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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7


Written by Madeleine Villerot-Taylor
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 4

Henry McCoy, code named the Beast, was in fact a world renown scientist in addition to being an X Man. He was also their resident physician who'd seen a lot of the damage people could inflict on each other but Remy's injuries were so grievous - well, it sickened him. He decided to check on his patient one more time before finally retiring to his own bed for what remained of the night.

Unsurprisingly, Gambit was sleeping and Hank tried not to disturb him as he padded closer to check the monitors. All his vitals seemed to have improved - but what was this? His brain wave activity was very high for someone asleep. Of course, Remy had never allowed Hank to thoroughly test him so some things about his physiology remained a mystery. Beast determined to just watch it for now. Perhaps this was normal for the Cajun? He bid a silent adieu, already anticipating his soft bed.

He didn't notice the silent figure standing in the doorway opposite the infirmary, deep in shadow. The being crept stealthily to Remy LeBeau's bedside, gazing down intently in the dim lighting.

#Chere,# he whispered in her brain and she jumped back.

"Yah're talking in mah brain, Gambit! How'd yah do that?"

#Roguey, how else am I gonna communicate with de jaw wired shut? I was wondering when I be seein' you.#

"They told me to stay away 'til Ah got myself under control," she whispered.

#But you came anyways?#

"What do yah mean? Ah am under control! Ah - "

#You're leaking emotion like a fishing net with holes wide enough to let dolphins swim through.#

"How do yah - ? Ah didn't know yah could - "

#M'amour, is it so important?# Remy blinked sleep away and watched her closely. #Did you come just for that?#

"Remy… Remy, Ah - "

#I do like it when your sweet lips say my name but my nerves are shot, quite literally. Can this wait 'til 'morrow?#

Rogue still didn't say anything, she just stood looking helplessly at Remy.

#Gambit fine, ma cherie. Or at least I will be now dat I'm home, t'anks t' Celestine and you and de others. Y' know how awful it is not to be able to yawn when y' bone tired?# He broadcast his love for her and she melted to sit on the side of his bed. He grunted in pain and she jumped back up, causing another gasp of pain from Remy. She felt it too and shuddered.

"My Gawd, Remy, isn't Hank giving yah anything?"

The man made a sound in his chest, a cross between a chuckle and a growl of pain. #Oui, he is!#

"And yah still hurt that much? My Gawd, Remy, Ah'm gonna kill that Sinister whenever Ah get mah hands on him!"

His fear flared up and she cringed from it. She saw him struggle as he said, #Pardon. My shields be blown t' hell. I'm trying to dampen my feelings. I don' wan' to disturb Celestine and de others.#

"They were right. Ah'm gonna - "

#Promise me, cherie,# he said with some heat. #Promise me, Roguey, dat you won' do anyt'ing. Tomorrow, we all talk and see what need be done. But don't go off - "

"Gambit, Ah'm not goin' anywhere. Ah'm here for yah. Ah really… care for yah and … Ah just wanted to let yah know that." She fumbled over the words and Remy reached his hand up tiredly for her. She grabbed it and bent to kiss the bandages, stopping just short of touching skin to skin. Last thing he needed was for her to absorb his strength and powers and memories into her own psyche. She doubted he'd survive this time.

#But what a way to go, m'amour!# he joked. Again, he let his love cascade over her and warmed her heart.

#Bon soir, Rogue,# he whispered gently in her mind.

"G'night Remy. I'll see you tomorrow."

She left him then, both of them smiling.

Morning arrived and so did a liquid breakfast for the patient who was finally able to sit up a bit.

#You be a good healer, Henri.# Remy told him.

"Even my bedside manner? Some have told me I am lacking in that area."

#Non. Gambit t'ink it just perfect.#

Beast paused before speaking again. "Are you sure you're up to this? I can tell them to wait another day."

#Non. Gambit need to fill everyone in. Has Celestine been up yet?#

"I haven't seen her personally but I've been down here so - "

Just then the door burst open and the little girl in question rushed forward to hug Remy ever so gently.

#Aaah, petite fille, there you be. Did you sleep well?#

#Yes, Remy. What a beautiful room! I never knew there were such fluffy places to sleep.#

Remy noticed she was wearing an overly large tee-shirt - at least for her - with the Xavier Institute for Learning logo emblazoned on it. #I like your fashion taste,# he teased her.

#Jean lent it to me. I took a bath with bubbles and there were pancakes with as much syrup as I wanted for breakfast.# More details spilled out as Remy listened intently.

Jean had accompanied the girl and now she called mentally for Storm, Wolverine, Professor X and Cyclops to join them.

#No time like de present, eh, chere?#

"Exactly Gambit. You'll be happy to know that we reinforced all our defenses and updated the security systems."

#Yup. Miss Jean says that Mr. Sinister can't ever hurt me again!#

#Oui, petite, we make sure of dat.#

The others starting arriving.

#You sit wit' me petite,# Remy invited and the little girl snuggled into the crook of his arm, still being careful of his healing injuries. Storm stood next to him on his right and the rest of them gathered around the foot of the bed.

Gambit began by relating his capture. He didn't remember too much of his time spent with Sinister; it was too hazy with pain. He remembered Celestine visiting and them making plans. He was infinitely glad it had worked. #I want to t'ank you all for comin' and getting' us out. I don' know 'xactly what he want but I know he took a lot of de blood; it was as if I was his own personal blood drive. And no orange juice!# His joke fell flat but he kept talking. Each of the Marauders had taken turns watching him but since they knew he was too weak to fight back, they beat him regularly until they stopped having fun since he couldn't respond. Eventually, they realized he was too beaten to escape and he'd been moved to a lab table to heal and they began to leave him alone for longer periods of time. They'd might never have been able to escape, otherwise…. He thought he had been in the process of being 'prepped' for something but he couldn't remember what. He couldn't repress the shudder that ran through him. Ororo touched his arm sympathetically.

Jean turned to Celestine, " Can you tell us all you know about Sinister? How did you get involved with him?"

It was as if the girl drew an opaque curtain about herself and her emotions were so muted that they seemed to have disappeared. Remy just hugged her closer, recognizing the survival instinct. The others smiled encouragingly.

"Go on, child, you can trust us." Ororo said, her white hair shining so pretty.

#I wasn't always with Mr. Sinister. I seem to remember being with a nice, soft, warm, lady who sang ta me and took care o' me.# Her mind's voice was wistful. #But one day something happened and I was took from her and out to a place. With a lot of people in pain. It was hard 'cause I'd been ugly my whole life, never able to talk 'cept with my mind an' it scared these new people. I was given something to drink every day and it made all my senses go fuzzy. It seemed as though I was there for a long time but I don't know for sure.

#A day came when I saw Mr. Sinister. There been explosions and the smell of fire and the sirens going off. I was scared. He came to me but he wasn't silver with the red diamond on his forehead. He looked like all the other doctors I'd seen. With the drug I couldn't sense anything so I believed him when he told me he could take me someplace better. At that point, I thought anything had to be better. He took me and a few others through that tesseract thingie of his and back to a lab.

#Things stayed hazy but even so, looking back, I wonder how I could have missed how evil he was. And that place, too. I had tests and sometimes I'd wake up in one of the lab rooms without knowing how I got there. I was out of it so much, I lost a lot of time but everything was running together anyway.

#Then my gifts came back and they were stronger than ever. But I guess they weren't strong enough for Mr. Sinister. I'm not sure why he kept me alive. I know he kills a lot of his 'failed experiments' as he calls them. I became a drudge for him and his nasty Marauders. I had to help clean up his experiments… and after. And that was the worst of it; to feel their pain and terror and not be able to do anything for them.

#I learned to somehow put up some kind of wall otherwise I would have gone crazy. After a while, I became like a stick of furniture to them all, not worthy of their attention unless they'd had a bad day.# She abruptly broke off that train of thought.

#But then Remy was brought in. I heard the whispers about him, the one who had escaped and something woke up in me. I remembered being free and I went to see him. I snuck in one night and I dropped my wall a bit and I sensed his goodness. I felt cleaner just because of that and I knew we'd have to escape somehow. I just couldn't go back to that horror of a life and I didn't want Mr. Sinister to hurt Remy any more.#

Remy stroked her thick hair, sending soothing thoughts to her. The others tried to suppress their repugnance; her tale was so horrid.

"You are truly the bravest girl I have ever met - to have survived such ordeals," Ororo spoke. "You honor us with your presence."

Celestine just stared; still unwilling to take down her shields. Having to tell it had brought back all the sordid memories; she was worthless, and ugly and barely deserved to live -

#Non, petite fille!# Remy exclaimed vehemently in her mind. #You are precious. Stormy be right; you are brave and wit'out you, I be dead! You survived Sinister and now we make sure dat he never hurt you ag'in. I swear it!# Remy's eye blazed and to most people it would have appeared demonic but to Celestine, it only spoke of protection - of her!

"You certainly did NOT deserve any of the treatment you received while with Sinister and you'll never have to go back there," Professor X said empathetically.

Cyclops cleared his throat and spoke as all eyes turned his way. "We have to close down that base of his - I wanted to do it yesterday but - "

"But all those innocents. None of his experiments asked to be taken there - " Jean protested.

#He probably long gone, homme.# Remy interjected into what seemed to have been an argument they'd already had. #You t'ink he wait for you to come a callin'? Non. He gone and he take evert'ing and everyone wit' him.!#

"We shoulda kicked his butt when we had the chance!" Logan growled.

"He wasn't there and we needed to get Remy and Celestine to safety," Ororo said.

Professor Xavier sighed, "She is right. We won't lament the decision now. But we will step up surveillance for him and his Marauders. The next chance that arises - we will be there."

Gambit tried to lighten the mood and he projected some of his irrepressible humor as he asked, #So, petite, how many pancakes were you able to wrestle away from Mr. Greedy himself, Logan here?#

She giggled, releasing her tight hold on her shield as he had hoped she would.

"Mr. Greedy?" Wolverine rumbled.

The Professor and Cyclops excused themselves and left to tell the rest of the team what they'd learned. Scott decided they'd still send people back to Virginia, just to make sure the base had indeed been abandoned.

Life at the mansion seemed to settle down again. Remy improved daily and Rogue came to grips with the current state of their tenuous 'situation'. Hank had been cautiously testing Celestine, especially for scholastic purposes, to see what she needed. He'd considered broaching the subject of reconstructive surgery for her facial scars but hadn't done so yet. Remy continued to stay in the infirmary and Celestine was comfortably ensconced in her room upstairs.

But then one night, night terrors overtook the house.

Storm was panicking.

When would they come? They always came for her after she'd been bad.

Trapped, isolated, hurt - ooh, how it hurt! - in an all white room.

She was locked in a tiny room so small she couldn't stretch out her body in it.

His arms were above his head, manacled and he hung from a hook like a side of beef. His skin felt like it was burning, cell by cell.

The room was cold and it had a funny smell to it. There was no light at all, not even a line of radiance from under the door. She couldn't remember where the door was, there was no doorknob on her side of the door.

The light was too bright, he had to squint in order to see the two who approached.

She wished she could stop them but she knew they'd come and she didn't want them to -

He could sense their arrival even through frayed nerves. They were cruel, evil. He didn't want to -

She couldn't scream; she'd never had the ability to speak physically, only mentally. And she knew it just made things infinitely worse if she tried talking to them. So she stifled her gift, her only way of speaking, as they pulled her out of her cell.

No scream came from his lips, bruised and swollen. He wouldn't give the satisfaction to his tormentors. But how much more could he take? The worst thing was the sadistic pleasure they felt and they never asked a question! Was this some experiment in torture?

"We'll teach you to try and stop us, Scarface!" The assassin used one of the names the Marauders often taunted her with. Arclight slapped her so hard her head snapped backwards.

The two men sneered ghoulishly and laughed with each other. "We'll teach you - " a fist impacted with his stomach, fresh agony flaring along his spent nerves. " - to try and stop us." Another backhanded blow across his painfully throbbing face.

"If only you were smart," laughed Riptide. "then you wouldn't have cared if we hurt the little kitties, would ya?"

"I always thought you were so smart - " the other one commented as he rocked his head back with a punch to his jaw. " - but when you tried to save even one of those worthless Morlocks, well - "

She offered no defense, just stood there and took it and tried not to cry. They always tormented those things in their narrow lives that were smaller or weaker than themselves.

Stars pinwheeled in front of his eyes, his pain receptors seemed to be burning out from the overload, darkness was creeping in on the edge of his vision. "We beat your ass into the ground then and now we've brought you here so we can really pay you back in full!"

She'd been stupid. One of the rare days she'd been allowed outside and instead of ignoring their nasty pastime, she'd pushed her way in and upended the box they'd captured the kitties in, scattering the remaining six kittens to the nearby forest.

Was that his knee cracking from a kick? "See if you can dance with the broads now that you have a broken kneecap, Cajun!" the first one screamed, spittle flying.

The worst thing was that the two Marauders were still able to catch and torture those same kittens. And now she was paying for her moment of weakness.

"I still don't know why Mr. Sinister stopped us from killing you in the tunnels but - "

"I don't know why Mr. Sinister keeps you around anyway - "

Storm had no idea what was going to be said because someone was shaking her and she startled awake, breathing hard, frantically trying to reel in her fear and panic.

Bishop was looking at her with concern in his eyes. "It seems that Gambit is having nightmares and all of us are being treated to a special showing of them. Some are feeling them deeper than others. Hank told me that Gambit is getting violent and we need you down - "

"Of course," Storm said, pushing away her confusion.

They arrived to a chaotic scene of scorch marks still smoking, machines beeping or screeching for attention and both Logan and Hank seemed to be trying to straddle Remy's hands without letting them touch anything to charge it. Ororo's eyes were wide but she plunged straight into the melee, reaching out to stroke Remy's cheek and forehead. She began cooing soothing words to him, letting him feel her love and concern for him, projecting it to him, hoping to draw him out from his night terror.

Bishop asked Hank, "Where is the Professor or Jean? They'd be able to stop this, wouldn't they?"

"Charles and Scott are in Washington DC trying to make contact with one of his underground operatives. I am unsure why Jean has not responded to the comm. signal." He looked over at Logan, who had started growling in frustration. Hank raised his voice, "Computer: where is Rogue?"

"Mutant designate Rogue is in her room."

"Get her down here so I can check on Jeanie," Logan said.

"Computer: wake Rogue up however necessary and send her to check on Jean Grey in the boathouse."


Wolverine stared at Beast. "Rogue can fly there and be back with her quicker," Hank explained. Logan nodded curtly. Bishop stood there uncertainly, unable to see what he could do to help. But he noticed that the Cajun's struggles were lessening and he pointed that out to the other two men. All three looked at Remy, his thrashing decreasing, sweat streaming, soaking his body, fresh blood scattered over his bandages. Storm continued her murmurs and Beast motioned for Bishop to take over holding Remy's wrist. Hank reached for new dressings to repair Remy's bandages. The pain and helplessness radiated from him, threatening to overwhelm them all.

Ororo turned to the men, tears sprinkled across her face unnoticed.

"It'll be okay, 'Ro," Logan said gruffly.

Remy now lay still, his long auburn hair tangled about his pillow, his limbs stiff, his body still tense.

"He's pulled most of his stitches and he's - " Hank was interrupted by a gasp from Storm. Remy's visible eye had snapped open and the red shone abnormally bright, as if blazing.

"Remy, my friend - " Ororo started.

His words were mental yet weak, #Where is Celestine? Is everyone okay? Did we hurt anyone?#

"We?" Hank said, then replied to his questions, " No, no one has been hurt," he reassured the obviously distraught man, "Not even singed hair - though we came precariously close. Did anyone perchance check on Celestine?" he asked the others, receiving only negative replies.

#Please,# Remy pleaded, #Go see if she okay. And Jean, too.#

The comm. unit chose that moment to beep for attention and then they heard Rogue's Mississippi drawl. "Ah'm here at the boathouse with Jean. Ah found her and she was caught up in some nightmare. Her bedroom's pretty trashed from her throwing things at me. But she seems to be coming out of it now. Ah'm gonna fly her back to the mansion, 'kay?"

"Yes, Rogue, thank you. Bring her right to the infirmary, please."

"What the hell's going on, Cajun?" Logan snarled.

Remy cringed from the accusatory tone but asked again, #Please, Bish? Bring Celestine here?#

The large black man only nodded and left quickly. Hank motioned to Logan to calm down but was completely ignored. Ororo watched Remy carefully. She wondered how much the others had dreamt or was she the only one who had heard the reference to the Morlock tragedy? How could Gambit have been involved in that?


"I have told you not to call me that, my friend." She smiled warmly at him, he would tell her in due time; right now, he needed love and support.

"For some reason," Hank spoke as he kept working, "your empathic abilities are surging up and, if I'm right, getting beyond your control?"

Remy's eyes flashed with alarm. #You may be right. This not happen to Remy since he was a teenager in Nawleans. Remy sorry if he hurt anyone."

"We'll have to see how Jeanie is doing before we go dishing out the absolution, Cajun."

As of on cue, Rogue flew through the door with Jean cradled in her arms. She placed her gently on the bed next to Gambit's and then stepped back as Hank and Logan hurried over. A tense silence reigned while Rogue went to Remy's bedside. He wouldn't look at her but kept his eyes closed, and she could feel his concentration.

Just as Hank sighed with relief and turned to speak, Bishop rushed in with Celestine cradled limply in his arms. She was put in the bed on Remy's other side. Hank bounded over and began pushing buttons and bringing the monitors on the bed to life. The tension mounted and Ororo could sense panic building in Remy's body though he was trying to control it. She stroked his hair, trying to soothe him again.

Beast spoke to the room at large. "Celestine is unconscious but I'm unsure why. She appears fine in every other respect. We'll need to monitor her closely.

"As for Jean? She appears to be suffering from some kind of psychic trauma but again I'm unsure why." Everyone could hear the frustration in his voice.

A croak of sound escaped from the lady in question. "Jeanie? Are you all right?" Concern made Logan's voice thicker.

"I think I am. Where?"

"You are in the infirmary."

"I remember having the most vivid, horrifying nightmare in my life but I couldn't pull out of it. I think - "

"It was Gambit, dahling."

"Yeeess…" Jean agreed slowly, "but also Celestine, I believe."

Ororo was watching Remy and caught her friend's nod of agreement. "Remy concurs," she told the people in the room.

"Is she okay?" Jean asked.

"She's unconscious."

"Is she here?"

"Now Jean. It's too soon. You just lie there like a good patient," Hank stressed as he bounced over to his teammate's bed.

Logan gripped her shoulder. "Don't be doing anything rash."

"Logan. Hank. I wouldn't do anything stupid. Stop being so patronizing." Her exasperation was clear. "I think… just a minute." She closed her eyes and sent out a very low level probe towards the girl and she brushed past the others' astral forms. As usual, Gambit was harder to fathom than the others yet he seemed to have a brighter aura with a rainbow of emotions. Jean was surprised and intrigued but she hurried on to the girl. "She'll be fine," she was able to report. "She just needs to sleep and I believe the nightmare will not be back tonight. I think sleep for all of us would be good, right Hank? Even you, Remy! You need to keep healing, okay?" she asked gently.

Remy just shook his head sadly but Hank started to shoo people from the room. Only Logan remained. Beast busied himself reading equipment while Wolverine settled into a nearby chair. Jean smiled at him warmly as she turned over. A headache was beginning but she had to reassure Gambit first. #Remy,# she spoke directly to his mind. #I am all right and Celestine, too. Once we get you healed some more, I'll help you. The Professor will, too, when he gets back.#

She wasn't sure if he'd been listening but he responded rather vehemently, #Not de professeur, non. You, yes. I need your help but I t'ink we not wait any longer than tomorrow. Remy not inflict another night like dis one on his friends!#

Jean didn't question his desire that Professor X not be involved but instead said, #I understand. Will you try to sleep?#

#I just lie here quiet and we see, non?#

#Of course, Remy.# She sent some reassurance his way and sensed him relax just a bit. And then drowsiness overcame her before she could wonder about anything else.


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