Subject: Family Matters, chapter 12
From: Dswdiane@aol.com
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 1997 10:02:38 -0400 (EDT)

Family Matters, chapter 12

"Where to, Remy?" Scott asked as they hit the ground. Remy and Jean, still linked, headed to a nearby street and went north, moving fast. There were buildings and construction all around them but not much traffic at 5:00 am. After a few long blocks, they arrived at what seemed to be an old hospital building.

"She's in dere and down," Remy said.

"This seems to be a functioning hospital," Scott said quietly. "Which means that there'll be people up and working. I think it would be best to go in small teams and use stealth to find Sinister's hideout. It's probably another secret lab like the ones we checked in the old USPHS hospitals. Gambit. . .Gambit!" Scott hissed desperately as Gambit suddenly disappeared within the building.

"It's okay, Scott," Jean said. "He'll be right back."

"Where did he go?" Scott asked grimly.

"To get us some stealth," Jean replied.

Gambit was back in moments with his arms full of bundles which he dropped at everyone's feet. "Scrubs," he said succinctly. "We put 'em on over our colors an' nobody gonna be wonderin' what people wearin' scrubs doin' in a hospital. Too tired t' care anyway dis time of de night. Good hour or more away from shift change."

"You might have asked," Scott suggested mildly as he picked up some scrubs and gestured to the others to do the same. "Still think we should go in small groups. Gambit, you and Logan scout ahead and find the location of the lab. Then Bobby and Sam, then Rogue and Hank. Jean and I'll take the rear, with Jean staying linked to Remy. I think we need some battle plans before we're inside." The others nodded as they put on scrubs.

"Once we're in Sinister's hideout, I want to change the order. Gambit, hang back near the rear. I don't want you in combat with your injuries if it can be avoided. Throw as many cards as you can charge, but try to stay out of any actual hand to hand. We don't need to have to carry you out since we might have to carry out Storm and Bishop. I mean it, Remy. Do you hear me?"

"Cyke. . ." Remy started to protest. He knew how to compensate for injuries. He had fought many times with injuries.

"I mean it, Remy," Scott said firmly. Logan caught Remy's eye and held it. Remy sighed and capitulated.

"I got it," Remy said reluctantly even as he tucked his bo down the leg of his scrub pants and under his shirt. "Do I just surrender if attacked or can I defend myself?" he asked caustically as he rolled up his coat and tucked it under his arm.

Scott looked at Remy carefully, "Do you want me to send you back to the ship right now? It would be easier to find Storm with you, but not necessary if Jean stays linked with you."

"No, sir," Remy said, recognizing that it was time to acknowledge his leader's authority.

"Of course, you can defend yourself if you're attacked. Now listen up, everyone. If we meet the Marauders without Sinister, our biggest problems are going to be Scrambler, Vertigo, and ArcLight. Sam, do you know what ArcLight looks like?'

"Yes, sir."

"We meet the Marauders, you take out ArcLight immediately. Get her up off the ground. She can't start earthquakes if she can't touch the ground. I don't care what you do with her. Hang her on a hook from the ceiling, blast her around the block, just keep her off the ground. I don't think Atlanta is set up to cope with quakes."

"Yes, sir."

"Those of us who can use our powers long range have the best chance with Scrambler and Vertigo. Scrambler can't mess up your powers unless he touches you. Vertigo only has to get close. Jean, you and I'll take out Vertigo first thing and then go after Scrambler. Gambit, as soon as we spot them you start throwing your cards at Scrambler. Bobby, if you can, put him on ice." There were nods of agreement.

"Logan, I want you on Scalphunter. Take him out and take him down. Rogue, you and Hank on Harpooner. Same thing." More nods.

"If Sinister is there, I want everyone, and, Logan, I mean everyone, to stay out of my line of fire. He's vulnerable to my optic blasts and nothing else we have with us. If I run out of power, Logan, you can take your shot."

"You got it, boss," Logan said easily.

They went in. Within about fifteen minutes, they met in front of a door to an abandoned supply room in the sub-basements. None of them had seen another soul since leaving the main floors of the hospital.

"She's in dere," Remy said. "I t'ink I could find de entrance. Dere's gotta be a secret door." Remy was half out of his scrubs as he spoke.

"Then find it, Gambit, but once you do, let me and Jean go first, then Sam and Bobby, then Rogue and Logan, and you and Hank take the rear."

Remy nodded, shrugging into his coat, and went in with the others close behind. They all started stripping out of scrubs and replacing their headgear very quietly as Remy explored the small room.

"Here," he said with satisfaction. He felt carefully with sensitive fingers, quickly found a hidden control panel, opened it, and pushed in a code. A door concealed within the wall slid open. Remy gestured. "Voila."

They gazed into a steel corridor, empty and sterile, no doors in sight. Jean and Scott went first. The rest followed. Remy and Jean remained linked and she directed Scott through the twists and turns of several halls. They passed several doors and opened them quickly to investigate. Empty labs.

The fourth door they opened was not to an empty room. It seemed to be a gym and all of the Marauders were there. The X-men attacked immediately. Cannonball blasted into power and swept ArcLight off her feet.

Remy started to charge the cards already in his hands and throw them at Scrambler. One after another exploded against the Marauder's face and body. He rolled out of the way and came up. Remy threw more cards and Scrambler kept rolling and ducking. Bobby was blasting ice at Scrambler but missing as the other combatant rolled and ducked.

Wolverine was on Scalphunter before he could draw a weapon and had him down with claws on each side of his face. Rogue and then Beast went down from repeated hits from Harpooner. Bobby turned his ice blasts against Harpooner and froze him in place.

Scrambler rolled to his feet and reached out toward Iceman who was almost within his reach. Remy dove forward and rolled swiftly, coming up on his right foot and left knee close enough to Scrambler to sweep the Marauder's legs out from under him with the bo staff. Remy flowed swiftly to his feet, using his bo to support him and got ready to engage with Scrambler again.

Cyclops had blasted a hole in the floor in front of Vertigo. Jean knocked the dizzy-making Marauder into the hole with a telekinetic shove.

Scrambler was rising. Remy shifted his grip on his bo and used it as a ram, jamming it into Scrambler's stomach. Scrambler doubled over and Remy pivoted on his good leg and brought the bo down hard on Scrambler's collar bone. There was an audible crack as the bone broke, and Scrambler cried out. But he was still trying to rise. Remy pivoted again, swinging the bo over his head and slammed it against the side of Scrambler's head. The power- disrupting Marauder went out like a light.

Vertigo was buried up to her neck in the hole with debris that Jean had dumped on her. Jean had grabbed ArcLight from Sam and held her suspended in the air.

Logan had put Scalphunter in restraints and was helping Hank to his feet. Rogue was rising and looking around. She came over to put Scrambler in restraints, protected from his powers by her gloves.

Scott was in Remy's face. "I thought I told you not to play, Gambit," he said seriously. Remy was feeling high as a kite from the successful combat and thought Scott was quibbling.

"Sorry, boss," he said casually. He thought he had no choice but to do what he had done, but he also thought explanations could wait. They needed to finish securing the Marauders and find Storm. Bobby thawed out Harpooner's hands and feet and fastened him in restraints.

Scott looked at Remy for a moment and then turned to give directions to the team. ArcLight was put in restraints and hung from a rope on the wall in the gym. All the Marauders were immobilized.

"Y'know," Logan said. "This may not be the only team of these guys we encounter. Sinister does like to make clones."

"Good point, Logan," Scott said. "Same orders as before, guys. Hank, are you okay?"

"I don't like energy bolts," Hank said. "My head aches a little, but I'm fine. Let's find Ororo."

She was two doors down in a lab, in restraints and unconscious. Remy was stricken with worried concern as he ran to the computer consoles and released her restraints. Hank examined her quickly as Remy continued to tap into the computers.

"I think she's fine," Hank declared. "Probably just drugged." Logan was looking more worried than Remy had ever seen him.

"Get her out of here," Scott directed. "Hank, take her back to the blackbird. Sam, Bobby back him up. Get out of here." Hank easily lifted Storm and carried her out, followed by Cannonball and Iceman.

"What do you have on those computers, Remy?" Scott asked.

"I think Sinister is entering data about two doors down," Remy answered.

"Let's go," Scott directed.

They entered a lab two doors down. Sinister was indeed entering data at a computer console. Bishop was in restraints on a metal, rack-like device with dozens of wires running from his head and body to various electronic consoles. Sinister looked up and smiled as the X-men entered.

"Take one more step, my children, and I'll fry your friend," he said as one hand hovered over a button on his control console. They froze. "I have gotten much interesting information about alternate futures from your teammate, and I'm not quite ready to release him yet. But I'll kill him before releasing him to you. I do have his DNA on file."

Remy sent a message to Jean, *He don'know about my psychic powers. I could approach him and he'd feel safe. He t'inks he knows all about me. T'inks he wouldn't need no psychic shields 'gainst me. You and I could link t' Betsy and hit him hard. It might knock him away from de control panel long enough dat Cyke could disable him.*

Good plan, Remy, but. . .

It was too late for Remy to acknowledge her "but." He had already stepped out into the room. Jean threw a urgent cry for help to Betsy who linked her psychic powers to Jean and Remy. She sent a message to Scott about what was being done. Scott acknowledged.

"Hi, Essex," Remy said lightly.

"And what do you think you might accomplish, you idiot child?" Sinister laughed out loud. "Are you hoping that sacrificing yourself might give your friends the chance to rescue Bishop? Are you that consumed with guilt about the work you did for me?"

"Maybe," Remy moved closer to his previous employer.

"I have your DNA on file in several places, Gambit. But I would prefer not to destroy the original. I do find you somewhat amusing, child, and have hopes that someday you'll come to your senses and come back to work with me. But I'll hurt you badly if you push me."

"I don' t'ink anyone mean anyt'ing t' you, Essex," Remy said easily as he moved even closer. "From what I know, even your own wife and kid didn' mean as much t' you as your so-called research." He still had his familiar old power of 'charm' as he had always thought of it, the ability to command the attention of others when he focused his attention on them. Sinister kept his hand over the button, but he was concentrated on Gambit.

Sinister glared, "I don't know what you think you're doing, boy, but if you get much closer, I will hurt you and hurt you badly. And you know that I can. I've done it before." Remy moved a few steps closer. He was idly twirling his bo.

Remy, Jean yelled in his head. *Scott is ordering you not to go closer. I told him what we're trying to do. He said to do it from where you are, now. Right now.*

*Can't Jean. I know what I'm doing and I gotta get close enough for him to grab me.*

Remy, NO. Remy ignored her and stepped closer again.

"I t'ink you like to hurt people, Essex," Remy said nonchalantly. "I t'ink you pretend it's in de name of research, but really you just a plain, old, garden variety psychopath." He took two more steps closer to Sinister who rose and took him by the throat. He lifted Remy off his feet while still keeping one hand over the button that could fry Bishop.

Remy felt Sinister's hand closing around his throat strangling him and threatening to snap his neck. NOW!!!!! he screamed internally

He was flooded with memories of how he had killed Colossus when he was a child. He was enhanced by the psychic powers of Jean and Psylocke. He stabbed deeply into the mind of Sinister who had no inkling that Remy had previously undiscovered psychic powers.

Sinister was incapacitated. He fell to his knees away from the keyboard, throwing Remy away from him hard. Remy twisted in the air, landed on his shoulder, and rolled to his knees. He rose carefully.

Cyclops blasted Sinister over and over until his powers ran out. Sinister was writhing on the floor. Remy ran to the console and released Bishop.

As soon as Cyke's powers faded, Wolverine was on top of Sinister. With a "snikt" the claw at each end of his head popped out, bracketing Sinister's face. "I punch this middle claw into your brain, Sinister, and you be a vegetable," Logan said grimly. "You gonna give up now?"

Sinister extended his right arm and disappeared, teleported away. "Goddammit," Logan spat, retracting his claws.

Bishop was shaky, but able to walk. "Thank you, my friends," he said. "I was starting to wonder if you'd ever show up."

"We had some problems finding you, Bishop," Scott said. "Now, let's get out of here," Scott ordered. "Remy, can you transmit those computer files to the mansion?"

"Already doin' it, Cyke," Remy responded.

"Shouldn't we check and see if Sinister has any of his damn tissue samples or clones here?" Logan suggested.

"Yeah, good idea," Scott was disgusted at the escape of Sinister. "Let's split up and check. Gambit, you and Logan. Me and Jean. Rogue stay here with Bishop. Bishop, just rest a bit." They searched, found nothing and left, checking the gym on the way out. The Marauders were gone, evidently teleported out with Sinister.

Remy was ecstatic with the success of the mission and worried about Storm and Bishop. He was not at all prepared for what happened as soon as they were back aboard the ship.

Scott was furious and frustrated, mostly about Sinister's escape. But he was also none too pleased with Remy. "Gambit!" He said with cold anger. Remy turned to him, his eyes wide. He thought he had done pretty well in the situation. He didn't understand at all why Scott sounded so angry. He had hoped his success with Scrambler and Sinister would earn him some of the approval that he badly needed from his team mates and team leader. He was stunned by the anger he heard in Scott's voice. Scott was rarely angry.

Scott glared at him furiously, "You went off on your own to get those scrubs without checking with me. You engaged in combat with Scrambler against my orders. You went up against Sinister without my permission. And you refused to follow orders when you were approaching him. What if your plan hadn't worked, Gambit? He would have had two hostages to use against us. No cooperation. No collaboration. Just like you stealing Logan's bike and taking off to rescue Storm and Bishop without checking in with any of us. Who and what in the hell do you think you are?" Remy's felt his stomach churning with nausea.

"You think you're some kinda super hero who can accomplish everything without the help of your team? You think you're a super star? I don't. I think you're a self-centered, glory-seeking, egocentric brat who wants everyone to praise you. You make me sick."

Remy felt as if he had been knifed through the heart. He didn't know how to respond. "I had t' engage wit Scrambler," he started to explain, his voice tight with pain and anger.

"I don't want to hear it, Remy. Not right now. I need to cool down before I can even listen to your excuses." Scott's voice continued to be coldly furious. Remy shrugged, feeling helpless to do anything. He turned away from Scott and went to one of the portals to look out as they went home. He glared out, not seeing a thing as he struggled to contain the raging feelings inside him.

All he could think over and over was Not fair. It's not fair. He had learned long ago that life was often unfair, but he didn't expect it from Scott who was usually very fair. He wasn't sure he had ever heard Scott sound so angry before. In some way, on some level, it made sense to him that if anyone was going to make Scott that angry it would have to be him.

Logan shook his head and hoped both Scott and Remy would leave one another alone until they both cooled down. As upset as Remy was, he feared an explosion if Scotty said another word to him. He wanted to check on Ro.

He kneeled beside the stretcher upon which Storm was lying and took her hand in his. "Don't know if you can hear me, Ro, but I'm here. And I love you, darlin.'" Her hand tightened around his and he took a deep breath of relief.

From the corner of his eye, Logan saw Jean go to Scott, talk to him for several minutes, and then saw Scott go to Gambit. Alarm bells went off in his head. Not good he thought.

"Ro, darlin,' I got me a situation here to deal with. I'll be back." He felt her hand squeeze his again and he squeezed back before letting go and standing up.

"Remy," Scott said quietly. "I'm sorry, I was too hard on you."

Remy whirled on Scott and went ballistic, "NO, YOU WEREN'T," he yelled. Everyone turned and stared and he lowered his voice slightly, but continued to spit out each word with intense anger, "You're right. You're always fucking right. And I'm always fucking wrong. About fucking everything. I'm a total fuck-up. I probably don't even fucking deserve to live." Scott's mouth went agape. He stared at Remy in shocked dismay.

Logan moved across the space of the blackbird swiftly and silently. He took Remy by the shoulders, backed him up quickly to one of the seats, and sat him down, hard.

Pain blazed through Remy's punished butt as it hit the seat cushion. Tears rose in his eyes. He looked up at Logan with pain and confusion.

"You're not gonna have a tantrum on this blackbird boy," Logan said in a very firm and quiet voice for Remy's ears only as he looked straight into Remy's eyes. "You are going to sit down and shut up. I know that Scott hurt your feelings and you have every right to be hurt and angry. You did not fuck up on this mission. And as you seemed to have failed to notice, Scotty was trying to apologize. But we will deal with all this at home, not here. If I hear one more outburst from you, I'll put you over my knees, bare your bottom, and blister you right here and now. Has it occurred to you that Storm might be conscious enough to hear this conflict?"

Remy shut up. The pain in his bottom from his previous spankings was enough to shut him up. He didn't want another. He was stricken with dread at the anger he had heard from both Scott and Logan and ashamed of his explosion of temper. Tears rose in his eyes and he tried to blink them away. It didn't work. More tears welled. He sat with soreness radiating from his very well spanked butt and kept trying to swallow his pain. He held his breath, he froze his stomach. It didn't help. The tears kept leaking. He looked down and hoped no one would notice that he was crying.

"Hey, kiddo, we'll work this out when we get home." Logan gently squeezed the shoulders that he was still holding. It almost undid Remy and for a moment, the tears threatened to escalate into sobs. He drew his knees up to his chest and held his breath tightly. He didn't see Logan nod with satisfaction before he moved away.

Scott had retreated as soon as Logan intervened. He was very upset and, as was usual with Scott, he coped with it by trying to get busy. He was piloting the ship. Logan approached him.

"Give the controls to Warren," he suggested. Scott sighed deeply and then did as he was asked and faced Wolverine.

"I really blew it," Scott guessed. "I hurt him real bad didn't I?"

"Scotty, I don't think you have a clue what you're dealing with when it comes to this kid," Logan said gently. "Yeah, you hurt him a lot, but he set himself up to get hurt. Don't blame yourself. It's not your fault he's as volatile as nitroglycerine. He'll be okay."

"Jean was linked to him the whole time," Scott said quietly. "She told me that Scrambler was nearly on Bobby when Remy attacked him. He really didn't have any choice."

"Yep, I noticed," Logan said. "He was doin' what had to be done."

"And he did engage with Sinister without permission, but he was right about what he was doing. It was an attack that Essex wouldn't have expected."

"Doesn't mean he couldn't have waited two seconds or less for you to okay it as team leader," Logan said mildly.

"Thanks, Logan. You're right, not that it makes me feel much better. Jean also told me that he deliberately set himself up to get grabbed around the throat so he could remember what he had done with Colossus when he was a kid."

"Again, he could have explained it to you and gotten your okay."

"It was combat, Logan. He had to move fast. And he was good and he was right."

"Yep," Logan said again, very satisfied with the discussion thus far. "But you're the team leader. You had a right to know what the boy was doin' and why. And you were right to be concerned about Sinister gettin' another hostage. So, we don't need you beatin' up on yourself any more than we need Remy beatin' up on himself. And he was totally wrong to take my bike and try to go rescue Ro and Bishop on his own."

"So, where do we go from here?"

"We go home and deal with it there. Remy's hurting bad, but he'll live. And he don't need you apologizing to him here and now. He's too on edge. And he doesn't need or want to come unglued in front of everyone."

Scott nodded and then looked perplexed. "What do you mean?"

"I mean the boy's hurtin' bad right now. If he heard a kind word from either you or me right now, he'd fall apart and start cryin' harder than the last time I punished him and then he'd be ashamed and embarrassed. Let's leave him alone until we get home, okay?" Scott nodded his understanding. He took the controls of the bird back from Warren and piloted them home.

Logan went back to Storm and took her hand again.

"I'm here for you, darlin,'" he said gently. Her hand squeezed his again and he continued to hold it as they flew home.

Tears continued to well out of Remy's eyes despite his efforts to contain them. He felt someone sit down beside him and he looked up briefly to see Sam who was looking at him with compassionate concern.

"If Cyclops had yelled at me the way he yelled at you, ah would be as upset as you are, Gambit," Sam offered. "Ah really don't get it. I thought you done fine, ma'self."

Remy took a deep breath and tried to ignore the tears dripping down his face. "T'anks, Sam. Dat means a lot t' me."

Sam really didn't know what else to say so he nodded and moved away. Bishop took the seat that Sam had left.

"Thank you, LeBeau, I mean, uh. . . Gambit. . .uh," Bishop said.

"You could call me Remy," Gambit suggested, almost amused at Bishop's confusion about how to address him. He felt a pause in his heartfelt anguish as he coped with Bishop's perplexity.

"You don't understand, Gambit. In the future that I come from you were my 'Father.' You adopted me and taught me. You were the adult I most feared and respected."

"Well, I don' know about your future. I only know about my present. An' I don' feel like no adult at all. An' I certainly don' feel competent t' be no one's fat'er. I feel like a confused and stupid kid. So why don' you forget whatever I was in your future and just call me Remy?"

"Nevertheless, then, uh . . .Remy, you just played a very important role in rescuing me from a madman. I don't know why Cyclops is angry with you, but I want you to know that I'm grateful"

"T'anks," Remy said. But Bishop's gratitude and kindness did nothing to stem his urge to dissolve into tears. He blinked furiously as Bishop nodded and moved away. He stared down at the floor. His knees were still drawn up to his chest and he had his arms wrapped around them. Within a few moments, he was looking at Rogue's green clad legs. He couldn't bear to make himself look up at her with tears falling down his face, afraid that her love and concern would be his undoing and start the sobs he wanted to avoid. She put her hand on his arm gently.

"It's okay, sugah," she said softly. "Ah know that when ya're this upset ya mostly want ta be left alone. Ah just wanted ta come and tell ya that ah love ya and ah'll be by yar room when ya get through with all this mess with Scotty and Logan."

Remy put his hand over hers and squeezed it, deeply grateful that she understood what he needed. She squeezed back and left him to continue his struggle to keep himself contained.

The blackbird landed at the mansion. Remy stood and looked in the general direction of Cyclops and Wolverine.

"Can I, please, just go t' my room?" he asked simply.

"Go ahead. We'll be up to talk to you later," Logan said quietly. Remy fled. He went to his room, stripped off his colors, wrapped a towel around his waist, and headed for the shower. He washed and shaved carefully and tried to avoid thinking about what Scott had said to him. It didn't work. The problem was that there was some truth to it. He had been looking for approval. He had been hoping to be a hero. The tears continued leaking. He wasn't really sure why Scott's angry criticisms were hurting him so badly, but he knew he was deeply distressed. It didn't help at all that Logan had been so obviously irritated with him, too. And he wasn't particularly proud of himself for any of his behavior, especially the angry outburst on the ship. About halfway through shaving, he heard a bang on the door.

"Just shaving," Remy said, "C'mon in if you wan.'"

Bobby came in and started to strip for a shower. "Don't think I thanked you, Gambit, for keeping Scrambler off me," he said.

Remy shrugged and kept shaving, concentrating hard on not allowing any tears to leak while Bobby might be watching. "Welcome. You woulda done it for me."

Bobby, about half undressed, turned his back and started fiddling with the shower controls. "Y'know," he said loudly enough to be heard over the running water, "I feel like I've known Scotty most of my life. I know he doesn't blow up often, but it happens. And the funny thing about it for someone who doesn't do it so often, is that he's almost always wrong when he does."

Remy was startled into a grin. Bobby turned, caught his eye in the mirror, and grinned back. "T'anks, Bobby. I needed dat," Remy said.

"Welcome," Bobby said lightly, "You woulda done it for me."

Remy finished shaving and started to splash the remaining lather off his face. Bobby stepped up a little closer and put a hand on his shoulder for a second. "And, hey, man, if Scotty had blown up at me like he did at you, I'd have probably been as upset as you were. Don't feel stupid for having feelings, Remy."

"T'anks, Bobby," Remy said again. He started to feel the tears yet again welling in his eyes and was deeply embarrassed. Bobby turned away immediately and sat down to get his boots off.

"And, it's really okay for you to still have feelings, Rem," he said quietly as he concentrated on struggling with the boots. "I, for one, ain't gonna think any less of you. Near as I can tell, you're going through some kind of hell that I can't even begin to understand. But I'll tell you something, man. There's been many a time that I cried like a kid about the stupid ass hell I go through with my dad. And for God's sake, don't thank me again. Just get out of here and let me have my shower."

"Bobby. . ." Remy didn't know what to say. He was really touched by the efforts that Bobby was making to try to make him feel a little better about how miserable he felt.

"Yeah, Remy, I know. It's okay. Now, really, get the hell out of here, man." Bobby looked up at him and grinned.

Remy grinned back and, for once, didn't feel totally ashamed of the tears that still stood in his eyes. He gave Bobby a nonchalant salute with one finger and left.

"Hey, Remy," Bobby called out. Remy turned. " It took a lot of balls to take Logan's bike. I'd rather go up against Apocacalypse by myself than have Wolverine mad at me. And I don't know whether to admire you or help arrange to have you committed." Remy laughed out loud despite his distress.

"I t'ink probably havin' me committed be de best plan," he said lightly. "I don' t'ink what I did was a very good idea." Bobby grinned at him and waved him away.

Remy went back to his room, put on some soft, old sweats, and curled up on his bed holding his pillow. Scott's words of anger still wouldn't leave his head and much as he appreciated Bobby's efforts, it was hardly enough to alleviate the pain he felt. Hell, in some ways, Bobby had given him permission to feel it. He gave upon trying to contain his feelings and allowed himself to start sobbing.

Hank had wheeled Ro into med lab. Logan stayed by her side, still holding her hand.

"I promise you, Logan, I'm almost certain that she's just drugged," Hank said. He drew some blood in order to run tests.

"And I believe you, Hank. I'd like to be here for her when she wakes up," Logan responded.

He stood with her for awhile, just holding her hand and looking at her face. Then his acute hearing picked up the sounds of Remy's crying. He sighed.

"Ro, darlin,' Remy's hurtin' pretty bad. I need to go see about him. Try not to wake up till I get back." She squeezed his hand again.

Logan went to the study and got the paddle that was kept there in a drawer and he tracked down Scott who had just finished showering and changing.

"Now, that looks like an excellent plan," Logan said thoughtfully. "Wish I had time to do it myself. Scotty, we got ourselves an upset kid to deal with."

"And what are you planning to do with that?" Scott asked gesturing toward the paddle Logan held.

"What do you think I'm gonna do with it? The boy has to pay for sneaking out and stealing my bike. Might as well get it over with. But not till we get him calmed down a little."

Scott sighed deeply and followed Logan to Remy's room. Even before they entered, they heard the sounds of his sobbing. Scott sighed again.

"Logan, why is he so damn fragile these days? It's like he's not even the same Gambit we've known for the past few years."

"Talked some to Hank about that while we were on the bird. About a guy named Bowlby. Did research on abandoned babies. Found out they went through stages as they gave up on getting their moms back, like protest, then despair, then detachment. Found out that they had to go back through all the stages to get re-attached. Think maybe Remy's tryin' to get re-attached. So we're seeing a lot of despair and protest. Not seeing much of the detachment that he used to be so good at."

"Great. It makes it so much easier to cope with knowing there's a theory to explain it," Scott said with deep irony. "So are we going in or what?"

They went in. Remy looked up when they entered and immediately noticed the paddle in Logan's hand.

"Oh. . .no. . .p. . .pl. . .please. . .no," he sobbed even more deeply.

Logan put the paddle down on Remy's dresser and went over to the bed. "Not right away, kiddo, but you know you got it coming and we might as well put it behind us soon."

"For. . .for. . .blowing. . .up. . .at. . .Sc. . .Scott?"

"No, Remy, I don't think I could live with myself if I punished you or anyone else just for having a temper. You are gonna be paddled for sneaking out of here, stealing my bike, and runnin' off on your own. You got that one comin' to you. But I ain't gonna spank you until we get this mess with Scotty resolved."

"Dere's not'in' t' resolve," Remy said with irritation as well as pain in his voice "He was. . .right about. . .me . . ."

"Remy, I wasn't right about you. I was furious that Sinister got away again. You were a handy target and I'm sorry I was so cruel," Scott said sincerely. The sight of Remy's drawn, tear streaked face went through him like a knife. He felt horrendously guilty.

"No. . .you were. . .right. . . I did wan' t' be a hero" Remy's voice was still tight with both pain and irritation. What did they want? "I did want t'. . .please you and. . .everyone else. . .I was being. . .self-centered. . .."

"Remy, stop it and listen to Scott. He's tryin' to tell you something. You ain't helpin' anything at all by beating up on yourself."

"Look, Remy," Scott said, "I know you had to attack Scrambler to prevent him from disabling Bobby. I didn't know it when I yelled at you, but I know it now." The words that Scott was speaking were mostly just noises to Remy. He was too upset to listen.

"Scotty, stop, he's not even listening. He's too caught up in whatever nightmare he's trapped himself in," Logan sighed. "Sit up, boy, and look at us. Now." There was a note of irritation in Logan's voice that got Remy's full attention. He sat up and looked at them. His sobs quieted and all he felt was pained resentment.

"Are you gonna listen to us, Remy?" Logan asked.

"What you wanna say t' me, anyway?" he demanded. "And why? I screwed up. I always screw up."

"Remy," Scott said patiently. "I'm trying to apologize for being unfair to you." Well, that sounded about right. It was all unfair. Life was abysmally unfair. Remy felt so full of anger that he couldn't stop himself from lashing out.

"What's de point, Scott," he insisted. "I'm just what you said: a selfish, self- centered, ego-centric fuck-up. So what's de damn point? Why you even fool wit me?"

"He didn't say you were a fuck-up, Remy," Logan said irately. "He said you were a brat and right now you're doing a damn good imitation of one." The words stabbed into Remy like a knife and he felt hurt and enraged. He tried to take a deep breath and calm down, but it did no good.

"So. . .Fucking. . .What!" Remy's hands balled into fists and he spent about one second restraining himself before smashing one of them into the wall beside his bed almost hard enough to break his hand. He winced with pain and then winced with fear as Logan grabbed his arm and whirled him back around on the bed to face him. Remy froze as Logan glared down at him. He knew he was in serious danger of going over Logan's knees that very second and getting soundly spanked. His face went white and he looked down. Logan grabbed his chin with his other hand and held Remy's face so their eyes met. Remy's eyes were full of fear, rage, and misery and Logan's were calm, but sternly angry.

"So, if you act like a little child and a brat, you get treated like one," Logan said firmly. "And about right now, I think what you need is a time out. Scotty and I are going to walk out of here and give you about fifteen minutes to think this over and then we're gonna come back and see if we can start over. And if you do one more thing to hurt yourself, I promise you an immediate spanking. You got that, kid?"

The rage faded from Remy's eyes as the fear and misery drowned it. "No, Logan, no, please don't go, not now, not while you're mad at me," he pleaded. Logan stood up and walked to the door, motioning Scott to follow. They went out and closed it behind them.

Remy felt an agony of despair. On some level inside himself, he didn't believe they would ever come back. He was terrified.

Logan sat down on the floor outside the door and lit a cigar. "Don't say one word to me about not smokin' in the mansion," he warned.

"Wasn't going to," Scott sighed as he sat down too. "I wish I smoked, too, about right now."

There was silence in the room behind the closed door for a few moments and then they heard sobbing start again, deep and desperate and totally despairing sobbing.

"Oh, Jesus, Logan, I don't know if I can stand to listen to that for fifteen minutes," Scott put his face in his hands.

"Know that I can't and don't plan to. But if we wait about six or seven minutes, it'll feel like fifteen minutes to him. Probably feel like about two hours to us."

"Do you know what you're doing with him?"

"Haven't a clue," Logan drew deep on his cigar and got up to pace. "But we gotta do something. We're the only family he's got."

He paced for another few minutes and then went into the bathroom to flush the butt down the toilet.

"Back in," he said quietly. Scott followed him. Remy was curled up again on the bed, still crying desperately.

"I'm. . . s. . .s. . .sorry. . ." he gulped out between the sobs. "I'm. . .s. . ."

Logan sat down on the bed, leaned back against the headboard and gathered Remy into his arms, holding him tightly.

"It's okay, kiddo," he said gently. "It's okay. Just calm down. I'm here. I ain't leavin' you. I promise." Remy clung to him and sobbed with pain and shame. Logan let him cry for several minutes and then asked, "Just curious, Rem, but how old do you feel right now?"

"About. . .f. . .five. . ." Remy sobbed. "And. . .sc. . .scared. . .and. . ." Words failed him.

"Scared and lonely and abandoned?" Logan suggested. "And unloved and unlovable?" Remy nodded, crying even harder.

"You were scared and lonely and abandoned when you were five, kiddo, but it wasn't because you were unloved and unlovable. I'm gonna keep telling you and keep telling you. It wasn't your fault. And no matter how hard you try you can't make it happen again."

"C. . .c. . .can't?" Remy questioned.

"Can't," Logan assured him and then simply continued to hold him until Remy cried himself out. His sobs quieted to occasional hiccups and then Logan spoke again. "You ready to listen to Scotty now?"

Remy nodded and spoke quietly once again losing his Cajun accent and speaking in the voice of his childhood, "When I was little, I called you Scotty." He looked up at Scott. "You were my godfather, too. You and Jeannie used to take me to Sunday School and answer my questions about what was right and wrong. I thought that you were the goodest grownup I knew. Wolvie was the strongest. Hank, the smartest. Stormy loved me the most and my Dad was the wisest, but you were the goodest. And when you were mad at me, I knew I'd really been bad." Without thinking, he sent Scott images of those memories and Scott saw himself through the eyes of the child that Remy had been. He was taken aback at the power of the memories and the enormity of all the child had lost.

Scott felt stricken again with remorse at his harsh words earlier that day. "And I guess that all got hooked today when I got so mad at you?" he asked softly. Remy nodded.

"Are you really able to listen to me, now, Remy?" Scott asked. Remy shook himself and his more adult self re-emerged.

"Oui," he said, "an' I'm sorry dat I been so difficult."

"And you have been damn difficult," Logan said gruffly, letting Remy go to sit up and face Scott fully. He cuffed Remy lightly on the side of the head. Remy ducked away and grinned faintly at him.

"I t'ink maybe I got talents for bein' difficult dat I ain't even begun t' explore," Remy suggested with a hint of a mischievous glint in his eyes. Logan groaned, rolling his eyes at the prospect of Remy being even more difficult than he had been.

"Remy," Scott said carefully. "I don't think I had a beginning of any understanding until now just how much you're dealing with in trying to fit into this family who are the same people who were your family when you were a child. I don't even know how you keep track of what age you are and who we are to you."

"It not be easy, Scotty. Can I call you Scotty, sometimes? When you feel t' me like de Scotty from when I was little?"

"Of course, you can, Remy. It might even help me know what I'm dealing with. Now are you willing to listen?" Remy nodded. Scott continued, explaining what he had learned from Jean about why Remy had behaved the way he had on the mission and why Scott had realized he was wrong in some of his criticisms.

"So, I understand why you went up against Scrambler and why you did what you did with Sinister. And you were good and you were fast and I appreciate your efforts." He paused.

"But it still would've been better if I had I had told you what I was doin' an' why," Remy said quietly. "You were right, Scotty. I did wanna be de hero. I did wan' t' make everyone approve of me. I wan'ed t' make up for bein' so bad."

"Remy, dammit, don't you realize that you don't have to try so damn hard? You are damn good at what you do. You're smart and tough and you think well in combat. You might make a good team leader, someday. And I swear to God, when you are, I wish upon you some member of your team who's as hard to control as you are." Remy flinched. "Everything you did was fine, child. Every single thing. It just would have been nice if I'd known what you were doing. If you had told me that you getting scrubs, I'd have said it was a brilliant idea. If you had told me the plan about attacking Sinister psychically, I'd have approved wholeheartedly. If you had told me why you wanted him to grab you by the throat, well, I don't know if I'd have approved it or not. I really didn't want him to have another hostage to use against us."

"I didn' t'ink about dat one, Scotty," Remy said.

"It's part of the job of team leader to think about the whole picture. Would you be willing to let me do my job?" Remy nodded, feeling ashamed again and looking down. "But there was no call for me to blow up at you and call you selfish and self-centered and all that I called you. Except maybe brat. You do seem to have a incredible talent for being a brat. I'm sorry. Will you forgive me, please?"

Remy looked up at Scott with tears in his eyes again. "Of course, I forgive you, Scotty. I'm sorry, too. Can you forgive me?" A single tear welled out and spilled down his face. He brushed it away impatiently.

"No problem, kid," Scotty said. He reached out and touched Remy lightly on the shoulder.

"T'anks, Scotty," Remy said. "Guess dere's not much difference 'tween de Scotty you be now an' de one I knew when I was little."

"I'm glad you feel that way, Remy," Scott felt shaken by the emotions that arose in him in response to the trust and vulnerability he saw on Remy's face. He wasn't quite sure how to deal with being one of the parents of a child he had never known. Especially since that child now wore the body of an semi- adult person. But he wasn't about to shirk the responsibility now that he understood it.

"Now that we have all that straightened out," Logan said. "We have the little matter of your punishment for sneaking out of here and stealing my bike so you could go up against Sinister on your own without even informing the rest of us that you were linked to Ro."

Remy looked down at the bed and took a deep breath. "We have t,' Logan?" he asked miserably. "We gotta do it now? My butt still hurts from de last spankin' you gave me."

Scott moved over to Remy's window seat and sat down. He was grateful that the confrontation between him and Remy was over and seemed to have gone well. And he wasn't particularly looking forward to seeing Remy getting spanked again, although he understood the necessity.

Logan rose and got the paddle from the dresser. He came back over, sat down on the edge of the bed, and took Remy by the arm.

"You're going back over my knees, child," he said firmly. "If I take your pants down and find that your bottom is too bruised and welted for another spanking, then we'll put this off."

"Logan, I'm beggin' you, please, no, please, not now. I'm sorry. Please, don,' not now." Remy felt sheer panic. He jerked his arm away from Logan and flinched away from him. His hands were shaking and tears were welling in his eyes.

Logan sighed and spoke gently, "Sorry, kiddo, but we got too many of these to get through to put any of 'em off. You're gonna get your pants pulled down and you're probably gonna get paddled, right now. I'm gonna take your arm again, Remy. I think it would be a good idea for you to just let me."

Remy's whole body shook with one shuddering sob. He recognized the firm resolution in Logan's face. He knew his bottom wasn't badly bruised. There was no escaping the spanking he was about to get and he knew it. For one second he wildly contemplated trying to catapult himself past Wolverine and out the window past Scott, but he had enough sense to realize that even if he could get past both men, he still wouldn't really have anywhere to go. He was stuck with suffering the consequences that he had so blithely ignored the night before. The voice inside him that had tried to warn him issued an unhappy Told you so.

Logan took Remy firmly by the arm and pulled him into position. Once again, he was face down and bottom up over Logan's knees. Logan pulled his pants down and then his briefs. He felt the cool air of the room on his bare and very sore bottom. He knew he deserved it, but he hated having his bottom bared for a spanking. Tears spilled down his face.

"Rem, it's obvious you been spanked but it's mostly just red splotches. I know you're sore as hell, but, kiddo, you're gonna be sore for days. You've earned yourself a lot of spankings. You're about to get another."

Logan paddled him thoroughly, making sure that the paddle hit each spot on his bare bottom several times before he moved to another. Remy started sobbing within moments as his bottom was spanked for the fourth time within less than 24 hours. He felt acutely miserable and at least some of his misery was because he knew he deserved it. He had known better than to pull the IV out of his arm. He'd already been yelled at about doing so earlier that day. He had known better than to go sneaking off without telling anyone. He had certainly known better than to take Logan's bike without permission. He had even known he was definitely going to be spanked again if he went on with his plans. He couldn't believe he had been so stupid.

The paddling itself hurt like fire. The paddle was of fairly thin wood and Logan was wielding it so as to leave few if any bruises. But Logan was making sure that each spank landed with a snap that stung like hell. Within just a few minutes, Remy was pleading with him to stop.

"L. . .L. . .Logan. . .please . . .stop. . . I'm. . .s . . .sorry. . ." he begged, knowing full well that it would do no good, but unable to stop himself from trying to stop the pain that was blazing against his bare butt.

Scott watched as Remy's bottom got redder and redder and redder and watched as Remy started to struggle and flail. He suddenly found himself feeling less uncomfortable as he watched. He had a new awareness of the needy, desperate child within Remy and his struggles to come to terms with what had happened to him. He realized that Remy's misbehavior and the punishments he set himself up for were somehow a part of that struggle.

Remy sobbed deeply as he started to fight against Logan's firm grip on him. "Please. . .stop," he pleaded. "Pl. . .please. . .I'm sorry. . .I know. . .I was. . .bad. . ."

"Remy," Logan said firmly as he smacked the paddle soundly against Remy's bare butt, "you are not bad. What you did was wrong and unacceptable and you're gettin' spanked for doing it, but you're not bad."

Remy was crying very hard and the pain of the paddle smacking against him was getting worse and worse. His sobs were soon louder than the sounds of the paddle smacking into his bare behind.

"I think," Logan said, as he paused in this seemingly relentless punishment, "that the idea that you could go up against Sinister and the Marauders on your own qualifies as trying to get yourself hurt. So, you're going into the corner with your pants down for half an hour and then you're getting another spanking."

"Oh, no. . .L. . .L. . .Logan. . .pl . . please. . .no," Remy sobbed.

Logan jerked him to his feet and spanked him all the way to the corner of his room. Remy desperately held the front of his sweat pants up over his genitals and cried out again and again as each spank landed on his naked butt. Logan put him in the corner.

"Bend over, boy," Logan ordered. Logan didn't wait for him to comply, but grabbed him around his waist and bent him over. Logan landed another volley of spanks against his blazing, bare behind. Remy was sobbing so hard that he could barely breath.

"You have 30 minutes to stand right here with your pants down and think about why you're getting spanked," Logan said. "And I'm gonna go shower, change, and check on Ro. Scott will you stay here with this kid?"

"No problem, Logan." Scott said.

"NO. . .Log. . . Logan. . .please. . .don'. . .leave. . ." Remy sobbed.

"I'm leavin' you with Scotty, Remy. You ain't gonna be left alone."

"Scotty. . .don'. . .love. . .me," Remy protested. Logan looked at Scott.

"No, Remy, I care about you. It's okay, kid. Let Logan go take care of himself." Scott said carefully.

Logan approached Scott and spoke quietly, "If he goes to pieces, get him out of there, get his pants back up, and hold him. Can you do that? If you can't, I won't go."

"I can handle it, Logan. If I get in over my head, I'll call you." Scott said conscientiously. Logan nodded and left. Remy was sobbing as if his heart was breaking. He felt miserable standing in the corner with his pants down and his bottom bare. He felt ashamed, humiliated, and abandoned.

Within several minutes, his sobs began to grow more and more desperate and despairing. Scott let him continue crying for maybe ten minutes and then started to feel alarmed at the depth and intensity of Remy's sobs. He got out of the window seat and came up behind him.

"Remy, I want your pants back up, " he said. " Do you want me to take them up or do you want to take them up yourself?"

Remy reached down and pulled his underwear and pants back up himself. He was still sobbing desperately. He fell to his knees in the corner and flinched away as Scott reached for him.

"Remy, I just want to hold you," Scott said as calmly as he could, feeling anything but calm. He felt unsettled at the gasping sobs that shook Remy's whole body and at his white, terrified face with the tears running down it. Remy clenched his arms over his stomach and leaned over against his knees.

"I don' wan' you," Remy sobbed despondently. "I wan' Logan."

Scott forced himself to count to ten and take deep breaths. He considered calling for help immediately, but he didn't think that was fair to Logan who deserved to have the time to shower and check in with Ro.

"Remy," Scott said patiently, "Logan doesn't exist just to take care of you. That's not fair to him and it's not fair to the rest of us who care about you."

"You. . .don' really care. . .'bout me," Remy protested. "You ain' never even. . . liked me. . .very much." He continued to hold himself and feel a deep and frightening despair.

Scott was so frustrated that he felt for a moment as if his head were going to explode and blow his brains all over the ceiling. He realized it was a totally absurd fantasy, but it rather accurately depicted his feelings. The hell of it was that Remy was right, in a way, and he felt horrendously guilty that he had so failed this boy as one of his team leaders.

"Okay," he said carefully. "you're right and you're wrong. I don't think it's exactly true that I never liked you. Goddammit, Remy, it's almost impossible not to like you. I wasn't sure I trusted you and I didn't always approve of your behavior. So I kept my distance and I'm sorry about that."

Remy still shook with deep and despairing sobs. "I wan' Logan," he demanded.

"Jesus, God Damn It, Remy!" Scott was getting distraught. "I want to help. I do care about you. It's not fair to Logan to demand that he be the only one who can comfort you when you go off on these descents into the depths of anguish and despair. And what in hell are the rest of us going to do with you when Logan takes off, as he always does, on his own Logan trips? Are you just going self destruct? Or are you going to let some of the rest of us care about you and take care of you?"

"I. . .wan'. . .Logan," Remy said stubbornly.

Scott grabbed both of his arms and shook him, not at all gently. Remy was startled almost out of his mind.

"LOOK," Scott said, almost as angry as he had been on the blackbird, "I haven't been there for you, child. But you've pushed me away as much as I've kept my distance. I do care about you. I might not love you yet as much as Logan does. You and Logan are more alike than you and me. Both of you take some kind of glee in combat that I don't even understand. Both of you have demons to live with inside that I don't comprehend. But will you, for God's sake, give me a goddamn chance to love you? I want to. I think I need to. And I think you need me to. It's just not safe for you to put all your faith in just one person to give you all the love you need."

Remy shook with sobs and considered as best he could what Scott was saying. "I . . .trust Hank. . .and Stormy. . .and Rogue. . .to love me. . .an' my Dad. . ." he objected.

"And the only one of those people available right now is Rogue. Hank is busy taking care of Storm and Bishop. Storm isn't even conscious. Do you want me to get Rogue for you?" Scott felt an odd combination of relief at the prospect of not having to deal with Remy any further and hurt that Remy was so adamantly refusing to believe that he was capable of caring about him.

Remy shook his head frantically, "No. . .not Rogue. . .not fair to her. . ." He leaned against the wall and sobbed so hard that Scott became seriously disturbed.

"Remy, listen to me, again, please. You don't want Rogue. And I'm here and I want to help. Please let me," his voice held a note of desperation.

"You. . .wan' t' care about . . me?" Remy asked unsurely. Scott took several deep breaths.

"Yes, Remy," Scott said carefully. "I would like to be the Scotty in your memories as best I can be. I'm sorry I've been so cold and untrusting. I've had no idea what you were dealing with."

Remy considered what Scott was saying for several long moments that felt like an eternity to Scott. Finally, he sobbed out, "What. . .you wan' me t' do?"

"Just let me hold you, child, please, let me try to comfort you," Scott said intently.

Remy shrugged and opened his arms from across his stomach. Scott sighed deeply, reached for him, and pulled him into an embrace. Remy stiffened for a moment and then relaxed into Scott's arms. He put his head against Scott's shoulder and rested his body against Scott's chest. He continued to cry very hard. Scott felt profoundly relieved and held him tightly.

"I'm. . . s. . .orr. . .I'm. . . sorry . . ." Remy sobbed . Scott held him tightly and stroked his back.

"I wan' t'. . . die," Remy choked out. "I'm. . . sorry. . . but I do."

"Remy, if you died, we'd all grieve. All of us. You matter to all of us," Scott said gently.

"Why. . . why. . .why?" Remy was almost inconsolable.

"Why not?" he asked. "Why would we not love you, Remy? You've been a part of our lives. You're a good and decent person. How could we not love you?"

"I'm. . .not. . .a good . . . person."

"Remy, Goddammit," Scott was running out of patience. "You are one of the most decent people I've ever known. On our very first mission together, you risked your life to save the life of Deathbird who, as far as you knew, had been trying to kill all of us. You simply weren't willing to see another being put casually to death. It was because of you that we realized that some entity was impersonating the professor. You're one of the good guys. I am getting damn tired of your self-hatred and despair and I tell you, kid, if Logan doesn't come back soon, I'll pick up that damn paddle and spank you myself if you don't stop this agony of self-hatred."

Remy didn't really believe Scott would do any such thing but he heard the frustration his self-hatred engendered in Scott. He sobbed harder for several moments and then started to relax into Scott's arms.

"I'm. . . s. . . s. . . sorry. . ." he gulped out. Scotty held him tightly and close.

"It's okay, Remy," he said gently. "Just let it go." Remy continued to cry, deeply, but he continued to relax and his sobs sounded less desperate and more cathartic.

"I don' wan'. . . anot'er spankin'" he said quietly.

"That's between you and Logan," Scott said gently. "I can't do a thing about it except hold you and love you right now.

"Do. . .you?" Remy gulped.

"Do I what? Love you, kid? Yeah, actually, I think I do. I love you." Scott said almost as if it surprised to him to discover that he did indeed love the Cajun boy he held in his arms. He continued to hold him tightly and Remy's sobs quieted even more as he accepted Scott's supportive embrace and allowed himself to let go of some of his tension and fear.

After several minutes of listening to Remy cry and holding him, Scott asked, "Remy, can you tell me at all what happened to you as you stood there? What sent you into such a panic of hopelessness?" Remy hesitated before responding.

"I don' know," he said quietly and very evasively.

"You don't know or you don't want to talk to me about it?"

"I don't want t' ta'k t' anyone about it, ever," Remy said honestly.

"Remy, you have to," Scott said firmly.

"I'll tell you and Logan 'bout it when he gets back, I promise. I just don' wan' t' ta'k about it 'till den. Please, Scotty, don' make me ta'k about it till den. Please." His voice started to get panicky again and his sobs deepened. "An' please don' put. . . me back. . . in dat corner. . . Please. I'd just go. . . t' pieces again."

Scott held him tightly and stroked his back. "You're not going anywhere until Logan gets back, Rem. You're staying right here." Remy sobbed with relief and gratefully hugged Scott back. Scott felt satisfied and to his own surprise again, realized that it was truly easy to love Remy deeply. He felt as if he had met a Remy that he had never really known before who was mostly a traumatized and vulnerable kid who badly needed to be loved and healed.

Logan had taken one of the quickest showers of his life and changed to jeans and a comfortable old shirt. He went back to med lab and encountered Hank who grinned at him cheerfully.

"I think Ro is about ready to wake up. As a matter of fact, I think she's mainly waiting for you. She was drugged. Simple barbiturates," Hank informed him. Logan started to turn to go Ro's side, but Hank stopped him. "And Logan, when you finish spanking Remy again and he stops crying would you send him down here. I need to find out if he did himself any harm in the battles at Sinister's lab."

"You heard?" Logan asked.

"Remember, old friend, my hearing is as acute as yours. Of course I heard. I can still hearing him crying. I hope to God you didn't leave him alone."

"Scotty's with him, Hank. I'd never leave him alone after spanking him."

"Scotty?" Hank rose what would have been an eyebrow if he hadn't already been covered with blue fur.

"Yes, Scotty," Logan's mouth twitched slightly. "I thought it could be a great learning experience for our fearless leader to cope with a whole lotta out of control emotions."

Hank's mouth twitched in return as he also swallowed a grin, "I think it could potentially be an excellent learning experience for Scott, but (a) is that really fair to Remy? And (b) don't you think your attitude toward our team leader is slightly disrespectful?"

"Well, golly, gee, gosh, Hank, what can I say? Lemme see, (a) I'm listening closely and to tell you the truth, I almost went back up there till about two minutes ago when it seems like Scotty finally figured out how to calm the kid down, and (b) I respect the hell out of what Scott can do and I'm just as clear as you are about the places he needs to work on himself. And I think coping with Remy hits pretty hard on one of those places. I think it could be good for both of 'em. What d'you think?"

"I think you're right as you usually are when it comes to issues of psychology, my esteemed colleague," Hank said lightly. "Tell me something, Logan. Why don't we set up a scholarship fund and send you to school to get credentials in this field in which you have so much natural talent?"

"Because I'd rip out the throat of the first idiot professor who gave me any shit. I'm a berserker, Hank, not a shrink wanna be."

"You're a lot more than you give yourself credit for being, Logan, but that's neither here nor there. Go to Ro. I think she's waiting for you."

Logan nodded and gave Hank a respectful and affectionate punch to his shoulder before he went into Storm's room.

Logan took her hand and looked down into her face. "I'm here, darlin,'" he said.

Storm stirred and stretched and opened her eyes to look into the face of the man for whom she had been waiting. "Hello, love," she said sleepily.

Logan smiled down at her and then leaned over and gathered her into his arms. "Ro," he said quietly and simply, "you don't know how much I realized that I love you and need you when I thought I'd lost you."

Ro smiled as she rested her face on his shoulder. "So, should I arrange to have Sinister kidnap me every time you and I are having problems?"

"Only if you want to have the most well paddled and thoroughly spanked bottom in this hemisphere," Logan answered. "Wait a minute, let me restate that one, knowing you. How about if I promise never to spank you again if you do any such thing?"

Ro laughed and hugged him tightly. "I think we were in the middle of a discussion about these issues when Sinister attacked," she said.

"We were, darlin.' And we'll get back to it. We got lots to talk about, darlin,' but for now I just wanted to be here when you woke up. I'm in the middle of a crisis with Remy. I left him thoroughly spanked and standing in a corner with only Scotty to care for him about twenty minutes ago. I think I need to get back to him real soon."

"With Scott?" Ro was alarmed. She pulled back from Logan's embrace and looked at him seriously. "Can Scott deal with Remy? And what has he done now?"

"Ro, you wouldn't believe all the trouble the kid had gotten himself into. How about just for starters, tryin' to run off and rescue you and Bishop on his own without the rest of us? And Scotty is doing okay, so far."

Ro sighed and pulled herself back into Logan's arms. "Sounds like our child. What was he thinking? Against Sinister? On his own?" She shook her head. "What else has he done? You know, Logan, sometimes I want to blister his bottom, myself."

"I'll tell you all he's done as soon as I get through dealin' with him this time. And I may very well give you the opportunity to blister him yourself, real soon. He does love you. Also seems to be linked with you, psychically. Did you know that? That's how we found you, through Remy's link with you."

Storm looked within herself and found it. "Yes," she said. "It seems to be an old, old link established when he was a child. I think the professor set it up. I can feel him. And, Logan, he's hurting badly. I think you should go back to him right now. I'm not going anywhere. I'll still be here when you have time for me."

"I want to have time for you, right now, darlin,'" Logan said seriously. "We have a discussion to finish. But I think you're right about me getting back to Remy. He's probably close to exhausting Scotty's resources and I promised him another spanking right about now."

"No problem, love of my heart. As I said before, I'm not going anywhere," Storm pulled back from his embrace and kissed him on the mouth. "Now that I know that you still care about me, I can wait. Go take care of our child, please. He matters a lot to me."

"Matters to me, too, love," Logan ran his hand through her silver hair and stroked her head gently. "I'll be back as soon as I have Remy coped with."

"Logan," Ro said quietly. "When I was being held prisoner by Sinister, in the times that I had moments of being awake, before the drugs kicked in again, I still felt better than I had in days, knowing that you and I were in process of resolving the problems between us. You take as long as you need with Remy. I'm fine. I'll be waiting for you."

Logan held her to him tightly and kissed her on the top of her head. "I'll be back as soon as I can," he said. She nodded and let him go with a smile and a hug around his massive chest.

Logan entered Remy's room and looked over to the corner where Scott held Remy tightly as Remy continued to cry. He sighed with exhaustion. He hadn't slept for more than twenty minutes in the past day. He sat down on the floor beside where Scott was holding Remy in his arms and accepted the transfer of Remy from Scotty's arms into his own. Scott filled him in on what had happened while he was gone as Logan held Remy tightly and closely.

"Okay, kiddo," Logan said to Remy, "tell me why you went into hopeless despair when I left you in the corner. You told Scotty you'd tell us both when I got back. Tell."

Remy was overcome with heartrending sobs. "I'm sor. . .sorry. . ." he gasped out.

"Yeah, I got that, child," Logan said, "you're sorry. Now tell us."

Remy choked on his sobs and then told them. "I was. . .raped. . .when. . . I was little. . ."

Scott's face went white with shock. Logan was close to overcome with an intense and powerful rage. "Tell us about it, Rem," he said tightly. Remy's sobs quieted and he went into a sort of trance like state as he told the story.

"I was maybe about ten years old. He was an older boy, maybe fifteen. He held me up against a wall and told me he would strangle me if I screamed. And he took my pants down and pushed it up my butt. It hurt," Remy said. "It hurt bad. I bled for days. An' it hurt for days and days. An' I cried and no one cared. No one ever cared. It was in a detention center. I'd been picked up for stealing or somet'ing. I don' know. I don' remember. And when I was cryin' de attendant came an' tol' me dat I'd be put in isolation if I didn' shut up and stop bot'ering everyone. An' he hit me. He punched me in de side of my face."

"Did this other kid ever hurt you again?" Logan asked tensely.

"No," Remy started to sob again. "I t'ink I killed him." Scott's mouth dropped open. Logan glared at him and sent him a silent message to keep his shock to himself. Scott seemed to get it.

"How'd you kill him, kiddo?" Logan asked gently. Remy's sobs quieted again as he detached himself from his feelings in order to tell the story.

"I escaped from de detention center de next day. It wasn't hard. Dey t'ought we were just a bunch of stupid kids. An dis guy, well, he had been after me on de streets an' I had been stayin' out of his way. When he got out he came after me again. Tol' me he was gonna make me his regular girlfriend." Remy shuddered. "I pretended t' be scared of him. I was scared of him, but not as scared as I pretended t' be. An' I bashed his head in wit' a sock I had hid in my pants."

"A sock?" Logan asked.

"I'd filled it up with washers and screws and scraps of metal," Remy explained. "He wen' down wit his head all smashed in an' I ran away. I never saw him again so I t'ought I had probably killed him."

"You mighta just permanently disabled him, kiddo," Logan said. "But it don't matter. He got what was coming to him."

"He was just a kid, too, Logan," Remy started sobbing deeply again. "Anot'er street kid. . . like me. An' not de first. . . one I killed. . . I don' t'ink. . . and not de last."

Scott felt intensely nauseated. He had heard stories about street children and the lives they had, but he had never been so close to the reality before.

"It was self defense, Remy," Logan said firmly. "Wasn't it always in self defense?"

"Don' make it. . . any easier t' live wit'. . . knowin' dat," Remy continued to sob. Logan held him tightly and stroked him.

"No, kiddo, I don't guess it does," he said. "So when I left you with your pants down up against the wall in the corner, the memory came back on you, huh?"

"An' because. . . you weren't. . . here," Remy gulped out. "When you're here. . .I don' believe. . .anyone gonna hurt. . .me. . .like dat."

"I'd tear the guts out of anyone who tried to hurt you like that, boy," Logan said grimly and surely. Remy nodded and continued to cry deeply as he tried to assimilate the memories that had come back to him.

"I don' t'ink. . .I. . .ever cried. . .again. . .after dat happened. . .not 'til I. . went after. . .Rogue. . .in Seattle," he sobbed. "An' now. . .I can' stop."

"Remy, you need to cry. You need to cry a lot. So for now, just lie here in my arms and cry yourself out. You'll feel better after a while, child. I promise. And listen, Remy, you aren't that kid any more. You're big now and you're strong. Even if I wasn't here to protect you, you could probably protect yourself," Logan said. Remy nodded again and let himself give in to deep sobs that shook his entire body. He clutched Logan's chest and trembled against him as he cried.

Logan looked up and met Scott's eyes. "You okay, Scotty?"

"No," Scott said honestly. "Logan, how did this kid survive? How did he end up being the person we know now?"

"How in hell can I answer that question, Scotty?" Logan felt exasperated. "He was loved when he was very small. He was taught good sense by his family. He had you and me and Ro and Jean and his father somewhere inside his head even if he couldn't remember us. I'm just grateful as hell that he found his way back to us."

"Logan, you don't know how much I agree with you," Scott said. "But it's going to be hell for him and for us for him to put all this behind him."

Logan nodded, "Yep, Scotty, but he's worth it."

Remy wasn't paying any attention to the dialogue between Logan and Scot. He was remembering and it hurt. He had fallen into an enormous black pit of pain within himself and he was scared he was simply going to drown in it and never stop crying.

To his own surprise, after ten or fifteen minutes of deep, anguished sobbing, he did start to feel better. It was as if some of the black hole of pain disappeared and was replaced with a sense of peace and closure. His sobs started to diminish and gradually faded to hiccoughs of shuddering breaths. The tears stopped. Logan continued to hold him tightly.

"I t'ink dat I okay, now," Remy said in a very shaky voice.

"Don't be too quick to say that, child. As soon as I'm sure you're okay, you're going back into the corner with your pants down to wait for your next spanking," Logan said definitely.

"NO, please, don' do dat t' me," Remy begged as his eyes filled with tears again. He hid his face against Logan's shoulder.

"Logan!" Scott protested. "How can you? Don't you think he's been through enough?"

Logan glared at Scott. "You think that recovering a traumatic memory excuses him from the punishment he was promised for ripping the IV out of his arm, sneaking out of here, and taking my bike without permission?" he asked acidly.

Scott put both hands to his head and squeezed them against his temples. He tried to think clearly which wasn't easy for him when it came to emotional issues. "I'm just concerned about putting him back into a situation in which those kind of memories might come back again," he said.

"He ain't gonna get raped again and he needs to learn that," Logan said. "He's been promised several more punishments in which he's been told that he's gonna have to stand in the corner with his pants down and his butt bare. Am I supposed to just cancel the punishments cause he remembered a bad experience in his past? I ain't gonna leave him there if he comes unglued, but he's gonna go back as soon as we glue him back together."

Remy started crying again. He recognized the quiet determination in Logan's voice and knew he had no escape. He was still going to get the punishment he had been promised. He felt miserable.

Logan sighed deeply as Remy started to cry again and held him tightly, "Kiddo, I'm gonna put you back in the corner. I ain't bein' cruel. If you really can't stand it, we'll take a break again and I'll hold you again. You ain't gonna get hurt. Oh, hell, the spanking you're gonna get will hurt and hurt a lot, but it ain't the same as really being damaged and you know that."

Remy nodded. He did know that, very clearly. But he was very frightened. He was afraid of going back to the corner, afraid of what feelings might come up in him. His sobs were almost hysterical. Logan held him closely until he calmed down and then pulled him to his feet, guided him back over to the corner and put him in it. Remy shuddered as he felt his pants and underwear being taken down again. The pain in his butt had largely subsided, but he felt deeply embarrassed and humiliated with his bare bottom on display in the corner. He hated having his pants pulled down so a punishment could be delivered to his bare behind. He continued crying from shame and fear of the spanking that he knew he was going to get, but he felt no return of the hideous memories from his past.

He stood there with his pants down for about ten minutes still crying hard, but no longer in touch with the terrified agony that had possessed him before. He felt safe from harm. Just upset about the fact that he was being punished. And upset because he knew he deserved to be punished.

Scott went back to the window seat and looked out at the grounds of the mansion. He understood what Logan was doing and he didn't much like it, but he realized it had to be done.

Logan went to the dresser and got the paddle again. He went back to the corner and took Remy by the arm. "We're goin' back over to the bed, kiddo, and you're goin' back over my knees and you're gonna get the rest of this spanking you got comin' to you."

Remy nodded as he continued to cry. He allowed Logan to lead him back over to the bed. He was still holding up the front of his pants to cover himself and he was deeply embarrassed, but he was free of the horrific memories for the moment.

Logan sat down on the bed and pulled Remy face down over his lap. He had turned so that Remy was able to rest his face and upper body on the bed while his bare bottom was positioned over Logan's knees.

"Now, Remy, you're gonna tell me what you understand about why you deserve this spanking," Logan said. Remy choked with dismay. He was going to have to endure a scolding and even participate in it, and probably while he was being spanked. He wanted to disappear.

"Please, Logan," he pleaded. "I know dat what I did was wrong. Please, don' make me tell you. . .." The paddle smacked down against his butt. He yelped.

"Tell me," Logan ordered. He smacked the paddle down again and again. Remy's bottom started to blaze with pain. He yelped again and again.

"I shouldn'. . .have pulled de IV. . .outa my arm. . .," Remy gasped out, "an'. . .I shouldn' have. . .gone off. . .on my own. . OWWwwww. . ."

"And what else?" Logan asked.

"I should'. . .have taken. . .your bike. . . Logan, dat hurts," Remy was crying in earnest. Logan smacked the paddle into Remy's bare bottom again and again as Remy cried out with pain between his sobs.

"Logan, please. . .it hurts," Remy begged.

"Remy, I may be talkin' in cliches, but last I heard, the whole point of a spanking is that it is supposed to hurt and hurt bad," Logan said. "Point is, child, you were tryin' to run off and be a hero when all you were really doin' was endangering your own life and gettin' in the way of helping the rest of us rescue the people we love. You deserve to be paddled until your bottom is red as fire. You were way out of line and not thinking at all. You can beg and plead and cry until you run out of tears, but you ain't escaping this spanking that you deserve."

Scott leaned his head against the window and listened to the solid smacks of the spanking that Remy was getting on his bare bottom and the sobs and pleadings of the boy who was getting spanked. He understood and accepted the rationale and necessity, but he hated it. Remy's deep and anguished crying upset him deeply. And in some ways, it upset him even more now that he had realized how much he cared about the Cajun boy.

"Please. . .stop. . .I'm s. . .orry. . . I'll. . .never.. .do it. . .again. . ." he sobbed. Logan continued to spank him thoroughly. The paddle blazed against him again and again. Remy cried so hard that he was shaking and shuddering.

Remy's bottom was crimson when Logan finished spanking him. He was weeping desperately. Logan pulled his underwear and pants back up and then pulled him back into his arms, holding him closely.

"Okay, kiddo, we're done," Logan said. "Cry yourself out, child. Cry until you're finished crying."

Remy did as he was told. He cried deeply and thoroughly. Logan held him and stroked him gently.

"I'm. . .sorry.. ." Remy gulped.

"It's over, now, child. You've been punished. We can put this one behind us," Logan said. Remy continued to cry, clinging to Logan for comfort.

"Do. . .you. . .hate me?" he sobbed. Logan reached down and blazed another spank against Remy's bottom. Remy flinched and sobbed.

"Of course, I don't hate you, child," Logan said. "I wouldn't take all this time to spank you if I hated you. But you really need to hear it from me again, don't you? I love you, Remy. I love you a lot. You matter to me, kiddo. I only spank you because I care about you."

Remy absorbed what Logan had said and accepted it. He felt miserable and hurt, but he recognized the fact that he had set himself up. His bottom blazed with heat and pain. He cried like a child.

"Are you gonna spank me again?" Remy gulped out.

"Of course, I am, kiddo, but not right now. And no more today. Not again til tomorrow," Logan sighed. "You know you're gonna get spanked again, Rem. You got a lot more spankings coming. For shooting up drugs. For your self- destructive ride over the dirt bike trails. For lying. For deserting your assigned job to run off and have fun." Remy did indeed know that was true, but he still wanted to be reassured.

"You really. . .still love me, anyway?" he asked. 'Even though . . .you gonna spank me. . . again and again?"

"Yep, child, I love you a lot," Logan said gently, hugging him tightly. "And I don't particularly like spankin' you. But you need it and you obviously want it so you're gettin' it. Do you remember what we talked about yesterday? About how you would feel if you didn't get this punishment you deserve." Remy nodded, much as he hated to admit it. And he still had another question to ask.

"Are you gonna. . .spank me. . .in front. . .of de. . .X-Force kids?"

"No, I don't think so," Logan said thoughtfully. "I don't think that would be fair to you." Remy sobbed deeply with gratitude.

Logan held him tightly until his sobs quieted and Remy relaxed. "Kiddo," he said gently, "Hank wants you down in med lab to check you out for injuries. Are you ready for me to take you down there?"

"I can go by myself," Remy said shakily.

"No, you can't," Scott said firmly. "Someone needs to be with you."

"I'll go," Logan said. "I need to go see Ro."

Scott nodded. Remy sat up, out of Logan's embrace. Scott came up to him, hesitated and then took Remy's face into his hands.

"Remy," he said gently, "I never knew before today how much I cared about you. I'm sorry that I've been so distant and removed. You matter to me." Remy nodded with his eyes filling with tears again. Scott stroked the face in his hands and left.

Logan took Remy to med lab and left him with Hank while he went to check on Ro. She was sleeping. He came back out where Hank was examining Remy.

"Yes, she's asleep and I think maybe you should get some sleep, too, my friend. You look exhausted to me. I'll take care of Remy," Hank said.

Logan nodded, "I could use some sleep, Hank," he said. "Remy, are you okay with me leavin' you with Hank?" Remy nodded and Logan left. Hank continued his exam of Remy.

"You've been crying pretty hard, haven't you, Remy?" Hank said calmly. Remy nodded and felt his eyes fill with tears yet again.

"We need to get some new pictures of this leg of yours," Hank said quietly, taking Remy into the X-ray room. "You've been spanked again, too, haven't you?"

Remy nodded again and felt more tears overflow. Hank put him on the exam table and set up the films for X-rays. He put a comforting hand on Remy's shoulder. "This'll only take a minute," he said, going to take the pictures. He came back shortly. Remy still had tears spilling down his face.

"Remy," he said gently, "you do know that Logan wouldn't spank you unless he loved you? It's not fun for him."

"I had it comin' t' me," Remy admitted. "But I don' like it."

"You're not supposed to like it, child. It's a punishment," Hank said gently. "And I suspect you thought that I wasn't serious when I told you that I would get a switch and spank your bottom if you ever again pulled an IV out of your arm. I want you to know that, no, I wasn't serious about using a switch. But if you hurt yourself again, I think that you might experience how hard my hand might feel against your bottom. I love you, kid, and I'm running out of patience with your self destructive impulses."

Remy started to sob. He couldn't stand Hank being that upset with him. Hank took him by the arm, pulled him over to a couch and pulled him into his arms as he sat down. He held him tightly.

"Remy, why are you crying so hard?" he asked gently.

"I hate. . .you being. . .mad at. . .me," Remy said.

"Remy, I love you. Logan loves you. Storm loves you, your father loves you, etc. etc. etc. How do you think any of us are going to feel when you hurt yourself? You think maybe we want to celebrate? No, child, we do get angry as hell. And you get yourself punished and you deserve it."

Remy cried as if his heart was being broken in half. "I don' mean. . .t' make. . .everyone mad," he protested.

"Oh, please, Remy, of course, you mean to make us mad. You want to be stopped. And you want to be punished and you know it. Don't even try to play games with me about that." Hank sounded seriously annoyed. Remy cried even harder and Hank held him tightly. Remy buried his face in the blue fur of Hank's shoulder and sobbed.

"Have you called your father?" Hank asked.

"No, I'm. . . scared t' call him. Scared. . . he's gonna. . . be mad, too," Remy admitted. His bottom still hurt badly and he felt shaky and very vulnerable.

He dreaded what his father's reaction would be to the mess he had gotten himself into. He really didn't want to know. If Hank, of all people, was ready to smack his butt then goodness knew what his father might be feeling. If Charles Xavier was mad at him and wanted to punish him, he thought he might as well simply prepare himself to die.

"I think you should call your Dad, Remy. I bet he's waiting to hear from you," Hank said gently. He continued to hold the boy until his sobs quieted completely and then sat him up.

"Go call the professor," Hank ordered. "I'll be here for you while you do it and afterwards. And don't you dare go off on your own." Remy nodded and went to the study to call Muir Island and talk to his father, feeling intense trepidation.

To be continued.