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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 6

He heard Celestine calling him as if from a long distance and he returned to awareness in a bit of a daze, his eyes glazed and blinking rapidly.

#Remy! Are you all right?# she asked tightly.

#Oui, petite. Je suis juste stupéfié. I'm just amazed.#

He seemed to glow from within. Jean and Hank were astonished to see the transformation so apparent. It was as if a dark room had been opened to a bright cleansing light, the darkness banished. They were afraid to break the spell but Hank's attention was drawn to one of the monitors. Gambit's energy readings were starting to skyrocket - he whipped his head around to see a mauve glow emanating from the nearby table where some of his medical instruments had been left. Each one was vibrating with kinetic energy. Hank turned Jean's attention to it just in time and she rapidly erected a telekinetic bubble to contain the blast, her face blanching.

Gambit shot up in his bed, every inch of his body protesting the abrupt movement. Panic surged to the fore of his mind as the realization hit everyone in the room at the same time.

It had been Gambit's energy signature but he hadn't been touching the objects that exploded!

They turned questioningly towards him and he could only shrug helplessly.

#Dat never happen before, Gambit swear!#

"This may be a leap here," Hank rubbed his jaw, lost in thought, "but your empathic and telepathic powers have increased. Perhaps your charging power has too?"

#Mon Dieu! But I - #

"Remy, I think that you weren't controlling your powers like you must do on the subconscious level. You must have been so completely relaxed - or overwhelmed by those sensations that, with the increase in your powers, caused a spontaneous charging and those things exploded. It's interesting that it is the same alpha waves that match Celestine's that were spiking just as your power was waxing.

"In any matter, the most important move on our part is to get some extensive training if this is the case. Besides, you'll go crazy if you feel all the thoughts and emotions around you. I believe I can help you build new shields and regain that exquisite control you've always had."

#You're right, Jean. Can we start now, please?# Remy asserted, trying to clamp down even a bit on his powers. He had to concentrate.

Hank started to protest but thought better of it. "Perhaps we should retire to the Danger Room?" he suggested. "It has better shielding."

"Excellent idea, Hank. Must be why they make these med beds with wheels, huh?" Jean joked, trying to lighten the mood. It worked a bit, but probably only because they all let it.

Jean made sure the Danger Room was unoccupied at the moment while Hank secured what monitors he thought he'd need to the bed. Celestine made sure Remy ate, or rather drank, his food. In a very short time, they made their way to the cavernous chamber the X Men used to train in by using holographic projections and robots. Celestine and Beast removed themselves to the control room overlooking the main room while Remy and Jean stayed below.

The next hour was spent in intensive concentration and mind work. Jean remarked later to Hank that she had been pleasantly surprised by Remy's willingness to stay 'open' telepathically and let her guide him through the exercises. Considering he had always been so closed off, even to the point of being difficult to sense on the astral plane - Professor X had remarked about that once - and yet he was putting it all on the line, holding nothing back. She was awed by his trust. She knew the dark memories from his past were still there and she hoped that once they got his powers back under control, they would have the leisure of 'exorcising his demons,' so to speak.

Exhaustion had set in quickly that first day and Remy had retired early, still sleeping in the infirmary. All the X Men had continued to shower Celestine with attention, finding her to be pleasant company, polite and curious, though at times she could be cold and withdrawn and always worried about pleasing others and not offending anyone. They knew she would need therapy eventually to deal with her mistreatment at the hands of Sinister and the Marauders but for now she was adjusting quite well. She'd retired early also in her infirmary bed, wanting to stay close to Remy. The rest of the inhabitants of the mansion were doing various things; Rogue was reading in her room, Ororo was watering her plants in her attic room. Logan was enjoying a cigar and surfing the channels when he had the oddest sensation. And considering his checkered past, that was really saying something. He was struck by the similarities to the previous nightmares they had experienced with Remy and Celestine. But, as aware of these comparisons as he was, he still felt, tasted, and saw it all, unable to stop the sensations.

She was in 'that' place again; the one with the needles, the scalpels, the huge white lights that hurt her eyes.

He knew he was trapped; he'd had needles jab him and scalpels cut him - while still conscious - electrical shocks had been sent through him.

She was in the cold place.

All he really knew now was that he was cold, so cold. The pain from his beating by the Marauders in the alley might numb - if he didn't move. They had had him in a cell and beaten him regularly for a few days, at least he thought it was a few days, he couldn't tell what time it was anymore. They'd kicked his bruised chest, making sure his ribs stayed broken. They pummeled him and then waited for him to heal enough to truly experience the next horrific touch of pain.

She felt as though she'd been beaten. Just as she'd felt all the other times that Mr. Sinister had attempted to 'augment' her - to no great improvement. She thought he'd finally realized there was just no hope of 'improving' her for whatever use he thought she could serve. But they'd come for her and she'd had nowhere to run.

He was strung up against a cold stone wall, spread eagle, his hands and ankles secured against the wall. He hadn't been allowed any rest, they came in and tormented him constantly. And then, Sinister visited him personally.

She'd been spread out on an examining table, left strapped and helpless, she didn't know for how long. And then Mr. Sinister had come.

"This has been an interesting experiment, LeBeau. No matter how much I allow these peons to torture you, I am still unable to control your mind. This is troublesome. I don't like loose cannons especially since I thought I had you assessed correctly, how you would react to certain stimuli and situations. And then you suddenly grow a conscience and try to stop my Marauders from cleaning the genetic pool? If only you hadn't crossed me, Remy, my boy. Had you honestly believed you had escaped me? It was just a matter of time for the players to be in place and then I came to retrieve you. I, very magnanimously, gave you a choice but you decided to fight it again. Ah well, it gave my minions a chance to take out a bit of hostility." Gambit was unable to respond, his jaw hung broken, but sparks of defiant fire still glowed behind his demon red eyes.

Sinister chuckled again. "And I still haven't broken you! It should be so easy to manipulate your mind; your shields are at very low strength and I can feel your emotions so easily. Your pain tolerance was one of the highest I've ever tested but that just meant they could beat you more. It's always fascinated me, how much pain a human body can withstand; it's been an interesting side study of my experiments in genetics."

"Celestine, my dear, this will be the last time, really. All the pieces are falling into place. Your ultimate purpose will soon be fulfilled. And then we'll see if my hypothesis is correct, won't we?"

"But now, I've taken just about everything I need from you- except for one type of specimen which can often be tricky to retrieve." Essex approached and stood as closely as possible without touching. "I was saving the best for last. I know how much you self image is tied up with your charming view of the fairer sex. And you've always experienced great success, haven't you? Well, the samples I need - " Remy gasped as Sinister grabbed his jaw in his hand, squeezing ever so slightly. His vision blackened around the edges and tears streamed down his blood encrusted face. Essex reached his other hand up to wipe them away and pain followed each finger's trail. Remy hadn't realized it had been possible for this waking nightmare to get worse, but it had. Now, hope for escape changed to desire for the permanent escape - death.

That's all he'd said to her and soon, Arclight had come to take her back to her room and she'd been allowed a few days rest. She'd felt disoriented and had strange sensations coursing through her but she'd just ridden it out. There was never a thought of escape or freedom. It just never occurred to her.

"I figure I can break you and get what I want, all at the same time." Sinister leaned in and kissed Gambit full on the lips, seeming to savor the disgust and hatred emanating from the young man. He pulled back and laughed heartily. "You've a body that was fashioned for loving, Remy. Surely you realize that?" He kissed him again, fondling him; Remy would have retched - if he'd had anything to eat in the last few days, that is. "I think I'll have to you cleaned up and brought to my chambers. After I'm down with my personal sampling, then all the Marauders can have a turn getting more specimens. Won't that be fun?" One last kiss, one more 'caress' and Sinister disappeared, gloating over the probability that he had finally found the way to break Remy LeBeau and repay him for his trangressions.

Logan was the first to reach the infirmary, Rogue not far behind, Storm almost on her heels. Jean and Beast came up from the boathouse where'd they'd been sharing a coffee. Bishop almost came in from patrol but decided not to. The X Men could still feel their nightmare but fought against it, moving towards the source of the pain instead of away. It seemed as though there were a curtain pulled across their minds, overshadowing their movements in reality with the sensations from the night terrors. Rogue reached forward to grip Gambit's shoulder just as Wolverine started to shake Celestine awake.

Unfortunately, Remy didn't know who it was that surrounded him. Caught in the throes of his night terror, he lashed out and began to charge what he was touching - the bed covers. The mauve glow spread more quickly than they'd ever seen before.

"Rogue, quick, get him off the bed!" Jean screamed. "Then I can contain - "

But Rogue couldn't move fast enough and Jean could only hastily erect a TK wall between them and the rest of the room. Both Rogue and Remy went flying, bouncing off the walls, debris careening off displays and furniture. It was a larger explosion than they'd ever seen Remy achieve before and it rattled the rest of the room's inhabitants, almost knocking them off their feet. The air systems started to automatically clear the smoke from the room as they rushed forward to help their comrades.

Rogue's clothes had been disintegrated enough to warrant Logan wrapping her in a blanket from an undisturbed cabinet and carrying her to a bed on the other side of the infirmary.

Gambit lay on the floor, his breath raspy, smoke rising from the remains of his clothes. Hank checked his vitals and found Remy unresponsive. "Goddess!" Ororo breathed as she knelt down next to the Cajun. "Hank, do something!" But Henry was mumbling the usual 'medicalisms' and was busy pulling over a can of oxygen with a mask. She felt it all spiraling out of control.

Above, Bishop saw the flashes of unrestrained lightning, the ominous rumblings springing up out of nowhere and he started running for the mansion.

A small noise stirred Jean from her horrified gaze. She turned to Celestine, who was staring up at the ceiling, gasping for air. Jean listened to her instincts and sent her mind into the girl's.

#Celestine!# Jean called. #Come here! You have to help Remy!#

#Jean?# a faint cry came to her.

#Yes, sweetheart, please, come back to me, Remy needs your help!#

#But Remy's here!#

Jean was slightly stunned. #What do you mean?# She hadn't been able to sense Gambit at all; she'd feared the worst.

#He's here. I can see him but he's hurting bad again. I can't leave him!# Celestine said with exasperation.

Jean just nodded and went in search of them.

Meanwhile, Ororo tried to calm herself. She prayed silently and fervently to her Goddess and reached for her center of tranquillity. She couldn't afford to unravel. Her family needed her. And she needed her family, especially Remy. She projected her need for him, her love for him, hoping to get through.

Bishop ran in, taking in the damage and the wounded, but unsure of what to do. He went to Gambit's side, crouching down next to Storm. Her only acknowledgment of his presence was to take his hand and place Remy's hand in it, holding both in her own hand, while her other graceful fingers continued to smooth Remy's thick hair.

Rogue was still unconscious but she'd suffered no real burns. Logan stood at her bedside, absently rubbing her arm through the sheet, watching both Jean and Hank work. He knew that Remy hadn't healed enough to easily withstand his own blast, especially in such close quarters. And what a blast! He never realized Gambit had that kind of power within him, and that was while sleeping… dreaming! Logan recalled the vivid details of the nightmare and anger seethed within him. He knew that they were memories and the degradation they'd both suffered turned his stomach. It was too revolting to go unpunished. One day, soon, Wolverine would make them pay!

Logan noticed Jean swaying and rushed to her side, helping her to sit on the edge of Celestine's bed. His teammate seemed to wake and she focused her beautiful green eyes on Logan's grizzled, concerned face. "Remy - we might lose him. He's losing the will to live. He knows his power discharged and he doesn't want to hurt any of us again and he believes the only way to insure that is to let himself die!"

Ororo gasped, her face blanching; she'd overheard Jean.

"How can he be so cowardly?" Bishop demanded loudly.

"Bishop! That won't help," Jean exclaimed. "We have to let him know that we don't blame him - that we'll help him. He needs to know it's okay to come back. And we have to hurry!

"I can link us together. We can try to convince him to turn back. He's still partially locked in that horrid memory of his. Please, help me help him," she pleaded, her green eyes blurring with unshed tears.

No one hesitated. Logan spoke up, "I suppose Hank has to stay here and watch over us?" Jean nodded. "Rogue is still out for the count. Celestine?"

"She's already with him and they're so connected, I'm afraid of losing her, too."

"Please, Jean, do whatever is necessary. We are all with you," Ororo stated.

#Remy, you can't leave me. What will I do?#

#Remy, you'll take Celestine with you - do you want her to die, too?#

#Remy, Rogue is hurt! Don't you care? You need to help her!#

#Do you want Sinister to win?#

#You are no coward!#

#We forgive you, Remy.#

#You are an X Man.#

#Remy, you're part of our family!#

#You can't leave us.#

#We'll figure out a way. We can help! Let us.#

#Be strong, Remy.#

#Don't give up. Don't give in.#

#Remy, you deserve to live.#

#Remy, you're no monster.#

#We forgive you.#

#Come back to us.#


Remy's body shuddered under Hank's ministrations and he thought he'd lost him but then those red eyes of his opened and he breathed deeply. Hank relaxed just a bit. He felt the others stirring and thanked God silently for watching over wayward X Men.

Very gingerly, he and Bishop moved Gambit onto another bed, away from the destruction he'd wrought earlier. Ororo followed, tears of relief falling freely as she stopped by Rogue's bed to see how the younger woman was faring. Rogue opened her green eyes, a bit dazed and raised her hand to her forehead.

"Ugh. Did anyone get thah license plate number of thah truck that just ran me down?"

"Rogue, my friend, you will be fine." Ororo explained what had happened and Rogue nodded carefully. "Just so long as everyone's all right, I suppose." And she sighed and sank back into her pillow. "Has Hank got any industrial strength pain killers lying around here? Ah sorely need one!"

Ororo laughed, tension easing away. "I will forward your request." She squeezed her teammate's shoulder over the blanket and turned to Remy and Celestine, both now wide awake and looking completely drained. Storm was struck by how much they looked like each other. She'd never seen it - -

Only one phrase did they send but with it came a fountain of gratitude. #Thank you.# And Ororo thought she saw a spark of Remy's usual twinkle back in his eye.

Hank surmised that Remy and Celestine could not sleep at the same time or their dreams were sure to intertwine as they had before. The matching alpha wave patterns certainly had something to do with it but Sinister's evil machinations were often hard to ferret out. But he promised them he would keep working on it.

Remy told the other X Men exactly what his role in the Mutant Massacre had been. His admission had been one of the most difficult things he'd ever done. But, having already faced the possibility of losing him and not wanting a life without him, they found it relatively easy to forgive him. It had been a devastating chapter in the history of mutant existence but they knew it was Sinister who was ultimately responsible for it. Besides, hadn't they all done things in their past which might not withstand the bright light of day? No, he was stuck with them.

He put in a few more intensive training sessions with Jean before Cyclops and the Professor returned late. His burns and subsequent injuries had set his recovery back a ways but he had kept at it until Jean had to forcibly convince him to stop. His determination and concentration helped him achieve quite a bit in a short time. His patience and adaptability had proven to be quite an asset. They'd constructed new shields to prevent him from constantly being assaulted by the thoughts of other beings. Celestine helped with that since she'd had to erect rather formidable shields herself or be driven insane during her captivity. In truth, she'd needed a little help fortifying hers, too, since it seemed her powers had been increasing also.

By the time Scott and Xavier arrived home, Jean could comfortably report her progress with them both.


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