Title: These Fragments, Against Ruin
Characters:
Wolverine/Gambit
Summary:
Time's supposed to fix everything, but it doesn't seem to be doing much for his lack of memories. Lucky for him he's got a distraction at hand.
Notes:
Exploring what might have happened if Wolverine had gone with Gambit at the end of the movie instead of going his own way. 2148 words, R for smut, AU. Movieverse continuity only.


These Fragments, Against Ruin

They left the dead woman where she lay; it felt wrong, doing it, but the sirens had been getting louder with every second that ticked by, and that was making the skinny kid who'd called himself a friend pretty antsy. The best he could do for her was close her staring eyes, so he did, and then it was time to run, following the guy through the rubble and the smoke.


One of the first things he learns about himself is that he hates flying.


Halfway down the eastern seaboard, it occurred to him to ask the guy who he was. That earned him a look and a pair of lifted eyebrows. "You don't remember a thing, do you?" the guy--barely more than a kid, really, definitely not old enough to be flying this tin can--asked.

"No," he grunted, already sorry he'd asked, and wishing the kid would keep his eyes on his flying.

The flying bucket hit an air pocket and dropped, its entire frame jolting. He clutched the seat; the kid didn't even bother looking away from him. "Looked like you'd taken a bullet, maybe two, up here," he said, tapping the side of his own head--Christ Almighty, what was he doing, letting go of the controls like that? "Reckon that must've scrambled things pretty good, huh?"

"Shouldn't you be concentrating on flying this damn thing?" he demanded, stomach lurching.

The kid just laughed, long-fingered hands caressing the controls. "Relax. My baby practically flies herself."

"Right." He stared at the horizon resolutely, trying to ignore the churning in his gut.

"And it's LeBeau," the kid added. "Remy LeBeau." He hesitated over it a little bit, like there was another name that was supposed to go with that, but didn't go on.

Whatever. Wasn't worth wrangling over. "Right," he said again, and that was the end of the conversation for the time being.


When they hit New Orleans, he discovers that he really doesn't like people all that much.

Honestly, it didn't come as a surprise.


LeBeau found them a flophouse room in a part of town where the tourists didn't go. "It'll be a good place for you to lie low in," he announced, surveying the room with an air of approval. "Least until things cool off a bit."

He just grunted. Stupid to think about cool in humidity like this, when he was already sticky with sweat. The room stank, too, of mildew and old meals and all the bodies that'd passed in and out of it before them. The room's ceiling fan--its one concession to the heat--squeaked as it pushed through the air.

"I'm taking the shower," he announced, and did. The water was rusty and tepid, and there was no soap.

It was still the best damn thing he'd felt all day, and he stood in the stained, chipped tub for a long time, letting the water sluice over him.

When he got out, he found that LeBeau had gotten his hands on some food, and had taken over the bed. "Yours is on the table," he said, jerking his head at the oil-spotted bag.

"Thanks." When he crossed the room and investigated the bag, he found a styrofoam box, gumbo over rice, and a plastic fork to eat it with. Wasn't half-bad, either, or maybe that was how hungry he was. Either way, he tore into it, and didn't stop till it was gone.

LeBeau watched him the whole time. Didn't say anything, just watched, eyes gone all thoughtful--thoughtful in a way he recognized. Like that, was he? Pretty enough for it, anyway.

He dumped the emptied container back in the bag and stretched, popping his back. "So now what?"

LeBeau's eyes traveled over his chest. "We lie low," he said, voice going rougher.

Kid wasn't a bad looker--long legs, clever hands, pretty face--and was confident, too, like it didn't bother him that a fellow might take offense at being checked out like that.

Sure as hell looked like he was offering, too.

Hell, why not? "Sounds pretty boring."

LeBeau's grinned bloomed, slow. "S'pose we might be able to find something to do." He sat up, producing a deck of cards by some sleight of hand. "Poker?"


It turns out that he's not half bad at poker.

But LeBeau is better.


The bed was as decrepit as the rest of the room; the box springs creaked with every movement and the frame itself groaned with the weight of the two bodies on it. LeBeau's voice mixed in with the noise of the bed, his accent gone thicker, acquiring a patois that gave his cursing an impressive range.

He liked the way LeBeau moaned for him, and the convulsive movements of LeBeau's slim pale body when he twisted his fingers inside him. He kept LeBeau there until LeBeau's curses turned genuine, and then slid into him, one long smooth stroke that had LeBeau's fingers scrabbling in their sheets and his curses turning into a single wordless cry.

Fucking was good, something simple and straightforward in the middle of everything else that didn't make sense. The pleasure that knifed through him didn't have to be rediscovered or deciphered, and he fucked LeBeau until neither of them could move.

Afterwards, LeBeau told him what he knew, which wasn't much. He had names--Stryker, Creed--that felt like they ought to have had meaning attached to them beyond what LeBeau could tell him. It ought to have meant something that the kids (what kids?) had gotten away safely, but doesn't, really.

Beyond that, LeBeau had nothing--no answers for who he was, or why he was wearing a set of dog tags, or even what it was that had brought him up against Stryker and Creed in the first place. "Maybe you just need time?" LeBeau suggested, but he sounded like he didn't even think much of the idea himself.

"Time. Yeah." There would be some of that to spare, at least, given the mess they'd left behind them.


It takes a couple of nights to find out that his scrambled brain is still capable of producing nightmares, even if it was shit at making those nightmares make sense.

LeBeau gets really good at dodging claws, really fast.


He took a job at the docks loading and unloading cargo, and got used to answering to a name that was supposed to be his own. It was hard work, outdoors in a moist heat that clung to his skin and stuck in his nose and mouth till he wanted to pant for breath like an animal. But it was a job, cash under the table and no questions asked, and that was good enough for him.

New Orleans was LeBeau's city, and he slipped right into a job dealing cards and fleecing drunken tourists easy as a knife sliding through butter. They didn't see much of each other after the first few days of "lying low"--LeBeau was usually heading out as he was coming in. Just as well; the bed wasn't big enough for the both of them.

But the sex stayed good, maybe because of the staggered schedules. LeBeau didn't have any more inhibitions than a cat, and neither did he, for that matter. It wasn't a big deal to pin LeBeau down and fuck him stupid when he came in at the tail end of the night, smelling of smoke and booze and the crowd, or to blow him at the end of the day, when it was good to be off his feet with LeBeau's cock sliding in and out of his mouth and the smell of LeBeau in his nose.

The days slipped past like that, turned into weeks and then a month, month and a half. He bought a used motorcycle when he could afford it and discovered his taste for foul cigars, and his brain stayed scrambled.


Four months in, he realizes that he's the monogamous type.

LeBeau is not.


LeBeau was lean, and pretty, and had a wide taste for women and men alike, and didn't make a secret of it, probably because LeBeau had guessed he would have walked the first time he came home with someone else's scent on him. As it was, when it happened, LeBeau just shrugged. "She was very pretty," he said, lazy, hands moving through the dawn's dim light. "Red hair, down to here. Breasts like peaches. You would have understood if you'd seen her."

He could imagine it, LeBeau with his hands buried in a woman's long hair, those thin hands on a pair of breasts, caressing them with the same easy competence he used when dealing cards. That image kept him from walking. He was late to work because of it, and left LeBeau behind him, sprawled across the crappy bed with a dazed, stupid grin on his face.

LeBeau learned fast, and got good at picking out the details that got him hard--long hair and nice breasts and curves that didn't quit. He'd share them, gasping them out while pinned down--"Sweetest mouth you ever saw, pink like candy, and the devil's own tongue"--or bent over--"Then she wrapped those long legs around me and I took her right there against the wall"--and didn't mind being fucked until the musk of fresh sex had overpowered the perfumes that lingered on his skin.

It went on like that for a while, almost comfortably, for several weeks. When it changed, the morning the scent on LeBeau's skin was spicy and deep, and LeBeau started out with, "You should have seen him," it happened so fast that he didn't even notice the claws sliding out until LeBeau stopped. "Or maybe not," LeBeau said, slow, mouth quirking. "You don't want me running after the other boys, that it?"

"You can do what you want," he said, and forced himself to relax.

"That's mighty big of you." The bastard mostly just looked amused. "Ah, well. There's a whole big sea of pretty fishes out there."

"Do what you want." He turned away and stared out the window at the cheap street. "None of my business, is it?"

"Depends, I guess." Behind him, the bed creaked, then LeBeau's shoes thunked onto the floor. "You sticking around these parts or not?"

Cloth rustled and hit the floor with a soft sigh as he considered it and watched the dawn coming up. "Not much longer."

"Then the boys'll keep till then." He didn't have to see LeBeau to know he was smirking. "Now, try not to be a stubborn bastard just this once and get over here, will you?"

He was late for work again that morning, and got yelled at for it, and pretty much ignored the whole thing and the threats of being fired. It didn't much matter, really, not when it was the beginning of the end.


Half a year on, he gives up on his brains unscrambling themselves. Time alone isn't going to fix that. Something else might; he figures it's time he went looking.


Six months in New Orleans should have left him with more than what fit into a motorcycle's saddlebags, but somehow hadn't managed to. LeBeau watched him pack it all, wearing one of his amused, detached smiles. "That's all you're taking?"

He closed the last bag and buckled it. "A man doesn't need any more than this."

"If you say so." LeBeau watched him straighten up. "Know where you're going yet?"

"North." Somewhere cooler, with more space. And fewer people. "Figure the rest out when I get there."

LeBeau's teeth flashed. "Sure you will." But he said it without any rancor. "Here. Take this. It's a little something to remember me by."

The something, when he caught it, turned out to be a roll of bills, and a thick one at that. "I don't want this."

"Take it anyway. Took me a whole week to make that." LeBeau smirked at him, eyes glittering and obstinate. "You feel bad about it, you pay me back next time you pass through."

"Right." They both knew what the chances of that were. But it wasn't worth fighting LeBeau over it, not when he was wearing his stubborn look, so he tucked the money away and straddled the bike. "Owe you one. Look me up if you ever need to collect."

LeBeau grinned like he thought it'd be a cold day in hell before he ever needed to do a thing like that. "Sure. You take care of yourself, hear?"

"Yeah, you too," he said, and surprised himself by even sort of meaning it. He kicked the engine into life before the sentimental crap could get any thicker on the ground. "See you around."

LeBeau just raised a hand, jaunty, and waved him off, so Logan opened up the throttle and didn't look back.

- end -

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