigar smoke had replaced those of her silky white-and-brown hair when he'd dragged his soggy self back onto the dock. "Hurt her again, Gumbo, and you deal with me."

Death smiled grim and self-satisfied. "Not wit' y'."

Logan rushed him.

Death charged the air between them. As the mutant thief Gambit, his body would've excited the molecules of some inanimate object, turning their potential energy into kinetic energy and releasing a nice sized boom in the process. As Death, he transformed the typically inert air molecules into a dense, poisonous, billowy, white gas.

Logan leapt through it. He ferociously slashed the clear air. The empty air.

Death was gone.

Logan shredded the pedestal that had displayed the now-massacred giant gem. His brain finally caught up with his baser instincts and he stopped. Breath heaving, he used the simple task of sifting through the mess and collecting all the remaining pieces of the gem to pull himself together. He took a moment and inspected them.

He activated his communicator. "Hey, Hank. Bring down that sensor for this thing."

A jolt shot through him when she flinched at the slamming of the heavy door. Anger, despair, fear, guilt, whatever it was, it was thrilling. The tacky floor clung to the bottom of his boots as he quickened to her, but his fingers were more than willing to relinquish his gloves. He relished the tug that accompanied his greasy flesh-to-flesh grasp of her jaw. More than sight or sound or taste or scent, this singular sense of touch defined this woman's identity to him without compare. And he would punish her for it. He would punish her for so many things: the vulgar cling of Remy lingering inside his consciousness, his defeat at the hands of that amateur Gus, hindering his successes in the line of duty to Apocalypse, and so on. These things, yes. But, at the core of it, he punished her for her touch. How dare she have touched him so deeply!

So intimately.

And now there was so much more of him to swallow. More than she could take in mere moments. Hours. It took hours of punishment to reach that level of satisfaction anymore.

He kissed her as though he could drink her in as thoroughly as she did him. He tasted her. Stale, dry, metallic from old blood, the salt from his spent seed, and buried underneath it all, something hot and churned and summery. He smelled her—the acridness of her sweat, the sweat-metallic tang of her spilt blood, the ripe tart of her sex, and refusing to perish, those damned pungent milk-white blossoms and the banks of a mighty river after the floods have receded. He saw her—glassy green eyes glittering darkly like emeralds cut up by a million facets. He heard her—honey toned crawl, husky and breathy, panicked and faithful, rented and biting, clingy and shoving.

"Remy," she pleaded.

He backhanded her. He didn't want to listen to that from her. He gripped her jaw again, took a moment to relish the delicious pull that confirmed it was she he was punishing—and pinched open her mouth.

"Death," he insisted.

He shoved the large gem shard between those plump, chapped lips of hers. It clanked against her teeth, filling her there like he'd soon fill her otherwheres, and he knew he'd have to be careful that it didn't get wedged in there. It needed the freedom to flip and twist. It needed the room to gouge into her gums and slice her tongue. Blood and saliva dribbled down her chin. She may as well have licked a line straight to his—

He shuddered in rhythm of the quivering droplet that plummeted to her bare breast. It paused there momentarily and seemed wrong somehow. Atop the dried blood that was leftover from his last visit, it appeared a garnet. Wrong.

With a resentful sigh, he clamped a power nullifier on her so he could disconnect her from the adamantium latches on the wall and floor. Her body made that dumped-crawfish sound again when she sagged pitifully onto her side, but the muted clinks of the short adamantium chains that linked her wrist-to-wrist and ankle-to-ankle was louder. He grabbed the length between her wrists and dragged her into the bathroom. He lifted her by both lengths and dropped her into the tub. She sputtered when the cold water sprayed her face from the showerhead. The gem shard tumbled out, dropped to her chest, bounced from one breast to the other, and then plopped into the basin. He didn't bother plucking it out. It was much too large to go down the drain. He did, however, specifically adjust the angle of the icy water so it kept her sputtering as he cleaned the dried blood away. Once her flesh was a creamy white only a few shades darker than those stripes in her hair, once she was shivering enough that he could convince him of her fear, he returned her to her rightful place in the main room, the bedroom: chained for his pleasure, stretched taught between ceiling and floor.

He can't help but kiss her again, a false brief show of tenderness that still managed to raise futile hope in her, before he shoved that large, sharp gem shard into her mouth and sealed it shut with duct tape. He wrapped it around her face and head three times even though he preferred to have her hair loose so he could wound it around his fingers for a better grip and yank her head back (bask in their satiny texture), but he knew she still had too much fight in her for less than that. As it was, he suspected she could use that stolen strength to eventually work her mouth free of the tape and, shortly thereafter, the gem if she so wanted. It was a new treat (torment), and he was excited to discover how the scenario would play out.

He almost sat on the bed to wait as the gem wove its magic through her, but he couldn't seem to budge. His eyes hungrily lapped up the fading of every bruise, bump and scrape. A thrill of some kind ran through him when the last of the deeper cuts closed. Whether it was joy or anger, relief or disappointment, he didn't know or care. All that mattered was that he liked it.

He took off the power nullifier and started the timer. He had a goal of two hours and fifteen minutes. He couldn't wait to see how long he would last.

He rested his oil-black forehead to hers and stared at her eyes as they swam into mirrors of his counterpart's.

"No more emeralds," Death whispered.

They continued to transform and he held his breath as he watched.

"No burning embers, eit'er."

When they matched his own—shiny, like big maraschino cherries—a slow, drugged smile settled into place.

"Give us de light, petite. Me, de ashes, mais first…"

He held up one of his throwing spikes close enough for both of them to see without moving their heads. He pressed the tip into her cheek and removed it. He watched the blood ooze up into a tiny, trembling swell that reminded him of a single, juicy bulb in a whole raspberry. Again and again he did it, dotting her face with the bittersweet fruits of his labors.

"Dere we go, chère," Death said reassuringly. "Rubies for Remy."

Next, he pierced her breasts. Over and over again, just like on her cheeks, but worse, as though the more forbidden the flesh, the more it needed to be spoiled. Dozens of plump, shiny red droplets welled to rest upon her creamy white skin. He dipped his head down and licked them off one by one before her muted struggles lolled them over her uncharitable curves.

"Ah," he moaned generously. Grinning, he met her watery, cherry eyes and exclaimed, "Only de most exquisite of pains for our Remy."

He greatly anticipated sinking lower. It took every last ounce of his self-control to pace himself because even just the thought of it nearly had him brimming that bright and shiny edge of ecstasy (agony).

He glanced at the timer. One hour, forty-three minutes remained. He would do this. He would last.

One day, he'd even give as good as he got. Twenty-four, seven.

He dug the point of the spike along the under curve of her left breast and she grunted around the sharp gem shard, muffled behind the still binding duct-tape.

A familiar ache curled tight in his chest. Remy had finally reared up. His stamina was growing as well. Or rather, his resistance.

Oh, yes. One day, even he'd give as good as he got.

"Did the pedestal threaten you?" Hank asked cordially as he entered the tomb and saw the remains of Logan's supposedly simple mission. All he had to do was procure and then destroy the gem, preferably in that order. Something had obviously disrupted that.

Logan grimaced and Hank immediately lost his jovial mood. "What happened?"

"Ex-Cajun happened," Logan said, "And I think he's got Rogue."

"Rogue?" Hank asked, genuinely confused. Wouldn't that mean… "She's missing?"

"Three days, now," Logan said. He handed Beast one of the broken chunks of the gem. "This the real thing?"

Hank touched it to the portable Shi'ar scanner that Forge had adapted for this very purpose. While it analyzed, Hank asked, "Might I inquire as to why this is news to me?"

"News to everyone," Logan said, "Except me."

Hank merely lifted a curious brow.

"Thought she was letting off steam, so I covered for her." Logan grunted uncomfortably. He couldn't help but remember the scene before she had left, how he'd confronted her after she'd so nonchalantly excused herself when they'd finished debriefing Sunfire, who'd arrived mostly free of Apocalypse's pollution, and alone. He chewed over his choices of explanations, but then settled for simply stating; "Planned on going after her if she didn't check in after a week."

Hank's curiosity only grew at that, but then the scan completed, smartly thwarting his cursory urge to pry into the oft-feral mutant's characteristic brevity of words. "It's positive."

"Think we could use it to find the rest of the pieces?"

Hank thought a moment. "Perhaps…" He flipped through some of the settings. "I think so. It won't be terribly quick—" He cut himself off and looked to Logan, who looked decidedly grumpy. "Which concerns you more: quality or quantity?"

"Quantity," Logan answered quickly. "For now. Worry about the other part after we get back."

Excited by the new challenge, Hank immediately started reprogramming the device. "Since I don't need to confirm the purity of each piece, just merely recognize similarity, I believe I can—"

"Speed it up," Logan finished with him, though Logan's was said in impatience.

"Ah, yes," Hank said abashed. "My apologies for my misplaced enthusiasms. Do you think Apocalypse's designs for these gems include Rogue somehow?"

"Nah," Logan huffed. "It'd be pretty abrupt, don't ya think? He never had an eye on her before."

Hank pondered that a moment. "She went after Gambit by herself, then?" He pursued.

"More like," Logan admitted. He tossed and caught one of the gem shards, over and over again, as he worked it out for himself. Whatever direction his thoughts took, he didn't bother to voice any of it.

Hank tracked and collected a few more pieces then met Logan's distanced expression, "Perhaps you should relay your suspicions regarding Rogue to the others while I finish this?"

Logan grunted and headed towards the exit.

"Logan," Hank called before he had turned up the hallway. "Don't get sidetracked trying to track him. We'll be more effective as a group."

"Sure," Logan said before disappearing from view.

He nipped behind her ear.

She thrashed as forcefully as her bindings would permit, which wasn't much, as she tried to buck him off as thoroughly as she continued thowing off the splatters of liquid rubies that scattered about them on the walls, the ceiling, the bed, and the now slippery hardwood floor.

"Never abstained for long," Death whispered harshly. He pressed full length against her.

Almost there. They neared that pure white glowing edge and would soon burst over it and coat them with glittering, heavenly stardust. Almost there.

He gripped the chains linking her wrists and held on. "Not even in Valle Soleada."


The pure bright light of redemption erupted and Remy surfaced.

"Chère!?" Remy gasped.

He took her all in, though less thoroughly than she had taken in him. Her hair was ashen, her skin inky, and all of it slicked with her ruby red blood and his salty opaque hate. He jerked away, slipped and clattered to the floor. The briefest, most desperate movement of her fingers drew his agonized (triumphant) gaze upwards, to the fuchsia sparkle of the chains linking her wrists as she scrabbled to remove the charge he'd given them when he'd been shoved to the forefront.

She sagged when it was gone, reabsorbed using the very talents she'd drawn in through their cruelly contacting skin.

She shook with ragged sobs, quiet behind her gag.

Remy scrambled to his feet, to her. His fingers trembled as they sought purchase around the blood-slippery tape helping to gag her. He didn't dare speak for what could he say? What apology could dare attempt comfort or redemption? Frustrated, he snatched a throwing dart out of a pocket of his coat to cut the tape. The look her wholly red-glazed orbs gave him as he lifted it into her view…

He dropped it and ran for the toilet. He slipped and fell twice on the way, a third time knocked his knees and hips, clanging, into the side of the bathtub. His blood-dampened coat hissed to a slapping stop against the tiled floor, bathtub, toilet, and his own clammy, oil slick flesh.

He half expected black sludge to come out of him as he vomited, but all that had splashed into the bowl was coffee, shrimp, bile and… Rogue's blood.

Death chuckled darkly in the corners of Remy's mind. "Dat enough contrition yet, mon ami?"

Remy flicked himself off in the mirror as he rinsed his mouth in the sink.

"Didn't t'ink so," Death said as he surged forward and in complete (sure) control once more.

Irrelevant now, the alarm on the timer buzzed. The goal had obviously not been achieved.

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