Subject: Family Matters, chapter 26
From: Dswdiane@aol.com
Date: Sat, 24 Apr 1999 20:23:20 EDT

Family Matters, chapter 26

Logan read and waited until his keen ears could hear Hank snoring in the distance. He shut his book and slid his feet to the floor. He looked at the pillow, shook his head, got half-way to the door, thought again, turned, and grabbed it.

He went to the family room where he seized a portable stereo and a stack of cassette tapes from his stash, which he thrust into the pillow case.

Remy was waiting on an almost horizontal section of the roof over the porch, cigarette burning, beer already opened. He reached into an ice chest, pulled out a Pete's Wicked Summer Ale and offered it to Logan, who shook his head. "In a minute, Rem," he said as he worked on setting up the music.

Remy shrugged and pulled a small box out of his pocket. "You wanna maybe smoke a little pot, Logan?" he asked casually.

"Oh, hell, yes." Logan looked up with a delighted grin on his face. "I haven't been high in ages." He finished setting up the little stereo, took out the tapes, and started looking through them.

Remy pulled a joint out of the box, lit it, drew the smoke into his lungs, and passed it to Logan, who took it and dragged deeply. He passed the jay back to Remy.

Logan held the smoke in his lungs for about ten seconds and realized how much he had missed this sensation of having the back of his head float off while still somehow staying connected, busily making connections usually not observed.

Logan started laughing as he exhaled the smoke in his lungs. He flopped the pillow down on the roof beside Remy. Remy was looking at him quizzically. "Somet'ing funny, mon ami?"

"I've just missed getting high," Logan said, "and wondering when you would decide it was safe to get high with me. Not that I'm complaining. Not a bit. Wouldn't dream of complaining about the opportunity to fuckin' get high again. And cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoy it."

Remy toked again and passed the joint back to Logan. "Logan," he said, grinning widely, "stop fuckin' babblin' an' put de music on."

Logan sucked on the joint again, passed the jay back to Remy, and continued looking through the tapes.

"Don't even remember what I put on this one," he choked out with the smoke still in his lungs, holding up a cassette.

"What'd you name it?"

"Tape for Kitty."

"Not very informative, mon ami." Remy grinned and passed the joint. "Put it in an' let's find out."

Logan pushed the tape in, turned the machine on, and hit the 'play' button. No Doubt started playing 'I'm Just a Girl.' He toked on the jay.

Logan gestured toward the beer that Remy had offered him, and Remy passed it to him. "Wanna cigarette, too," Logan said.

Remy passed Logan a pack of Camels and the lighter as the joint was returned.

"Not what you smoke, kiddo," Logan said as he lit up and drew smoke deep into his lungs, with a sigh of satisfaction.

"Raided your room, mon ami," Remy said as he lit one of his smokes.

"How'd you find 'em?" Logan asked.

Remy grinned again. "You not remember dat I was trained t' be a master t'ief, you dope? You t'ink dat maybe I don' know how t' search a room?"

Logan took another gulp of his beer. "And besides which, I dragged some out for you when we were up there. You bring the bourbon, Rem?"

Remy reached behind his back, pulled out a bottle of Wild Turkey, and passed it to Logan. Logan opened the bottle, took a deep gulp, and chased it with a swallow of beer.

"Are you off alcohol restriction, Remy?" he asked suddenly as he offered the bourbon to the Cajun.

Remy paled, then shrugged. "I t'ink so," he said. "I t'ink it's been over a week, but, oh, fuckin' hell, Logan, I don' wanna be sp. . ." he choked on the word, took a breath, and went on, "punished by my dad again. Not ever again. It was awful tonight." He looked doubtfully at the bottle of bourbon and then at the half empty beer in his hand. "Guess, it's too fuckin' late t' worry bout it now." He took a swallow of the bourbon and passed it back.

"Yeah, kiddo, I'd say it's way late to worry about it now. But your dad did say a week and it's been over a week. So, let it go." Logan toked on the joint again and took another swallow of bourbon before exhaling. "You wanna tell me what was so fuckin' awful about tonight?" He passed the joint to Remy as the music changed to 'Sunday Morning.'

"Besides bein' wit you in your head while Hank yelled at you an' you wen' t'rough seven kinds of hell?" Remy grinned. "Bet you don' wanna talk bout it."

"Don' wanna talk bout it, don' wanna think bout it." Logan grinned back.

"Wanna bury it deep an' never t'ink bout it again," Remy finished. He started laughing. "Oh, fuck, Logan, when you were sayin' dat t' Hank, I started laughin' an' Bobby t'ought I was crazy. I t'ank God, at least, Daddy knew what I was laughin' bout. An' I wasn' laughin' at you, mon ami," he added hurriedly.

"I know, kiddo." Logan took another deep swallow of bourbon and chased it by draining his beer. "I know how I sounded. Was tempted to laugh myself. But, kiddo, what do I have to do to get some privacy in my own head? I'm not sure I like it that you might be eavesdropping any damn time. Especially when I'm going through something I just might like to keep to myself."

Remy flushed and put another beer in Logan's outstretched hand. Logan passed the bourbon and Remy took a sip before responding. "I'm learnin' how t' keep some shields up an' I prolly could've tonight. I didn' wan' t'. . . I'm sorry."

Logan sucked at the end of the joint and managed to burn his fingers on the final ember. "Ouch," he grunted. "Hate it when my healing factor ain't workin' worth a damn."

He lit another cigarette. "I shouldn't be smokin' these damn things again. All I need right now is a week or so of nicotine withdrawal. Makes me cranky. Remy, it's okay. Sorta. But why in hell did you think it was okay to eavesdrop on my blasted close encounter of the worst kind with the wrath of Hank?" Logan started laughing. "Spielberg meets Star Trek, 'Khan phone home.'"

Remy exploded into laughter. "I'm sorry, Logan," he gasped out. "I was so damn worried bout you. I had t' be' wit you. I kinda knew dat you didn' wan' me dere. But I just had t' know what was goin' on wit you."

"Is okay, kid," Logan said, finishing his second beer. "Would you, please, just not do it again? And which 'Star Trek' movie was your favorite?" He passed the empty beer bottle to Remy, collected another, and took a deep slug from the bourbon.

Remy pulled out another joint and lit it. "I t'ink I like the 'Wrath of Khan' best of all of dem. But I liked de one wit the whales."

"'The Voyage Home.'" Logan said as he took the jay from Remy. He drew deeply and looked seriously at Remy. "Please, don't do it again."

Remy flushed and lit another cigarette. "Can' promise I won'," he said hesitantly. "Sorry, mon ami, but you mean a lot t' me. When you hurtin', I can' t'ink straight. It's like I have t' be wit you den."

Logan sighed. The music had changed a couple of times while they had been talking, playing the Cranberries' 'If I Can't Be with You' and then the B-52's 'Love Shack'.

"You wan' me t' get rid of de link?" Remy asked reluctantly. "So dat I won' be tempted t' invade your privacy?"

"No, you blasted brat," Logan said irritably. "You think I don't want to know when you're gettin' yourself in trouble? Don't fuckin' think so." He took another deep gulp of the bourbon and passed the bottle back to Remy who drank more, himself.

"T'anks, Logan," Remy said shakily. "I'll work on buildin' better shields so dat I don' always know when you hurtin.' 'Less it's an emergency."

Logan nodded acceptance. "Sounds like a plan," he agreed. 'Temple of Love' by Sisters of Mercy started playing. Logan leaned over and turned the sound up.

Remy started laughing again. "What kinda message were you sendin' t' Kitty, mon ami?" he asked.

"Don't know." Logan grinned at him. "I've never been able to get all the words in this song. You know them?"

Remy shook his head and tried to help Logan decipher the words. "When de fire from de fire works. . . above me, wit' a gun for a lover an' a shot for de pain at hand."

Logan went on, "You run for cover in the temple of the love. You run for a lover. But still the same. . . for the wind will blow my name across this land."

"In de temple of love, you hide t'gether, believin' pain an' fear outside," Remy went on.

"But someone near you rides the weather and the tears we cry. . . will rain on walls as wide as. . . lover's eyes."

"In de temple of love. . .."

"Shine like thunder. . . cry like rain. . . " Logan contributed. "hear my calling. . . hear my name. . . And the devil in the black dress watches over. . . My guardian angel walks away. . . Life is short and love is always over. . . in the morning. . . Black wind come carry me far away. When sunlight dies and night above me. . . .with a gun for a lover and a shot for the pain, inside. . . you run for cover in the temple of love. You run for another. It's all the same. For the wind will blow and blow your walls aside. . . "

"Wit a gun for a lover an' a shot for de pain. You run for cover in de temple of love. . . Shine like thunder. . . Cry like rain. . . An' de wind blows stronger, cold an' long. . . an' de temple of love will fall before dis black wind calls my name t' you. . . ." Remy added.

"With the black sky's thunder sweeping under ground and over water. . . sounds like. . . crying. . . weeping. . . will not save. . . your faith for bricks . . . and dreams for mortar. . .all your prayers must seem as nothing. . . .ninety-six below the waves. . . when stone is dust and only air remains."

"De temple of love. . .is falling down," Remy managed to translate. "When stone is dust an' only air remains . . . de only haven you can trust. An' de devil in a black dress watches over. My guardian angel walks away. Life is short an' love is always over in de mornin'. . ."

The rest of the words were repetitions of what had been sung before so they simply listened, the beat of the song throbbing and pulsing.

"And the temple of love is falling down." Logan spoke the final words.

"Logan, what were you sayin' t' Kitty wit dis song?" Remy asked again.

"Nothing. I just like it. You think every song on this tape is a message I'm sending to Kitty?" Logan cut the stereo off.

"I t'ink so, oui," Remy said, laughing. "Maybe only on de unconscious level, but I t'ink prolly you sendin' messages."

Logan shrugged and went on talking about the song just heard. "Maybe so, maybe not. But this song," he said, "we both agree there's a gun for a lover and a shot for the pain. You think he's really saying 'shine' like thunder? And is it 'believing' or 'leaving' pain and trust outside? And what the hell does he mean with 'sounds like crying, weeping will not save your faith for bricks and dreams for mortar?' Oh, hell, I feel like I'm in that damn Whoopi Goldberg movie 'cept I know all the words to 'Jumping Jack Flash' and couldn't understand why she couldn't make them out."

Logan chuckled. "'But someone near you rides the weather.' You think these people were thinking of Storm?"

"Doubt it," Remy said with a grin. "Didn' know you liked Sisters of Mercy. An' you know all de words t' 'Jumpin' Jack Flash?'"

"You think I don't listen when you play your music, kid?" Logan asked. "Part of how I keep up is by listening to what you and Bobby play. Just like I used to keep up listening to what Jubilee played and Kitty before her. And yeah, I know all the words to 'Jumping Jack Flash.'"

"Y'know, I t'ink I know all de words t' 'Jumpin' Jack Flash,' too. I know all de words t' a lot of Stones songs cause you played dem all de time when I was little." Remy started laughing again. "It drove Scotty crazy. De songs I knew. He had a fit one day when I was walking round singin''Head Like a Hole.' He jumped all over you for playin' Nine Inch Nails round me. But dat was de only song on de CD dat you let me hear."

Logan burst out laughing again at the mental image of a five-year-old Remy singing 'Head Like a Hole'. "'Bow down before the one you serve. You're gonna get what you deserve.' Oh, hell, Rem, I can see it and hear it. You need to make me a list of everything I did with you that drove Scotty crazy. Maybe we can adapt some of it to here and now and make an effort to drive him bonkers over the next week or so."

"I t'ink we do pretty damn good at drivin' Scotty bonkers wit'out a list," Remy laughed out. "Turn de music back on, Logan. I love de tapes you make. Always wonderin' what de hell you gonna come up wit next."

Logan flipped the stereo back on and the tape continued with more Sisters of Mercy, 'Ribbons.'

"So what was so awful tonight, Rem, about your Dad sp. . .punishing you?" Logan asked with an wicked grin.

Remy just grinned back easily. "Don' wanna talk bout it," he said, "don' wanna t'ink bout it. Wanna bury it deep an' never t'ink bout it again." He took another swallow of bourbon and passed the bottle.

Logan took it. "Point made," he said. "Now, you really not wanna talk about it or were you just makin' a point?" He drank deeply and reached for the joint.

"It was awful, Logan," Remy shuddered, passing the jay and grabbing the bottle. "An' de worst of it was dat he was so disappointed in me an' tol' me all bout it. 'An' I don' t'ink I wanna talk bout it no more."

"Bet he wasn't real thrilled with Bobby, either," Logan said lightly. Remy shook his head and grinned.

"From Sisters of Mercy t' de Cars?" Remy started laughing again as the tape continued with 'You Might Think I'm Foolish.'

"Oh, why not?" Logan waved the joint away as Remy tried to pass it back to him. "I'm good and high, kiddo, and damn, but I'm sore." He rose to his knees to take his weight off his aching butt.

"I kinda t'ink I know what dat's like," Remy laughed out helplessly.

"Bet you do, kiddo." Logan said comfortably. "And I earned every whack I got just as thoroughly as you've earned every one you've had."

"Yeah, sure," Remy said bitterly, his sense of humor suddenly gone. He took another slug of bourbon. "An' earned all de ones I'm gonna get, too." He glared down at the shingles.

Logan sighed deeply, reached out, and gathered the Cajun into a hug. Remy resisted for a moment, then relaxed, put his head on Logan's shoulder, and hugged back. "Sorry, Logan," he mumbled.

"I really don't enjoy it, kiddo," Logan said gently. "I kinda hate it, actually." He took a deep breath. "I'm not kidding and this is not a test. Remy, how'd you feel if I really and truly resigned from the business of punishin' you? If I simply refused to participate any more? And let your Dad and Hank deliver any other spankings you've got coming."

Remy froze for a moment and then, to Logan's surprise, started laughing. He pulled himself out of Logan's arms and doubled over, still laughing helplessly. Logan looked at him quizzically.

"De. . .first t'ought dat jumped int' my head was dat I'd. . .steal your damn. . . bike. . .an' fuckin'. . .wreck it," Remy gasped out, shaking with laughter.

Logan stared at Remy for a moment, mouth agape, before he started laughing, too. "Oh, kiddo," he choked out. "Are you that fuckin' determined that I continue punishing you?"

"Guess so," Remy kept laughing for a moment. He stopped abruptly and looked at Logan quite seriously. "Please, don' give up on me, mon ami." His eyes glistened with sudden tears that he tried to blink back.

Logan shook his head and gathered Remy back into his arms. Remy clung to him gratefully, putting his head back on Logan's shoulder.

Logan sat down again, wincing slightly as his very sore butt landed on the pillow, with all his weight and all of Remy's. "I wasn't even beginning to think about giving up on you," he said carefully. "I just don't want to hurt you any more. Remy, I'm tired of hurtin' you. I'm tired of makin' you cry. Isn't there some way I could love you without havin' to punish you?"

"As bad as I done been, Logan," Remy said shakily, "I don' t'ink I could feel loved if you don' punish me."

"Okay, kidlet," Logan said, gently. "You want it. I plan to be here for you as long as you need it. But damn it, Remy, you're not fuckin' 'bad.'"

"T'anks," Remy gulped out. There was a moment of silence, then Remy spoke again. "Maybe someday, I b'lieve dat. But what bout you, mon ami? You done been t'rough hell t'night. I wanna be here for you, too."

"You are, kiddo," Logan said honestly. "You got no clue how much I needed to be up here on the roof with you tonight. I needed some company. Hell, I needed to be with someone I trust completely. I needed to decompress and get drunk and high. And fuckin' thank you for bringin' the pot."

Remy hugged hard and pulled himself out of Logan's arms. He took another gulp of bourbon and chased it with a swallow of cold beer as he passed the bourbon to Logan who swallowed deeply. Remy started laughing as the tape changed again. "You put some of de soundtrack of 'Mortal Combat' on dis tape, Logan?"

"I like it. Jubilee played it for me. Thought Kitty'd like it, too."

"De title song was my favorite when I was five, Logan," Remy said. "You an' I played it all de damn time. You got me de movie on tape an' we watched it t'gether."

Logan started laughing again. "What was I thinkin'?" he gasped out.

Remy choked with laughter. "I don' know," he said. "You hated it. De video, I mean. You almost couldn' watch it. Sat dere wit' a book, readin' an' grousin' bout de damn movie. You said dat dey didn' know a damn t'ing bout how t' fight, really. Said dey kept makin' what shoulda been a minute of hand t' hand combat int' a half hour production. But I wan'ed t' see it. An' you did like de music."

"I must've loved you, kiddo, if I sat through 'Mortal Combat' with you," Logan strangled out, still laughing.

"You told me dat the martial arts in dose movies were bogus as hell," Remy said. "But you an' me watched 'Highlander' t'gether an' you said dat de fightin' in dat show was okay."

"Yeah," Logan acknowledged. The tape started playing REM's 'The End of the World' and the world, as Logan knew it, started to spin a little .

He took another couple of swallows of beer. "You okay, now, Rem?" he asked, his voice starting to slur. Remy nodded, drank some more beer, and shook his head as Logan offered the bourbon back to him. Logan took another gulp of whiskey and another, reached under his butt, pulled out the pillow, and rolled over to lie down on his stomach, with the pillow under his chin.

"You know, getting whacked by Hank is kinda like getting hit by a car," he commented. "And don't fuckin' tell me you know what I mean. Hank's never hit you with his full strength. And my damn healin' factor's out to lunch somewhere in Australia. Or maybe on Mars. Or maybe in Alpha Centauri. Or maybe in the Lesser Magellanic Cloud." His voice was slurring more and more. He pulled himself up on one elbow and took another gulp of bourbon.

"Fuck, Logan, Hank can pick up a damn car," Remy said, chuckling. "I know dat he's never whacked me wit his full strength. You must be sore as hell."

"Yep," Logan took another gulp, put the bottle down, folded his arms on the pillow, put his head down on them, and sighed. "Love you, Rem." REM finished and the tape went on with Simon and Garfunkle's 'Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme.' Logan silently mouthed the words.

"Love you, too, Logan," Remy said. "And, hey, mon ami, don' pass out on me. How de hell am I sposed t' get you back inside?" The music went on with more Simon and Garfunkle, 'Flowers Never Bend before the Rainfall.'

"Not plannin' to pass out," Logan said. "Just restin' my eyes. And I forgot how much I like this song. You ever heard it?"

"Don't know," Remy said. He listened to the words that Logan was speaking almost silently as he kept his head down and his eyes closed.

"'Through the corridors of sleep, past shadows dark and deep, my mind answers and leaps in confusion. I don't know what is real. I can't touch what I feel and I hide behind the shield of my illusion. . . So, I'll continue to continue. . .to pretend. . . My life will never end. And flowers never bend with the rainfall. . . The mirror on my wall casts an image dark and small but I'm not sure at all it's my reflection. I'm blinded by the light of God and truth and right and I wander in the night without direction. . .So, I'll continue. . .No matter if you're born to play the king or pawn, for the line is thinly drawn 'tween joy and sorrow. So my fantasy becomes reality and I must be what I must be and face tomorrow. So I'll continue to . .' Good song, eh, kiddo?"

"Been dere, done dat, an' stole de fuckin' t-shirt," Remy chuckled. "But you, mon ami, you don' have t' pretend dat your life will never end. Must seem t' you sometimes dat it won'. I saw in your head where dose memories were. Back a long damn time ago. No 'lectricity. Candles an' oil lamps. People wearing funny clothes, like all homemade homespun."

"Yeah, well, I kinda noticed that myself," Logan grumbled. "I think I been around a fuckin' while, kiddo. And I'm not sure I've learned a damn thing. Cept that I wanna be something more than a fuckin' killin' machine."

"Doesn' it bot'er you, Logan?" Remy asked. "T' know dat you been alive so damn long an' remember so little?"

"Bothers the hell out of me," Logan groused. "But what the hell can I do about it? Should we, maybe, make a fuckin' list of all the things that eat me alive?"

Remy flushed. "I'm sorry, Logan," he said helplessly.

"Don' worry bout it, kiddo," Logan mumbled. "Not your fault."

Logan raised himself back up on his elbow and took another swallow of bourbon. 'Poem on an Underground Wall' started.

"Like this one, too," Logan said, putting his head back down. Remy listened as Logan spoke the words. "'The last train is nearly due. The underground is closing soon. In the dark deserted station, restless in anticipation, a man waits in the shadows. . .His restless eyes leap and scratch at all that they can touch and catch. Hidden deep within his pocket, safe within his silent socket, he holds his colored crayon. . .Now, from the tunnel's stony womb, the carriage rides to meet the groom and opens wide and welcome doors, but he hesitates and withdraws. . . deeper in the shadows. . ." Logan let several lines go as he took a breath. "'And he holds his crayon rosary, tattered in his hand. . .Now from his pocket quickly flashes the crayon on the wall he slashes deep upon the advertising, a single word, only comprised of. . .four letters. . . " Logan took another deep breath and then another, his voice slurring even more as the song ended. "'Shadowed by the exit light, his legs take peripatetic flight to flee the breast of darkness and be suckled by the light.' Those guys could use the damn English language. Impresses the hell out of me." The song ended and was replaced 'For Emily, Where Ever I May Find Her'.

Remy looked at the older mutant with slightly bemused alarm. "Yeah," he agreed. "What de hell is peripatetic flight?"

"'Peripatetic' means constantly wanderin'." Logan chuckled, his voice slurring even more. "Somethin' you and me should know a bit about." He took several deep breaths, obviously about to slide into unconsciousness.

"Logan, I fuckin' ask you again, how in de hell am I gonna get you back inside if you fuckin' pass out?"

"Don' know," Logan said. "Usually don' pass out. Healing factor stops it." Logan tried to rise, felt the world spin around him, put his head back down and conked out.

"Yeah, an' your healin' factor is 'bout kaput," Remy said. "Logan. . . LOGAN!" The Cajun shook Logan's shoulder and got no response.

Remy thought for a moment about panicking. Then he thought about waking up Bobby and asking for help in getting Logan to bed, but wondered if even he and Bobby together could manage to get Logan off the roof and back to med lab. He sighed deeply and smacked himself on the forehead, frantically grabbing a handful of his hair and pulling it.

"Don't worry about it, Remy." The Cajun almost jumped ten feet into the air as Hank suddenly appeared on the roof in front of him. Hank reached out and tousled Remy's hair. "I said, don't worry, child. I've known you and he were up here since he absconded from med lab. I've been listening with about half an ear. He needed this time with you and you with him. It's okay. Neither one of you is in trouble with me. I'll get Logan inside. Knew he was going to pass out. I gave him a very strong sedative." The last song had finished while Hank was speaking and 'The Boxer' started.

"Can we listen t' dis song b'fore we go in?" Remy asked hesitantly. Hank grinned and sat down on the roof.

"I like this one a lot, myself," he agreed. He held out a hand. Remy looked at him with utter confusion on his face. Hank chuckled. "A beer, Remy. Give me a beer. If any are left."

Remy grinned and handed Hank a beer. Hank took a swallow and followed it with a swallow from the bottle of bourbon. He chuckled as he noted Remy's incredulous expression. "Did you think I was pure as driven snow, Remy?" Hank asked. "I've had a rough night, myself. It might be nice to just sit up here with you for a few minutes, listen to music, and get a mild buzz. Logan isn't going anywhere."

"Is he okay, Hank?" Remy asked.

Hank sighed, took a sip of beer and another swallow of bourbon. "Yes and no, Rem," he said. 'The Boxer' finished and 'Gimmee Shelter' started.

"Count on Logan to always throw in the Stones." Hank chuckled, then went back to talking to Gambit.

"Remy, Sinister hurt Logan badly. His healing factor is almost depleted. He's not okay. I haven't seen him hurt this badly since Magneto extracted the adamantium from his bones. And before that since the blasted Reavers nailed him up to that damn wooden cross in the Australian desert and left him there for weeks. He's been damaged. It's going to take him a while to recover and get back to his usual almost unkillable self. And before you ask, I don't know how long. Maybe a week. Maybe longer."

"So, he could be beaten right now an' killed?" Remy asked, his voice trembling slightly.

"I have no clue if anything could kill Logan and not one clue how his healing factor works. For all I know, he might have snapped back to life the other day even if I hadn't jolted his heart with the paddles. " Hank shook his head. "Among those of us who do research on mutant powers, it's been suggested that as long as any molecule of Logan remains in existence, his healing power might resurrect him from any kind of destruction. I think that's unlikely, but it's not something I'd want tested."

Remy started giggling. "You mean he could be a real life Lobo?"

Hank chuckled. "Maybe so, Remy. Maybe so."

Hank took another gulp of beer, chased it with bourbon, handed the empty bottle to Remy, and accepted another. 'Gimmee Shelter' ended and was replaced by 'Wild Horses.'

"Did you know that Mick Jagger wrote this song for Marianne Faithfull after she'd overdosed on heroin and he was by her side in the hospital?" Hank asked. "To tell her how much he loved her. Which is not normally the kind of trivia I know, but Logan told me that once upon time."

Remy flushed. "Guess, I don' wanna t'ink bout heroin overdoses, right now," he mumbled.

Hank took another swallow of beer, chasing it again with a sip of bourbon, and looked thoughtfully at the younger mutant. "'Wild horses couldn't drag me away,'" he quoted as the music played. "You know, Remy, that' s how Logan feels about the people he loves. No matter what they do."

"I t'ink I know how Logan feels bout me," Remy said tightly.

"Then why on earth do you keep pushing it?" Hank asked mildly.

"I t'ought he was dead, Hank, when I shot up," Remy gulped out.

"Would his love for you die if he did?" Hank asked, taking another drink of beer. "If he had died, would he have wanted you to die, too?"

Remy shuddered, as the tears welled in his eyes. "No," he admitted. "I fucked up, Hank. I know I fucked up." He drew his knees up to his chest, put his face down on them, and tried to make the tears go away. 'Wild Horses' stopped playing and was followed by 'Bitch.'

Hank reached out a long blue arm and gathered Remy into a hug. "It's okay, Rem," he said gently. "I just wanted to know if you understood."

Remy relaxed against Hank's strong blue shoulder and chuckled as the song lyrics danced in his head. "'Love, it's a bitch,'" he quoted.

"Yes, Remy, love is a bitch," Hank said. "It's hard as hell to love and take all the risks involved. And you are much loved even if you can't seem to get that fact into your hard head."

"I t'ought dat ever'one who loved me had died," Remy said. "Rogue an' Stormy an' Logan. An' it was all my fault."

"You really think that Rogue, Ro, and Logan are the only people who love you, Remy?" Hank asked, holding Remy close. "You really think that you're not a part of this family of fucked up mutants? That I don't love you? That your father, for goodness sakes, doesn't love you?"

The song on the stereo changed again from 'Bitch' to 'Moonlight Mile.'

"Non," Remy said. "I know dat you love me. But I t'ought dat it was my fault dey were killed. Just like it was my fault dat ever'one was killed when I was little."

"Remy, it was not 'your fault' either time," Hank said patiently.

"Henri, I know dat in my head, but I don' know dat in my heart," Remy said, shakily. "You got any ideas how t' convince me of dat in my heart?"

"No, child," Hank said. "Not my area of expertise."

Remy nodded and pulled himself out of Hank's arms. "So, tell me what I need t' do t' help take care o' Logan while he recoverin'. I worried bout him. Never seen him so. . .so. . ." Remy paused, unable to find the word.

"So vulnerable?" Hank suggested. Remy nodded, gratefully.

"Remy," Hank said carefully. "You have part of Logan's heart in your hands. He loves you. You're one of his kids. You know that." Remy nodded again. "Well, do you think you could manage to go a few days without fucking up, being self-destructive, or throwing a tantrum?"

Remy flushed deeply and looked down at the roof. "I don' plan t' do any of dose t'ings any time, Hank," he said defensively.

Hank sighed and reached out and cuffed Remy very gently on the side of his head. "I know that, Rem," he said. "But could you try anyway? Logan's somewhere beyond exhausted. If you lose it and throw a tantrum, well, I can't predict what will happen, but I'd bet you'd get your bottom more blistered than you could imagine and leave Logan feeling more guilty and miserable than would be fair to him. I don't think you have a clue how much you push his buttons."

Remy flushed again. The music had long since changed from 'Moonlight Mile' to 'Can't You Hear Me Knocking,' had left the Stones and gone onto the Who's 'I Can See for Miles' and then moved on to the Eurythmic's 'Sweet Dreams.' "I don' ever mean t' have a tantrum," he said, helplessly.

"I desperately hope that doesn't mean you plan to have one soon," Hank said. "But I'm afraid I'd be sadly disappointed."

Remy flushed again. "I don' plan tantrums, Henri," he protested weakly.

"Remy," Hank said quietly. "You've already earned two spankings from me. One for running away. Another for hurting yourself."

Remy shook his head. "Hank!" he protested, pleadingly.

"Yes, Remy," Hank said firmly. "That's non-negotiable."

Remy's stomach clenched and his eyes welled with tears. The tape changed again back to the Stones with 'Fool to Cry.'

"If you throw a tantrum and upset Logan while he's this vulnerable, trust me, Remy, I'll spank you yet again. Don't push it with either of us. I mean it, child," Hank said.

Remy leaned forward and banged his head against his knees. The tears in his eyes welled over and spilled out. "Hank," he protested. He took a deep, shaky breath, willed the tears back, and tried to speak calmly. "I know what I d'serve. An' I'm sorry as hell. I not plannin' any tantrums."

Hank sighed and pulled Remy back into an embrace. "Is okay, Remy," he said gently. "But I'd bet my doctorate that you're unconsciously planning a tantrum from hell. I just want you to know that if you throw it, you'll be spanked so hard that you'll wish you'd never considered it. Now, let's let it go, finish our beers, and get down off this roof."

The tape stopped playing the Stones and switched to Cyndi Lauper's 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." Remy started laughing as he returned Hank's hug. "Hell, Hank, can't we just listen t' de rest of dis damn tape. Logan puts de weirdest damn mixtures of music on tapes."

Hank leaned over and looked at the tape carefully. It seemed almost finished. "Okay, Rem," he agreed.

Remy pulled himself out of Hank's hug, finished his beer and looked carefully at the blue-furred Beast. "I promise t' try not t' have a tantrum," he said carefully. "An' how we gonna get Logan off dis roof?"

"Worry about it when the time comes." Hank reached for another beer, and Remy handed him one while grabbing another for himself and lighting a cigarette. Cyndi finished singing and Men at Work started 'Down Under.'

Hank chuckled. "Yes, Logan has amazingly eclectic taste in music. This must be the relentlessly cheerful section of this cassette. He made me a tape one time that was all jazz and classical. Wonderful music." He leaned back and took another sip of beer as Remy bounced to the music.

Men at Work finished and the Moody Blues started with 'Departure,' quickly followed by 'Ride My Seesaw.' "Oh, wow," Remy said. "I loved dis when I was little. An' I bet you five bucks dat de next one is de one bout Timothy Leary."

"Wouldn't take that bet," Hank said. "I'm not a fool. And I've heard Logan play this album about ten thousand times. He always goes next to 'Legend of a Mind.' Which, as it happens, is the song about Timothy Leary."

"You wan' t' smoke some pot, Hank?" Remy asked hesitantly.

Hank shook his head, but looked at Remy with his eyes twinkling. "I do appreciate you asking," he said. 'Legend of a Mind' indeed started playing. Remy started laughing. "You laughing about the fact that we both knew what song would be next or something else?"

"Laughin' bout de explanation Logan gave me when I was little bout who Timothy Leary was, an' who an' what hippies were. He said dat dere were de East coast hippies wit de slogan of 'Turn on, tune in, drop out,' an' de West coast hippies whose slogan was 'You're eit'er on de bus or off de bus,' an' den he said "Jesus, I'm off de bus. An' outta my mind. I'll 'splain it t' you when you older.' I had not one fuckin' idea what he was talkin' bout."

Hank was laughing helplessly. "What is funniest about that memory of yours, Remy," he said, "is that I have heard Logan explain what hippies were before and that's just about the way he always starts out. Without the last part. He usually enjoys explaining all about Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters and the fact the Neal Cassidy drove the bus, the same Neal Cassidy who used to hang out with Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs. But I can just see you, as a five-year-old, staring at him with utter bewilderment." While Hank had been talking, the Moody Blues had finished and 'Stairway to Heaven' started.

"I saw Led Zeppelin many a year ago," Hank said. Remy stared at him. Hank started to chuckle again. "Oh, for heaven's sake, Remy, did you think I've spent my entire life in a laboratory? I saw Led Zeppelin, and they were so drunk they couldn't even tune their instruments. Was a boring and dreadful concert. And I've seen Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention at least five times. Probably my favorite live band. I've seen The Band and Jethro Tull and the Who, who did all of 'Tommy.' I've seen the Stones twice, once with Mick Taylor on guitar and once with Ron Wood. I've seen Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Bruce Springsteen, the B-52's, REM, and about two-thirds of those concerts I went to with Logan. And he and I have both heard The Grateful Dead play for free while tripping on LSD. And yes, Remy, I have smoked pot and dropped acid. Though not as much or often as Logan. Who else? Goodness. Once upon a time I saw Jimi Hendrix play live. And the song is over and the tape is over and it's time to go inside." Remy was staring at Hank with his mouth open. Hank's chuckles turned to laughter.

He handed his empty beer bottle to Remy, stood, reached down and easily picked up Wolverine, cradling him carefully in his arms. "Just help me get him down. Then you come back up, get the bottles and the stereo and clean up. I'll take Logan back to bed."

Hank held Logan tightly with one arm as he used the other to maneuver off the roof and down to the porch. Remy followed, bracing Logan against Hank's shoulder until they got to the ground. Hank shifted the sleeping man so that he had one arm under his shoulder and the other under his knees. He looked at Remy who had leaped forward to open the door.

"Clean off the roof and go to bed," he said. "I'll get Logan settled."

Remy nodded and climbed back up. He put all the empty beer bottles and the almost empty Wild Turkey bottle into the ice chest with a shoulderstrap that he slung over his arm. He stuffed the tapes back into the pillowcase and took it in his teeth, grabbed the portable stereo by its handle and climbed down. He put everything back where it belonged and headed unsteadily for his room. He was drunker than he had realized.

He opened the door to his room and his heart froze when he saw his father sitting on his bed, reading. The professor put the book down and looked up at his son. "Remy," he said, in greeting. His face was carefully neutral.

"Daddy," Remy gulped out, as his stomach sank with dismay. "How long you been here?"

Charles looked carefully at his son and sighed. "Remy, I've been here since about twenty minutes after you went out the window and up to the roof. And as I remember, I told you to go your room and stay there."

Remy gulped again and the room whirled around him.

"If you had simply asked me if you could go down to med lab and check in with Logan and be with Storm and Rogue, I would've given you permission," Charles said sternly. "Did it occur to you to ask?"

Remy shook his head, trembling. The room continued to whirl. He was much, much drunker than he'd known he was.

Charles sighed and motioned for his son to come closer. "Remy," he said,"I'm not going to punish you while you're drunk and high. You need to get some sleep. But I'm not very happy with you. This behavior is not acceptable. You've disobeyed me over and over tonight. "

Remy took a trembling step closer to his father and then started to retch. He ran for the door and managed to make it to the bathroom where he fell to his knees and emptied his stomach into the toilet. Then he continued to gag convulsively even though nothing else would come up.

He rested his hot face against the cold porcelain and wished fervently that he could simply die on the spot. He felt a firm hand on his forehead and started violently. Hank was above him, holding his head, gently. Remy continued to retch for a few more moments and then his stomach quieted. Hank squatted beside him, washed his face with a cool wash cloth, and helped him to his feet.

"Not a great idea to drink that much on a empty stomach, Remy," Hank said. Remy nodded. "Come on, child. Let's get back to your room."

Charles put his book back down again and looked up as Hank led Remy back into the room. "Is he okay?" Charles asked.

"I think he'll live, but I doubt he could feel worse," Hank said quietly. Charles nodded and held his arms out for his son. Hank guided Remy to the bed and Charles took him into an embrace. "Sir, before you make a decision about punishing Remy for disobeying you tonight, would you, please, talk to me?"

Charles nodded and sighed as Remy curled up in his arms. The professor thought back to the meeting he'd had earlier with Bobby.

* * *

When Charles had entered Bobby's room in his hover chair, the young man had been on his bed with his lap-top computer on his knees.

He looked up as Charles entered the room. His face was still streaked with tears, and he looked haunted and distraught. "Hi," he said shakily. He looked back down at the screen.

Charles nodded. "What are you doing, Bobby?" he asked.

"Just playing 'Civilization,' but I'm not doin' very well," Bobby said. His voice was stressed and slightly irritated. "I can't do anything very well. I can't even cope with living very well. I think I might just be a useless fuck-up in general." He kept his eyes averted from the professor.

"Bobby," Charles began gently.

"Oh, hell." Bobby hit several buttons on his lap-top, flipped the lid shut, and flung it carefully away from him on the bed. His eyes welled with tears which he blinked back hastily. He scowled down at the bed.

"Bobby," Charles said again, "would you, please, help me out of my chair and onto your bed?"

"Why?" Bobby demanded. "So you can put your arms around me and comfort me for being a useless fuck-up? Just like you been doing since I was fourteen or so? And then I can go on bein' a useless fuck-up? And you can keep on punishin' me and comforting me? What the hell good does it do? I'll never change. I'll just keep on bein' a useless fuck-up." Bobby's voice caught.

Charles sighed again. "Bobby, please, help me out of this chair and onto your bed," he said. "Or if you like, I'll just go out the door and leave you to deal with this on your own."

Bobby's heart froze and his breath caught. He said nothing for a moment and then he exploded. "OKAY," he spat out. "Why the hell don't you just go out the damn door and leave me to deal with this all on my own? Why the hell should I care if you don't?" His breath caught again, and then again. He put a hand to his mouth and bit down hard on it. He turned his powers on his lap-top, turned it to ice, and then stared at it incredulously as it shattered. His eyes welled with tears.

"Oh, hell," he gulped out. "I loved my computer. Why'd I do that?"

"To hurt yourself," Charles said carefully and with profound worry."Bobby, stop fighting me right now. Help me out of this chair and onto your bed. NOW!"

"Why? Why? WHY!" Bobby demanded. "It won't change the fact that I'm a hopeless fuck-up."

"Bobby," Charles said very softly. "Just do as I say. Right now."

"No," Bobby gulped out. "You wanna go out the door. Just go out the damn door and leave me the fuck alone."

"BOBBY!" Charles was close to running out of patience. "I'd no more willingly leave you alone while you're this upset than I'd leave Remy."

"Oh, I fucking know you wouldn't leave Remy," Bobby spat out. "Remy's this month's poster child on damaged mutant kids. I'm very old news and shouldn't matter any more. Should've gotten over my damn angst a long fuckin' time ago."

"Bobby," Charles said softly. "You matter. If you're still hurting, it matters to me. There's no timetable on getting over being hurt. And you're not in competition with Remy. He hurts and you hurt and you both matter to me."

"But he's your son," Bobby protested. "I'm just a misbegotten, fucking, unloved son of someone who doesn't care about me."

"Bobby, you're my adopted son as much as Remy is my biological son,"Charles said firmly. "And in some ways you're more my 'son' than he is. I've known you much longer and have cared about you much, much longer. Now get out of your bed and help me out of this chair. NOW."

Bobby gulped hard and helped the professor out of his hover chair, and onto his bed. Then he threw himself down on the other side.

Charles reached out and grabbed the young man, pulling him into an embrace. "I love you, Bobby," he said.

"I don' deserve to be loved," Bobby argued.

Charles sighed. "Bobby, you do deserve to be loved. I just don't understand why you chose to get yourself into this kind of trouble. It's time to explain it."

Bobby didn't want to think about why he'd chosen to get himself in so much trouble. He certainly didn't want to talk about it. His bottom hurt badly and was still warm and throbbing. "I don' know," he muttered.

"Sorry, Bobby," Charles said, gently, "but that won't do. I want to know why you chose to deliberately get yourself in trouble. I want to know why you set yourself up to be punished. Talk to me, Bobby."

"I don't know what to say," Bobby said. "I don't know why I screwed up so bad."

"Tell me what you were thinking, Bobby," Charles said firmly. "Tell me, now."

Bobby swallowed hard and tried to comply. "I can see how much you and Logan and Hank and Storm and everyone are trying to show Remy how much he's loved," he said. "And I don't mind Remy being loved. I really don't. I'm not jealous. I'm not."

"No, Bobby," Charles said gently. "I don't think you're jealous. I don't think you'd want any iota of love taken away from Remy and given to you. But I do think you're envious. You want to be loved just as much."

Bobby's eyes welled with tears and his breath caught. He swallowed hard and tried to hold on to his anger. "I don't deserve to be loved," he snapped irritably. "I'm just a fuck-up. Always have been. Always will be."

"Oh, Bobby," Charles said softly. "I've made such mistakes with you. And I'm very, very sorry."

Bobby was almost shocked out of his fit of sulky anger. "No, you haven't," he protested. "It's all me, not any of it's you."

"Bobby, when I brought you here, you were barely fifteen. I never thought about the effect it would have on you to be so much younger than all of the others. Warren, Jean, Scott, and Hank were all older. You had not a hope of competing with them emotionally, physically, or with your powers."

Bobby listened. What the professor was saying was striking a chord deep within him. He had been much more immature than the others when they had all come to the professor's school. He'd felt as if he were a very young and geeky little boy among much older and more sophisticated young people.

Charles continued. "I brought you here because I had to get you away from your home. Your father couldn't deal with his son being a mutant. And he hadn't been a very loving father even before he found out that his son was something he considered a 'freak.' You were hurting badly even before I brought you home. You were insecure about your worth and value as a person."

"And it's dumb as hell that I still am," Bobby said with profound irritation.

"Why, Bobby?" Charles asked gently. "Why is it dumb that you still haven't recovered from that pain and insecurity? No, don't try to answer. I think Remy's struggles with his own pain and insecurity have brought up these issues for you."

The professor sighed deeply and thought, *And you're not the only one, Bobby, who has had their deepest issues stirred by Remy's struggles. I need Logan feeling crazy and fragile about as badly as I need a platoon of Magneto's Acolytes in the back yard.*

Charles pushed aside his worries about Logan and turned his attention back to the young man beside him on the bed. "Bobby," he said gently. "In the past few weeks, you've watched Remy get much attention for behaving badly and getting in trouble. I think you've been envious of all the attention he's been getting."

Bobby shuddered. "Maybe so," he admitted grudgingly. "Oh, hell, yes." He hesitated. "Can I be completely honest, sir?"

Charles suppressed an urge to chuckle. "Yes, Bobby, please," he said.

"I always wanted to try heroin," Bobby admitted, his face hot. "Just wanted to know what it felt like. And then Remy did it and I knew he wasn't gonna be thrown out of our family so. . ." Bobby's voice trailed off as he realized that what he was saying was absurdly unacceptable.

To his surprise, Charles laughed. "Yes, Bobby," he said calmly. "I understand your need to be an insanely misbehaving adolescent. You tried so hard to grow up and be like the others when you were younger. You did act out occasionally, but only mildly and usually as the 'class clown.' I think you've wanted for a long time to push the limits even further and see where it landed you."

"And it's landed me in a hell of a lot of trouble," Bobby said tightly.

"Yes, Bobby, you're in a lot of trouble," Charles said.

Bobby's stomach lurched and he had trouble breathing. "I don't suppose that you and your committee of 'responsible adults' are gonna decide tomorrow morning that me and Remy have been punished enough already?" he asked tensely.

"No," Charles said evenly. "I think that we'll decide how many more spankings you two have earned and from whom. And what other forms of punishment might be appropriate."

Bobby groaned, threw himself out of the professor's arms, rolled over on his bed, clutched his pillow and glared at the wall. "It's not fair," he muttered, grumpily.

Charles shook his head. "It's very fair, Bobby," he said carefully. Bobby just shook his head. Charles sighed.

"I have a feeling we're not going to make much progress on this problem tonight, are we, Bobby?" Charles asked gently.

"Doubt we ever gonna make much progress on what a fuck-up I am," Bobby grumbled into his pillow.

Charles resisted an urge to shake Bobby until his teeth rattled. "Robert Drake," he said firmly, "from here on out, every time you call yourself a 'fuck-up,' I'm going to add five smacks to the next spanking you've earned." Bobby rolled over and glared furiously at the professor. "I'm not joking, son."

"That's really not fair," Bobby protested angrily.

"And I don't think you're being fair to yourself when you call yourself a 'fuck-up,'" Charles said steadily. "And I'm not completely sure that you're not just being manipulative. I don't like it, not from you or from Remy, and I won't tolerate it."

Bobby flinched and rolled back over, putting his pillow over his face. "Fuck you," Bobby mumbled into the pillow.

Charles decided to pretend he hadn't heard the comment. "Bobby, I do love you, no matter how badly you've behaved. Now, do me a favor, son," Charles deliberately emphasized the last word. "Let me give you a hug and let me go check on Remy."

"Don't want a damn hug," Bobby muttered.

"Well, I do," Charles said reasonably.

Bobby took a deep breath, waited a moment, then, turned over in the bed, and allowed Charles to gather him into a hug. He hugged back unenthusiastically and quickly pulled himself away.

"Lemme help you get back in your chair," Bobby offered, looking down and not looking Charles in the eye. "So you can get to Remy."

Charles sighed deeply and then allowed Bobby to help him get back into his chair. Charles went toward the door. Bobby collapsed back on to his bed and grabbed his pillow again.

Charles thought briefly about turning back, but realized that Bobby wasn't yet ready to accept the comfort he needed so badly. He shut the door behind him and went to Remy's room.

* * *

"Go ahead and talk to me, Hank," Charles said as he held his son.

Hank took a deep breath. "Professor," he said, "don't punish Remy for being there for Logan. Rem had no choice. If Logan needed him, he had to be there. And I think that's healthy growth for Remy. He needs to be bonded. He and Logan need each other. I don't feel comfortable at all with Remy being punished for being available when Logan needed him."

Charles sighed deeply as he held his son. "I hear you, Hank," he said. "And I think you're right which has not much effect on what I might have to say to Logan for asking Remy to misbehave."

"NO, Daddy," Remy said frantically. "Don' yell at Logan."

Charles sighed. Hank looked at the professor. "I think Remy's right on this one. Please, don't scold Logan, of all people, for asking for what he wants. It would be like scolding Scott for developing a sense of humor."

Charles chuckled. "You're both right," he said. "Remy, you're off the hook for disobeying me tonight. Logan needed you. I can accept that. And you need to sleep. Now."

Remy took a deep breath and tried to relax in his father's arms. "You promise dat you won' yell at Logan?" he asked, shakily.

"I promise you, Remy," Charles said gently. "Please, go to sleep."

Remy shut his eyes and was asleep within moments. Charles let go of his son and Hank helped him get back into his hover chair.

Charles sighed again. "It's close to three in the morning," he said. "I'm so tired I'm shaking. I think we should postpone our meeting until ten a.m."

"Yes, sir," Hank said as he helped guide the hover chair towards the professor's room. "I'll send that message out. Please, get some rest, sir."

"Believe me, Hank, I want to get some rest. I'm worn out." Charles accepted Hank's help as he got into bed.

* * *

Logan woke, his stomach rebelling furiously. He dragged himself out of bed and managed to make it to a bathroom where he emptied his stomach, and then kept retching.

Hank appeared by Logan's side and held his head silently as he continued to heave miserably. "I think my healing factor's just about gone," Logan commented unhappily.

"Yes," Hank said, still holding Wolverine's head in his strong hands. "It's not such a good idea to drink that much on an empty stomach, is it?"

Logan's stomach quieted and he rested his head in Hank's hands. "Guess I fucked up again," he said. Hank chuckled, pulled Logan to his feet, and took him back to his bed.

"How'd I get back down here?" Logan asked shakily.

"I went up to the roof and got you," Hank answered easily.

"Oh, fuck," Logan spat out. "Did I get Remy in more trouble?"

"You came real close," Hank said. "The professor wasn't pleased that Remy disobeyed orders to go to his room and stay there."

"Hell, hell, hell," Logan said helplessly. "Hank, it was my fault. All of it was my fault." He started to shake and to retch again. Hank sat down on the bed, gathered the older man into his arms and stroked his back soothingly. Logan thought about pushing Hank away, but decided it wasn't worth the trouble. His stomach quieted slightly again, but his head was pounding.

"It's okay, Logan," Hank said gently. "Remy's not in trouble for being there for you when you needed him. And you're in no trouble for asking for your needs to be met."

"Fucking hell, " Logan said miserably. "I shouldn't even have needs that might get the kid in more trouble." Hank hesitated, then raised his arm and swatted Logan hard. Logan jerked his head up and glared at Hank with furious confusion.

"That FUCKIN' hurt," he protested. "And I don' get it. Why the hell did I deserve t' get whacked?"

"I intended it to hurt, old friend," Hank said. "I wanted you to pay attention. I state emphatically that you have every right to have needs. Did I get your attention?"

"Yes, goddamm you, you fuckin' got my damn attention," Logan said irritably. "And you didn't fuckin' need to fuckin' hit me."

"I thought it might be indicated. I might have been wrong," Hank said mildly. "You agree with me that you have every right to have needs?"

Logan shrugged uncomfortably and glared down. Hank raised his arm again. "Don't," Logan said warningly.

"Then answer me. Do you believe you have the right to have needs?"

Logan said nothing for a long moment. then his breath caught and he felt tears stinging in his eyes. "Oh, hell, Hank, I don't believe that. I don't."

"Too bad," Hank said compassionately, as his inordinately strong right arm rose and fell again, smacking Logan again.

Logan clenched his teeth and took it without a sound. "If you do that one more damn time," he said shakily, "I'll snap out my claws an' gut you."

Hank put his head to one side and considered what Logan had said for about two seconds. Then he raised his arm again and smacked Logan with furious strength. "I think empty threats qualify as a form of lying," he said calmly.

Every muscle in Logan's body went rigid and for a brief, frantic moment, he wildly imagined snikting out his claws and gutting Hank, then he jerked himself out of Hank's arms, clenched his own arms over his chest, and rolled over on the bed, curling up in a tight knot of furious misery.

Hank sighed, deeply. "Logan, what did I tell you I'd do if you pulled yourself out of my arms again?" he asked.

"Don' fuckin' care what you do," Logan snapped, as he gritted his teeth and waited for what he knew was coming.

Hank raised his arm and smacked Logan again, then gathered the other man into his arms as Logan's breath caught and caught again and tears welled in his blue eyes.

"I think both you and I know clearly that any damn time you wanted to stop me from smacking you, you could do it easily. And if you didn't really want to be held, you wouldn't be here. So, don't play games with me, Logan," Hank said impatiently.

"Damn you, damn you, damn you," Logan choked out.

"Can you, will you, for once in your stubborn life admit that you have needs?" Hank demanded.

"Okay, fucking okay, fucking OKAY," Logan admitted. Tears spilled out of his eyes and his breath caught over and over. "I needed to be with Remy tonight. . .Okay?. . . That what you wanna hear, Hank? I. . .I needed to be with someone I trust, completely. . . What else you wanna hear from me?. . .You want me to admit and confess in fuckin' detail just how fucking needy and desperate and alone I feel inside of me?. . .And how fucking ashamed I feel about it?" Logan took a deep breath and tried to gather himself together. His healing factor usually protected him from being this drunk and helplessly honest.

"Exactly the point, you idiot berserker. You're ashamed you even have needs. And there's no conceivable reason for you to feel ashamed that you have needs. Not for one infinitesimal moment. I'm tired as hell of you being ashamed of having needs. Give it up, Logan. You're as human as anyone. Of course you need to be loved."

"So, I fucking. . .choose a desperately needy, screwed-up kid. . to be the one to meet them. To be the person who loves me. Oh, yeah, that fucking makes a hell of lot of sense. And took the risk of getting him in more damn trouble, when the last fucking thing he needs right now is more trouble. Oh, yeah, Hank, that's all just fuckin' brilliant," Logan spat out. Hank resisted an urge to shake Logan until his bones vibrated and resisted another urge to swat him again. He was worried as hell about how vulnerable Logan seemed to be at that moment. He took a deep breath.

"Logan, Remy needed to be with you as badly as you needed to be with him," Hank said patiently. "Both of you have been shaken to the core by the events of the past few days, hell, by the events of the past few weeks. You both needed some unwinding time together. And he's not in trouble. Nor were you until you fell into this morass of self-negating misery. And you chose Remy and Remy chose you because you resonate with each other. Hell, Logan, you didn't even know you'd been this kid's godfather when you chose to hold him in the study while he was sobbing his guts out. Why, Logan? Why did you choose to reach out to Remy? "

"I don' fuckin' know," Logan gasped out. He heard Hank's hand rise again and hastily protested. "Don't fuckin' whack me again. I'll answer you. I swear. Just don't hit me."

Hank's stomach churned. He wasn't sure he'd ever before heard Logan plead for mercy. He was suddenly aware that he was taking Logan apart with no clear plan about how to put him back together. He felt a moment of deep concern. "I won't hit you again," he promised quietly. "Unless you ask me to. And, yes, you can still ask non-verbally if you need to. I'm still listening on all channels." He was gratified to hear a faint chuckle as Logan took a deep, jerking breath.

"Thanks. . .Hank," Logan said. "For both."

Hank waited patiently and Logan started to speak again. "Remy was hurtin' bad. I think I'd have reached out if anyone had been hurting that bad . . . and I would've, but, oh, hell, I'm lying again." Logan took another deep, convulsively shuddering breath. "Oh, fuck, Hank, I lie about what I feel and who I am as easily. . . as I breathe. I'm fuckin' sorry."

"I've known who Gambit really was almost from the first moment he came to us," Logan said. "I knew he was damaged and hurtin'. And I fuckin' knew he'd compensated by becoming a fuckin' warrior who could scare the shit outta most. Who else on this damn team comes as close as me to being a fucking fighting machine besides Gambit? Who else besides me is fuckin' hell on wheels in combat? Fuck, I know all the team can fight together like a well-oiled machine. But it ain't the same. Remy and me think our best and do our best in combat. And we both love it. It's our best chance to get back at everyone who ever hurt us. Though it never fuckin' works. It never lays rest to the devils inside."

"Yes, Logan," Hank said gently. "You and Remy both fight like demon warriors from hell. And to be honest, both of you scare the hell out of me. I can fight, Logan. I've been trained to do so. But you and Remy glow with some kind of unholy glee when you're in combat. I don't really understand it."

"It's because he's been as fuckin' damaged as I am. No, I'm not sure anyone's as fuckin' damaged as me." Logan shook for a moment, then seemed to forcibly stop himself. "But, I've known since the first time I looked at Rem that he was hurtin' deep inside. Hank, I knew that kid from my guts from the first time I saw him. It was like lookin' at myself." Logan seemed to go away deep inside himself. "I fuckin' knew he felt guilty as hell. Could fuckin' see it in his eyes." Logan's breath caught again, but he managed to stop the tears from welling and spilling.

"Go on, Logan," Hank said, resisting a compelling urge to ask Logan if he could manage to get through two sentences without using the word "fuck."

"I always wanted to reach out to him. But the blasted brat kept his guard up all the damn time. He's almost as good as me." Logan chuckled. "There was no way in. So, I kept my distance. . .until that night in the study when he fell apart."

"And you moved in," Hank said gently.

"Yeah. He made a space. And I moved into it," Logan admitted. "I knew he needed someone to hold onto. And. . .and. . ." Logan paused as tears started running down his face, silently. He said no more.

Hank held his breath and waited patiently. Logan was quiet and tense.

"Go on, Logan," Hank said, as he breathed out. He doubted that Logan had ever gone so deeply inside himself as he was going at that moment.

Logan shook his head, as silent tears ran down his face. Hank felt an exasperated surge of impatience and still wondered how he could possibly manage to put Wolverine back together if he succeeded in taking him apart. But he also realized he couldn't leave the job half done. "Logan," he said firmly. "Go on."

Logan shook his head again, stubbornly. "No more to say," he gasped out.

Hank shook his head and raised his right arm high in the air. Logan's entire body went rigid, but he made no protest. "You're lying again, Logan," Hank said firmly. "Don't make me swat you again. I don't want to."

Logan buried his face in Hank's shoulder and shook his head. Hank sighed deeply and slammed his hand down with savage strength. Logan gasped with pain.

"Okay," Logan gasped out. "Okay. . . I needed someone to hold onto who might could understand me. . ." His breath started catching again. "And, then I find out the kid is. . .my. . .god. . .son. . .and I have no. . .fucking. . . right. . .to ask for anything from him. An' I'm right back where I started."

Hank held Logan tightly, wondering what he could possibly say. He was saved from the responsibility of an answer as Logan continued.

"And. . .now. . .I have to be there for him. . .when. . .ever he needs me,"Logan breathed out. "I have no. . .right. . .to expect him. . .to be there. for me. But damn it, Hank. . .I keep fucking up. . . and wantin'. . . him to be there for me. . .too. . . And, now, I just wanna. . .be dead. . .but that would destroy Remy. Prolly wouldn't make Storm very happy, either."

"Oh, please, Logan," Hank said with intense irritation. He was starting to gather his wits. "You're making no sense."

"Well. . .duh," Logan managed to laugh. "You think. . . . maybe. . . I think that I'm makin' sense?"

Hank chuckled, too. "Listen to me, Logan. And let me see if I can help you make sense." Logan nodded, still shaking. "Okay," Hank said. "You reached out to Remy in hopes of making a connection with him in which both of you could feel loved and cared about. Yes?"

"What I thought I was doing," Logan admitted. His breath caught again.

"And then you found out that Remy depends on you to be his wise and all-knowing godfather and very real father figure, who can do no wrong and needs nothing from him?"

"About right, Hank," Logan admitted, with tears still running down his face.

"So, you and Remy both don't want or expect him to ever grow up or give anything to anyone else? Both of you are willing to let him be a five-year-old forever?"

"Fuck you, Hank," Logan spat out. "That's not the point."

"Yes, Logan, you're right. The real damn point is that you're willing to look for any damn excuse not to get what you need from anyone," Hank said grimly. "If you hadn't turned out to be Remy's real life godfather, you would have found some other reason why he was too fragile or too fucked up to give to you. You always find some reason why no one can give to you. And it's all fraudulent. The simple truth of the matter is that you don't know how to take and be given to. You're too damn, fucking paranoid to let anyone at all love you. You don't know how to be loved."

Logan winced and banged his hard head against Hank's shoulder. "Damn you, Hank McCoy," he gasped out. "That's not true."

Hank didn't even hesitate. His hand slammed against Logan's butt hard enough to make Logan gasp with pain. "I have told you and told you not to lie to me, Logan," he said furiously.

Logan started sobbing quietly. "Okay. . .okay. . ." he gulped out.

Hank held him tightly and stroked his back gently. "It's okay, Logan," he said gently. "It's even okay you lied to me. I know how hard it is for you to be loved. I know. But I'm tired of this insane dance you and Remy are doing in which neither of you knows whose turn it is to take care of whom. You both love each other. Will you, please, figure out how to do it?"

"It's always my turn to take care of Remy," Logan protested. Hank raised his right arm into the air again and Logan flinched. "No, Hank. Don't. Don't fucking hit me again."

Hank paused, once more sincerely worried about a Logan who was asking for mercy. It wasn't a Logan he'd ever met before.

Logan took a deep, jerking breath. "Fuck it, Hank, I know I need Remy as much as he needs me," he admitted. "I just don't fucking know how to take anything from anyone. Except by doing what I did tonight. Just hanging out and being with him."

"Do you know how to 'hang out' and 'be' with another human without alcohol or drugs?" Hank asked carefully.

"Not really," Logan acknowledged. He gulped again and tears spilled down his face. "Well, maybe sometimes. Hell, I don't know."

Hank shook his head. "Logan, I don't know what to do with you," he admitted helplessly. "You're really a mess."

Logan chuckled. "You 't'ink' maybe I don't know that, old friend?"

Logan pulled himself out of Hank's arms and looked down at the bed, not meeting Hank's eyes. "I'm okay now," he said quietly.

Hank thought about swatting Logan again for lying and refrained. "I don't believe you," he said just as quietly.

"Well, hell, you prolly shouldn't," Logan said shakily. "And thanks for not whacking me again. I fuckin' know I deserved it. I'm not okay. But I'm as okay as I can be tonight. Hank, please, let me put all this shit on hold till later. I'm tired."

Hank nodded. "Are you going to be able to sleep?"

"I fuckin' hope so," Logan said with deep exhaustion. "I'm wasted."

"Yes," Hank said. "And I'm going to stay right here by your side until you sleep."

"Oh, hell, Hank," Logan said irritably. "I can't deal with you hoverin' over me like I'm some kind of basket case. I've been worse."

"But you're not okay," Hank said emphatically. "I'm not leaving until you're sleeping, Logan."

Logan rolled his eyes, took a deep breath, shrugged, rolled away from Hank, curling up around his pillow, and shut his eyes. Within moments, he was breathing deeply and sinking into sleep. While semi-unconscious, he rolled back over and put his head against Hank's side. Hank reached down and put a firm and gentle hand on Logan's shoulder. Logan sighed and fell into deep sleep.

Hank wondered if he could even make it to his own bed. He was so tired he didn't feel like moving. It was 5:00 am and he had been awake for over twenty hours. Without making a conscious decision, he went to sleep, semi-reclining against Logan's side, with his hand still on Logan's shoulder.

* * *

Logan woke at about a quarter past nine in the morning, utterly startled at the huge, warm weight next to him. He opened his eyes cautiously and almost groaned as light hit them. His head started pounding as he raised it and looked at the dozing Beast beside him. All the events of the night before came crashing into his mind. He suppressed another groan and fell back onto his pillow.

"I wanna be dead," he muttered.

Hank's eyes blinked open and he looked over at Logan. He grinned sleepily. "Sorry, Logan," he said. "I didn't mean to fall asleep beside you. It just happened."

"Is okay, Hank." Logan shook himself, sat up, and fell back down on the bed, moaning.

"I gather that the head is hurting a little?" Hank asked sympathetically.

"The head hurts like hell," Logan complained. "I feel like I've been pounded through the caverns of Middle Earth by a Balrog."

Hank chuckled. "You imagining yourself as Gandalf, Logan?"

"Not in this fucking lifetime, Hank."

Hank rose from the bed, stretched, went to the medicine cabinet and produced several capsules. "I'll get you some water to swallow these with. We have a meeting in about half an hour with the professor to decide what to do with Bobby and Remy."

"Can we just kill them both? And then painlessly execute me?" Logan asked, his eyes still shut. It seemed that light simply hurt. And he was deeply grateful that Hank was speaking quietly. Sounds hurt, too. Hell, everything hurt. He groaned again.

Hank was out the door and quickly back with a large glass of very cold water. Logan gulped the water down as he swallowed the pills, and let his head fall back on the pillow. He barely opened his eyes. "Hank?"

"Yes, Logan?"

"Can we, uh, just pretend last night never fuckin' happened?" Logan asked.


"Thought that'd be your fuckin' answer," Logan said irritably. He opened his eyes for a minute. "Okay, so I'm a fuckin' mess. And I have to deal with it. But, I'm fuckin' okay right now. Hung over as all damn hell, but back to myself. I was drunk when I was talkin' to you, Hank."

"In vino, veritas," Hank said.

"Oh, fuckin' hell," Logan said, even more irritably. "Okay, you're right. I was tellin' the truth. But, I don't wanna talk about it any more right now."

"I really didn't think you'd want to talk about it any more right now, Logan,"Hank said easily. "We'll talk later. Maybe the next time you get inebriated, which, knowing you, will probably be tonight. Seems to be the way you handle stress. I imagine today will be stressful as hell for you."

"Fuck you, Hank," Logan said.

"Gosh, Logan, I didn't even know you cared," Hank said. Logan chuckled in spite of himself.

"Okay, okay," he said. "How long I got before this fuckin' meeting?"

"About half an hour," Hank replied. "I'm going to shower and change. So, I'm gone for now, old friend, unless you want or need anything else."

Logan waved a hand in the air, dismissing the other man. Hank left.

A shower sounded like a very good idea. But, as the pills started to work and the pounding pain in his head diminished, visiting Ro seemed an even better idea. Logan rose and went down the hall to the Windrider's room.

* * *

Remy snapped into consciousness as the com unit in his room rang. He woke, with an aching head, and staggered to the com. "Oui?" he groaned.

"Remy, you and Bobby, are to report to my study in half an hour," Charles said firmly.

"Yes, sir," Remy gulped out, as his stomach sank. He faintly heard Bobby also acknowledge the message and he thought briefly about simply hiding under his bed. He realized that was an absurd response and staggered down the hall to the shower. On the way, Logan suddenly appeared in his path with a glass of water and several tablets. Remy took the pills and the water, swallowed and drank.

"How much trouble am I in?" he asked shakily.

"Don't ask me that one, Rem. Kiddo, you really don't wanna know."

Remy leaned against the wall of the hallway and simply slid down it, resting his head on his knees. "I t'ink I wanna be dead," he said.

Logan sat down beside him and gathered Remy into his arms. "Kidlet, it'll be okay. Eventually." Logan took a very deep breath. "Listen, kiddo, I know that spankings hurt and make you feel humiliated and ashamed, but, Remy, you know you've asked for and earned a spanking of epic dimensions. You'll survive. You just gonna have a very sore butt."

Remy shuddered and relaxed into Logan's gentle, firm, and loving arms. "I don' wan' a very sore butt," he said helplessly.

"Well, kiddo, I guess you should've thought of that before you ran away and you decided to shoot up smack," Logan said gently. Remy's eyes filled with tears and he held on to Logan desperately. "Kidlet, you need to get up, get your butt into the shower, and get down to the study. I'll hang with you every step of the way. I promise."

Remy shook himself into compliance and allowed Logan to pull him to his feet and take him to the bathroom. Bobby was in the shower.

"Be out in a minute," Bobby called out and soon was, a towel wrapped around his waist. "Hi, Rem," he said. "Guess you feel as sick as I do."

Remy nodded as he stripped off his clothes and went into the shower. "I t'ink I might feel sicker dan you, Bobby, 'less you managed t' drink bout six beers an' close t' half a bottle of bourbon, las' night."

Bobby stared at Remy with his mouth open. Logan raised his hand. "My fault, Bobbo. All my damn fault. Not Remy's decision. Mine."

Bobby glared at Logan. "Well, thanks as all hell for including me in your little party," he said bitterly, then he raised his hand to his mouth and bit it.

Remy stared at Bobby with his mouth open. "Bobby," he started, unhappily. Logan held a hand in the air, motioning for Remy to stop.

He groaned miserably, leaned back against the wall, slid down it, and grimaced as he hit the floor. "I can't do anything right," Logan mumbled. "Can't do a damn thing right. I'm somewhere beyond being a useless fuck-up." He raised his head and looked at Bobby. "I'm sorry, Bobby. I didn't even think about the fact that you might feel left out. I was a fucking mess. I just needed someone to get drunk with me. And, no, I didn't even think of you. All I was fuckin' thinkin' about was myself. And I wanted to be with Remy." Logan groaned and put his head on his knees.

Remy glared at Bobby. "Bobby," Remy said firmly and angrily. "You make Logan feel even worse right now an' you an' me gonna have some problems t' work out."

Remy and Bobby bristled with tension, scowling furiously at one another.

Logan started laughing. "Bobby, I told you clearly that Remy was my only current project. I do care about you, but I needed to be with Rem last night. And I really am sorry if it hurts your feelings that you were left out. And Remy, I 't'ink' I can take care of my own damn self. Though I'm grateful as hell, Rem, that you're so intent on takin' care of me. I don' think I could feel worse. That just be the way it is, right now. So, both you kids, get over it. Now."

Bobby frowned for about two seconds, then relaxed. "Okay," he said, shrugging. "Don't know what the hell is wrong with me, anyway. Sorry, guys." He glared into the mirror and yanked a comb through his hair.

Logan looked at Remy and jerked his head toward the shower. Remy finished peeling his clothes off and stepped in.

"Hey," Logan said. "I understand you felt left out. But I have to have some time with Rem occasionally. Just like you need time with Hank sometimes."

"I know," Bobby said half shakily and half grumpily. "Like I said, I don't know what the hell is wrong with me." He continued to jerk the comb through his unruly hair.

"Look," Logan said. "I'm gonna hang with Remy till it's time to go to the study. Why don't you hang with both of us? Misery do love company."

"Yeah," Bobby said, putting the comb down. He looked at Logan in the mirror. "What you got to be miserable about, Logan?"

Logan started laughing again. "Oh, hell, Bobby, you prolly wouldn' believe me if I told you."

"Try me," Bobby suggested. He turned away from the mirror and grabbed his underpants, pulling them on under his towel.

"Hey," Remy called from the shower. "Would one of you hand me my razor?" Bobby looked at the shelves beside the sink.

"Which one, Rem?" he asked.

"Silver handle, wit bumps, not de one wit de lit'le squares on it. An' would you put a new blade on it?"

"Any other services you need performed, sir?" Bobby asked, grinning at last, as he ejected the old blade and put on a new one.

"You wanna wash my back?" Remy asked cheerfully. Bobby looked thoughtfully at the bath brush hanging on a hook beside the tub, but before he could even move, Remy's hand shot out from behind the shower curtain, grabbed the brush, and disappeared back into the shower.

"Never mind," he said hastily. Bobby thrust the razor inside the curtain and Remy took it from him.

Bobby looked at Logan. "Well?" he said as he pulled on sweat pants.

"As in whatta I got to be miserable bout?" Logan asked. Bobby nodded, jerking on a black 'No Fear' t-shirt that said on the back 'It takes a big man to cry. It takes a bigger man to make him cry.' Logan chuckled.

"You choose that t-shirt for any particular reason, Bobbo?" he asked.

Bobby grinned. "What you think, bud?" he asked. "And you ever gonna answer me?"

"I'm trying my dammedest to avoid it, kid." Logan kept laughing.

"Yeah, I noticed."

"Do me a favor, Bobby, reach into that shower and turn off the hot water," Logan requested quietly. Bobby grinned and did as he was asked. Remy emitted an inarticulate shriek of protest and within moments fairly leap out of the shower, grabbing a towel and wrapping it around him.

"How de hell you know I'd finished shavin'?" he demanded.

"Heard you stop," Logan said. "I hear real good, kiddo."

Bobby glared at Logan. "You gonna tell me or not?" he asked.

"Tell you what?" Remy asked.

"Bobby wants me to tell him why I might be miserable, too," Logan said, grinning.

"So, tell him, mon ami." Remy started dragging a comb through his wet, long hair.

Logan sighed. "Do I have ta?" he asked. "Oh, hell, Bobby, just kidding. Lemmee see, how many times has Hank whacked the hell out of me in the past 12 hours or so? Hmmm, I'd guess at least 12 times. Not bad, I guess, one for every fucking hour. I'm so bruised I can barely sit."

Bobby was staring at Logan with his mouth open and Logan burst into helpless laughter.

"Shut your mouth, Bobbo, before flies blow in," he choked out. Bobby shut his mouth. "And that's the easy part of what Hank's been puttin' me through. It's what he has ta say and what he makes me say that really hurts." Remy finished combing his hair and reached for his clothes. He was staring at Logan.

"12 times?" he said, with an eyebrow raised. "What de hell you talkin' bout, Logan? Hank hadn' smacked you no damn 12 times when I crashed. What de fuck happened? Dey promised me dat you not gettin' in any trouble for gettin' me t' go up t' roof wit you." Remy jerked on his underwear and sweat pants.

"'Dey?' 'Dey' who, Remy?" Logan asked.

"Hank an' my dad," Remy said as he pulled a t-shirt over his head.

"Oh," Logan acknowledged. "Well, I didn't get in trouble for takin' you up ta the roof. I made Hank furious by lyin' bout what I want and what I need. Is no big deal. 'How long have you been a slut?'" He read off the front of Remy shirt.

Remy glared at his god-father. "Is a big fuckin' deal," he said. "I wanna know what's goin' on wit you. I d'serve t' know. I t'ink I done earned dat. An' I been a fuckin' slut all my damn life."

"Are there sluts who don't fuck?" Logan asked, helplessly laughing again.

"Could be," Bobby said thoughtfully. "Drug sluts. Food sluts. Sluts for punishment, I guess. I mean don't slut have the connotation of being insatiable?"

Logan leaned back, laughing so hard that his sides hurt. "I like the whole idea of sluts for punishment. I think maybe we all be that kinda slut."

Remy couldn't help laughing, but even as he laughed, he demanded, "Dammit, Logan, tell me why Hank whacked you at least five more times after I crashed."

Logan kept laughing. "Cause I kept lyin' to him bout the fact that I need to be cared about. And the fact that I need it from you and that's why I was up on the damn roof with you last night. Okay?" As he spoke, he stopped laughing and looked Remy straight in the eyes with a red flush rising on his face. "Cause I kept lying bout the fact that I might have needs to be cared about by someone else. And 'cause I kept tellin' him that I got no right to have needs. That make you happy, kiddo?"

Remy froze and gazed at Logan who continued, speaking to Bobby, "And before that, Hank whacked the hell out of me for almost killin' myself to rescue Rogue and Remy and not trustin' anyone else to do the job. Does that answer everyone's questions? And can I just fucking kill myself right now?"

Bobby stared at Logan, stared at Remy, and sat down on the bathroom floor. He decided, abruptly, to stay out of this discussion.

Remy was still looking at Logan. "You really t'ink dat I not strong enough t' love you back, you fuckin' asshole? You really t'ink I some kinda fuckin' basket case who got not'ing t' give you?" He was outraged.

Logan groaned. "Is not you, kiddo. It's me. That's exactly what Hank was yellin' at me about. He blasted me for bein' so unable to take anything from anyone. Hell, Remy, don't you yell at me, too. I don't think I could stand anyone else I love yellin' at me." Logan's eyes filled with tears that he didn't want or need and he glared at the floor.

Remy sighed and sat down beside his 'Wolvie.' He reached out. Logan faltered for a long moment and then accepted the hug his kid was offering.

Bobby felt tears stinging in his eyes as he watched Remy holding Logan close to his chest and watched as Logan finally hugged back.

"Goddammit," Bobby said explosively. He banged his head with his fist. "Why doesn't anyone love me the way you two guys love each other?" He blushed furiously and stuck his fist in his mouth.

Logan squeezed Remy tightly around the chest and let go. He pulled himself out of Remy's arms, sat up and looked at Bobby. "Bobby," he said patiently. "Why in hell do you think no one loves you this much? You really think Hank doesn't love you? Or Chuck? Or even Scotty?"

Bobby stared down at the floor and shook his head, miserably. "It's not the same," he mumbled. "Don't feel the same." His breath caught.

Logan sighed and started to rise to his knees. The com unit chimed. All three raised their heads and looked toward it apprehensively.

The professor's voice announced, "It's past time for Remy and Bobby to get down here in my study. Where are you? And, Logan, where are you?"

"We all here together," Logan responded. "Talkin' through some shit. We'll be down to the study in no time." He looked at Remy and Bobby, who both looked pale and shaken. He sighed. "Sorry, kids, is time to meet the piper and pay the price." He hurried the two young men out of the bathroom.

Rogue was sitting in the hallway outside. "Remy?" she asked hesitantly. She had her Genoshan collar around her neck. Remy froze in the doorway and then gestured Logan and Bobby to go on without him.

Logan chuckled. "I'll wait for you on the stairs, kiddo," he said. "I ain't goin' down without you. Take all the time you need with Rogue. I'll wait for both of you. Bobby, you wanna go on ahead, is okay."

"Nope," Bobby said. "I'll wait on the stairs with you, Logan." Logan and Bobby turned away.

Remy looked at Rogue, gulped hard, and gathered her into his arms..

"I sorry, cher," he mumbled.

"What you sorry bout, sugah?" she asked holding him hard and raising her mouth to kiss him. "An' where the hell ya been?"

"T'ink dat was what I tryin' t' say sorry bout, cher," Remy said carefully as he kissed her again and again. "Once I got home, you been sleepin' all de damn time. Den I was done passed out, after hangin' out wit Logan on de roof.'"

"An' b'fore that, ya idiot, ya were tryin' ya're dammedest t' kill yaself, ya flippin' dope." Rogue kissed him again. Remy flushed.

"Dammit, Remy," Rogue said. "Ah love ya. An' ya so busy gettin' ya'self in trouble that ya don't even seem ta have time for ya and me. That sucks, sugah. When are ya and me gonna have any time for each other?"

Remy gulped. "I sorry, cher," he said quietly. "I don' know."

Rogue glared at him, then kissed him again. "Ya better get yar butt downstairs," she said. "As far as ah know, ya're in big trouble an' ya don' wanna keep yar dad waitin.'" Remy nodded and followed her to the stairs.

* * *

Bobby, Remy, Rogue, and Logan entered the study together. The rest of the family was already there, Hank, Ororo, Jean, Scott, Warren, Betsy, Bishop, Cable, and Sam. "Remy," Charles said. "I want you to just sit down. This first part isn't about you."

Charles turned his gaze to Bobby. "This is about you, Bobby," he said quietly. "You think you haven't had enough attention. You ran away from Jean, Logan, and Remy at the hospital to see if you could get yourself into enough trouble to get some attention. And you're about to get more attention than you ever wanted."

Bobby gulped and felt terrified. He had long since decided he didn't want any more attention. He felt sick.

Charles looked at him carefully. "We've discussed this, Bobby, and decided that you need to experience directly just how deeply you're loved, by every person in this family. You're going to ask each person in this room what he or she thinks and feels about you shooting up heroin, and then ask them how they feel about you." Charles' voice brooked no denial.

The professor continued, "Some of the members of this family have decided that if you need to be punished to feel loved, then they'll take the responsibility of spanking you soundly. And each time you're spanked, you'll be put in the corner afterwards to think about why your bottom's flaming. To think about the fact that not one soul is going to leave this study until you've had more attention than you ever would've wanted."

Bobby's backbone stiffened. "That's not fair," he said furiously.

The professor's calm eyes met Bobby's. "Bobby, were you here in this study when Logan told Remy what would happen to him if he ingested powders again?"

"Said 'white' powders. Dat powder dat Bobby an' me done was fuckin' brown," Remy mumbled. He and Logan had settled side by side on the couch. Rogue was on the floor at Remy's feet, holding his hand. Logan snorted and cuffed Remy lightly on the head. Hank suppressed a chuckle. He was hanging from the ceiling fan and dropped down to the couch on the other side of Remy.

Bobby glared over at the couch, then turned back to Charles. "Yeah," he admitted. "I was here when Logan told Remy what to expect if he fucked around with powders again."

"And what did Logan promise?" Charles asked sternly.

Bobby held his breath. He knew exactly what Logan had promised. "He told Remy that if he fooled around with powders again he'd spend half a day with his pants down, gettin' spanked over and over and spending the time in between in the corner," Bobby answered honestly and reluctantly.

"Did you think that your punishment for playing around with drugs would be much different?" Charles asked.

"Look," Bobby said anxiously, "I just had a brain hiccup. I'd never do it again. Not ever."

"That doesn't matter, Bobby," the professor said. "You shot up heroin. And you're going to be punished. Now. I'll tell you one more time. You're to ask each person in this family what he or she thinks about your injecting heroin. And you're going to ask each member of our family what he or she really thinks and feels about you. You're going to get more than a few spankings, and after each spanking you're going into the corner. Every person in this room is going to give you undivided attention until we're done. Now start."

Bobby felt a wave of rage rush through him. "No," he said furiously, glowering at Charles. "You can't make me do all that shit and I won't."

Charles sighed and looked over at Hank who rose. "We were prepared to deal with the possibility that you wouldn't cooperate," he said quietly. "Bobby, you'll do as you're told, or you'll be spanked until you cooperate. Then you'll be spanked again for the original misbehavior. Do you really want to push us that hard?"

"I'm not gonna talk to every person in this damn room," Bobby said explosively. "I fucking won't. You can't make me."

Charles sighed again. "Hank," he said, "would you, please, take over?"

Hank walked to Bobby and grabbed him by both shoulders. Bobby turned, and protested, "What the hell you doin', Hank?"

Hank picked him up effortlessly, carried him to the couch and sat down. Remy and Logan had scrambled out of the way and were sitting on the floor. Hank put Bobby face down over his knees,. "Bobby," he said gently, "why don't you think about this situation? Let go of your anger and think. Don't doubt for a moment that I will spank you until you cooperate. And sooner or later you'll cooperate. I'm more than capable of making you hurt so bad that you'll agree to anything to avoid any more of the spanking you're about to get for not cooperating."

Bobby's upper body was on the couch and he glowered down at the pillows. For a brief moment, he considered simply freezing the air around Hank's head until the older man passed out from lack of oxygen. But he knew that the combined telepathic powers of the professor, Jean, Betsy, Remy, and Cable could and would easily cut off his ability to use his powers.

"Fuck you, Hank," he said with helpless anger. "How can you do this to me?" He felt a hopeless sense of outraged betrayal under his anger.

Hank sighed again. He guessed how betrayed Bobby felt. "Bobby," he said. "I'm your friend, but I think you need what we've all decided upon. You acted up from a conviction that you're not loved. We can't let that go. You deserve to be punished. If you'll cooperate right now, you can avoid this spanking for not complying and only get the spankings you earned for injecting heroin. Bobby, please, don't make me spank you for being defiant and stubborn.."

Bobby was somewhere beyond rational thought, in a state of helpless fury, and not really listening. "Fuck you," he said again. He struggled helplessly and then felt Hank pull his pants and underwear down. He cringed, acutely aware that every person in the room was looking at his bare butt over Hank's lap.

Hank's strong right hand came down hard on his bottom. Bobby gasped again and even before the gasp was out of his mouth, Hank's hand descended again. And again.

Bobby's breath caught. Hank paused. "I could stop now, Bobby, if you agree to cooperate with what's been asked of you. Will you?"

Bobby held his breath. "Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, an' fuck all of you," he spat out.

Hank sighed again and continued spanking. Bobby struggled and tried to get his bottom away from Hank's severe, punishing whacks. It was an exercise in futility.

Bobby tried to hold his breath, but a gasping sob escaped, then another and another as Hank continued to spank him soundly. Within moments, he was crying hard. Hank continued to smack his butt.

Remy's eyes filled with tears and Logan put an arm around him.

"H. . .Hank. . ." Bobby gasped out, sobbing hard. "St. . .stop. Please."

"Are you going to cooperate and do as you're told?" Hank asked.

Bobby gulped. "It's not fair," he sobbed out. "It's not fair. . .Remy's never had to do all that shit. I don't wanna have to talk to everyone."

Remy's breath escaped in a shuddering gasp, and the tears in his eyes started welling out. Logan put both his arms around the young Cajun and held him tightly. "Is okay, Rem," he said. "Is okay. Bobby's just bein' stubborn." Remy buried his head in Logan's shoulder and cried quietly.

"You aren't Remy," Hank said firmly. "And you have no clue how he might be punished. Not that it matters. This is about you. Are you willing to cooperate, or do I have to keep spanking you?"

Bobby gulped and said nothing. Hank's hard hand continued to blister him. After about ten more spanks, he was sobbing hard and bitterly.

"NO!" he sobbed out. "I won't and you can't make me. Damn you all!"

Hank looked up at Charles. Bobby's bottom was red and close to being blistered and bruised. Hank had not the stomach or heart to keep on spanking. He stopped. Bobby shuddered, still sobbing hard, and lay over Hank's knees for several moments, trying to pull himself back together.

Charles sighed. "I think we need to put him in the corner and let him calm down and think. And as soon as his bottom recovers, I think he needs to get another spanking for not cooperating. Hank, if you can't handle it, I'll choose someone else."

"No," Hank said clearly. "I love Bobby. If he doesn't know it, he needs to learn." He pulled Bobby to his feet and swatted his bottom every step of the way to the corner.

"Put your nose, your shoulders, and your feet in this corner," Hank ordered. He swatted Bobby's bottom yet again. "And, please, calm down and try to decide if you really want to be punished again for not cooperating. Bobby, it just might be possible that someone besides you knows what is best for you. Try thinking about that possibility."

The entire room was silent except for the muffled sounds of Remy's quiet crying and Bobby's gulping sobs. As Bobby took deep gasps between his sobs, he could hear Remy's catching breaths. He realized with sudden guilt that Remy was crying because he was worried and he cared. And that all the silence was tense and apprehensive.

Bobby started crying even harder, but differently as he felt his anger drain away. It was replaced by guilty misery. "I'm sorry," he breathed out. "I'm sorry." He sobbed deeply and desperately. "I don't know why. . I don't know why. . .I'm bein' so. . ." His breath caught again.

"Why you're being so defiant and rebellious?" Charles suggested gently. Bobby nodded unhappily. Charles sighed. "Bobby, you have a very hard time believing that you're loved and treasured. You're my youngest child of those whom I first recruited and you've been hurt over and over and have about as much real self-esteem as Remy. What we've proposed is not only a punishment. It's intended to be a demonstration to you of how much you're loved. Please, Bobby, do as you're told."

Bobby shook with sobs, but he nodded his head. "I'll talk to everyone, but damn it, professor, if I find out they hate me, I'll just turn myself to ice and then water and drip the fuck away."

Logan snorted. Charles glanced at him with an eyebrow raised and Logan looked at Bobby. "Hey, kiddo, I think you're swell," he said, quietly. "You do damn well at bein' a good friend to my kid. Dammit, Bobby, you're a part of my family. I fuckin' love you, you blasted idiot. And you already know what I think about the damn heroin. I got no plans to punish you again." There was a slight emphasis on the word 'you' that made Remy gulp with fear.

Bobby simply sobbed harder. "Thanks, Logan," he gasped out.

Hank went to the corner and took Bobby's pants back up again. Bobby sighed with relief.

Bobby turned to face the professor. Tears were running down Bobby's face and he couldn't make himself meet the eyes of anyone.

"What do I have to do?" he asked shakily.

"You have to ask all the members of this family how they feel about you injecting heroin and about how they feel about you," Charles repeated patiently. "And you'll have to accept spankings from those of the family who think you need one. You can start with the youngest of all of us and the most recently acquired member. Start with Sam and then move up from the newest to the oldest members of your family."

Bobby really didn't want to know what Sam thought about him shooting up heroin. But he turned to Sam who was sitting miserably in one of the window seats.

"Sam," he started haltingly. "What d'you. . .?"

Sam didn't let him finish the question. He looked up at Bobby with tears glistening in his eyes. "Ah don' know what t' think about ya an' Remy shootin' up heroin. Ah almost can' handle it. Ah've always looked up ta both of y'all. Y'all are some of my heroes. I jus' feel sick."

Bobby felt even sicker and he heard Remy crying even harder behind him. His breath caught and tears started leaking again.

"Oh, hell, Sam," he said helplessly. "I'm really sorry." Bobby turned to Charles. "I can't do this," he sobbed out.

Charles looked at him carefully. "Yes, you can," he said gently. "And you will. Sam?"

"But," Sam went on, "ah don't care what either of y'all done. I still love ya."

Bobby's flooded with even more tears. "Thanks, Sam," he said shakily.

He went to the next person who had joined the X-family. "Bishop?" he started hesitantly. The huge black man glared at him furiously.

"Using drugs is totally unacceptable," Bishop said inexorably. "I think both you and Remy deserve to be punished severely."

Bobby gulped again and again heard Remy behind him, choking on deep and painful sobs.

Bishop went on, "But I realize that both of you are mixed up kids with many problems in the here and now and are not yet the heroes from my future." Bishop smiled, a most uncharacteristic feature on his usually grim face. "I'm deeply grateful to be a part of this family now and both of you young brats are part of my heart."

Bobby gulped again, fresh tears rising in his eyes.

He knew who was next and turned to Remy who was still crying quietly in Logan's arms. "Rem?" he began.

"I love you, Bobby," Remy sobbed out. "An' shootin' up heroin be all my damn fault. I sorry."

"Damn it, Remy," Bobby said explosively. "It's not your damn fault. I got my own self in trouble. I'm fuckin' tired of you thinkin' that I'm just a follow-along kind of guy. I did what I needed to do, pal. Get over it."

Remy sobbed again and nodded. "I still love you, Bobby," he said.

"I know that, Rem," Bobby said. "And I love you, too." He reached down and squeezed Remy's shoulder. Remy put his hand up and around Bobby's and held it tightly.

Bobby was confused for a moment, not sure who came next. He looked at Charles.

"Try Cable," Charles said. Bobby gulped again. He wanted to talk to Cable about as much as he wanted to talk to God.

"Nathan?" Bobby started and was startled when Nathan chuckled.

"Bobby," Cable said gently. "I think you screwed up bad. But, hell, I think you wanted to screw up bad. So, you're getting what you want. I have no problem with you, kid."

"Thanks, Nathan," Bobby said gratefully and looked at Charles again.

"Bobby, it doesn't matter what order you go in now except that I think you should leave your fellow classmates for last," Charles said.

Bobby turned to Betsy who glared at him furiously. "Bobby Drake," she said irately. "I don't know what you think you were doin' when you ran off and shot up heroin. I thought you had more sense than that. But I still love you. And I tell you that I hope you get spanked till you're wailing."

Bobby nodded at Betsy, with tears welling in his eyes. She sighed, reached out a gentle hand and patted him on the cheek. "It'll be okay, Bobby," Betsy said more gently. He nodded again and a tear spilled out.

He turned to Rogue who was sitting beside Logan and Remy and keeping a hand on Remy's leg. She smiled at him tremulously. "Ah don' have any damn thing ta say ta ya, Bobby, cept that ah think both ya and Remy acted like dopes. But ah love ya like a brother, sugah."

Bobby turned again. "Storm?" he began tentatively.

Ro looked at Bobby and sighed. "Bobby," she said gently. "I know more than you'd guess about a need to be punished. I'll say no more except that I still love you. Don't even worry that I could've withdrawn my love." Bobby's eyes stung with more tears.

"We're down to your original team mates," Charles said. "Start with Warren and then you can ask Hank, Scott, and Jean."

Bobby gulped hard as he turned to Warren, who much to Bobby's surprise simply reached out and enveloped him in a hug. "You fucked up, Bobbo," Warren said quietly in his ear. "But it don't matter a damn to me, old friend. I love you."

Bobby started sobbing as he turned to Scott. "Scotty?" he gulped out.

Scott looked at Bobby grimly. "I'm sorry, Bobby, but I think I'm one of the people from whom you need to get a paddling. And I plan to deliver."

Bobby sobbed harder and protested, "I'm not gonna let you paddle me."

Scott stood grimly and Cable and Hank rose to support him. Bobby looked around frantically. "Scotty, NO, please!!!!"

Scott looked at him carefully. "Bobby," he said patiently, facing him with stern caring in his eyes, "I've known you since you were 14 years old. I've loved you a lot of years, kid. And it makes my heart sick to think that you might not know that." Scott sighed deeply.

"I'm not good at expressing feelings, Bobby," he said gently. "And I'm damn close to being retarded at expressing affection. As I'm sure you know as well as Alex." Scott's face tightened as he thought about the tension between him and his younger brother. "But I love you like a brother as much if not more than I love Alex. I've sure spent more time with you."

The tears were spilling down Bobby's face.

Scott sighed again and went on. "I know you went running off to shoot up because you felt as if no one cared about you the way we care about Remy. That's not acceptable to me, kid. And your behavior was way out of line. I've been your team leader since you were a young teenager. You know damn well that you deserve to be punished and it's my responsibility to be one of the people who delivers the punishment. I don't like it. I don't want to do it. But I love you too damn much to duck out of what I know I should do."

As Scott had been speaking, Bobby's shoulders fell, and he stared at the ground, with tears still streaming down his face.

"Well said, Scotty," Logan said softly. Scott shot Wolverine a look of grateful surprise.

Bobby didn't resist as Scott rose, took him by the arm, and pulled him down over his knees as the older man sat down again on one of the couches. Bobby buried his head in the throw pillows on the sofa and tensed his entire body as Scott took his pants and underwear down. He was mortified and miserable.

Scott looked around the room desperately. He was not prepared. Charles suppressed a chuckle and handed the paddle to Hank to hand to Scott. Scott took it with a sigh of relief and slammed it down hard on Bobby's butt. Bobby tensed again and Scott took a deep breath before bringing the paddle down again and again. Bobby's bottom had still been faintly pink from his previous spanking and it reddened quickly. Within moments, as Scott found a steady rhythm of punishing spanks, Bobby's rump was glowing a furious red and he was sobbing hard.

"I love you, Bobby," Scott said firmly. "And I cannot and will not tolerate you hurting yourself. Shooting up any kind of powders, white, brown, or purple, is on the list of hurting yourself and I won't endure it. I love you. That's the only reason I'm spanking you. You get that, kid?"

"Yeah," Bobby sobbed out. "I'm s. . .sorry. Pl. . .please, stop. It hurts."

Scotty sighed again. "It's supposed to hurt, Bobby. That's why it's a punishment." He smacked the paddle down hard ten more times. He sighed deeply. "I can't do this any more. I can't stand to hurt you this bad, Bobby. I really do love you."

Bobby was crying desperately. Scott turned him in his arms and held him tight. "Bobby," he said quietly, his own eyes brimming with tears. "Please, don't put us through this again."

Bobby put his arms around Scott's chest and held on closely. "You. . . really love. . .me?" he sobbed out.

"Bobby, I love you more than I can say," Scott said helplessly. "And that might be part of the problem. I don't how to say it. I love you, kid."

Scott looked over at the professor. "He goes in the corner, now," Charles said simply. "With his pants still down."

Scotty sighed. He wanted to put the sobbing boy in the corner about as much as he wanted open heart surgery.

Hank tried to come to Scott's rescue. "I'll do it, Scotty," he offered.

"No, Hank," Charles ordered. "Scott has to do it himself."

Scott held Bobby close to his chest and murmured inarticulate sounds of loving comfort. Bobby heard them and took them in. Scott raised Bobby to his feet. "You have to go to the corner, Bobby. I'm sorry," Scotty said, helplessly.

Bobby allowed Scott to put him in the corner where he sobbed wretchedly.

"Twenty minutes," Charles said firmly.

Sam banged his head against the window, with tears running down his face. Betsy went over and gathered the boy into her arms.

Remy sobbed so hard that he thought he'd throw up any minute. Logan held him closely and Rogue's hand was firm and loving on his leg.

Within the twenty minutes, Bobby's very red bottom faded to a light pink.

"You can get out of the corner and go on, Bobby," Charles said quietly. "I think the only family you have left are Jean, Hank, and me. And before you even ask, you may not pull your pants up. Your bottom stays bare from here on out."

Bobby sobbed again. "Can I pull them up in front?" he asked.

"Yes," Charles allowed.

Bobby pulled his pants up to cover himself in front and turned to where Jean was standing. "Jeannie?" he sobbed out.

Jean pulled him into a hug. "I already spanked you, Bobby," she said carefully. "You know how I feel about what you did. I love you dearly."

Bobby sobbed into her arms for several minutes, then turned to Hank.

"Hank?" he gulped out. Hank reached for him and took him into his strong, blue-furred arms.

"I'm going to spank you, again, Bobby," Hank said kindly but firmly. "I love you too much to le you get away with hurting yourself."

Bobby sobbed frantically again, but struggled not at all as Hank pulled him down over his knees. He gasped as Hank's firm hand descended hard on his bare butt, and sobbed desperately as Hanks's hand came down again and again, delivering a memorable spanking. Bobby wept with deep, shuddering sobs.

"I love you, Bobby Drake," Hank said clearly. "We've been friends and comrades for many years. I will not cope with you hurting yourself."

Bobby's bottom turned bright red again. Hank's hand hurt more than the paddle that Scott had wielded.

Hank smacked him soundly 25 times, and took him back to the corner. Bobby was shaking with sobs.

"Twenty more minutes," Charles said softly. "And then, Bobby, you have only to answer to me."

Bobby shook with heart-rending sobs. He didn't want to answer to the professor. He didn't want any more punishment at all. He felt very sick and very dismayed.

Bobby felt the pain in his bottom subsiding slightly. The professor spoke again.

"Okay, Bobby, it's time for you to accept your punishment from me."

Bobby shuddered, gulped, sobbed, and shook. But he pulled his pants up in front and turned to Charles. "I'm. . .s. . .sorry, sir," he gasped out.

Charles looked at him carefully. "I know you're very sorry, Bobby," he said, gently. "But I can't accept what you did without punishing you. I'm sorry, child, but you have one more sound spanking to endure."

Bobby sobbed frantically. "Please," he begged. "Please, don't. I can't take it. Please. I don' wanna be punished any more. And you already punished me last night."

Charles shook his head and motioned to Bobby to come to his side. Bobby obeyed, sobbing hard, and then sobbed even harder as the professor pulled him down over his knees.

Charles smacked his strong right hand down on Bobby's butt twenty hard times. Bobby sobbed desperately, struggled futilely, and finally laid still and accepted his punishment. He was crying harder than he ever remembered crying before.

Charles looked up at the rest of the family who had been watching or listening with varying degrees of resigned dismay. Remy was crying so hard that he was shaking. Sam was shuddering in Betsy's arms.

"Okay," Charles said. "I want all of you to go get some lunch if you can stomach it. I need to talk to Bobby. Logan, I trust that you'll take care of my son."

Logan nodded, pulled Remy to his feet and dragged him out of the study and down the hall to the family room. He sat on the couch and pulled Remy back into his arms again.

"What's on the menu for lunch?" Logan asked, holding Remy tightly.

Sam was shaking hard and his voice quivered. "The professor sent me out a couple of hours ago to pick up sushi. It's in the frigerator."

"Sushi sounds damn good," Logan said roughly. "Hope you got lots of wasabi."

Sam nodded and fled for the kitchen to get the food.

* * *

Charles gently pulled up Bobby's pants and turned him in his arms. He gathered the much younger man into his arms and held him closely. Bobby put his face into the professor's shoulder and wailed..

"I'm s. . . sorry," he sobbed out. "I'm s. . .sorry. . .I didn't. . . .mean to be so. . . bad."

"Bobby," Charles said quietly. "It's okay now. All I really want to know right now is if you believe you're loved."

"I don' know," Bobby sobbed out. Charles raised his arm and smacked Bobby's bottom again. Bobby flinched and shuddered with deep sobs.

"Okay," he admitted. "I guess you love me. I guess all of you love me. But dammit, I don't feel loved right now." He sobbed even harder. "I feel hurt. . .and punished and. . .bad."

"Bobby," Charles said gently, "would we have punished you so thoroughly if we didn't love you? Answer me, child."

"I don' know," Bobby sobbed out. "And, please, don't smack me again. I really. . .don't know. I don't understand."

Charles sighed profoundly. "Bobby," he said patiently. "You are deeply loved by all of us. Do you really not understand that?"

Bobby thought about the entire experience of what he'd just been through. He thought about what each member of his family had said to him and what each had done. He started sobbing with startled relief and hugged the professor hard. "I think you all love me," he admitted. To his own dismay, he started sobbing even harder, the sobs coming from his gut and shaking his entire body. "Oh, hell," he gulped out. "Is this. . . how bad Remy feels. . . all the time?"

Charles couldn't suppress his chuckle this time. He hugged Bobby hard. "Yes, Bobby, this is how bad Remy feels all the time. And there's no reason for you to feel this bad. You're loved deeply, thoroughly and intensely. By all of us. Do you understand that?'

Bobby's sobs started to quiet and he started to relax. "I think so," he admitted. He pulled himself out of the professor's arms and looked at him carefully. "I really misbehaved, didn't I?" he asked miserably.

Charles looked at him carefully. "Yes, Bobby," he said, "you really behaved badly. But it's okay. You needed something from your family. I hope you got it."

Bobby nodded and put his head back into the professor's shoulder. "You really still. . . love me?" he asked shakily.

"Bobby," Charles said, "we all still love you."

Bobby nodded and relaxed completely into his adopted father's arms. He cried himself into a sense of peaceful comfort and almost fell asleep. Charles held him tightly.

To be continued