Blind Leading the Blind
In the Dark
Authors Note: This story is nothing to do with my previous work Derranged Marriage.
Blind was such an ugly word, he thought. He'd never considered it to be so before, it had just been a random word that people used to refer to being ignorant. 'Fool, you're blind'. Yes, that was the only instance he'd ever used blind.
Now, blind was a dirty word, a hideously filthy word that he had never wanted to hear again, a single syllable term that came to him as a diagnosis, not an insult. You're blind. Your eyesight is completelygone.
He sat listening to the silence, it was palpable, like none he'd ever heard before. He could hear the breathing, the noise of clothes with the move of each limb, the ticking of a clock, the hum of an electric fan, the sputtering of an air conditioning unit somewhere to the back of the room. Would he have noticed those before? Was this his body adjusting?
Just the consolation prize, sorry you lost your sight, Gambit ,but here...have some slightly heightened senses to tide you over.
No...he was positive he would have not heard the sounds so intense had he been able to see the room around him. He didn't know where he was, he didn't know who was even standing nearby, although the smell of sickly sweet cologne hung in the air enough to tell him that whoever it was, happened to be male.
His eyes hurt, he was fully aware of the pain, as if someone had punched both of them with a closed fist that had been doused in gasoline and set on fire. It burned and throbbed and pinched all at the same time while he was left in a perpetual blackness that almost seemed as if someone might have just switched off a light.
Except the lights were probably on...as far as he could tell.
And...this most likely wasn't as simple as switching the light on again.
He felt strangely off kilter, as if the left side of his body might have weighed more than the right. What an odd feeling...or was that just the painkiller someone had administered? Had it been the Beast who had administered the drug? When his sleeve had been rolled up for a moment he'd felt the brush of something that reminded him of a sheepskin rug he'd used to play on as a boy – the one he'd use to drive his toy soldiers through pretending it was a snowy landscape back before he'd ever seen snow with his own two eyes.
Remy LeBeau should have been panicking, he should have been yelling or screaming or responding with anything other than the thought; will I ever see snow again?
Someone in the room shifted position, the sound of hard tile floor beneath a dull perhaps well worn heel.
He reached out, catching something cold, smooth and springy beneath his long fingers. Leather. This is leather...
It was a shoulder, he ran his hand down the material, gripping a slim arm; he heard the breath of the person before him change, they gripped his arm back gently.
"Do you have any perception of light?" they asked.
Jean Grey, he recognised the voice instantly. He hadn't spent enough time with the X-Men to know most of them on a first name basis, but he knew their voices. A thief listens, a thief pays attention, he thought dully as he squeezed Jean's arm.
"No...it's black. Jus' black..." he swallowed, there was a lump in his throat, and he wasn't sure if it accompanied anger or sadness...his feelings were so mixed with confusion and panic. How would he survive if he couldn't see? Was that the end of his adventuring, of his life?
He wondered if Cyclops were nearby; at that moment in time as he stared into a never ending void, he'd have loved to have gripped onto the throat of the boy and choke him until death. He let out a deep sigh that felt scratchy in his throat, more like a wheeze. The fumes from the fire at the chemical plant had sunk deep into his chest, he felt his lungs rattle with every intake of breath as if something might be loose in there, spinning around like a bingo ball in a barrel at a church fête.
"You sense no light at all?" queried a voice, slightly harsher, full of Ivy League snobbery yet with low notes of sympathy...understanding...or was that just what Remy wanted to hear? This was Professor Charles Xavier's voice...of that he was certain. He'd heard it time and time again when been a spy for Magneto and Mystique...he'd heard the lengthy and long-winded speeches the man gave regarding mutant affairs on news channels.
"Nothing...jus' darkness," Remy replied to the question.
Jean left him; he sensed her presence nearby, her hovering somewhere to his left, someone else replaced her in front of him, he felt something brush his knee and tried not to jump in response having not expected this.
He shifted uncomfortably where he was sitting; a bed? A chair? He let his hand brush against the surface of it, the smooth cold surface slick beneath his fingers, spongy beneath. An examination couch perhaps? Was he at a hospital...in a doctors office?
A click, click, clickity click, more shifting around. Delicate fingers prying around his tender throbbing eyelids; the area was far too sensitive for this and he flinched, swatting the hand off clumsily. "Stop that!" he warned in a pained hiss.
"I'm sorry," apologised the Professor. "It seems as if the blast has severely damaged your corneas and the optic nerve in both eyes..."
Optic nerve. What werethe optic nerves again? Which part of the eye was that? And what about the cornea? He supposed he should have spent more time going to school and paying attention in biology perhaps, and probably spent much less time pickpocketing and not going to school at all.
"What that mean?" Remy breathed, he gripped the knees of his pants anxious. "Will it fix itself?"
A pause; Remy hated it when people paused in this way. If the Professor had to pause to consider his response, then the answer wasn't a positive answer...quite the opposite, probably.
"There have been miraculous new techniques discovered that can repair the damage. To what extent, I'm unsure. It may be possible you will regain some sight back..."
"Some?" Remy asked in disbelief, he held onto the material of his pants so tightly that his knuckles cracked loudly, and it caused pain to dance across his fingers.
"I'll make some calls, try to gain some more information," came the other voice, undoubtedly The Beast.
"Try? Y' better do a little better than try!" Remy retorted. "It 'cause of your X-Men that I can't see a t'ing right now!"
"Pipe down, Gambit," came a grunt. Wolverine...he was there too. Remy wondered how many more of them were there, were they all standing watching him as if he were a prize exhibit? A novelty? "If ya hadn't been at that chemical factory, then ya wouldn't have got caught in Cyclops blast."
"I thought y'all were supposed to be smart," grumbled Remy, he felt his jaw tighten, "what kind of smart mutant with the power to shoot firebeams out of his eyes takes a shot in a chemical factory t' begin with?"
Jean spoke up, "Scott is a good aim...I saw what happened, Gambit, you tried to duck it and got caught in the face..."
"I know what happened, red," uttered Remy in a cold voice. "I was there, I felt it. I'm still feelin' it."
"I thought ya were quick," came Wolverine's observation.
"I had t' duck; the vials I had in my hand woulda exploded if one-eye had hit anywhere near 'em in motion...and t' be honest, I quite like having my right hand...it's my favourite. It's part o' a matching set."
"Ya shouldn't have been there," Wolverine growled; he felt the man's close proximity, smelt the cigar smoke and sweat from him.
Professor Xavier cleared his throat, Wolverine must have backed off because suddenly the smell seemed to almost vanish immediately. "What were you doing there, Gambit?"
"Working. Rent is hard t' make when y' don't have any cash t' pay it with."
"Who were you working for?"
The Professor's question should have been expected, and yet somehow, Remy hadn't expected he would have to explain this right now while he sat there with the ultimate possibility he may never see ever again. He closed his mouth, he turned his head away, hoping that he was pointing away from the Professor's direction.
"He won't tell you," Wolverine said after a moment, he sounded almost amused. "Thieves have honour, apparently."
Remy spoke up, "rule number two; y' never reveal who a client is."
"What's rule number one?" Jean asked in wonderment.
With a sigh, Remy frowned. The answer was kind of ironic, really. "Never get caught."
When Rogue arrived home from school a little later due to having taken a detour to the music store for a new CD release, she was surprised to find herself being summoned straight to the Professor's office on the first floor. The telepathic request came the instant she had come through the front door and she rolled her eyes wishing the Professor could have at least given her a moment to put her bag away before demanding she come to see him.
She let her bag hang on the newel post at the bottom of the stairway, and made her way through the winding corridors to the Professor's office at the back of the mansion. She did not knock, she simply entered, swinging the door closed behind her.
The Professor sat behind his large mahogany desk, a stack of medical journals near his left arm. There were more in a cardboard box in the floor. It had been a while since Rogue had seen him leafing through medical journals, she wasn't sure what it indicated though.
"Rogue, there was an incident today," said the Professor, his eyes raised to her, they were piercingly blue and intense as always; she always found it hard to stare at his eyes for any length of time without feeling read, even if he hadn't telepathically invaded her thoughts.
"Oh?" she asked, she let her backside rest against the wall and folded her arms, "what's up?"
"Your friend Gambit was caught today at the Bayville chemical plant."
Rogue stared at the Professor all too knowing. This made sense; she'd been in the school cafeteria when a news report had come on a student's radio about an explosion at the Bayville chemical plant. No one had been killed, but mutant involvement was suspected. It even been on the front of an evening edition newspaper on a news stand she'd passed on the way home.
"You expected this?"
"Ah heard on the radio durin' lunch," Rogue pushed herself away from the wall. Admittedly she hadn't expected that Gambit would have any involvement whatsoever. It surprised her, even, that he bad been back in Bayville. She'd assumed he'd decided to stay in New Orleans after their last encounter. "So he caused it?"
"In a manner of speaking," said the Professor. "He and Cyclops got into a brawl, a few vials of chemicals were dropped and caused a small explosion and the fire spread; luckily the sprinkler system kicked in before it could spread to the rest of the plant and the more volatile chemicals...the toxic fumes released would have been deadly."
"Ah," said Rogue, she stood at the other side of the desk, looking at the Professor, she wasn't sure why it was necessary that she be informed of this...what had the Professor said? Her friend? "Actually...y'know, he's not my friend," she corrected, perhaps a little too late now. "Ah just helped him once, is all," she shrugged.
"In any case, friend or not, I require your help taking care of him for the moment."
"Taking care?" asked Rogue, now she was mystified. Had Gambit been hurt? Had he been severely injured and hospitalized to a bed in the sick bay downstairs? "What happened to him?"
The Professor gave a sigh, "He tried to dodge one of Cyclops blasts and was hit directly in the face; his eyes have been damaged."
"Damaged..." repeated Rogue, she scratched her arm absently.
"Severely. He's been blinded...perhaps irreversibly...but it is too soon to say."
Rogue was speechless now, she simply stood, scratching her imaginary itch because she couldn't find anything to add to the conversation. She was unsure if she was allowed to feel sympathy for him or not – after all, he was still technically the enemy.
"You've had experience living and helping care for a blind person," the Professor said suddenly, as if to answer the question that she hadn't even spoken yet.
This was true, Rogue had helped care for Irene Adler, the blind woman who had helped raise her before her powers had manifested. Memories of applying Braille labels to jars, reading the newspaper and the dozens of other things she'd had to do for Irene came flooding back in an instant...things she'd almost forgotten about thanks to her new life in Bayville.
"What do you want me to do?" Rogue asked.
"Be his eyes – at least for now."
"He's staying here?"
"Until we help him regain his sight, we will need to be responsible for him. Whether or not he should have been at that Chemical plant is neither here nor there; the fact is that he was injured directly because of our interference, and therefore...we should help him in whatever way we can."
"Wouldn't a hospital be better?"
"A hospital would be the worst place for him...he wouldn't be treated with quite the same caring and considerate attitude that should be shown to him."
"Caring and considerate?" Rogue almost laughed aloud that she should be expected to be kind to Gambit just because he'd lost his sight through an accident that had been partly his own fault, "that's a stretch...I can be not mean to him..."
"As long as you help him, and be congenial," Professor Xavier frowned just a little, his blue eyes squinting.
"Ah'm guessin'..he doesn't wanna go back home to The Big Easy, either," Rogue supposed.
"I broached the subject with him earlier today," the Professor answered, "without giving too much of an explanation, he told me he and his father are...estranged."
"He hates his daddy," Rogue nodded.
"In any case...Gambit is also nineteen, and I can't force him to go home. From what he told me, his father would have very little interest in his current condition and would provide very little care even if I did force him to return..."
"Yeah...from what Ah was told...that sounds pretty much right on the money," she agreed. She took a moment to think about the situation. "You sure he's not...pretendin' or something?"
The Professor raised an eyebrow at her, silly question really she realised.
She felt at least it necessary to explain why she'd suggested such a thing, "it's just...Ah've been inside his head and...Ah've spent time with him too...Ah know he can be...manipulative."
"Both Hank and myself gave him an examination...the damage is there. He's completely blind...no vision at all...no perception of light either."
Rogue hugged herself, she felt a chill sweep over her.
"He's very scared, Rogue. One need only look into his face to know he's very frightened and very angry..."
"Where is he?"
"In the white guest room."
"What do Ah...do with him?" it was a fair question. How do you start teaching someone to survive after they've just gone blind – even if it is just temporary? She only helped Irene, she hadn't been there from the beginning...she wasn't sure where to begin with Remy.
"Help him...in any way he needs helping...Kurt will help with anything else that you cannot manage."
"Right..." Rogue sighed, "so...should Ah go see him now?"
"Yes, he may need help coming down to dinner."
He wasn't sure how the room looked; to be honest even if he'd had his sight, he probably would not have cared either...anywhere had to be an improvement from the apartment he'd been renting, and this smelled considerably better than the just painted smell of an empty apartment in a new building.
It kept running through his mind that he didn't know what to do or how to handle this...he'd never equipped himself with the possibility that he could one day end up blind or disabled through his daredevil adventuring and overconfident carelessness. He'd always known he was mortal, and he'd certainly never considered himself immortal like some of the more powerful mutants did, but he certainly hadn't expected that any minute he might be cut down in the prime of his life by a freak accident and left to be disabled for eternity.
Disabled? Was that really what this was? Or was this just a minor setback that he could overcome? He wasn't sure how to class it...an inconvenience...agony...torture...those words were pretty high up on the list. His eyes stung and felt oddly gritty when he moved them. The Beast had applied dressings on each eye to keep out infection from the inflamed skin – although Remy wasn't able to see the extent of the damage himself he was told that some of the skin around his eyes was blistered and burned from the blast.
He wondered if he would ever look like himself again after he'd healed, or if he would be deformed as well as permanently disabled.
A quick light step outside broke him from his misery momentarily, followed by the creak of a door, careful, quiet, and an unsure breath as whoever was there looked around the room.
They wouldn't see him, of course, and that had been the intention. He'd tripped over something – he was unsure what – and ended up on the floor an hour ago. He'd tried to get up and banged his head on something and felt around to find it was the bed. He'd crawled under it and curled up. If he couldn't see the world, he didn't feel much like letting the world see him.
That soft, vaguely husky Southern drawl...it might have been comforting if he wasn't so deeply annoyed and in excruciating pain. He heard Rogue crossing the room, a pause, a step, a pause, a step, the swinging of what might have been a closet door?
"Go away," he commanded miserably, his voice feeble and weak, he curled his arm across his tender throbbing face, he wondered if it was dark outside yet, he didn't even know what time it was any more. It could have still been broad daylight, or it might even be closer to nine.
There were so many things he realised he'd never be able to tell for himself...the time...whether it was due to rain...he'd never be able to tell if someone was looking him in the eyes or smirking at him. He squeezed his eyes shut tightly beneath the dressings, the pain was like white hot burning, as if someone had dripped acid into each eye in turn.
"What you doin' under the bed?" her voice was closer, he heard a soft thump-thump as she came down on her knees to his level.
He answered sincerely, "I can't see you, why should you get t' see me?" he rolled over awkwardly and hoped he'd rolled in the opposite direction away from her; he felt his shoulder hit the wooden slats supporting the mattress.
"C'mon, come out. Ah wanna talk to you."
"Go away," he said again. "I don' wanna talk to anyone."
"Stop feelin' sorry for yourself," Rogue tried.
"Sorry for myself?" he demanded, "in case y' hadn't heard, I have one-hundred-percent vision loss, and I can't even tell if it's night or day. Everythin' to me is as black as the cobs of hell!"
"I know, I'm sorry."
She didn't sound sorry though, and that stung perhaps just as much as the fiery sensation behind his eyes.
"Come out, though, we'll talk."
"I can talk fine from here," he grumbled.
"Fine," she uttered. He heard her shifting again, then he heard a slight creak and spring from above...she was on the bed.
He waited for her to be the first one to speak, but she didn't. He wasn't sure what to say to initiate this...all he wanted to do was yell at her and her friends for doing this to him...for making him blind. Whether he was partly to blame for having been there to begin with or not, he didn't care. This was still their fault. "Well?" he spat.
"Your life isn't over just 'cause you can't see...and besides...the Professor seems to think you'll get some vision back."
"Some vision," he repeated. "Some. Not all of it, chere. Some. I could be like this for th' rest o' my life."
"But you won't be. The Professor will do all he can to help...he knows some of the best doctors in the world...he'll find someone who can help you."
Remy had no response to this, he didn't believe it to be possible; the X-Men had bigger and better things to concern themselves with other than helping him gain his sight back. "Y'know what kills me about this, chere," he uttered, "I'm stuck here. I'm like a blind trapped mouse dropped into a maze...I can't just walk out of here, your Professor won't let me."
"Where would you go? What would you do? Go back to your daddy?"
"Never," he answered; the thought was far from his mind. There was no chance he was going back there again, he'd had enough of his father's dictatorship and schemes. He'd already gone over the possibility with the Professor and had come to the conclusion going home would be a bad idea.
"Would they help you if you did go back?" Rogue asked curiously; Remy heard a distinct scratching sound, she was clawing at a limb or her face, he was sure.
"Probably not...I be pretty much useless t' them in this condition," he answered truthfully. He rolled onto his back and stared up into the endless black, his eyes still gritty and on fire. "I'm useless t' everyone now. No one gon' wanna help me."
Her voice was tiny when she spoke, but he heard it all the same...her voice was all he could pick out in the darkness, the only thing he could cling to in that despairing moment. "That's not true...I'll help you."
Eating dinner with no sight was like...that new craze of dining in the dark, but without the expensive food, the wine and a good looking date with a half-decent rack. He was led into his seat and waited on; he heard plates being put down in front of him onto the table, the sound of liquid being poured into a glass, the sounds of things being passed around.
He would have glanced down at his plate and probably wondered what it was even if he could see it. But being as it was, he saw nothing...and the smell of the food was non-descript. What was this that had been put down in front of him?
Remy felt around for a fork, his hand grazed someone's arm, he realised it to be Rogue and apologised, feeling annoyed that he couldn't seem to locate the silverware at all. He felt Rogue put it into his hand, her kid leather glove felt like baby skin against his fingertips.
The table buzzed as he was sure it always did, people talking – too many at once to listen in on their conversations. He heard words like 'training', and 'powers' and 'butterscotch'. He wondered if anyone might be staring at him, watching him like some kind of live entertainment.
He went at it like a butcher blindly stabbing to death his pray...he pushed the fork into whatever the meal was...soft...squidgy...somewhat heavy...he put it to his mouth, the forkful being too big, spreading what felt like sauce upon the left side of his mouth.
Remy dropped the fork into the plate, "I can't do this," he said, he tried to get up and his front hit the table awkwardly, he felt Rogue quickly push down on his shoulders to stop him from leaving the table; he lowered himself back down and let out a discouraged sigh.
The Beast spoke up from somewhere at the table, it sounded as I it came from the far left. "Start slowly, Gambit. It will take time to adjust."
"I shouldn't be needin' t' adjust, I should be able t' see," Remy pointed out bitterly.
"Maybe ya'd like one of the girls to feed ya with an aeroplane shaped spoon...sure we can find ya a little bib somewhere...then after your burping ya can have a nap," cracked Wolverine.
"Logan, please," came the voice of the Professor.
"Don't baby him, Charles. Let him figure it out. He's a grown man, about, he'll figure it out for himself. He can throw tantrums all he wants and complain, but it won't make everythin' all better. He can either sit there and pout and starve, or he can get on with it. It's his call."
Remy inwardly sighed. He was right...of course. And somehow just that mockery made him feel better for all that it was worth. "Maybe I can borrow your bib and aeroplane spoon, mon ami," he retorted suddenly. "Although I'm sorry I won't be able t' borrow your rompers, they be a tad too lil' for moi."
There was a laugh around the table that started with a faint nervous chortling from one or two students, and then soon become a joint effort of loud pleasant laughter that made him feel slightly better. He was sure he even heard Rogue give a distinct chuckle.
He felt confident enough now for at least one more try...his second forkful found his mouth this time; pasta of some sort, over-cooked (and therefore slightly slimy) pasta cooked in flour and milk with no flavouring at all...he supposed it would have to suffice...at least it wasn't a microwavable meal that tasted like sludge just like the ones he'd been surviving on for the past few weeks because of his sheer laziness to cook for himself.
After dinner had finished, he felt full, but not satisfied in the least; perhaps it might have been different had he been able to see his meal...perhaps it might have been more palatable and delicious had he been able to see it was pasta in some kind of sauce rather than just having to rely on his sense of taste and smell. Or perhaps someone's cooking just really had been that bad...
"C'mon, I'll take you upstairs," he heard Rogue offer, followed by the screech of her chair against a tile floor; Remy even heard the faint rustle of her clothes as she stood and wondered if he would have noticed this had he been able to physically see her. He felt her hand upon his elbow; a flood of embarrassment made his cheeks feel hot and this heart thump hard.
This is humiliating, he thought as he let her lead him from the table; he wondered how many people had seen this display, his being led like a child from the table as if he hadn't been capable enough to get up and walk away. How many amused smiles or glances of sympathy would there be, that the confident and cocksure skilled Cajun thief, once an Acolyte, once a great fighter, was now a blind and helpless invalid being taken down the hallway by a girl three years his junior?
"Y'know what, I can walk," he said, breaking his arm away from Rogue grasp; he walked ahead of her a little to try and get some distance.
"Wait, there's a-" he heard Rogue say, just before he walked into something quite solid, stomach first. He gasped and let out a huff, shuffling back a little to hold his stomach, he felt himself tumble backwards, his foot catching something in the process.
"Mind the-" he heard Rogue about to say, then he felt her try to catch him, and doing a very lousy job of it; his backside hit the floor with a soft thud, his hands felt the thick tight pile of a rug. He gathered this had been what she'd been trying to warn him about.
"You don't know this place well enough to walk around without someone to help," Rogue chided.
He fumed, "what d' ya expect me to do? Just let you lead me around like I can't take care of myself any more?" he demanded, he felt instantly guilty for letting it come out as a yell rather than a comment. Her pause left him wondering if he'd hurt her with his reaction.
She exhaled something of a 'huh' before responding. "You can't take care of yourself any more, at least not right now."
"I'm not an invalid!"
"You can't just get blinded and expect to be able to do everything the same as you usually do."
"I'll get by," he said.
"Do you know how to get to your room from here?" Rogue asked, he heard her shift to his side, she reached for his hands and tried to help him up, he resisted, and got up himself instead.
Remy of course, had no answer. He'd just let her lead him down to dinner an hour ago, a walk through a dark tunnel, through dark rooms, to sit on a chair he could only feel at a table he couldn't see with food he couldn't taste very well. "No," he finally managed after taking a moment to calm himself.
"Of course you don't," Rogue spoke firmly, he felt she'd make a very good teacher...she sure was making him feel like a child right now. "This is why the professor asked me to help you, Gambit. To learn these things, so you can take care of yourself until your blindness is fixed."
He scoffed, "It won't be fixed though."
Rogue ignored his pessimism. "Do you want to stand there and whine, or do you want me to teach you how to do this?"
Was there an option? Was there an alternative? Probably not. He was stuck there...even if he got out he had very little chance of surviving without hurting himself.
"I shouldn't need t' learn anyt'ing, chere. I woke up this mornin' with perfect eyesight. Now I can't see anyt'ing at all. If your so-called team-mate had been more careful, I'd be at home, fine and dandy!"
"And if you'd stayed at home, instead of going out there and tryin' to steal explosive chemicals, you'd fine and dandy, too," Rogue pointed out. "Don't try to pin this on Cyclops. If you hadn't been there, you wouldn't have been hurt. This was all your fault."
Why did she sound so...defensive, he wondered. She sounded so...annoyed with the idea that the X-Men be blamed.
No...not the X-Men, he realised. Cyclops. She don't like the idea that he might be at fault here...so she tryin' to make it like I'm completely to blame...
"I guess I shouldn't be surprised y' wanna defend him," Remy admitted bitterly, perhaps it was a little too quick to make such an accusation, but he couldn't seem to hold his tongue nor hide the anger in his tone.
She stalled, he heard her breathe but she didn't respond back right away...she was taken aback by what he'd said. "What are you talkin' about?"
"You. Y' in love with Cyclops...and that's why you'll defend him no matter what he does, right or wrong," Remy tried to walk, he put his hands in front of him and braced himself to bump into anything, he felt the solid thing he'd walked into only moments ago, he felt along it, finding it to be a post of some kind...the newel post of a stairway, perhaps?
"In love?" she demanded, as if the idea was preposterous. The tone of her voice, oh, how it had so quickly changed...he heard the lies there, hidden deeply against the drawl and swathed in anger. He wasn't sure why it bothered him so much that she was lying, all he understood was that he was bothered by it. Perhaps it was just the blindness...being caught in the darkness...all he could do was feel.
"The way y' act 'round him...the way y' look at him..." Remy turned wondering if he were even pointed in her general direction, or if he was facing a completely different direction entirely. It was hard to be so insolent when you weren't conscious of direction any more. "I've seen it..."
Seen...oh that word left a foul taste in his mouth. Would he ever see again? Or would the word seen forever more be in the past tense?
Rogue's voice was full of anger when she retorted this time, and she grabbed him hard by the elbow, he felt her fingers dig in to his sleeve and his flesh as if she were trying to leave dents in a blob of silly putty. "You don't know what you're talkin' about, swamp rat. Just get on up them stairs so Ah can finally get some peace tonight."
He was this time, more than happy to oblige.
Rogue rolled over and glanced at the clock; 3.34am and she was still awake. The room was too hot although generally this never bothered her, having lived most of her life in the deep South she'd worked up quite a tolerance to excessive temperatures. Outside, she heard the whisper of the wind and she got up from her comfortable bed to open the window, to gaze outside into the night, it being mostly far too dark to see anything past the lights positioned outside near the shrubs in the garden and the driveway.
The breeze from outside crept into the room, cooled her hot flesh and left her feeling slightly more calm. She'd been restless ever since arguing with Gambit in the hallway, and although she felt only somewhat guilty for not offering to help him any further once she'd shown him to his room, she felt more angry than anything else that he had brought up things completely not relevant or true to the argument.
She'd never been in love with Cyclops, and she found it completely childish that Gambit had decided to bring it up. What was more, she found it incredibly insulting that Gambit had insinuated that she would take sides because of it...as if she was incapable of finding fault where fault was to be appropriately found. It was more than insulting...it was downright hurtful.
Pacing the room in short, quiet steps, she considered the things she should have said when the Cajun thief had made so bluntly an assumption. She should have denied it point blank, after all, it hadn't been true anyway, and if it had, she would have at least had the courage to admit it.
Probably not, she realised, she sat upon the edge of her bed, hands in her lap. Ah couldn't even tellScott when Ah thought Ah liked him.
But this was all the past, now. Things had moved on...Scott Summers was dating Jean Grey, and Rogue had moved on too, she'd lost interest in the boy altogether now that his utmost priority (other than being the best X-Man he could be) was spending every waking moment with Jean.
Love was a tragic nonsense, it seemed it only ever led to hurt in the end and Rogue was certain sooner or later it would come to Jean and Scott.
Hunger suddenly gnawed at her belly; she'd eaten very little of what had been Kitty Pryde's macaroni and cheese – Kitty's cooking usually tasted bland or disgusting, and this had tilted more towards the bland end of the scale.
Rogue began to head downstairs intent on making it to the kitchen; a sandwich would hopefully taste better than dinner had and fill the void in her tummy. As she got to the bottom of the stairs, she heard a crash that nearly made her jump back up a step, her bare feet curling over the edge of the stair and her breath catching in her throat. She gripped the banister and listened for a moment, she heard more commotion, a thump.
She began to run towards the noise with her fists clenched, ready for anything; had someone broken a window? It had certainly sounded like glass breaking, landing upon tiles or wood. A light in the kitchen doorway shone through to the dimly lit hall and she rushed in, ready to pounce.
"Freeze right there!" she yelled.
What she found there was not what she had expected.
Remy LeBeau was kneeling upon the floor, holding his left wrist, trickles of blood sliding down over his fingers and dripped onto the dull beige tiles, landing beside the remains of what had once obviously been a drinking glass.
Her heart slowed a little from it's frantic state, there was no crisis here, no danger...just a broken glass upon a tile floor, and a bleeding nineteen year old.
"Gambit, what the-?" she asked, but the scene already really explained itself. Rogue took a quick glance around the kitchen, the table wasn't where it should have been – he'd obviously bumped into that – and the cabinet where the glasses were normally found was open, two glasses missing, one lying half intact on the counter below, and the other, on the floor in front of Gambit's knees in too many pieces to count, splattered with his fresh blood.
"I was tryin' t' get a drink, 'kay?" He said quickly, hostile.
"You're bleeding...let me see..."
"Let me see!"
He let his hand open from his wound, it was just below the heel of his hand, where the wrist started; the moment the pressure was released, the blood seemed to sputter out as if it were a spilt hose in a garden. His taking his hand away had been a mistake; it poured down his arm in a wide red river coming from a deep from a messy looking wound on his wrist.
"Oh, geez!" she tried to avoid being splattered but she felt some of it splatter on her neck and cheek. She looked around helplessly for something to stem the bleeding...she saw a dish towel hanging on the handle of the fridge and she hurriedly grabbed it, not having time to ponder whether it was clean enough or not. She wrapped it hastily around his wrist and applied hard pressure while trying to fold the rest of it over to prevent it from bleeding out more.
"Is it bad?" he asked, he winced at the strength of her hand against his tender wound.
"Uhm...yeah..." she stood up, "get up..."
"How bad is it?"
"You're bleedin' bad...Ah think you've cut a vein..."
He said nothing as he let her help him up from the floor.
"Watch the glass!"
"I can't see shit!"
"We gotta get you down to the sick bay...I'll get Hank up..." she led him backwards to try and avoid him walking into the glass with his bare feet.
His expression was pained as he walked with her, "I knelt down to try to pick up what broke...I felt somet'ing go into my hand...I pulled it out..."
"It's not your hand, Gambit, it's your wrist...you could bleed to death!" Rogue admonished, leading him out into the main foyer; she yelled for Hank McCoy as loudly as she could. "What were you thinkin'? Ah told you that you wouldn't be able to do things yourself, yet!"
"I was thirsty...was I supposed t' just lie in bed all night and die of dehydration?" he uttered, he gripped onto her shoulder.
"Then you shoulda yelled for me," she chided him.
"I didn' wan' wake anyone..." he responded. Rogue thought for a moment his admission was that he was thoughtful enough to not wake up students who would be getting up early for school, until she decided it was probably more likely he didn't want anyone leading him around and leaving him feeling even more humiliated.
"Rogue..." he groaned suddenly, his grip on her nightdress shoulder was somewhat weak.
She turned to examine his face after yelling for Hank again, he looked pale suddenly and quite queasy. His damaged eyes were hidden behind taped on dressings and he looked strangely clammy and pale in comparison to them. Her eyes shifted to look at the towel she was holding around his wrist; it was almost soaked through with his blood, her bare fingers were red, the liquid spilling between them to stain her bare knuckles and reveal the cracks of her slightly dry skin. "Oh, God..." she whispered.
"I don' feel so hot..." he said quietly, swaying a little. "Feel...weird..."
"Just hold onto me..." Rogue made a face in disgust at the thought of his blood on her hands. Just as she was in the middle of yelling for Hank a third time, she finally saw him. The blue furred Beast came to the top of the stairs looking dazed and confused wearing nothing but a pair of ridiculous looking Bermuda-style cropped pyjama bottoms. Rogue might have laughed had she not been so scared that Gambit may die right there on the spot.
"What is goi-" Hank cut himself off, seeing the dark red staining on the towel, "oh my..." he hopped over the banister and landed with a hard thump on his feet right beside the two young mutants, "what happened?"
"He cut himself on a piece of glass in the kitchen...I think it's sliced a vein," Rogue said, she tried to remain calm, confident; getting stressed out and crying in the middle of a crisis was not what was expected of anyone in the team.
"Keep holding onto that, don't let it go!" Hank instructed, "hard as you can now! Bring him to the sick bay! Don't run..." Hank said before he took off in a bound around a corner to where the sick bay was located at the back of the west wing of the mansion. Rogue realised he was off to get the supplies he needed while she carefully brought Remy to him. No running...even in a crisis...running could cause a fall...the cloth could come off of his wrist, he could bleed out more...he may have very little left and they didn't have a supply of blood in the mansion for a transfusion.
They entered the sick bay; a small but comfortable room with a single bed and necessary medical supplies in an accessible closet. Rogue led Gambit to the bed, "here...sit," she ordered calmly.
Gambit was unsure about sitting down, he felt anxiously for where he would land with his right hand while Rogue held up his left high. Weakly, he tried to lower it, but she forced it up again.
"No...above your heart," Rogue warned, "gotta keep it above your heart..."
Hank came over, a supply of bandages and swabs with him, surgical gloves and a smaller box. "Does the sight of blood bother you, Rogue?" he queried.
"No..." Rogue replied.
"Silly question, I suppose, under the circumstances," Hank rambled shaking his head as he handed her a large cotton swab, "When I instruct you, put this against the wound, hold it hard..." Hank explained.
"Is it still bleedin' bad?" Gambit asked feebly.
"Very much so...but try to relax...we'll have you fixed up soon..." Hank promised, he grabbed the edge of the bed sheet and tore it with his bare hands.
Rogue stared, "what are you-?"
"We need a tourniquet as soon as possible...I can stitch up the wound until we can get him to a hospital...he won't survive much longer with the amount of blood he's losing unless I can stop it first."
She watched with fascinated interest as she held onto the towel as tightly as she could while Hank wrapped the fabric tightly around Gambit's forearm, once, he used a pile of tongue depressors to knot the fabric around, then wrapped it again a second time and tied it tightly.
Gambit winced at the pain, he inclined his head towards Rogue and she looked at his face, the agony apparent there, the tears burning his already damaged eyes.
"Okay...get ready," Hank said, "let go and be prepared to use the swab..."
Rogue shakily let the towel fall from his wrist, the blood seeped out straight away, but this time did not spurt as she had expected. Still, on instruction, she placed the swab against his wrist and tried to mop up the rest of the blood as Gambit continued to hiss in pain.
"Don't you have something you can give him for the pain?" Rogue asked.
"Not if we're going to take him to a hospital...they'll give him something when we get him there," Hank replied, he was threading a suture needle. "This will have to do until we can get him to Bayville General," he explained, "okay...you can take your hand away now..."
Rogue tossed the bloody cotton into the waste basket, both hands were now sticky with blood, "I need to wash my hands..." she frowned.
Gambit reached out for her, "No...don't go...don't leave me..."
How could she after that?
End of Part 1
Thanks to Alex, who has always been my friend and confidant, and who has always encouraged me to upload my stories (no matter how lame they may be).
Happy New Year Everyone!