Logan stormed off of the Blackbird, his temper barely held in check. What the hell had that fool Cyclops been thinking? Was he trying to get them all killed? Really, Wolverine could understand why he had to go, and even, maybe, why Jean had needed to go, but did he have to send in Gambit and Rogue, too? Into what was sure to be awful damn close to a suicide mission?
The mission had seemed simple at first; go into a secret, government-funded facility, gather some intelligence, and retreat. It had long been suspected that the facility they had been ordered to check out was mass producing anti-mutant weaponry. If that had been true, then the X-Men would have probably launched an attack on the plant, destroying the technology and the labs.
But what had been a simple retrieval mission had gone terribly awry when an unrelated explosion had occurred deeper in the lab, throwing the entire area into panic and turmoil, as the workers had fled. Logan had managed to throw Jean into an empty room with a window she could exit from, but he had not been so lucky for himself. Instead, he had been spotted.
The technician who saw him, unfortunately, was intelligent enough to recognize him for what he was, and quick enough to prevent him from getting very far. He had sent half a dozen Sentinels after Logan, who had managed to bolt fast enough to escape out a side door. Logan would not have been able to beat them all by himself, but may have been able to avoid being captured, until Cyclops had decided it would be a good idea to send in some backup.
Jean had stayed close by after escaping, and had come to his rescue immediately, using her telepathy to force back the Sentinels, giving Logan some breathing room. That hadn't lasted long, as Jean had exhausted herself, but Logan was confident that he could finish destroying the last two on his own. That is, until five more sentinels came to join the two still standing, pitting Wolverine against seven of them.
It was about that time that Rogue had come flying to the rescue, Gambit not far behind her, his cards charged and ready to explode. The fight had been brutal after that; the Sentinels had been destroyed, but Gambit had been hurt, badly. The kid was a strong fighter, but one of the Sentinels had gotten lucky and struck him from behind. Once he had been hit, two more had attacked him. Logan had managed to destroy them both before they killed him, but it didn't make much difference. Remy LeBeau was down for the count.
Jean had carefully floated him back to the Blackbird, while the factory smoked behind them. No doubt the fires would be put out soon, either by water sprinklers, or by local firemen. And then the bastards would move their research, knowing that they had been discovered. It would take time to find them again, once they had relocated, and there was no telling what might be created during that time.
On the way home, Scott had bawled Logan out. The older man had tuned him out, opting instead to watch the man lying prone on the floor, with the Beast working over him. Logan found himself immensely grateful that Hank had come with them, but opted to remain on the jet, feeling that while his talents might prove useful, his appearance would be detrimental on a stealth mission of this nature.
Gambit was in no danger of dying at the moment, but he wouldn't be going on missions any time soon, either. He had regained consciousness briefly while on the Blackbird, just long enough to hear the tail end of Scott's lecture to Logan, and to attract the team leader's attention. Scott had started to lay into Gambit, but Logan had put a stop to that real quick, his claws sliding out with a quiet 'snikt', an unsubtle threat as he growled at Cyclops.
The younger man had just glared at him, but had opted to ignore the both of them for the rest of the trip, which was just fine by Logan. He didn't know how the boy did it, but he managed to raise his hackles with almost no effort at all. The only other person who could get a rise out of him so quickly was that bastard Sabertooth.
When they had landed back at Xavier's Institute, Logan had stuck around just long enough to make sure that Gambit left the jet safely, and then he was out of there, storming across the yard and into the mansion. He was going to go to his room, change into a pair of jeans, and leave again. Maybe he'd take Scott's motorcycle, and wreck it on the way, just out of spite.
Nobody dared to stop him on his way to his room, silently moving out of his way. Only Kurt opted to walk beside him, unafraid of Logan's anger. After all, it wasn't directed at him, and while Logan might be a bit curt to people most of the time, he wouldn't lash out in anger at somebody who was innocent in the matter.
"What happened, mein freund?" he asked, his voice soothing. And Logan told him, explaining about the easy entry, the explosion, the Sentinels. When he got to the part where Gambit had been hurt, his throat closed up, and he growled, angry at himself. Kurt just listened to him; the blue-furred teenager had long ago proven himself a true friend to Logan and Rogue, and had never judged any of the X-Men.
"Will Gambit be all right?" Kurt asked, his tone still soft and gentle. Logan nodded, unable to talk about the younger man's near death experience. If Beast hadn't been there, it would have been hard to stabilize the other mutant well enough to get him home safely.
Logan sighed, pausing briefly outside his room. "He'll live, but he'll be out for a while," he said, his tone not exactly reassuring. With that, he stepped into his room, and Kurt didn't follow, wisely choosing to leave Logan alone for a few minutes. He had done his job, and had calmed Logan's temper.
Changing quickly, Logan stepped back out the door, his sense of smell telling him that Kurt had left just seconds before. Deciding to stop by and check in on Remy before he headed out, Logan followed the stairs the whole way down to the basement. When he got to the hospital wing, Logan saw only Hank and Charles.
Professor Xavier looked up at him and smiled. "Welcome back, Logan," he greeted. "Have you come to check up on Remy?" Wolverine just stared at him, one eyebrow raised; of course he was here to check up on Gambit. Why else would he have wandered into this section of the institute?
Charles just nodded at him and left the room, while Hank checked the machines that Gambit was hooked up to. Satisfied that all was well, Hank left as well, briefly setting his hand on Logan's shoulder and squeezing lightly. Logan just smiled up at him, grateful for the support.
Once the door had shut behind the other two mutants, Logan took a deep breath and approached the bed. Standing just out of reach of the prone body, Logan stared down at Gambit, unable to stop the niggle of worry at the other man's condition. He might not be in danger of dying right now, but that didn't mean that he was out of the woods yet. His face was rather battered, and an oxygen mask covered his nose and mouth. Gambit's face was drawn and pale, dark bruises showing under his eyes.
The mask that Gambit normally wore to cover his features was absent, and Logan found himself appreciating, for the first time, just how charming Remy LeBeau really was. Without actually thinking about it, Wolverine found himself brushing away the bangs that had fallen over Gambit's forehead. The man on the bed stirred, and Logan pulled his hand away, forcing himself to remain where he was as Gambit's eyes opened, his gaze unfocused but quickly growing sharper and more aware.
Glancing up at Logan, Gambit's eyes widened slightly, before returning to their normal amused stare. "Ah, mon ami. You have come to see how Gambit is doing, no?" he asked, his voice hoarse, deepening his normally smooth drawl into a rough, lower sound that was nonetheless pleasant. Logan grinned to himself; once a player, always a player, eh?
"I was just comin' to check on ya," he admitted, his voice a low growl. "You didn't look none too pretty on the Blackbird." Gambit chuckled at him tiredly, and then winced as his throat twinged. "Get some sleep, ya damn Cajun," Wolverine mumbled gruffly. "We need ya."
Something vulnerable entered Gambit's eyes then, before being quickly hidden. "Ah, Gambit see now. Da big bad Wolverine misses Gambit." He was smiling as he said it, but it was too late. Wolverine had seen the look in his eyes, and recognized it for what it was. Remy LeBeau was unsure that he belonged here, among the X-Men. After all, he had once been the enemy. Rogue had dumped him in the freezing cold in Antarctica, leaving him there in exile to die or make his own way back. And now, he had been hurt, trying to protect Logan.
Logan debated for only a moment, but then sat on the edge of Gambit's hospital bed. His weight caused the bed to dip slightly, and Gambit slid towards him a little. An arm came out to try and push him away a bit, but Logan reached out and rested a hand lightly on Gambit's waist. The Cajun froze, staring up at him, unsure of himself and trying to hide it.
"You're still so young," Logan murmured, almost to himself. Gambit raised an eyebrow, and Logan smiled. "Compared to me, everybody in here is young, except maybe Chuck." That got a smile out of Gambit, and Logan continued. "We need you to get better – I need you to get better," he corrected himself, "because there's not many people that I trust at our backs, or at our side. You're one of 'em. Rogue and Nightcrawler are the other two."
Gambit blinked, surprised. "That's a mighty small list there," he commented, and Logan shrugged. He'd dealt with the others before, but he wasn't just talking about in battle. Rogue and Nightcrawler were the only two people, other than the professor, that he could actually talk to. In combat, Logan tended to be a bit of a lone wolf, and both Rogue and Nightcrawler understood that, often covering his back and letting him go on ahead of them. He'd trust them to guard his back from anyone, and anything.
"Then Gambit is most honored that Wolverine trusts him," the younger mutant murmured, and Logan sighed, glaring at him. "What is wrong?" he asked. "Did Gambit say something wrong?"
Logan just shook his head. "Do you always do that?" he demanded abruptly. When the other man just stared up at him blankly, his red eyes confused, Logan frowned. "Refer to yourself in third person, and by your codename?"
The confusion cleared up in Gambit's eyes, and he shrugged, wincing slightly as injuries were pulled at. "Gambit always talks like this. Is that bad?" he asked, genuinely curious.
"No, not bad. But you can refer to yourself by your real name, and in the first person. Although I suppose that that's part of your charm, too," he mused.
Gambit grinned at him. "Wolverine finds Gambit charmin'?" he asked, obviously enchanted with the thought. Logan just nodded, finding that he liked it when Gambit smiled, the expression reaching all the way up to his eyes.
"Yeah, I find you charming, ya damn Cajun," he murmured, the phrase almost a term of endearment. "And the name's Logan," he added.
For the third time that day, he saw the surprise flash through Gambit's eyes. He waited patiently while Gambit swallowed and appeared to debate something. "You can call Gambit by his real name, too," he offered tentatively, as if unsure that he had wanted to offer.
"All right, then. Logan and Remy it is," Wolverine decided, his tone final. Standing, he walked towards the door. "Now that the hard part's taken care of, get some rest," he ordered. "I'm going for a ride. See you when I get back." The words were both a promise and a reassurance for the mutant still lying on the bed, and Logan returned the smile he got. Perhaps there was hope yet.