Subject: Family Matters, Chapter 17
Date: Sat, 9 Aug 1997 23:04:29 -0400 (EDT)
This chapter is mainly plot development. There's a lot of combat and action. There's a threat of impending punishment but no delivery. Not yet. It's coming. Chapters 1-16 can be found at Laura's homepage at http://www.goodkitty.com/spanking/stories.
Thanks to Vashti and a couple of people who prefer to remain unnamed for editing.
* * *
Remy burst into his bedroom, ready to change into his uniform, and found Rogue and Bobby, in their colors, waiting there for him.
"Hi, guys," he said, touched by their concern. He gathered Rogue up into a hug and grinned at Bobby.
"What happened to ya?" Rogue asked. Remy shrugged.
"Mostly got yelled at and Logan got yelled at even more dan me," he admitted. Bobby made a sympathetic noise. "It's okay. Well, I'm okay. I t'ink dat Logan's a mess."
"Logan's a mess?" Bobby queried, raising an eyebrow. "Don't get me wrong, Rem, but, I think Logan has been a disaster area for as long as we've known him. But, he usually maintains control. And are you really okay?"
Remy thought about it. "I'm mostly okay," he offered. "I hate havin' my Dad mad at me. It was harder on Logan dan it was on me, an' I hate it that Logan's upset." He shrugged. "Dad said he was proud of me for confessing and for how I handled it. Dat meant somet'ing. And I gotta get my clothes on."
He was stripping out of his jeans and shirt even as he talked to them and rummaging through his closet for a clean uniform, without much success. He tried his dresser drawers. Rogue started going through a pile of clothing draped over a chair. She found pants, top, and headpiece somewhere around the middle and handed them to Remy who held them cautiously to his nose and found them acceptable.
"Bobby, would you look see if my boots under de bed?" he requested as he started jerking on the clothing.
"One of em," Bobby said, dragging it out. Remy groaned and started to look frantically around the room as he sat down to pull on his pants.
"Remy," Rogue remonstrated. "Will you please be careful with that splint?" Bobby looked under the dresser and the desk. Rogue started shifting through the mess on the floor of the closet.
"Remy, how on earth could you just lose one boot?" Bobby asked. "Surely, you took em both off at the same time." He went back to the bed, looked behind the headboard, and pulled the boot out from where it was wedged between it and the wall. Remy sighed with relief and grabbed it.
"Where's my coat?" he demanded. Rogue took it from the pile of clothes on the chair and handed it to him.
"Don't ya think it might be time for you to do some laundry, sugah?" she asked, frowning at some of the piles of clothing around the room.
The three of them were startled to suddenly hear incredibly loud music from down the hall. "What's that?" Bobby asked.
"One of my favorite songs in de world, 'Take Me Home' by Phil Collins," Remy said quietly. "An' I t'ink it's comin' from Logan's room. Let's go see." He grabbed the glass of water still on his night stand and downed it quickly. Bobby and Rogue nodded and they all headed for the door.
* * *
Storm had been waiting for Logan in his room when he got there to change. "'Lo, darlin,'" he said as he started to pull off his shirt. He went over to the stereo, and put in a CD, and turned up the volume to ear blasting levels. Ororo winced and then smiled as she recognized the song. She moved close to Logan as he grabbed his clothes out of the closet.
"What on earth is going on, my love?" she asked in his ear.
He shrugged, and started to jerk off his jeans. "I managed to get Remy in trouble," he said bleakly. "And I'm not feelin' very happy with myself."
"What happened?" Ro asked patiently as Phil Collins repeatedly told the world that "I, I don't mind." Logan shrugged again as he pulled on his pants and top.
"Don't know that I have time to tell you about it, darlin.'" he said. "But, to make a long story short, I decided to get drunk last night and invited Remy to drink with me even though I knew he'd been forbidden by his father to drink. I feel like a fool." He grabbed his boots.
Ro looked at him with concerned dismay. "What happened, Logan?" she asked. "That can't be the whole story. I want to know more."
"I screwed up, Ro," Logan said. "I don't have time to tell the whole story and we got a passel of kids right outside my door." He finished jerking on his boots, rose, and opened the door. Remy, Bobby, and Rogue stood there and stared in just as the Phil Collins started,
"Take, take me home. Cause I don't remember. Take, take me home. Cause I don't remember. Take, take me home. Cause I don't remember. Take, take me home. Cause I don't remember. Oh, I've been a prisoner all my life and I can say to you. . .that I don't remember."
Remy sang along with the words, staring into Logan's face. Logan grinned broadly. "Yeah, kiddo," he said. "It hits a chord in me, too. And I'm going to play it over and over until we have to get to the damn danger room. You kids wanna come in?"
Remy looked at Bobby and Rogue. They could all see Storm patiently waiting to talk to Logan and they shook their heads. "Can we wait for you in the hall and listen?" Remy asked. "I love this song."
"Me, too, kiddo," Logan tousled his hair and shut the door. He turned back to Ro.
"Logan, please," she requested. "Give me some clue about what's going on."
"We don't have time, darlin,'" he said. Ro shook her head, went to the stereo, turned down the music, and then went to the com unit.
She called Scott. "Storm, here," she announced. "Cyclops, I'm going to need 30 more minutes before I'm ready."
"Ro," Logan protested. She waved a hand at him in a warning motion, even as Scott voiced a similar protest. "I'm sorry, Scott, but I've had a situation come up that I have to resolve before I can engage in a combat exercise. Do you want me to clear it through the professor?"
"No, Storm, you don't need to clear it. You have as much authority as I do to make these decisions." Scott sighed. "But I do wish someone would tell me what in hell is going on. First, Remy and Logan disappear with the professor. Then, he delays. Now, you're obviously with Logan and you're postponing. And I've not a clue where Remy, Rogue, and Bobby are."
"Remy, Bobby, and Rogue are sitting on the floor in the hall outside Logan's room," Ro laughed. "They'll be down as soon as they finish listening to a song."
"Listening to a song," Scott repeated, wonderingly. "Sure. I should have known that, no doubt."
"It's not No Doubt," Logan said chuckling. "It's Phil Collins."
"Thank you, Logan," Scott said with a long suffering sigh and then with a grin in his voice said, "But, do me a favor and 'don't speak' any more."
Ro smiled. "Another joke, Scott? I'm sure you'll hear all about it later."
"I hope so. Signing off."
Logan went to his stereo, stopped "Take Me Home" and started it over.
"Don't speak. I know what you're thinking. I don't need your reasons. Don't tell me cause it hurts," he said softly, quoting a few lines from "Don't Speak" before the drums of "Take Me Home" filled the room again with their thunderous and intricate rhythm. He'd turned it up even louder than before.
Ro winced slightly. "How are we supposed to talk while you're playing it at that volume? And with your hearing, how can you stand it?"
"Darlin,' I once heard the Who do all of 'Tommy' from the first row of an auditorium, right smack in front of a fuckin' wall of speakers. I like my music loud. And we'll talk when the damn song's done. You bought us some time. Thanks, I think."
Ro listened to the words of the song and understood completely why it hit a chord with both Logan and Remy. The insistent repetition of "Take, take me home. Cause, I don't remember" must have meant a great deal to each of these two who had so few memories for so long and so little sense of 'home.'
The song ended and Logan took his CD remote and cut the machine off. He stuck his head out the door and looked at the trio on the floor in the hall. "Concert's over," he announced. "Danger room exercise is now scheduled for 10:30. You oughta get on down there and warm up."
"Okay, if we hang here and talk a little more?" Remy asked.
"Suit yourself, guys." Logan shrugged and shut the door. He went over to the stereo, grabbed several CD's, put them in, punched some buttons, and turned down the volume. "Don't Speak" started to play. He grinned at Ro.
"Well," he said, "talking bout this is gonna hurt."
She sat down in the window seat and he sat down opposite her. "Tell me exactly what happened, Logan," she demanded. He sighed deeply and complied, telling her what had happened on the roof, the porch, in med lab, in his room, in the bathroom, and in the study. As soon as No Doubt finished "Don't Speak," he used the remote to change to Tangerine Dream playing "Melrose." He turned it down even lower.
Ro gasped as he told her about Remy going into combat mode, and gasped even more loudly when Logan told her that he'd slashed his own face. When he told her Hank's response, she nodded grimly.
"He should have whacked you more than once," she said firmly. He sighed again.
"I think he just might plan to, darlin.' And I think I'd let him," he admitted, going on with the story.
When he told her that he had offered Remy cigarettes and scotch, knowing both had been forbidden to him, she rose and started to pace, but said nothing. As he told her about Remy's determination to confess, her face softened. "Good for Remy," she said gently.
"Yep," Logan conceded, ruefully. He went on to tell her about the events in the study. She listened carefully.
Ro continued pacing, occasionally shaking her head. When he finished, she looked at him with a combination of disapproval and compassion. "Well, it seems that you and Remy managed to put each other through seven brands of hell last night and this morning," she commented.
"Felt that way to me," Logan said. "And I'm still not happy with myself."
"I'm not very happy with you either," Ro said angrily. "Remy loves you, trusts you, and needs you. You had no business getting him in trouble to get your own needs met."
"I know that, darlin.' I wasn't thinkin.' I was drunk and upset." Logan put his hands to his head and squeezed.
"And what about me?" Ro demanded. "Are you ever going to let me be there for you when you're upset and needy? Are you only able to sneakily get your needs for companionship and friendship met by children who depend on you. And to hell with a grown woman who loves you?"
Logan groaned. "You were sleepin,' love," he protested. "I was drunk."
"Oh, that's a great reason not to wake me," Ro glared at him. She went over to the window seat and grabbed him by the shoulders. "Look at me, Logan," she demanded. He looked at her, his eyes full of pain. "I love you. I want to share your problems. I want you to come to me when you have needs. By the goddess, don't shut me out. If you keep doing that, this relationship will die. I mean that, love."
Logan shut his eyes for a moment and then he looked up at her. "I'm sorry, Ro," he said. "Maybe I fucked up, yet again. But the fact is that Remy and I were together and he was upset and all I really wanted to do was get drunk. And I wasn't going to leave him alone while he was still upset." Ro let go of his shoulders and went back to pacing.
"And you couldn't talk to me about any of this before I went to sleep?" Ro queried insistently. "You didn't even bother to tell me that you were still upset about what had happened with Remy in the study."
"No, I didn't." Logan looked at her. "I didn't know what to say about it."
"How about, darlin,' I'm still upset about what happened tonight with Remy in the study. I feel like I abused him and hurt him and it's driving me crazy. Would that have be so damned hard to say?" Logan shrugged helplessly and held his hands out.
"I'm tellin' you what's going on with me, now," he protested. "Doesn't that count for something?"
"You've told me that you feel like a fool and that you're not very happy with yourself. That's not a plethora of information," Ro said quietly. "Are you still upset?"
"Damn straight," Logan said.
"Could you perhaps tell me a little more about that?" Ro suggested. She walked to the window seat and sat down opposite him where Remy had sat the night before. Logan sighed.
"I just about can't stand it that I almost got Remy spanked again," he said so softly that it was almost inaudible with the music playing. "I don't trust my judgement right now. It was a damn stupid thing to do. And I'm not real crazy about the fact that I just got drunk as hell and made myself and Remy sick and hung over when we're facing a danger room exercise."
"Wasn't the brightest thing to do," Ro agreed equably. "But I'm not sure it had anything to do with intelligence. Has more to do with your damn stubborn pride and difficulties dealing with your emotions. You'd rather drown them in a bottle than deal with them with someone who cares about you. And you just had to try to take care of Remy when you were upset as hell yourself and already drunk. So you managed to make things worse for both of you."
Logan just looked at her and then closed his eyes again, groaning. "Ro, I know you're right, and I'm sorry as hell, but I'm not sure I can deal with much more of this."
"Tough enough to take on almost any danger in this universe, but not tough enough to deal with your own feelings," Ro suggested grimly. Logan flinched.
"Ouch," he protested, looking down at the floor.
"Ouch indeed. Truth hurt, dear?" Ro asked unmercifully. "Look, love, I know you made some idiotic choices last night, but it seems to have worked out. It seems to have done Remy a world of good to be there for you and take responsibility for his choices. You gave him an opportunity to grow and heal a little bit. Do you think you could stop beating up on yourself?"
Logan looked up her with tears welling in his eyes. "I didn't exactly plan it that way, darlin.' I was just lucky as hell it worked out. If Remy had been blistered again by his Dad, it probably would have devastated him and I would've been in hell."
"Maybe your conscious mind didn't plan it that way, but your subconscious did. Is that not a possibility? And how in hell do you know that Remy would have been devastated? He might have been able to handle it just fine. And he might have ended up taking care of you again. Which is exactly what he did."
"Maybe," Logan said reluctantly, his eyes still swimming with unshed tears. "But if I do anything to hurt that kid. . ."
"It would feel as if you were abusing the child inside of you," Ro said gently. "Because he reminds you so much of your own damaged self."
"Yeah," he said unsteadily. "And I love him. Jesus, Ro, I think I love him more than I can manage to care about my own self."
"Which is an absurdity," Ro said with irritation and compassion. "I think loving Remy is a way you're trying to grope your way toward caring about your own self. And I think you've made a good choice. Remy is a very good replica of you with your pain and your damage. And he also has your sense of honor and integrity. He's a delightful boy. But sweetheart, he isn't you. You're a wonderful man however damaged you are and feel. And you've been struggling with yourself for the goddess only knows how many years longer than Remy's been struggling. And you've done far and away too much on your own without the kind of help you're giving him."
Logan's eyes continued to well with tears. "Thing is, darlin,' I really don't give much of a damn about myself. I been havin' to live with my blasted anger and violence for as long as I can remember. I'm really just sick of myself. I think it might be best for everyone if I just vanished. Like, maybe, it would be best for you and Remy if I just died."
Ro raised her hand and slapped him across the face. "Don't you ever, ever, tell me again that you just want to die," she said furiously.
"YOW!" Logan raised his hand to the red palm print on his cheek. His hand shook slightly. "Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, I been smacked more in the past day or so than I can remember. I don't think I like it." His voice shook even more than his hand. "So, if I'm not liking myself much, you just want me to keep it to myself?" He sounded confused and hurt.
Ro sighed. "No, dear. I want to hear about it. But I'll react as I think appropriate and I think that slap was appropriate. You needed a wake-up call. By the goddess, Logan, you're one of the most decent, honorable men I've ever known. I'm sick of you being so hard on yourself."
"Got it, love," Logan's voice was still unsteady. Tears continued to well.
Ro pulled him into her arms. "You're in no shape to be in a combat exercise," she said. "You're a disaster area. I'm tempted to call it off."
"No way," Logan protested. "I could use the workout."
"Sure, of course," Ro said flatly. "And if you have to engage with Remy?"
"I'll do fine," Logan said. "I'm as good as he is at dissociation. It won't be a problem."
"Wonderful," Ro said, "I'll have a disturbed, fragile child on my team going up against my lover who's a total mess, himself. I can't tell you how reassured I am. But, I will tell you, if either one of you manages to go self-destructive and hurt yourself, I'll be furious. And you and I still have a lot to discuss about what is expected in our relationship."
"I think I got that," Logan said, still sounding slightly shaky. Ro continued to hold him closely.
"I love you, Logan," she said.
"Love you, too," he replied. He pulled himself out of her arms, turned off the CD and rose, grabbing his head piece. "Don't we need to go?"
"Yes, my love, we do." They went to the door and opened it. The kids were gone, presumably down to the danger room. Logan and Ro headed that way, themselves.
* * *
Remy, Bobby, and Rogue sat quietly on the floor outside Logan's room and listened to the music inside.
"So what happened with ya and Logan, last night, Remy?" Rogue asked. "Bobby told me a little, but ah don't think either one of us knows the whole story." Remy sighed and filled her in on the events of the night before and in the study earlier. Rogue stared at him wide-eyed.
"Sugah, you and Logan are doin' some strange things together," she said.
"Yeah," Remy agreed. Bobby shook his head.
"Sounds like Logan would've sacrificed almost anything to keep you outta trouble, Rem," he commented.
"Yeah." Remy's eyes filled with tears. "I t'ink he loves me. I don' know why."
"Maybe cause ya're lovable, sugah," Rogue said.
"I might have a hard time, believin' dat, ma cher." Remy said softly.
Logan stuck his head out the door, telling them the concert was over. Remy asked if they could stay there and talk more. Logan agreed and the door shut again.
Rogue glared at Remy. "So, ya think ah'm a damn idiot to love you, Remy?" she asked.
"Maybe," Remy's eyes continued to well with tears as he stared down and away from the other two.
Bobby made an exasperated noise. "So since we all love you, you fucked up Cajun mess, we're all a bunch of idiots, huh? Professor Xavier's retarded X-men? Don't think so, pal."
"Really, Remy," Rogue chimed in. "Ah'm tired of your total disrespect of our judgement. Enough, sugah. Get over it."
Remy looked back and forth between Bobby and Rogue. They both looked seriously annoyed with him. "I'm sorry," he said, as a couple of tears slipped down his face. "I just feel like such a mess."
"Well, ya are a mess," Rogue said gently. "But we love ya anyway." She put her hand on his shoulder and gathered him into a hug. From inside Logan's room, they heard Ororo's voice raising in anger. Remy winced.
"I don't think we need to be here," Bobby said quickly. "Let's let Storm and Wolverine work out whatever they need to without us eavesdropping. I think we should go warm up."
"Ah second that proposal," Rogue said firmly.
"Oui," Remy agreed. They rose to make their way to the danger room.
* * *
Okay, everyone, listen up," Scott looked at the two teams of X-men who were finally all gathered in the danger room. "We're going to set this exercise in the Savage Land. The situation is that my team is protecting the citadel. We have a shi'ar crystal which we're responsible for. Storm's team will be trying to steal the crystal. We'll be trying to stop them. We're going to go for four hours."
"So, how come the team that's stealing the blasted crystal gets all the experienced thieves?" Bobby complained.
"We flipped a coin, Bobby," Storm explained, laughing. "It just worked out that way."
"Professor," Scott called to the control booth. "We're ready." The room shifted around them and suddenly became the prehistoric jungle of the Savage Land. Scott looked over at Ro.
"We wait five minutes and then we're enemies," he suggested. Storm nodded. She caressed Logan lightly on the face and gathered her team. They faded into the foliage.
Scott looked at his team. "We need to get to the citadel," he said. "Rogue, I want you to take Wolverine and fly him there ahead of the rest of us." He handed Logan some papers. "I made some diagrams of the citadel. Treasure room is marked. You two guard it while the rest of us get through this jungle."
You got it, boss," Logan said. Rogue lifted him into the air.
Scott looked around at Bobby, Betsy, and Sam. "Sam, power up, scout ahead and report back regularly. Watch out for predators, especially T- rexes, okay? The citadel is about two miles that way." Cyclops pointed. Sam nodded and took off. Scott led Bobby and Betsy after him.
"Why," Bobby grumbled, "Does it really have to seem like we're walking two damn miles when we're really inside the danger room and this is just all a holographic projection?"
"It's like the holodecks in 'Star Trek', Bobby," Betsy said lightly. "You know that. It simulates reality."
"Yeah, yeah." Bobby wiped sweat from his face, lowered his temperature, and made himself an ice slide to glide on through the prehistoric jungle that surrounded him.
"Bobby," Scott warned, "don't use too much of your powers just to be comfortable. You're going to need them for combat. Don't drain them before you need them."
"You got it, oh fearless leader," Bobby acknowledged with a grin, still gliding comfortably. "I could do this in my sleep." Scott nodded and they continued their trek to the citadel.
* * *
"Where we goin', Stormy?" Remy asked as their team made their way through the jungle.
"We need to establish a base of operation to which we can return and which we can protect if we succeed in getting the crystal," Storm said.
"No if bout it," Remy said surely. "We gonna get de crystal."
"Oh, the confidence of youth," Hank commented. "We're going up against Rogue, who's close to invulnerable; Wolverine, who's seen more combat than probably all the rest of put us together; Cyclops who's been leading X-teams since Remy was a child. . ."
"Okay, Hank, okay." Remy laughed. "But I been stealing t'ings all my life. We'll do just fine."
"Where are we going, Ro?" Jean asked quietly.
"There's an underground cave about a mile over that way where the mountain ranges begin," Storm said. "It's easily defended."
"Got it," Hank said.
"Warren, could you fly ahead and scout?" Storm ordered. "Jean, would you go up and watch our rear?" Both acknowledged and rose into the air.
They were at the cave in less than twenty minutes. Storm gathered them into group and explained her plan to the rest. There was some debate and fine tuning, but the plan was accepted.
"The biggest problem is going to be locating the crystal once we're in," Storm said.
"Who you t'ink gonna be guardin' it?" Remy asked. Storm thought for a moment and looked from Jean to Hank to Warren.
"Rogue would be one choice," Warren suggested.
Jean shook her head. "Scott would have her in the air. We have three flyers. He'll be expecting an air assault."
"Wolverine's the only logical choice," Hank said. Remy nodded, his thinking confirmed.
"Den we got no problem," Remy said quietly. The others all looked at him curiously. "I linked to Logan just like I linked to Stormy. I can feel him now, an' it sure seems like he's guardin' somet'ing. I t'ink it's anot'er old, old link set up by my Dad. T'ink it got done after I got lost in de woods one time when me and Wolvie went campin' t'gether."
Jean looked at him in amazement. "Logan lost you in the woods when you were little?" she asked. Remy flushed, slightly.
"I sorta lost myself," he admitted, "on purpose. He was kinda mad at me."
"I surely bet he was," Hank laughed. "Remy, it sounds like you've spent a goodly portion of your life on this planet driving Logan out of his mind."
Jean and Warren started laughing, too. Remy stared at them for a moment and then laughed, himself. Storm smiled.
"So, once we're in, if we manage to get in, " Storm said, "Remy, you can find Logan?" Remy nodded. "Does he know he's linked to you?" Remy shook his head. "Fine. Hank, you go with Remy and distract Wolverine. Gambit, you get the crystal while Beast takes Logan on." Storm looked seriously at Remy.
"And, Gambit," she said firmly and emphatically, "whatever happens, I want you to try to NOT engage with Logan in combat. Is that understood?"
"Stormy!!!" Remy protested.
"I'm not kidding, Remy," she said. "If you have the crystal and he attacks you, run. If he has it, let Hank deal with him. You two are too involved with each other right now. There are too many volatile and fragile emotions between you. I was strongly tempted to call this whole exercise off to avoid you and Logan in combat. I don't want it."
"Dis is just an exercise," Remy objected.
Ororo looked at him sternly. "Child, I understand that if you have to engage Logan in combat, you will. But, I doubt it would be good for either of you."
Remy glared at her. "You just protecting Logan," he said sullenly. "You afraid dat he might hurt me an' feel bad. I can take care of myself wit him."
"And how would you feel if he let you hurt him?" Ro asked. Remy felt a moment of roaring confusion.
"Dat wouldn' happen," he said weakly.
"I'm not so sure about that," Ro said, grimly. "I think I might know a little more than you about Logan's emotional condition. And both of you are a mess. Hank, Jean, Bishop, Warren, do you agree with me?" There were nods all around.
Hank, who knew more about the situation than any of the others, looked seriously at Remy. "Ro is right, Rem," he said gently. "You and Logan have no business right now fighting with each other. Try to back off if you and he face each other alone."
Remy nodded sulkily. It didn't feel fair to him and he was not happy. "I wanna fight Logan," he said irritably.
"And you will," Ro said. "But, please, not today, unless it just can't be avoided. I don't think either of you could handle it, not after what happened last night." Remy nodded a reluctant acceptance.
"What happened last night?" Warren asked. Bishop nodded.
Storm sighed. "Remy and Logan took each other through hell last night," she said. "I'll leave it up to them to tell you about it."
"Later," Remy promised.
"Then let's go," Storm ordered.
* * *
Scott looked at his team when they arrived at the citadel. "Okay," he said, "Rogue, Sam, Bobby, I want you up on the roof. Rogue, continuous patrol. Sam, you and Bobby, patrol and spell one another and conserve your powers. Storm's team has air resources. She can put Angel, Jean, and herself in attack from the sky. Logan, I want you in the treasure room, guarding the crystal. Psylocke, I want you at the entrance scanning for their approach. I'll be floating back and forth between the door and the roof, but I expect an air approach."
"You got it, boss." Logan headed for the treasure room.
"Logan," Scott said sharply. "I don't care what combat sounds you hear out here. You stay with the crystal and guard it. Don't let them get it."
"I said you got it, boss," Logan said easily at the doorway. "Contrary to popular opinion, I do know how to follow orders when I feel like it." He disappeared from view.
Rogue, Cannonball, and Iceman went to the roof. Rogue rose into the air and Sam followed. Bobby sat down, waiting to spell Sam.
After almost three quarters of an hour, the winds started to rise. Thunderclouds gathered on the horizon and the winds accelerated. Lightning flashed. Rain poured down.
"Storm," Scotty said, grimly. The winds were increasing in power to over 100 miles per hour, and then accelerated more. Bobby was knocked off his ice slide and started to fall, was grabbed by Rogue and set down gently on the roof. Sam started to power up, but Scott shook his head.
"Rogue, can you navigate in these winds?" he asked.
"Not easily," she admitted.
"I could," Sam said confidently.
Scott shook his head. "No," he said, "I think this is a distraction. She's making it impossible to maneuver in the air. Rogue, stay up here. If you can engage Storm and take her out, do it. I have a feeling the rest of us need to be at the door."
Betsy's voice yelled inside his mind. I feel them coming, she announced.
Scott gathered up Sam and Bobby, led them downstairs, and positioned them right inside the door.
Between them and the rest of the citadel, in the foyer, the floor suddenly exploded upwards. Jean, Bishop, Beast, and Gambit emerged from the tunnel that had been carved out by Jean's telekinetic powers with the help of Bishop's and Remy's energy blasts and Hank's strength.
Hank and Remy took off immediately in a dead run toward the treasure room, with Remy slightly in the lead, homing in on his link with Logan.
"Sam, go after Gambit and Beast," Scott directed as he lowered his visor and started blasting at the opposing team. "Betsy, take out Jean. Bobby, on Bishop."
Cannonball blasted into power and shot himself toward Remy and Beast. Jean had immediately erected a telekinetic shield that protected them from Cyclops' blasts and deflected Sam who was grabbed by Bishop. Bishop held Sam between him and Bobby who threw exploding ice grenades in their direction. Bishop used Sam as a shield.
Bishop absorbed Sam's blast and turned it back at him. Sam was totally invulnerable while blasting, but Bishop's explosion slammed him right through the stone wall of the citadel. His continuing blast kept him safe, but his powers were drained. He was deposited outside. The hurricane gales swept over him and blew him into a tree.
"I can't get through Jean's shields," Psylocke yelled at Cyclops. He gestured to Bobby who was gliding effortlessly above the fray, trying to decide how to best attack Bishop. Bobby immediately encased Jean in a block of ice.
"Betsy," Scott ordered. "Take Bishop out if you can. Bobby, go get Sam. I'm going after Beast and Gambit."
Jean exploded the ice around her. "No, you're not, my love," she said.
* * *
Logan paced impatiently in the treasure room. He could hear the sounds of combat and the rising winds of the hurricane outside. He listened intently for the sounds of approaching footsteps and sniffed the air for the scents of those he knew so well. He knew the attacking team was in the fortress. He was pumped with adrenaline.
* * *
Rogue crouched cautiously on the roof as the winds blew around her and rain cascaded down on her head. She was soaking wet and seriously annoyed and kept her eyes scanning the skies around her as they boiled with thunder clouds and lightning. Storm's powers were as awesome as they usually were and Rogue was more than ready to simply punch her out.
Storm appeared in the air in the midst of the winds, rain, and lightning. Rogue rose and flew right at her, streaking faster than the rising wind.
Storm saw her coming and landed a kick against her chin. It barely fazed the Mississippi girl, who rocked back slightly and then landed a fist in Ro's stomach. Storm doubled over and dropped several feet, twisting away from Rogue. She thrust out her hands and directed a bolt of lightning into Rogue's head. Rogue reeled in the air, twisted, and came back at Storm.
* * *
Gambit surged down the endless corridors of the citadel with Hank right behind him. His coat flapped behind him as he ran.
"Remy," Hank said easily as they ran, "you remember, don't you? I fight Logan. You get the crystal and run?"
"I got it, Hank, I promise," Remy said grimly. "You all t'ink I too much of a baby to fight wit Logan."
"Stars and garters, Rem," Hank protested, "it's has nothing to do with you being immature. It has to do with you and Logan being too enmeshed with one another to deal with hurting each other right now."
"Okay, okay," Remy said impatiently, "but we damn close now, so just be quiet. He can hear real good."
"He'll hear us and scent us no matter what we do," Hank grumbled, continuing to follow Gambit.
* * *
Jean erected a shield to protect her team from Cyclops' blasts. Betsy was on Bishop, aiming a high kick at his head. He ducked aside and grabbed her leg, tossing her across the foyer. She reached into his mind with her psychic knives and he fell to his knees. She rolled to her feet and came at him again, directing another spinning kick to his head. He took it full on and fell. He picked himself up and stood, unsteadily.
Bobby glided back inside with Sam in his arms. Jean looked around. "RETREAT, NOW," she ordered. Jean and Bishop immediately faded into different corridors with Jean taking the one down which Gambit and Beast had run.
"God, blasted, dammit," Scott groaned. He looked at Betsy, Sam, and Bobby. "Bobby, is Sam okay?"
"Don't think so, Scott," Bobby answered. "He's kinda stunned. But he'll be okay in a bit."
Scott sighed with exasperation. "Bets, go after Bishop," he ordered. "I'm going after Jean. Bobby, stay with Sam until he's okay and then go after Betsy. Send Sam after me. Got it?" The others nodded their acknowledgment. Scott took off after his wife.
* * *
Rogue rose in the air and faced off against Storm who gathered herself together and prepared to meet her. "Ah gonna hurt you, bad, Ororo," she announced, balling up a fist.
Ro smiled at her gently. "Don't think so, Rogue," she said. As Rogue struck at her, she moved inside the punch, took Rogue by the wrist, and flipped her through the sky. Rogue tumbled through the high winds, and suddenly Archangel was above her. He released the sharp shards of his metal wings and they flew at Rogue. None of them were able to pierce her nearly invulnerable skin, but they ripped through her uniform and scratched her. Their narcotizing effects dazed her momentarily and Storm called up a fierce wind which blew Rogue half way across the simulated Savage Land.
Storm looked over at Warren. "By the plan," she ordered. He nodded, landing on the roof. Storm ran swiftly to the door and ducked inside.
* * *
Logan heard and smelled Gambit and Beast coming. He decided quickly that meeting both of them in combat was simply foolish. He grabbed the crystal and ran for one of the three doors of the treasure room.
* * *
Remy and Hank burst into the treasure room. No one was there. No crystal was there. Hank looked at Remy. "He went dat way," Remy called out, pointing to one doorway. "He prolly has de damn t'ing. Go after him. I look around an' see if he left it here. If not, I be right behind you." Hank nodded and took off down a twisted, winding corridor, at full speed.
Remy nodded, his stomach sinking as he contemplated the fact that he'd just lied to Hank. He went through the door through which Logan had really exited and went after his godfather.
He wondered for a moment why he was so determined to fight with Logan that he was willing to risk the almost certain fact that he would be in serious trouble with Hank and Storm. All he felt in his guts was a determination that he had to do it. The still small voice inside that had tried to warn him before, tried to warn him again. *Remy, you gettin' yourself in bad shit, boy,* he heard the voice say. He shut it down, cut it off, and went on his way. The urgency of his desire to test himself in combat overwhelmed any voices of reason within him.
Through his link to Logan, Remy knew the escape route he planned. He had studied the floor plans of the citadel. He took a detour and positioned himself on a stairway above where he expected Logan to appear. Logan ran through a door onto the stairs and Remy shot down from above and landed on his head and shoulders. Logan staggered slightly, going down on one knee, grabbed Gambit by his hair, and threw him over his head, down the stairs to the floor of the huge room below. Remy tucked and rolled, coming up on his feet.
"Hey, dere, mon ami," he said lightly. "You got somet'ing I need t' get from you."
Logan laughed. "You and what army, kiddo?" he asked. He finished coming down the stairs and assumed a defensive posture.
Remy pulled out his bo staff, swinging it up and over his head, aiming it at the side of Logan's head.
Logan stepped inside Remy's swing, grabbed the bo, and threw Gambit over his hip. It wasn't easy to roll out of a hip throw, but Remy managed ducking his head, flipping over and rising to his feet. Logan had the staff and swung it forcefully, cracking it smack across Remy's butt. Remy winced with pain and flamed into rage.
"Hey, little boy," Logan sang out mockingly. "You really think you can play with us big guys?"
Remy took a deep breath. "You tryin' t' make me mad, Logan. It not gonna work," he said quietly. He pulled several cards out of his sleeves, charged them, and flipped them into Logan's face.
The explosions blinded Logan momentarily. And then Remy was on him, grabbing and charging the bo, turning it into a bomb.
Logan started to throw the staff at Remy, then hesitated, looking carefully at this kid whom he loved more than he loved himself. He really didn't want to hurt him. Remy noted the hesitation and he had a moment of heart-sickening realization that Ro and Hank had probably been right. Logan flipped the bo away from himself, but it exploded just as it left his hands. He was knocked across the room and stunned by the explosion.
Remy was on him in a flash. He grabbed the crystal from Logan's boot and started to roll away. Logan grabbed him by his wrist, pulling him over and down and flinging himself on top of Remy's chest.
Remy's stomach sank. He knew he didn't stand a chance grappling with Logan. For a moment, he contemplated using the psychic powers with which he had killed when he was he was a child and which he had used to hurt Sinister. But he wasn't accustomed to using them and no more wanted to take the chance of really hurting Logan than Logan would be willing to hurt him.
Logan's hand came up under Gambit's chin. His claws shot out on each side of Remy's face. "Give it up, kid," Logan said. "I have you."
* * *
Storm, coming down from the roof, followed her link with Remy. When she entered the room at the foot of the stairway, Logan had his claws on each side of Remy's head. She raised her arms and sent a gale force through the room.
Logan and Remy tumbled across the floor. Logan sheathed his claws immediately, but held on to Gambit grimly. They both slammed into the far wall with Logan twisting to cushion the impact for both of them, an action on his part that Ro had expected and counted on. There was an audible crack of bones breaking.
Remy raised his knees into Logan's chest and pushed away hard, breaking free and rolling swiftly. Logan dove after him and Storm raised her arm again and blasted a lightning bolt into his chest. Logan went down, seemingly unconscious.
"You have the crystal?" she demanded of Remy. He wordlessly held up two, the fake one he gotten out of Logan's boot and the real one that had been hidden in a concealed pocket. "And where is Hank? Never mind, Remy, not now. Just get out of here and get to the rendevous. NOW."
Remy swallowed hard and got out, fast. He wasn't looking forward to explaining to either Hank or Storm what he had done, especially since both he and Logan had proven them right in their assessment. His stomach hurt.
Ro looked down at Logan with concern. He was very still. If the sudden electrocution had stopped his heart, she wasn't really sure that his healing factor would solve the problem. She knelt cautiously beside him on one knee and felt for the pulse at his neck. His hand came up and grabbed her wrist.
Storm rocked back on her butt and then to her back, throwing Logan right over her head and continued to roll backwards all the way over and back to her feet. She whirled to face him, keeping herself between him and the stairs, blocking his pursuit of Remy. He sprang to his feet and came at her. She rose in the air and slammed both feet into his stomach. He grabbed her ankles, threw her toward the wall, and whirled to go after Remy.
Storm twisted in the air, grabbed a wind current, and set herself down gently. She raised her hands and called up another gale force that picked Logan up and slammed him high into the stone wall beside the stairs. She heard bones crack again as he hit, and she watched as he slid down the wall. She unmercifully hit him with yet another bolt of lightning. This time when she felt for a pulse, he stayed unconscious.
She ran up the stairs, knowing he wouldn't likely stay unconscious for long.
* * *
Remy almost slammed into Hank in his race to the roof. Remy held up the crystals and motioned for Hank to follow. Hank glared but went after his team mate. "Did you go after Logan without me?" he asked dangerously. Remy nodded miserably.
"I lied t' you bout which way he went," he admitted. Hank shook his head as they streaked down the corridor.
"Well, at least you got the blasted crystal," he grumbled.
"Couldn' have done it wit'out Stormy's help," Remy said. They rounded a corner and promptly came upon Bobby sweeping down the hall on his ice slide, moving as quickly as he could after Betsy who was rapidly gaining on Bishop.
"Oh, what fun," Hank said cheerfully. Remy picked up an urn from the floor, charged it up and blasted Bobby's ice slide out of the air. Bobby tumbled, tucking and rolling and came up throwing ice shields around the cards that Remy was flipping.
Betsy turned and looked back and forth. Her eyes narrowed as she guessed who in the group would be most likely to have the crystal.
"REMY," Hank yelled. "If you have shields, get them up, NOW." Remy heard and obeyed just seconds before Betsy hit him with her psychic knives.
"Bishop," Hank shouted. "Variation on the speed ball special."
Bishop looked at him with confusion and then nodded in understanding as Hank suddenly picked up Remy who pulled himself into a tight ball. Hank threw him down the hall over the heads of Psylocke and Bobby. Bobby threw up an ice wall, but Remy crashed through it. Bishop caught him, staggering a bit, but quickly whirled and put the young thief on his feet.
"Go, Gambit," Bishop ordered. Remy nodded, taking off as if the hounds of hell were after him.
Beast swatted Bobby out of the way and then slid to his butt and spun the rest of the way down the hall on the ice that Bobby put under his feet. He careened into Betsy, knocking her down and they crashed into Bishop, who fell on top of both of them.
"Why do I get the distinct feeling that I just somehow fell into a Marx Brothers movie?" Hank grumbled as he tossed the other two off him and leaped up to pluck Bobby out of the air as Iceman tried to glide over and past them after Remy.
"I was thinking more along the lines of 'A Fish Called Wanda,'" Bobby chortled gleefully as he encased Hank up to his neck in ice. Bishop released an explosion that slammed Betsy and Bobby into a wall and blew the ice off Hank even as it knocked him off his feet.
"How about The Three Stooges plus D'Artagnan?" Hank asked calmly as he rolled back up. "Move, Bishop, while they're down."
They both ran after Remy who was already up two flights of stairs and emerging on the roof. Archangel was waiting for him and immediately picked him up to fly him back to the cave. They were in the air no more than a few seconds when Jean burst out on the roof closely followed by Scott, who took one look at Warren flying away with Remy and started sending his optic blasts after them.
As soon as Warren heard the distinctive sound of the blasts, he began evasive maneuvers. He'd been dodging Scott's blasts since he was in high school. Bishop sprang out on the roof and jumped in front of Scott absorbing the blasts and directing them back at him. Scott dove for cover. Jean grabbed Bishop and rose into the air, following closely after Warren and Remy.
Rogue emerged from the tree tops and flew straight for Remy, planning to simply take him away from Warren and back to the roof. Jean slammed a telekinetic bubble around Rogue and dumped her firmly on the ground.
Hank had been right behind Bishop. Betsy and Bobby were not far behind Hank who looked around the roof and threw himself behind a pile of rubble. Bobby put up an ice slide and started after the flyers.
Storm flew out the door seconds after Betsy and Bobby did and started to make the winds rise. Bobby was knocked out the sky before he could close half the distance between him and the flyers. Warren and Jean headed for ground and the cover of the jungle as soon as they felt the winds seriously blowing.
Sam came out after Storm. His eyes widened as he watched Bobby falling. He powered up and caught Bobby before he fell to the ground.
Storm caught a wind, rose into the air, gathered Hank up, and took off. Rogue had fought her way out the bubble and soared through the air at Ororo who simply threw Hank at her. Hank somersaulted through the air and slammed his entire massive body into Rogue's stomach. Rogue tumbled in the air and Ro threw several lightning bolts at her before catching Hank and taking off again.
"Really, Ororo, you might have asked if I felt like flying lessons, today," Hank said mildly.
"Is she after us?" Ro asked, concentrating on making the winds accelerate.
"No, but our young Cannonball seems to be coming. I think you might have these winds too strong for even Rogue to maneuver."
"So, we'll fly around until we wear Sam out before we go back to the cave. Why don't you tell me what happened with Remy and Logan, just now?"
Hank sighed. "I think it might be better if you let him tell you himself," he said quietly.
Ro nodded grimly. "I didn't think the two of you were separated by accident." Hank shook his head.
* * *
Scott glared in frustration as the rapidly developing storm hid the flyers from view. He glanced around at Betsy, Bobby, and Rogue who all looked as battered and frustrated as he felt.
"Where in hell is Logan?" he demanded.
"Right here, boss." Logan barely managed not to stagger his way out onto the roof. His uniform was half blasted off him and smoldering from Remy's explosions and Storm's lightning bolts.
"Jesus, Logan," Scott moved toward him with alarmed concern. Logan waved him off.
"I'm fine, Scotty, but I think we oughta all get out of this rain and wind and believe me, I'd be just as happy to never see another lightning bolt again," Logan grinned, shaking his head.
"You and me both, sugah." Rogue's uniform was almost as scorched and bedraggled as his.
"Let's go inside and figure out a plan to get the damn thing back," Scotty suggested. "I do assume they got it?"
"Oh, yeah, boss. They got it, but we sure as hell didn't give it to them." Logan started laughing as they ducked inside.
"And what do you find so funny, old friend?" Scott asked, giving him a returning grin.
"I just got the hell beat out of me by my godson and the woman I love. I find that more than a little hilarious," Logan said unsteadily, his voice shaking with laughter.
"And how much did you help them do it?" Scott asked seriously.
"Ro didn't need any help at all, Scotty," Logan continued to chuckle.
Logan shrugged. "I held back some with the kid," he admitted, still grinning. "And I'm sorry. I just didn't think any training exercise in the world was worth hurting him."
"And what good does that do him when he goes up against someone who doesn't give a damn how much he gets hurt?" Scott asked severely.
Logan lost his grin. "None at all, boss, and you're absolutely right. I just couldn't do it. Not today. Not after last night."
Scott emitted an thoroughly exasperated sigh. "I need to know what happened last night," he said. "Now."
"Scotty, we're gonna run outta time to get the thing back," Logan protested.
"I don't care," Scott said firmly. "We have to wait for Sam to get back anyway. For that matter, Bets, would you just call him and tell him to come back. Storm'll never lead him to their base. She'll just fly him in circles till he uses up his powers. I'm listening, Logan." Logan sighed and started to explain.
* * *
Warren and Remy arrived back at the cave, followed closely by Jean and Bishop. Remy shook the rain water out of his hair, went back to a corner of the cave and sat down. The combat adrenaline was rapidly wearing off. In its place were rushes of fear and guilt as he thought about disobeying his orders and lying to Hank. He sat against the wall and shivered.
Jean sat down beside him. "You cold, Remy?" she asked with concern.
He shook his head and his eyes welled with tears. "No," he said quietly. "I just managed t' get me in trouble again." Several of the tears spilled over and suddenly he was sobbing. Jean tried to put an arm around him, but he pulled away. "I don' deserve t' be hugged, Jeannie. I don' deserve t' be comforted. I lied to Hank and I made sure I fought Logan an' he let himself get hurt t' avoid me gettin' hurt an' I deserve t' be in big trouble. Which I gonna be as soon as Stormy and Hank get back here."
Jean sighed and looked up at Warren and Bishop. Warren shook his head and sighed, himself. "I'd say he deserves to be hugged," Warren said. "He's had a bitch of a week and a not very fun last 24 hours. And it doesn't sound like life is going to be a party for him when Storm and Hank get back. Remy, you don't need to be so hard on yourself. Seems to me you got plenty of people around who are willing to give you as much as you need of whatever punishment you've earned."
"Warren's right, kiddo," Jean said, trying to pull Remy into her arms. He still shrugged away and shook his head. He gathered his knees up to his chest and leaned his head against them, crying hard.
"Remy," Warren tried. "I obviously don't know everything that's been going on with you and Logan, but it makes perfect sense to me that you wanted your chance at combat today. And if Wolverine let himself get hurt to avoid hurting you then that was his choice. He does heal, you know. A hell of lot easier and quicker than you or me."
"Sweetie, why don't you tell us what happened last night so we'll all understand more about what all this is about?" Jean requested.
Remy tried to swallow his sobs and mostly succeeded. He told Jean, Warren and Bishop about most of what had happened on the roof, on the porch, in med lab, in Logan's room, in the bathroom, and in the study. Then he went on to tell them what had happened in the citadel. They listened with disturbed fascination. Jean put her face in her hands.
"Oh, poor Logan," she moaned. "No wonder he couldn't bear to hurt you." Remy nodded miserably and started sobbing again. The tears hadn't really stopped through most of the story.
"What about poor Remy?" Warren demanded acidly. "I think I could handle Wolverine going to pieces on me about as well as I could handle an avalanche in a bathing suit."
"Oh, I don't know," Hank stepped into the cave with Storm behind him. "Logan going to pieces isn't too different from anyone else going to pieces. Just seems like it would be scarier cause it's Logan. And personally, I don't think I've ever encountered an avalanche that was ina bathing suit. How you doing, Remy?" He crouched in front of the sobbing Cajun and looked at him with concern. He didn't offer to put his arms around him. He simply picked him up and held him. Remy put his face into Hank's shoulder and let his tears run into the fur.
Storm looked down at both of them. "Remy, as soon as you calm down a little, I'm expecting you to tell me exactly what you did in that fortress. Hank asked me to let you tell me, yourself." Her voice was calm, even, and very scary to Remy. His chest caught and he felt icicles in his stomach. He continued to sob.
"I lied. . .to. . .Hank. . .about where Logan was. ." he gulped out. "An' I went. . .up. . .against him. . .on my own. . .An' you were. . .right. He let. . .himself. . .get hurt. So. . .I wouldn't. . .get hurt . .An' I know it don't make no difference. . .now, but. . .I'm s. . .sorry. Hank, I'm s. . .sorry."
"It's okay, Remy," Hank said gently. "I have no trouble forgiving you. Doesn't mean you aren't going to be punished, but I do forgive you."
Ro sighed, looking down at Remy with exasperation. "And I forgive you, too, you stubborn, pig-headed brat. Are you ever going to learn to listen?"
"Don' seem. . .dat I. . . can," Remy sobbed out.
"He did get the crystal," Bishop pointed out calmly.
Hank laughed. "Yes, he surely did," he agreed. "And Ifnie only knows if any of the rest of us would have gotten it away from Logan. Might have helped that he didn't want to hurt the boy."
"I would have gotten it," Storm said grimly. "And that was part of the plan. Hank was to distract him until I showed up. I know damn well I can take Logan down and out. And not because he's not willing to hurt me."
Remy continued to cry. "I. . .s. . .sorry, Stormy," he gulped out again.
"And I told you that I forgive you, child," she said in a much gentler tone. "And I agree with Hank, that it doesn't mean you aren't going to be punished. But we really don't have time for this right now. They're going to come after that crystal. We still have about an hour left of this exercise. And Logan could track through any kind of storm under any conditions. You need to calm down, Remy, and get back into combat mode."
Remy nodded and tried to pull himself together. He extricated himself from Hank's arms and sat up, looking at Ororo. His tear-streaked face was full of shamed contrition. Storm sighed, knelt down and put her arms around him.
"I still love you, Remy," she said warmly. "That doesn't change, no matter what." He nodded, feeling enormous relief and then pulled himself out of Ro's arms and checked on his link with Logan.
"They're coming," he said quietly.
"Great," Warren said. He looked toward Ro.
"Get in the air," Ro ordered, "And see if you can discover where they are without them spotting you. If you see Rogue, evade her."
"Evade Rogue," Warren noted. "Would you also like me to compose sonnets while I'm up there?"
Ro swatted at him and he ran out, chuckling. "Jeannie, you too. Up and at em, girlfriend."
Jean rose to her feet and pulled Ro a few paces away from the others as she went out the door. "Don't be too hard on Remy," she suggested. "You know what he and Logan have put each other through this past night and day, don't you?"
"Of course." Ro sighed. "But Jean, are you going to seriously propose to me that the child hasn't earned himself another spanking?"
Jean thought about it for a moment and shook her head sadly. "Couldn't we just make him clean all the bathrooms in the mansion with a toothbrush?" she proposed. Ro laughed.
"We're the X-men not a boot camp," she said. "But I might make him the offer. I think he'd prefer the spanking." Jean laughed, too.
"You might be right," she agreed before heading for the cave opening. "And hey, is it okay if knock Rogue out of the sky instead of evading her?"
"Whatever you want to do is fine with me," Storm said.
She turned back to Hank, Remy, and Bishop. "We have plans to make, boys," she said, pleased to note that Remy was composed and ready to fight.
* * *
Warren soared above the jungle. He swooped down to the tree tops, peered through the dense foliage, and tried to thread his way through the vegetation. With his wing span, it was impossible. He flew back up, swearing with frustration at how difficult it was to see through the jungle canopy.
Suddenly, Rogue swept up through the tree tops, just as he was rising and buried her fist in his stomach. Warren gasped and tumbled, falling. His wings tangled in the top branches and he struggled to break free. Rogue was on him again aiming a hard right fist at his jaw. He ducked away, but she clipped him soundly. He released the shards of his metal wings and they cut him away from the foliage. He was slightly stunned but rose into the air again. Rogue aimed another fist at his face. He tried to move inside the punch and grab her wrist, but he was moving slowly and she twisted away, landing another blow with her other fist.
"Goddamn, Rogue," Warren gasped as he started to fall again with his lips split and a bruise rising on his jaw. She nodded grimly and hit him again. He was almost out and falling into the branches. Rogue caught him and put him on a branch, wrapping him up firmly in vines until he was almost hopelessly restrained. And barely conscious.
Rogue shook her head and patted him on the cheek. "No hard feelins, sugah," she said gently. "We just on different teams this time." She clipped him soundly under his left ear and he went out.
She flew down to the jungle floor and reported that she had taken Warren out and restrained him.
"That's good, Rogue," Scott said wearily as he and the others followed Logan through the dense and muggy jungle climate. "You sure he's safe where you left him? This damn place is full of predators."
"Virtual predators," Bobby said cheerfully. Rogue glared at him.
"Ya know it's possible to be killed by a damn virtual predator here in the danger room," she said acidly. Bobby shrugged. "Ah'll keep an eye on him, Cyke. And I'm going back up to watch out for Jean and Storm."
"Sam, go with her," Cyclops ordered. Sam nodded and powered up.
Rogue flew back up, with Sam close behind her. She threaded her way through the tree tops and showed Sam where she had left Warren. Archangel was still out.
Rogue spotted Jean in the distance and motioned to Sam. "Ah'm gonna try to get behind her," she whispered. "Ya wait bout five minutes and attack her from in front. She'll put up a shield and bounce you off, but you keep coming at her and keep her busy. Ah'll try to come at her from her rear." He nodded and Rogue took off.
Sam waited his time out and then launched himself at Jean from the tree tops directly beneath her. His speed was dazzling and he was almost on her before she could throw up a shield to protect herself. He bounced off and looped in the air to come back at her.
Rogue was on Jean's back almost before Jean could catch her breath. Rogue's arm snapped around Jean's neck seeking a choke hold. Jean grabbed Rogue by the hair and threw her over her head. As Rogue was propelled over she kept her hold at Jean's neck and they tumbled over and around one another in the sky.
Jean sent a psychic distress call to Storm, informing her of her situation and that Warren was nowhere to be seen. Then all of her attention was engaged by the struggle with Rogue.
Rogue held on to Jean's neck. Jean twisted her head to one side to take the pressure off, reached up with both hands, snapped the arm around her neck against her chest, jerked herself forward, and threw Rogue over her head again, this time extricating herself from Rogue's grip. Jean swore softly, as she bruised her nose on Rogue's arm.
Rogue somersaulted through the air, then twisted, surging back toward Jean with her fist held high. Jean sent a burst of psychic energy at Rogue, knocking her away. Cannonball launched another attack. Jean barely managed to erect another shield. As soon as Sam bounced off, Jean turned it into a protective bubble encasing her entire body.
Jean looked around frantically and telekinetically picked up a boulder from the jungle floor. She flung the boulder at Rogue as the young woman flew at her. The boulder sent Rogue spinning, but Sam was looping through the air, coming at Jean's shield again and again. Jean felt her powers weakening and flew down into the tree tops, starting an evasive retreat. She mainly just wanted to keep Rogue and Cannonball busy at this point and away from the rest of her team.
"Sam, ya go after her," Rogue directed. "Keep her nice and busy. Ah gonna go see if Scott needs any help." Sam nodded and took off.
* * *
Storm closed her eyes and received Jean's message as she led Remy, Beast, and Bishop through the jungle. "Jean is under attack from Rogue and Sam," she reported. "Warren is nowhere to be seen. We have to assume he's been taken out. Guys, if we meet up with the other team, we need to just keep them busy until time runs out. Hank, you take on Wolverine. Remy, get your shields up and take on Psylocke . Bishop, you send Scott's blasts back at him. I'll help out as needed. Okay?" The others nodded.
"Remy, you still have a lock on Logan?" Storm asked. He nodded and pointed. They advanced as stealthily as possible.
* * *
Logan raised his head and scented the muggy air. "Storm, Remy, Hank, and Bishop are almost on us," he said quietly.
"Logan, go on Bishop," Scott ordered. "Stay the hell away from Remy and Hank, you hear me?"
Logan nodded. "If I gotta choice, boss," he said.
"Betsy, attack Storm with your psychic knives and see if you can take her out," Scott ordered. "Bobby, can you try to put Hank on ice?" Bobby nodded, gleefully. "I'll be helping out where ever I can. Logan, I'd bet they hid the crystal at their base. If you can get away, go after it." There were more nods all around. "Okay, let's take cover and ambush them."
* * *
Remy stopped dead. "Dey takin' cover to ambush us," he said.
Storm rolled her eyes and sighed. She motioned all of them to stop. "Can you help us, Remy, to separate and circle around their ambush? I can connect to you. Can you establish connections to Hank and Bishop?"
Remy swallowed hard and tried. He reached out with his mind toward Beast and felt a welcoming and loving acceptance.
Got you, kiddo, Hank's voice said in his head. Remy nodded with relief and reached out for Bishop. He felt respectful appreciation and concern.
You're in my mind, Gambit Bishop's voice said to him.
Remy looked at Ro and nodded. They each went their separate ways through the dense foliage under Remy's direction to the site of the supposed ambush.
* * *
Logan sat up straight in the branches of the tree where he had concealed himself. He jumped down and beat his way through the jungle to Scott. "They split up and are circling around us," he whispered urgently. Scott put his hands to his head and pulled his hair.
"Where are they?" he demanded. "And how in hell do they know where we are?" Logan shrugged.
"They're on us NOW, boss," Logan tried to roll out of the way as Beast fell on him like a mastodon that had been picked up and dropped from the sky.
Scott dove for cover as he was confronted by Bishop. He sighed, knowing that his optic blast would do little good against this energy absorbing X- man. He directed a blast at Hank, knocking him off of Logan.
Storm shot a bolt of lighting at Scott, who dodged it and blasted at her. He hit her full on and she fell, stunned and limp. Bishop bolted in front of Cyclops, shielding Storm from another blow.
Hank picked himself up and was confronted by Bobby who grinned at him and simply encased him from head to foot in ice. Remy threw several charged cards at the ice package and blew it off.
Remy turned to face Betsy with his shields up. He pulled out his spare bo and swung it under her legs. She went down, rolling and came up, determined. Remy swung the bo again and she moved inside the swing, grabbing for it. He evaded, holding on to it, took her reaching arm, and threw her into a tree.
Logan was laughing as Hank confronted him. "What are you so cheerful about, Wolvie?" Hank asked with an eyebrow raised.
"Just think this is fun," Logan said, moving into a defensive posture. Bobby put ice under Hank's feet and slid him into a tree.
"Me, too, mon ami," Remy said gaily as he leapt toward Logan with his bo held up in front of him. Logan grinned, grabbed the middle of the bo with both hands and fell on his back, throwing Remy over him, and once again, holding on to the bo. Remy and Wolverine both rolled to their feet simultaneously, grinning at one another.
"You sure seem to have some trouble holding on to this damn stick, boy," Logan said, abruptly tossing it back to him. "Try again, kiddo." Scott groaned. Remy grabbed the bo out the air and swept it under Logan's legs as Logan leaped out the way.
Rogue swooped down from the sky. "Rogue," Scott yelled. "Grab Logan and take him away. He'll tell you where." Rogue nodded, took Logan, and swept him up and away.
Storm rose to her feet, and looked around. Betsy was still down, seemingly stunned. Scott and Bishop were exchanging blasts, with Bishop maneuvering to keep himself between Scott and the rest of the group. Hank was up and engaged with Bobby who was sliding through the air, throwing up ice shields at Hank who leapt and somersaulted through them. Gambit was throwing charged cards, alternating between Bobby and Cyclops and trying to sneak up behind Cyclops to attack him with his bo.
Jean suddenly streaked down through the trees with Cannonball in hot pursuit.
"Jean," Storm shouted. "See if you can take out Scotty."
Jean nodded, not sure what she could do, as exhausted as she was. Before she could direct any of her powers at Scotty, her mind was stabbed by Betsy's psychic knives and she went down in a heap. Betsy, who had been faking unconsciousness for several minutes, rose and directed a new set of psychic knives at Storm, who reeled and fell to her knees.
Gambit, who had never lowered his shields, turned back to Betsy.
* * *
Rogue put Logan down near the other team's base and he started tracking. He found the cave quickly and started to track the scents of the others.
"Should I leave you, here, Logan, and go back to help the others?" Rogue asked.
"Nope, darlin.' Not just yet." Logan circled around the camp several times and made a couple of short forays into the surrounding jungle. He came back, carrying the fake crystal and shaking his head. "They didn't hide the damn thing here," he said. "They sure wanted me to think they had and there are false trails leading in all directions to running water. But they didn't have time to go far enough to really do the job. I'd bet they have it on them. Take me back, girl. We only got a few minutes left. Worst thing that could happen would be me being wrong."
"Well, that don't happen often enough ta have me worried," Rogue muttered as she picked him up again to carry him back to the battle.
* * *
Sam had cannonballed into Beast and was carrying him struggling through the jungle. Iceman, who had been engaged in a running battle with Bishop in which he encased Bishop in ice, ducked as Bishop blasted it off, then doggedly encased him again. After several rounds, Bishop was imprisoned and Bobby exhausted.
Remy and Psylocke were engaged in one-on-one combat in which they seemed rather evenly matched. For each swinging kick she aimed at his head and body and he dodged was a returning swing of his bo which she evaded. He continually threw charged cards which she managed to avoid.
As soon as Bobby had succeeded in engaging Bishop's attention, Scott turned and aimed one of his optic blasts at Gambit, who ducked away from it. Scott's blasting distracted Remy and his shields dropped for a second. Betsy's psychic knives stabbed into his head and he fell to his knees. Betsy hit him hard with a kick to the side of his head and Scott got him with a with a well aimed blast. Remy smashed into a tree and slid down the trunk with his uniform half blown off.
"I sure hope you didn't have that on full power, boss," Logan said grimly.
Scott glared at him. "Of course, I didn't," he snapped. He ran over to Remy as Betsy was feeling for a pulse.
"He's okay," she said. Scott took a deep breath of relief. He had blasted Remy harder than he had meant to and was worried.
"Search him, boss," Logan directed. He looked up at Sam. "YO, SAM," Logan yelled. "Slam Hank into a tree or somethin.' I'd bet my last cent he's got the crystal on him. Betsy, search Ro. Bobby, go on keeping Bishop too busy to interfere."
Scott immediately starting searching through Remy's tattered uniform and coat. Sam did indeed slam Hank into a tree and Hank was momentarily stunned. Logan shook his head.
"Sam, keep blasting and slam him into another one. We only got a minute or two and I ain't got time to fight with even a semi-groggy Beast. Sorry, pal," Logan said. Sam grabbed Hank and rammed him into another tree. Hank went out. Logan ran over and inspected the pockets of the shorts Hank wore over his fur. He rose in seconds with the crystal in hand.
"Got it," Logan reported with satisfaction.
"Not for long," Jean rose to her knees, picked Logan up telekinetically and snapped him through the air. Logan hung on to the crystal grimly and watched as Rogue flew at Jean.
Suddenly, the danger room scenario snapped off and the room was the danger room again rather than a prehistoric jungle. Rogue stopped her flight and settled to the ground. Jean sighed and put Logan down gently.
Logan grinned at the crystal in his hand and walked over to hand it to Scott who took it with a shake of his head. Logan looked around. Storm was starting to sit up with the assistance of Jean and Betsy. She seemed okay. Bobby was checking on Hank.
Logan knelt beside Remy who was starting to stir. "Hey, kiddo, come on back to us," he said, putting his hand under Remy's head. Remy opened his eyes and blinked at Logan, then looked around.
"I guess it's over, neh?" he asked. "You get it, mon ami?" Logan nodded. He heard laughter that snapped his head over to where Hank had abruptly sat up and gently knocked Bobby's and Scott's heads together as they both knelt over him.
Warren was smoothly gliding down from the ceiling looking none the worse for wear. "Oh, that was loads of fun," Warren commented cheerfully. "I just love hanging in a tree watching pterodactyls wheeling over my head trying to decide which one is going to have me for lunch."
"Were pterodactyls carnivores?" Rogue asked. Bobby, Remy, and Warren all turned and stared at her.
"Now, that," Bobby proclaimed, "is truly a question only a girl would ask." Rogue stuck out her tongue at him.
The door opened and Charles powered his hover chair into the room. "Well done all of you," he said quietly. "There's a pile of sandwiches in the kitchen, courtesy of X-Force. I'd suggest you all grab a few and take them with you while you shower and change. Remy, Ororo, Jean, Betsy, Warren-- report to med lab after you get some food and before you change. Hank check yourself out and them. We'll meet in the study in an hour to debrief. Bring more sandwiches with you if you're still hungry. We have much to discuss." The professor went back out the door after looking carefully at each them with pride, except his son, whom he fixed with a loving and resigned gaze.
Remy's stomach froze. He could just imagine what needed to be discussed. It was perfectly clear to him that he had succeeded in disappointing his father yet again. Logan had helped him to a sitting position and kept a hand on his upper arm, supporting him. Remy shuddered, leaning against the powerful grip of his godfather. He was feeling very shaky. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Scott approaching.
"You okay, Remy?" Scott asked, looking at the tattered uniform and the abraded and bleeding flesh showing through the holes.
"I might have a few scrapes and bruises," Remy admitted. "I okay, though. Just de normal hazards of combat, Scotty." His hands shook slightly and his voice trembled a bit.
Logan and Scott both looked at him with concern. "You don't sound okay, Rem," Scott said, his stomach clenching with guilt and worry that he had seriously hurt the young Cajun.
Remy's eyes welled with tears and he shook his head, looking down and trying to blink back them away. Jean came up beside Scott, putting a hand on his shoulder. She had felt his concern through the link they shared.
It's okay, my love, she sent to him. *Remy's upset because he got himself in trouble again, not because you hurt him. We'll talk about it in the debriefing.*
Oh, hell, Scott sent back to her. *Remy needs to be in trouble again about as much as I need a pair of Foster-Grants." The only lenses that could contain Scott's optic blasts were those made of ruby quartz. Scott was reasonably sure that Foster-Grant made none of their sun-glasses from ruby quartz.
I know, sweetheart, Jean conceded. I don't like it either.
"Hey, Remy," Scott said. "You fought well. I'll see you at the debriefing." Remy nodded, still looking down and blinking back tears. Scott and Jean left, following Warren, Betsy, Sam, and Bishop.
Storm knelt beside Remy and Logan. Logan looked at her. "What's going on with Remy?" he asked. Hank, Bobby and Rogue were hovering close by. Storm ignored Logan and took Remy's chin in her hand, raising his face to meet hers. Tears continued to fill his eyes.
"I'm sorry, Stormy," he said again.
Storm shook her head. "We've already been through that, Remy," she said. "We know you're sorry. And you know we still love you. Right now, you need to get some food, go to med lab, and get changed. There's no point at all in all of us hanging out here in the danger room while you feel sorry for yourself." Her voice was gentle but stern and her words hit Remy like a lash. He swallowed hard, but several tears slipped out and down his face. He pulled himself away from Logan and rose to his knees, wiping the tears away.
"RO!" Logan protested.
Storm shook her head. "Logan, you don't know what's going on here. And all I can tell you briefly is that Remy disobeyed my orders and lied to a team mate under combat conditions in order to do what he wanted to do. He thinks he might be in serious trouble and he's quite right." Rogue gasped and Bobby glared at the wall.
"Oh, Remy," Logan groaned.
Remy got to his feet and turned to give Logan a helping hand up. "It's okay, mon ami," he said quietly. "Stormy's right. I got myself in trouble and dere ain't no point in us sittin' here in de danger room while I feel sorry for myself." He tried to grin and almost succeeded. "I t'ink I go on t' med lab. I not very hungry."
"Logan," Hank put his hand on Logan's shoulder. "You go shower and change. I'll take care of Remy, for now. You can baby sit when I go to clean up. Okay?"
"I don' need no baby sitter," Remy said dangerously, his eyes glinting with anger. Rogue, Bobby, Storm, Hank, and Logan all looked at him with varying degrees of astonishment and started laughing.
"Oh, right, Rem," Bobby gasped out between gales of laughter. "You're the X-man model of mental health and stability. You don't need a soul taking care of you, you blasted Cajun mess."
Remy glared at Bobby and a card appeared in his hand. Logan knocked it away and shook his head. "Don't, kidlet," he said kindly. "Take a deep breath and try to see the humor."
Remy turned his glare on Logan and then did as he was told. He managed a weak grin. "It not so funny when you standin' in my boots, mes amis," he said.
"I bet it isn't," Hank said. "C'mon, kid. Let's go to med lab. Ro, will you grab us some sandwiches before you come in? Logan, will you come down after you change to take care of this Cajun mess? Bobby and Rogue, will you please just get with the program. Remy will be okay." There were nods all around and the danger room was quickly empty.
* * *
Hank examined himself first. His vital signs were all normal. He had kept Remy in the same room, gave him a quick exam, and dressed the cuts and scrapes. "I'd like to x-ray that leg, again," he said.
Remy nodded. He had watched as Hank examined himself and had patiently endured the poking and prodding of his own exam. His chest was still very tight and his stomach hurt badly, but he managed to avoid giving into his feelings. Ro's comment about feeling sorry for himself had stung. He wanted to stay calm and self-contained.
Hank led him to the X-ray room. Remy put himself on the table. He looked up at Hank who was shaking his head. Remy was confused.
"Remy, if you were any tenser, I'd be treating for tetanus," Hank said. "You okay with me giving you a shot to help you relax a little?"
Remy tensed up even more. "I don' know, Henri," he said, shakily. "I fraid dat if I relax at all, I gonna start feelin' sorry for myself again." His stomach clenched and he felt the beginnings of tears burning in his eyes. He shut them hurriedly and missed seeing Hank shake his head, but he heard the kindness in the other man's voice.
"Remy, having feelings and being upset isn't necessarily feeling sorry for yourself," Hank said. "If you need to cry, kiddo, it's okay. But you're getting this shot. Roll over, Rem."
Remy rolled to his stomach, felt Hank slightly lower his pants, and felt the sting of an injection near the top of his left buttock. As he felt his pants come down, the impending threat of yet another spanking filled his mind and he started sobbing even before the Valium relaxed him. Then as the drug took effect, he sobbed ever harder. Hank picked him up off the table, carried him to a couch and held him closely.
"It's okay, Remy," Hank murmured softly. "It's okay. Go ahead and cry. It's okay." Remy really didn't have much choice in the matter. He was overcome with despairing hopelessness and he couldn't have stopped crying if his life depended on it.
"H. . .Hank. . .are you gonna. . .pun. . .punish me. . .for lyin' t' you?" he gulped out, wanting the answer and dreading it. His stomach was full of ice as he waited for the response. He heard Hank sigh.
"Yes, Remy," Hank said slowly and reluctantly. Remy felt a knife of pain go through his guts. Hank continued. "I think I have to. I don't much want to, but I think you need it. So, yes, Remy, I'm going to spank you." The pain in Remy's stomach almost doubled him over and he sobbed as hard as he had ever sobbed.
He felt Hank's arms tighten around him and felt inexplicably soothed as Hank began to rock him gently, stroking his back. "It's okay, Remy," Hank continued to murmur to him. "It's okay. Go ahead and cry until you can't cry any more. It's okay."
"It's not. . .okay. . ." Remy sobbed out. "It's not. . . Hank, I can'. . .stand it. . .Please, don'. . .please." His arms didn't quite meet around Hank's chest, but he clutched desperately, holding on to Hank as if he were a flotation device in a stormy sea.
"Remy," Hank said quietly. "You knew you were setting yourself up for another spanking as soon as you lied to me. You must have wanted it on some level, child, or you wouldn't have done this."
"No." Remy shook his head and sobbed. "I don' know. . .what. . .I was. . .doing. But I. . .know. . .dat I done' wan' anot'er. . .sp. . .sp. . ." He couldn't even begin to make himself say the word.
"So, part of what we need to figure out, Remy," Hank said, "is why fighting Logan was so important to you that you were willing to risk getting punished again." Remy nodded. "But we're not going to figure it out right now. You need to calm down. I have other patients to examine."
"I'm s. . .s. . .sorry," Remy gulped, trying hard to swallow his sobs and let Hank get back to his work.
"Remy, I'm not leaving you until Logan gets here. You don't have to make yourself stop crying," Hank said. "You need to let it out." Remy nodded again. His sobs were starting to quiet on their own without much effort on his part. He still felt miserable, but not quite as despairing.
"Knew I was gonna. . . end up crying all damn day, t'day," he said between quiet hiccuping sobs. "I'm sorry."
"If you're apologizing for crying, it's totally unnecessary," Hank said. "If you need to cry, you need to cry. Better for you to do so than not."
"Do you t'ink dat Stormy's gonna punish me. . .for disobeying her. . . orders?" Remy asked in a very small voice.
Hank sighed. "I don't know, Remy," he said somewhat untruthfully, since he was relatively certain that Storm was more than ready to blister Remy without mercy. He had never seen her quite so irate.
"Yes, you do," Remy called him on his evasiveness. "She's really mad at me. An' she's gonna. . ." He started sobbing again, unable to complete the sentence. He caught his breath and managed to stop for a second. "An' den I gotta. . .get it from Logan. . .t'night."
"Not necessarily, kidlet." Remy heard Logan's voice as he stepped into the x-ray room. Remy looked up at him with tears streaming down his face, let go of Hank, and sat up. He wanted Logan's arms around him more than he could ever remember wanting anything. He badly wanted to hold his arms out, but he clasped them over his chest, and kept looking up at Logan, totally unaware that his eyes were full of pain and pleading need. Logan sighed deeply, sat down on the couch and gathered Remy into a powerful embrace. Remy immediately started crying hard again.
"What. . .you mean. . .not necess. . .necessarily?" he gulped out. Logan held Remy tightly and brushed the hair out of his wet face.
"Just what I said, kidlet," Logan said gently. "I ain't gonna spank you again today if you stay in this condition. You've got too much too handle. I ain't gonna overload you, kid. I love you."
"Love you, too, Logan," Remy sobbed out, feeling more at peace in the few minutes with Logan than he had felt the whole time Hank had held him. Hank's arms had given him comfort, but it was Logan's love and acceptance that he deeply craved.
Hank rose and gently stroked Remy's hair. "And I love you, too, Remy," he said. "And I'm sorry that I've been put in this position. I don't want to be here." The door opened again, very quietly, and Remy didn't notice that Ro had slipped in while Hank was speaking. Logan looked up at her with love and worry on his face.
"I know dat, Hank," Remy's sobs were quieting again. "I done it, not you. It's my own stupid fault."
"Which doesn't change the fact that we all need to understand why you did it, kiddo," Hank said firmly. "I, personally, think that's more important than punishing you for what you did."
"If I had a good reason, maybe, I not be punished, neh?" Remy asked, hoping that his voice indicated he was joking. He kept his face buried in Logan's shoulder.
"Actually, Remy," Ro said quietly. "If we can make some sense of this behavior of yours, there may be some possibility that you might not need some of the punishment you seem to have earned, right now."
Remy jumped, startled to hear Ro in the room. He looked up at her, with tears still running down his face. "I not just feelin' sorry for myself, again, Stormy," he gulped out. "Or maybe I am, but Hank tole me t' go ahead and cry. He. . . did. . .Really. I'm sorry dat I'm cryin' again."
Ro took a deep breath. "Remy," she said softly. "it's okay for you to cry. If I sounded like I was being cruel to you in the danger room, I'm sorry. We needed to get on with things, just like we do now. Hank, are you through with Remy? You have other patients to examine."
"No, actually, I still want to x-ray his leg," Hank said. "Logan, could you get him up on that table?"
"No problem, Hank," Logan said. Within seconds, Remy was up on the table with a lead shield over his body while the x-ray machine ran.
"Okay, while these films develop, I'm going to go ahead and examine Ro," Hank said. "Come on, Ororo, let's step into another room." Storm paused a moment to pat Remy on the cheek and kiss Logan.
"As I said in the danger room, child, I still love you. Nothing changes that," Ro said to Remy before following Hank.
Logan held Remy on the couch while they waited for Hank. "You wanna tell me what happened in the danger room?" he asked. Remy shuddered.
No, he really didn't want to tell Logan, but he couldn't think of any good reason not to. He desperately didn't want to admit what he had done, but he knew it was going to come out in the debriefing anyway. He took a deep breath and told Logan what his orders had been and what he had done. His breath caught as he admitted that he had lied to Hank while they were in combat and his voice shook as he described what he had observed while he and Logan were fighting one another.
"You really didn't want t' hurt me," he said. "I could see dat when you decided not t' toss de charged bo back at me. An' I coulda attacked you psychically, but I was scared t' hurt you. An' den you protected me when Storm threw us at de wall an' you twisted t' land in front o' me. Dey were right and I was wrong. I shoulda obeyed my orders." He trembled with fear that Logan would be angry. Logan's arms tightened around him.
"Yeah, kiddo, you were wrong," Logan said evenly. "And I was wrong to protect you. So fucking what? We all make mistakes. But, child of my heart, why on earth did you want to fight with me so badly that you risked getting yourself in trouble again?"
Remy seized onto the only thing that Logan had said that mattered to him, the only thing he really heard. "Am I? Really?" he asked.
"Are you what?" Logan's voice was confused and Remy wasn't about to answer. It had taken as much courage as he had to ask the question. He shook his head and cried. There was silence for a few seconds. "Are you really the child of my heart? Is that what you're asking, Rem?" Remy nodded reluctantly, almost scared that Logan had figured out what he was really asking.
"Yes, Remy," Logan said. "You're my kid, kiddo. I love you, a lot."
Remy was suddenly flooded with a memory which he sent to Logan without thinking:
* * *
Logan, where are you going? Storm laughed from the front seat of a car in which a small Remy sat in the back. The car stereo was blasting out the Moody Blues singing "Legend of a Mind."
What do you mean, where am I going? Logan grumbled.
You just missed your turn. That was McDaniel Blvd, Storm chuckled. Logan swore and swung into a parking lot to turn around.
*The blasted directions said at the second or third traffic light. There was no flaming light at that intersection,* Logan groused.
"So, the directions were wrong, Ro giggled. What are you doing?*
Logan cut through the parking lot of a shopping strip. *I think we're on flippin' McDaniel Boulevard. What do we look for now?*
The next turn is, believe it or not, Buddy Holly Lane, Ro laughed.
Buddy Holly Lane???? Logan started to laugh. *We gonna run into a chorus of folks singing "Peggy Sue," or how bout "That'll be the Day?"*
Look there's a sign for the pool, Ro said. *This is the last swim meet til next year. Just chill out, love.*
Logan, Remy's small voice piped out from the backseat. *Who's Timothy Leary?* The chorus from "Legend of a Mind" was repeating the words: "Timothy Leary's dead. No, na, na no, he's outside, peeking in. Timothy Leary's dead. No, na, na, no, he's outside, peeking in. On a fine astral plane, takes you trips around the bay. Brings you back the same day. Timothy Leary. . .Timothy Leary."
Ro almost fell over in the front seat, laughing. *Go ahead, love, tell the child who Timothy Leary was.*
Hmm, Logan hesitated. *He was a Harvard psychologist, baby. And he helped start what was called the "hippie' movement. He had sort of a slogan that was "Tune in, turn on, drop out." He was like sorta the east coast founder of the hippie movement. Out on the west coast was Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters and their slogan was "You're either on the bus or off the bus." And right about now, I feel like I'm just about off my rocker if not out of my mind. Not to mention, thoroughly off the bus.*
Storm was laughing so hard that tears were streaming down her face. Logan scowled at her. *Anyway, this song is by the same band that does that song you like so much about "Knights in White Satin."*
Are they knights who say "Nikt?" little Remy asked, giggling. Logan snorted as Ro went into fresh gales of laughter.
Right, Logan said drily, but they want a satin shrubbery. All three occupants of the car laughed like idiots. Logan went on, gasping as he laughed, *Can I, please, explain all of this to you when you're a little older? Don't we need to talk about what you're swimming in this swim meet?*
Logan, there's a sign for the pool, Storm said, pointing to an unmarked road. Logan turned hurriedly and found the parking lot.
Great, Logan said, swinging into a parking space. *Okay, kidlet, you're swimming with the 12 and under boys in their relay, swimming free-style. You ain't expected to win. We just need to get in fourth place to win some points. And you're swimming with the ten and under boys for butterfly because you're good, but it's okay if you don't win. There ain't no way you can't place. You have a better butterfly than most of the twelve and under boys. Got it? For free-style and backstroke, you're swimming with the six and under where you belong. Just do the best you can, little guy. It'll be good enough.*
Remy was trembling. He didn't want to let his team down. *You and Stormy gonna be the bullpen parents?* he asked.
*Yep, kidlet, we'll be keeping track of you and what events you're swimming in. Ro, how many six and under boys we got this time?"
"I think we have about 17," Ro replied.
Logan groaned. *We have 17 five and six year old boys to keep track of? Oh, yigh. How many of them are swimming up with older kids?*
Remy, Billy, and Riley, Ro said. Did you bring the games and cards?
*Of course. Can't tell you how much I look forward to playing endless games of war and old maid.*
What's old maid? Remy asked.
*It's another name for what we play with the Ninja Turtle cards, kidlet. You know the game where whoever gets left with Shredder in their hand loses.*
Where are Jeannie and Scotty and Rachel? Remy asked.
*Jean is coordinating the whole blasted swim meet like the overly helpful nut she is. And you know Rachel is swimming with the eight and under girls and Scotty is their bullpen parent with Bobby helping him.*
And may the goddess help us all, Ro murmured. They gathered their bags and coolers out of the car and went into the swim meet.
Remy's vivid memory leaped ahead to the relay race which he was swimming with the 11 and 12 year old boys. Logan stood beside him at the starting block. *Okay, kiddo," he said. "Remember, you don't need to win. You just need to finish. Remember what your coach said. If you need to rest, hold on to the other end of the pool and rest. But only hold on with one hand or you'll be disqualified. Got it?* Remy nodded, holding his breath. *Breathe, baby. Okay, as soon as the fly swimmer touches, in you dive. Here he comes. Go, kidlet.*
Remy took a deep breath and launched himself into the pool. As he went into the water, his team was in second place. He pushed himself too hard, ran out of breath, and lagged badly on the return trip down the pool. One of his team mates pulled him out, scraping his knee badly on the side of the pool. He was the last to come in and he burst into tears.
Immediately, Logan gathered the wet child into his arms, wrapping him in a towel. *What's wrong, hon?" Logan asked with worry.
I came in last, Remy sobbed out. I let my team down.
No, no, sweetie, Logan protested. *You got us fourth place, just by finishing. That's all your coach wanted. It's okay. That's all we wanted. If you hadn't been here to swim, we only would have one team and they got first place. You and your guys got fourth. You did fine, baby. You finished.*
I wanted to win, Remy sobbed. Logan held him tightly.
*Can't always win, kidlet," Logan said gently. "That's life. You swam well, hon.*
My knee hurts, Remy sobbed. Logan held him away from his body and looked down. Remy's knee was bleeding. "Oh, babe, let's go get you some first aid.* Logan picked the child up and carried him back to their bags, which contained a first aid kit.*
* * *
Logan was taken aback with the clarity and details of Remy's memory. "I really was one of your parents, wasn't I, Remy?" he asked.
"Yeah," Remy's voice shook. "An' I need you, Logan."
"You got me, kiddo," Logan said with certainty.
Hank came back in and looked at the x-rays. He shook his head. "The hairline fracture of Remy's leg is getting bigger. I don't want him in any more combat until it heals."
"You got it, Hank," Logan said. "Hey, Remy, let's go get you showered and changed and ready for debriefing."
Remy nodded. He allowed Logan to yank him to his feet and guide him out of med lab. He was still caught up in the memories of being a small child with Storm and Logan and wasn't thinking much about the trouble he was in.
That changed as he got back to his room.