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All We Can Do Is Keep Breathing

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All We Can Do Is Keep Breathing
by heyjupiter

Logan was lounging in one of the mansion's rec rooms. Rogue was curled up next to him and they were watching some dumb action movie. Logan didn't actually care that much for action films--he'd lived most of that--but everyone assumed he did, and he knew Rogue had suggested the movie with him in mind. She'd excitedly told him, "We just got it on DVD!" Logan still didn't really understand how those little discs could hold a whole movie, but he refused to ask Rogue how they worked. Maybe Remy knew.

This movie especially bored Logan because the plot involved some kind of future technology. Logan was an old-fashioned guy. He didn't think computers should star in movies. He fought a sigh and hoped that Remy and Ro got back from their little recruiting trip soon.

Some kids wearing a lot of black leather were using an improbable number of bullets when Logan received a mental message from Xavier. Logan, could you please come to my office?

Logan sighed. As much as he did not care about this movie, he cared even less about whatever Xavier had to say right now. He wasn't sure exactly how much of his thoughts Xavier was seeing, but Xavier continued, I'm afraid it's rather urgent.

Logan gently extricated himself from Rogue's embrace. "Hey, darlin', Chuck wants me in his office. You don't have to pause the movie, I'll be back soon."

"What's goin' on?" Rogue drawled.

Logan shrugged. "Who knows? Probably just some school stuff."

Rogue looked doubtful, knowing--as Logan did--that he would probably be the last person on Xavier's list of people to help out with "school stuff." More likely it would be "X-Men stuff," but he didn't want Rogue to worry any more than she had to, so he said, "I'll be back soon," and headed down the hall to Xavier's office.

Inside, he found Jean, Scott, and Xavier, all looking solemn. He could smell their fear. "Hey, where's the funeral?" he asked. Jean blanched and tears welled up in her eyes. "Uh, what's going on?" he asked.

Xavier said, "Logan, Remy has been shot."

Logan blinked. "Shot with what?"

"With a handgun, at close range."

"I thought he and Ro were just picking up a new kid to bring him back to the mansion. Why would the kid have a gun?"

With infuriating patience, Xavier said, "It was the boy's--father. There were custody issues--apparently he did not wish for his son to attend my school."

Logan's breathing quickened. "All right, well--well--where is Remy? Is he--"

Jean said, "He's alive, but--he's in critical condition. He's in surgery now. It could take a few hours. His lung was punctured and they had trouble reinflating it. There is a fair amount of internal bleeding and tissue damage."

Logan relaxed. Whatever Jean said, as long as Remy was still alive, surely he'd pull through. There was no way some stupid bullet could take him down.

Perhaps reading his thoughts, or perhaps just knowing Logan, Xavier said, gently but firmly, "Logan--I must tell you, his condition is very serious. Ororo did all the first aid she could, and the doctors will do their best--but there is--there is a very real chance that he may die on the operating table."

Logan nodded, but he didn't really listen. Remy was alive. He'd be fine. He stood in Xavier's office, wondering what they wanted him to do. Logan wanted to go gut the man who'd shot Remy, but he didn't think that was what Xavier had in mind.

Jean said, "Logan, I'm going to leave for the hospital now. Is it all right with you if we leave in fifteen minutes or so?"

"Oh. Uh. I..." Logan trailed off. He hated hospitals, but he did want to see Remy, of course. "Yeah, that's fine," he said. "Do I--should I bring anything?"

Jean smiled. "Remy might appreciate a change of clothes. You might, too. And something to keep yourself entertained. Hospitals are boring places 95% of the time. Remy will probably be in the ICU when he wakes up and outside food and flowers aren't allowed there."

"Right," Logan said. "Well. I'll go--get that, then."

"I'll meet you in the garage," Jean said.

Numbly, Logan went upstairs. He still had his own bedroom, though he spent most of his time in Remy's room. He liked having a quiet, clean space to call his own. He found his old backpack in his closet and threw in some clean underwear and a clean T-shirt. He slung the bag over his shoulder and crossed the hall to Remy's cluttered room. Logan took a deep breath--it smelled like Remy in here, and Logan loved it. He let out the breath. He grabbed a beer from the tiny fridge in Remy closet and drank it all in one gulp. He set the bottle on top of the fridge and carefully selected silk boxers, silk pajamas, and Merino wool socks for Remy, smiling a little at Remy's self-indulgence. He added a deck of cards and a couple of magazines. Then he zipped up the backpack and headed downstairs. He was almost to the garage when he remembered Rogue. He doubled back to the rec room.

"Hey!" Rogue said, smiling at his return. "You missed most of the big fight scene, but there's still--"

"Hey, darlin', I'm sorry, but I gotta go."

She swiveled to look at him, taking in his backpack and his solemn face. "What? Where are you going? What's wrong?"

Logan hesitated, unsure what to tell her. Well, he supposed word would get out soon enough. "Remy got hurt. Going to the hospital."

"Ohmygod, is he okay?" Rogue asked.

"He's, uh, he's alive." Logan gave a small shrug. "He's tough."

Rogue rose from the couch and hugged him. "Do you want me to come with you?" she asked. "To the hospital?"

"No thanks, darlin'. Jean and Ro will be there. And you've got school tomorrow."

"Not if all the teachers are at the hospital," Rogue said with a small smile.

"You think Scott's gonna let that fly?"

"Guess not," Rogue said. "Well--I hope he gets better fast, Logan."

"I'll tell him you said so." He gives her another quick squeeze before heading out to the garage. Jean was standing beside her black Mercedes with a purple gym bag.

"Are you ready?" she asked. He nodded mutely. He got in the passenger side of Jean's car and carefully placed his backpack on his lap.

"Remy's at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Brooklyn. They have a great ER."

"Oh. Good," Logan said.

Their drive was quiet and a little awkward. Logan liked Jean, but the two of them rarely spent time alone together. He appreciated, though, that she wasn't trying to reassure him. They would get to the hospital, and it would be fine. He wanted a cigar, but he was pretty sure that Jean would not tolerate smoking in her fancy-ass car. He was also pretty sure you weren't allowed to smoke in hospitals. One more reason why Logan hated them.

It had been a crisp early fall night when they'd left Westchester, but in Brooklyn there was a dramatic thunderstorm. Poor Ororo.

Jean found a spot in the parking garage and led Logan inside. He followed her to a waiting room full of anxious people, and there was Ro, hugging her knees on a plastic chair. Her face was composed but her eyes were white and tear-filled. When she spotted Jean and Logan she stood up and embraced them both. Logan could smell Remy's blood on her.

"How you holding up, Ro?" he asked quietly.

She shook her head. "Logan, it--I cannot believe we were taken by surprise like that."

"No, Ro, don't even start that," Jean said. "It was just supposed to be a pickup. Tyler's mother wanted him to attend the school, and so did he. We had no way of knowing that his noncustodial father would turn up and--we had no way of knowing.."

A thought occurred to Logan. "Hey, where's the kid? Tyler?"

Ororo gave a wry grin. "Well, he ran away. Very fast. That is his power."

"Where do you think he went?" Jean asked.

"I do not know, Jean. I was a bit preoccupied."

"No, of course, but maybe Scott should go look for him?"

"Well, his father is in police custody now, and his mother is staying with her sister. I imagine he will be all right. We can contact his mother in--tomorrow."

"I don't know," Logan said. "A scared, superfast kid out on the streets? Maybe we should call Chuck."

Jean's lips quirked. "Well, I'll step out and give him a call. He could use Cerebro and make a decision based on what he finds. Oh--and here, Ro," she said, handing over the gym bag.

Logan and Ororo nodded, and Jean left them in the horrible waiting room. Ororo looked down at her blood-spattered shirt and said, "I suppose I should go change my clothes. Will you be all right, Logan?"

"Sure," Logan said. He sat down and tried to ignore the fact that the waiting room TV was showing Judge Judy while some surgeon tried to patch Remy back together.

Ro came back quickly, dressed in jeans and a green sweater. She sat next to him and he put an arm around her. She turned into his chest and said, "Oh, Logan, it was so horrible."

"He'll be fine, Ro, he's a tough motherfucker."

"I know..." Ro said quietly.

They sat together in silence for a few minutes. Finally, Logan said, "Do you want to go get a drink?"

Ro laughed. "I do indeed, but I rather think we should wait here. Remy should be out of surgery soon."

Jean returned and said, "The Professor found him. He's back with his mother. We'll worry about Tyler later."

"I am relieved to hear that," Ororo said. Logan nodded absently. He closed his eyes. He could hear the murmured conversations happening all over the waiting room, family remembers reassuring each other and crying and eating chips. He could hear the rain and thunder born of Ro's sorrow. It smelled like sweat and fear and disinfectant.

A young girl around Rogue's age walked into the waiting room. She looked around for a moment before sitting down on the floor in the corner and quietly sobbing.

"I can't take this anymore," Logan said abruptly. He got up and stalked out of the waiting room.

"Logan!" he heard Jean call.

"Let him go," Ororo murmured. "He will come back when he is ready."

He was glad Ro had faith in him, anyway. He navigated the labyrinthine hospital and made his way back out to the parking garage. He leaned up against Jean's car, fished a cigar out of his backpack, and lit it. He calmly took his first puff, feeling slightly calmer. The parking garage smelled like rich tobacco smoke and motor oil and polluted New York air. It wasn't his favorite combination of smells, but it was infinitely preferable to the waiting room. He took his time, savoring the cigar and listening to the rain beat down on the parking garage.

A couple walking out to their car glared at Logan, and the woman coughed pointedly. But Logan glared right back, and neither of them approached him to complain about the cigar. He took his time. Nearly two hours had passed since he'd left the waiting room. The rain had lessened, and he wondered if Storm was feeling happier or just more tired. He threw away his cigar butt and made his way back into the hospital. Jean and Ororo weren't in the waiting room anymore. He asked a middle-aged woman at the information desk. She looked Remy up in the computer and said with professional sympathy, "He's in the ICU. Fourth floor."

"But how is he?"

"They can tell you more on the fourth floor."

Well, Logan reasoned, they wouldn't put him in the ICU if he were dead. He nodded. "Uh, thanks."

"You're welcome, dear. God bless you."

Logan tried his level best not to snort as he walked away from her.

Upstairs, he found Ro and Jean in the ICU waiting room, which was quieter and emptier than the last waiting room. The two women smiled to see him, though Jean wrinkled her nose and said, "You smell like an ashtray, Logan."

He shrugged. "Remy won't mind," he said. "How is he?"

"Well," Jean said, her tone and mannerisms shifting to those of Dr. Grey, "He pulled through surgery, so that's good news. The bullet nicked his ribs, causing two fractures, and it also punctured his right lung. There's a lot of internal bleeding. Right now they're not allowing visitors. He's sedated and intubated."

"Okay. For how long?" Logan asked.

Jean shrugged. "It will depend on Remy. Right now, I would say probably a day or so. He--he would have a lot of pain. If he were awake. Also, the breathing tube is often difficult for conscious patients to tolerate. But it is currently necessary."

Logan set his jaw. "Okay. Well. When can I see him?"

"Well... they're still getting him settled in the ICU. They don't want any visitors until that point. After that, two at a time. Technically, it's immediate family only... but most of the nurses tend to be pretty lax about it unless there are extenuating circumstances. I'll make sure you get into see him when he's ready," Jean said, pressing her lips firmly together.

"Okay. Okay," Logan repeated.

Before too long, a nurse ushered Jean and Logan into the ICU. It was even quieter than the waiting room, save for the beeping and humming of machines. The nurse pulled aside a curtain and said, "He's still sedated, but you can talk to him if you want. Who knows? He might hear it."

"Thank you," Jean said. Logan sank into one of the two chairs by Remy's bed. Remy was incredibly pale and dressed in a thin blue gown. He was connected to several machines, including a plastic tube protruding from Remy's sensual mouth. Jean named them all and explained their functions to Logan; he didn't really care, so long as they worked.

Jean squeezed his hand. "I'll leave you alone for a few minutes, and then Ororo will want to come see him. I just wanted to explain everything to you. Sometimes the nurses are too busy."

Logan gave her a half-smile. "Thanks, Jeannie." She was coping with tragedy in her own way, and Logan appreciated her attempts at comforting him, however clinical they were.

"Of course," she said, and ducked back out behind the curtain.

Logan watched Remy's chest rise and fall. Seeing Remy, he now understood that his lover could have died. Could still die, maybe. Well, fuck that. He felt a little self-conscious about speaking aloud to Remy, but if he could hear--it would be worth saying something. Logan's healing factor made him reckless, or maybe he was just reckless and the healing factor was the only reason he was still alive. Since he had joined the X-Men, he'd lost consciousness a number of times in various fights. He had always woken up with Remy nearby. He had hazy memories of Remy speaking to him while he was out, praying, maybe. It had been nice to wake up to that. Nice to know that somebody gave a fuck whether he lived or died.

"Hey, Remy, can you hear me? You're going to be okay, asshole." Logan paused. That didn't really sound like the kind of thing he should say right now. "Sorry. I don't know. I can't believe you got shot." He stretched his legs out. "Don't do that again, all right?"

He settled back into his chair and stared at Remy. He didn't know what else to say, so he didn't say anything. A few minutes later, the curtain rustled and Ororo peered in.

"May I join you, Logan?"

"Course, Ro," he said.

She sat down next to him and squeezed his hand. Logan squeezed back. Ro leaned forward and spoke to Remy in French. Logan wasn't fluent, but he'd picked up a few words of French here and there. Enough to know that Ro was praying. She told Remy he was her brother, that she loved him. The words flowed sweetly from her lips, and Logan envied her ability to express herself. Finally, she reached forward and gently patted Remy's hand, then leaned back and took Logan's hand.

"You know, he told me to tell you he loved you," Ro said conversationally. "But I told him that he could tell you himself."

Logan grinned. "Thanks, Ro."

"It was--he could barely speak."

They both stared glumly at Remy for a moment, and Logan said, "Ah, Ro, it'll take more'n a bullet to keep Remy from talking for long."

Ororo laughed. "Well, I do think that is true."

"What happened, Ro?" Logan asked.

She shook her head. "It was just so unexpected, Logan. We were talking to Tyler's mother Shari while Tyler finished packing. Then this man just came in babbling about freaks and I don't know what else. Shari told him that she had a restraining order, and she called the police. He seemed harmless, he was just talking. And you know Remy. He started talking to the man, trying to calm him down. At first it seemed like it was working. But then Tyler came in the room with his suitcase, and the man reached in his coat and--it just happened very fast. And I--called the wind and knocked him against the wall. He was unconscious when the police arrived and I--did what I could to stop Remy's bleeding."

She shook her head, and Logan heard the rain pick up. Logan stroked her hand with his thumb. "Hey, Ro, ain't your fault. You saved him, sounds like."

A nurse bustled in and looked over Remy. "How is he?" Ororo asked.

"Stable," the nurse said. She pointed at the call button and said, "Don't hesitate to call us if anything changes. We'll check on him periodically, and a doctor will come by in the morning."

"Thank you," Ororo said, with a gentle smile.

The nurse returned her smile and glided back out into the hallway. The machines keeping Remy alive beeped and hummed.

Ororo leaned forward and whispered a few more things to Remy. Then she rose to her feet and said, "Logan, Jean and I are going back to the mansion tonight. We think--it is important for the children to have their schedule stay as normal as possible. And the ICU's visiting hours end at 10pm."

"Can I stay?"

"Visiting hours--" Ro said.

"No, I heard. Can I just sleep in the waiting room? In case there's an emergency or something?"

"Of course. I just thought I would let you know that we were leaving," Ro said with a soft smile. "The ICU's visiting hours start again at 8am."

Logan nodded. "Okay. Thanks." He stood up and gave her a quick hug. "I'll call if anything happens."

"Thank you, Logan. Good night. Good night, Remy," she said, brushing his hand with her thumb as she left.

Left alone with Remy, Logan sighed. He pulled a copy of Newsweek out of his backpack and flipped through it. Nothing really caught his attention. He listened as the rainstorm calmed and disappeared.

Finally, he leaned forward and said, "Hey, Remy. Ro told me what you said. Um. You know I love you too. I don't say it much, I know. But I do. Even though you talk too much and you flirt with just about everybody of legal age and you're dumb enough to get yourself shot."

At ten o'clock a doctor came and politely exiled Logan to the waiting room, telling him visiting hours resumed at 8am. He dozed lightly for a few hours on an uncomfortable chair, wishing he could be in there with Remy. He skimmed some magazines. In the morning, he went downstairs to the cafeteria and got some surprisingly decent coffee and a sausage sandwich. He paced around the gift shop and watched sad-smelling people buy flowers and teddy bears. He briefly considered purchasing a teddy bear or some shit for Remy, but he wasn't sure if even that would be allowed in the ICU. It was an extremely barren, sterile place. He returned to the ICU empty-handed promptly at 8am.

Remy looked about the same as he had last night. A nurse came by and said, "Good morning, dear, how's our handsome patient doing?"

Logan shrugged. "Ain't it your job to tell me that?"

"Yes. Well," the nurse said, consulting the clipboard, "looks like he's stable. We'll be keeping him sedated for another day or so, give his lung a chance to heal."

"Yeah. Okay," Logan said. He was tired of the word "stable" but supposed there were worse things he could hear. "Uh, is there anything I should be doing now?"

The nurse smiled. "You can talk to him, he might be aware of your presence. And I'm sure he'll be glad to have you nearby when he wakes up."

"All right," Logan said. The rest of the day passed fairly uneventfully. He dutifully called the mansion to report on Remy's continued stability. He kept trying to read Newsweek. He glowered at the evening nurse who pointedly asked him if he was Remy's brother. When Ro came back to the hospital, he went down to the cafeteria and ate a hamburger while she chatted with her unconscious best friend. When he went back upstairs, she was reading a magazine aloud to him. Logan wondered why he hadn't thought of that. It would let Remy hear his voice without making Logan come up with a stupid one-sided conversation. Logan really wasn't cut out to be a nursemaid. If Remy needed someone to fight for him, Logan would do it in a heartbeat, but this really seemed like a task for which Ro was better suited.

But when he tentatively said as much, she grew fierce. "Logan, this is not the time for you to abandon Remy. He needs you. And you need him. Do not be an idiot."

Logan snorted. "I ain't gonna leave him, Ro. I mean, I just--I don't know what to say. Remy usually does most of the talking for both of us."

"Remy does most of the talking for everyone in whatever room he happens to occupy," Ro said wryly. "You had better make the most of this while you have a chance."

So Logan tried to make the most of it. He told Remy that he cared for him. He told Remy that he was glad Remy had persuaded him to join the X-Men. He told Remy that if he didn't wake up soon, Logan was going to lose his shit. He told Remy that the Saints had won their game on Monday night. He told Remy he wouldn't make fun of him for hand-washing his silk boxers anymore, and then amended his statement to say he wouldn't make fun of him as much. Remy slept soundly through it all.

The next morning, a nurse removed Remy's breathing tube and altered his IV drip. An hour or so later, Remy blearily woke up with a soft moan of pain.

"Hey, Remy, how you feel?" Logan asked.

When Remy replied, it wasn't with his usual sultry, Cajun-inflected voice, but rather with a hoarse whisper. "Hnh?" he said.

"I asked how you felt," Logan repeated.

"Je suis en vie... merci pour le demander, cher," Remy said softly. His handsome face was contorted with pain.

Logan stood up and carefully kissed Remy's cheek, which was scratchy with two days' stubble. "I'm gonna call a nurse, let 'em know you're up." He pressed the button.

Remy looked around, frowning at the barren room. He took a careful breath and whispered, "Eh, Logan, it kill you to bring a boy some flowers?"

Logan laughed, deliriously happy to have Remy teasing him again, though it was clear the man was in serious pain. "Not allowed in the ICU, Remy. Your weak little lungs might not be able to handle flower pollen, I guess."

Remy made a dismissive sound, then let out a painful-sounding cough, just as a nurse entered the room. She was one of the friendly ones, maybe a little too friendly for Logan's taste. Still, Logan was extremely relieved that Remy didn't have to face a stupid homophobic nurse during his first few minutes of consciousness.

"Ah, Mr. LeBeau, you're awake!"

"Guess so," Remy said.

"How are we feeling?"

"Can only speak for m'self," Remy said, and Logan bit back a laugh.

The nurse's smile faded slightly. "How are you feeling, then?"

"Been better."

"The sedative wore off more quickly than we would have expected for a person of your weight," the nurse said. "I'm going to consult with a doctor but I think we should increase your dose."

"Mm," Remy said.

"Are you thirsty?" asked the nurse. Remy nodded, then winced from the movement. "I'll get you some ice chips," the nurse said. "Is there anything else you need?"

"Non," Remy murmured. The nurse replaced Remy's clipboard and bustled off.

"Glad you're up, Remy," Logan said. "I... missed you."

Remy's mouth twitched. "I b'n out long?"

"Two days and change."

"Mm."

The nurse returned with a styrofoam cup of ice chips, which she handed to Logan. "Your throat's probably a little sore from the emergency intubation. We'll start you off with these and see how they sit. Sometimes the kind of drugs you're on can induce nausea. But if you feel up to it, we can get you something to eat in a little while." She adjusted some of Remy's IV drips.

"M'ci," Remy said. Logan gave him an ice chip and Remy gratefully sucked it into his mouth. The nurse left and Logan quietly fed Remy ice until the additional medicine took its effect and Remy faded back into unconsciousness. Logan smoothed Remy's hair and left the ICU to call home. The phone got passed to Jean, who asked him some medicalese questions that may as well have been in French. Finally she gave up and said she'd see him that afternoon and speak to the doctors herself.

Logan decided he might as well eat breakfast while Remy was asleep, so he went down to the cafeteria and quickly gulped down some calories before returning to Remy's bedside. Remy was out. His mouth was slightly parted and he was drooling. Logan took a tissue from the bedside table and gently wiped his mouth. Remy looked awful: his skin was pale, his hair was greasy, and he looked half-machine. Still, Logan couldn't help but think that he was beautiful.

Remy flitted in and out of consciousness for the rest of the morning. Logan spoke to him gently, reminding him where he was, reminding him that he was loved. Around lunchtime, Jean turned up. She spoke with one of the doctors and told Logan everything looked encouraging. Then she told Logan that Remy's brother Henri was in the waiting room. Logan had known that Remy had a brother--an adoptive brother--but he hadn't thought they were still in contact.

"The Professor tracked him down and gave him a call," Jean said. "When Henri heard Remy was hurt he got on the next plane out." She hesitated. "I thought he might appreciate a chance to catch up with Remy alone. Maybe you and I could go eat lunch while Henri sits with him?"

Logan's mouth tightened slightly. "Seems like if Henri really cared about Remy, he'd have given him a call sometime over the last ten years."

Jean sighed. "The fault is not Henri's alone, Logan. He seems to genuinely care for Remy. They're brothers, and this is not the time for them to fight."

Logan took a deep breath. "Yeah. Of course. Let's go," he said, gently caressing Remy's hand one last time before following Jean out of the ICU. The waiting room was still quiet. A middle-aged man smiled at Jean. Logan sized him up. He didn't look much like Remy--not that he would, Logan supposed, given that Remy was adopted. Henri was average height and in reasonably good shape, though nothing like Remy's lean muscled body. Henri had balding blonde hair and an absurdly long and thick moustache. "Logan, this is Remy's brother Henri. Henri, this is Remy's boyfriend Logan."

Both Henri and Logan were slightly startled by Jean's casual introduction. Henri recovered smoothly, offering a hand and saying, "Enchante."

"Yeah. Nice to meet you," Logan managed.

"How's Rem doin'?" Henri asked. If anything, his accent was thicker than Remy's, which Logan hadn't known was possible.

"He woke up this mornin'. He's been in and out, and seems like he's in... in some pain. But he's... he's Remy."

Henri grinned. "Some things never change, non?"

Jean said, "I'll take you back to see Remy. He's asleep now, but as Logan said, he's been in and out." He could hear Jean preparing Henri for what he was about to see even as they walked away, leaving him in the waiting room. He thought back to Jean's introduction. He was pretty sure it was the first time anyone had called him Remy's "boyfriend," though he supposed the label was accurate. He supposed it had been awhile since Logan had been introduced to anyone, really. His social circle was pretty much limited to the mansion, the local bartender, and the people whom Xavier sent him off to fight. By now, everyone at the mansion knew that he and Remy were together, and nobody made a big deal out of it. They just were. "Boyfriend," though, seemed like a silly word. Rogue had a boyfriend. Kitty had a boyfriend. Logan had Remy.

Jean returned from the ICU and gave Logan a smile. "Remy's doing remarkably well," she said. "I think they'll take him out of the ICU tomorrow, maybe even tonight."

"Yeah?" Logan asked.

"Yeah," Jean replied, with a gentle smile.

"Good, then. When can he come home?"

"Let's talk about this downstairs," Jean replied.

In the cafeteria, Jean picked at a salad while Logan ate two ham and cheese sandwiches.

"So?" Logan asked. "When can he come home? I mean, we have--we basically have a hospital in the basement. Why does he have to stay here?"

"Well--we have some advanced equipment, but I alone just can't provide the care Remy needs right now. Offhand, I would say we can probably bring him home in a week or so."

"A week?"

Jean smiled. "I know it seems like a long time, Logan, but--it's for the best. For Remy's health. Not everyone heals as fast as you do."

"Yeah. Course."

"How are you holding up, Logan?" Jean asked. "Sometimes in situations like this--it's harder to be the caretaker than the person hurt."

"I ain't exactly the caretaker, darlin'. There's nurses in every 30 seconds, feels like."

"You know what I mean, Logan."

Logan shrugged uneasily. "I dunno, Jean. I mean--I hope he gets out of here fast. Don't like seeing him in pain."

"Of course not," Jean said, reaching across the table to squeeze his hand. Logan pulled back.

He finished his last sandwich and said, "I'm going outside for a smoke."

"All right, Logan," Jean said, clearly trying to sound supportive and not disapproving. Logan made his way outside and was somewhat surprised to find himself on a busy Brooklyn street. The hospital seemed like its own little world and yet outside of it, life went on. He went down a block to make sure he was clear of the emergency entrance, then lit up. It wasn't that Logan was addicted to cigars--he thought his mutation made him immune to addiction. It was simply that he loved cigars. The nicotine and the ritual of smoking calmed him. And cigars were richer and smoother than cigarettes.

It seemed like Remy would pull through. According to Jean, he was "out of the woods." Logan hated that Remy had been in the woods at all. Logan wished he could share his healing factor with all the X-Men. If Logan had gotten shot in the chest, he would have recovered in a matter of hours. Remy was lucky to be alive. How long would that lucky streak last? Logan exhaled. Well, Remy was a grown man. He'd been doing the whole X-Man thing longer than Logan and it generally seemed like he knew what he was doing. Logan stubbed out his cigar and went back into the hospital. He ducked into a bathroom and changed into the spare shirt he'd packed the first day he got to the hospital. Then he went back up to the ICU waiting room. Jean was there, calmly reading the American Journal of Human Genetics.

"Interesting reading, darlin'?" he asked.

She smiled. "It's important to stay current."

"Oh, sure," he said. "Any word on Remy?"

She shook her head. "Henri's still with him."

"Mm," Logan said. He picked up a magazine from one of the waiting room tables and tried to care about celebrity gossip. A few hours later, Henri came out, trailed by a doctor. They had a small conference and found that if Remy's condition continued to improve, he'd be taken out of the ICU the next morning. In the meantime, Henri was welcome to stay with him for the rest of visiting hours. The doctor glanced at Logan and said, "It's immediate family only in the ICU."

Henri said, quickly, "I think Logan should be able to visit Remy. I don't mind or nothin'."

Logan burned inside that Henri was suddenly Remy's only legitimate visitor. They hadn't seen each other in at least ten years, but they still had the same last name. Logan said, "I'm his, uh, boyfriend."

The doctor gave him a once-over that made Logan's face burn. "Well, if his brother has no problem with it, I suppose it's all right."

"Oui, of course. Yes," Henri said.

Jean left Logan and Henri with Remy. Henri said, "So, uh, how long you and Remy been together?"

"Well," Logan said. "I guess about a year or so. But we were together before that, in Japan. Bout twelve years ago."

"Huh," Henri said. "I didn't know Remy--I mean, I thought he was into women."

Logan shrugged. "I think Remy's into everybody."

Henri grinned. "Sounds like my brother, I suppose."

"So are you, uh, in the Guild?"

"I run the Guild," Henri said proudly.

"Oh. How's that going?"

Henri shrugged. "Business is always good in my business," he said. "Be doing better if Remy was still with us, course, but what can you do?"

"Remy's doin' real good at the school," Logan said. "He's a great teacher."

Henri grinned. "And who ever would have guessed that?"

Logan stared moodily at Remy and Henri sighed. "Well, I have to say you seem like a better match for Remy than Belladonna, anyway."

"Thanks, I guess."

"I'm married, myself," Henri carried on. "Mercy's a great lady. Great lady. Wish she could have come up here--she ain't never met Remy." Logan made no response, but Henri kept chattering away. Logan could definitely see a family resemblance there, and when Remy awoke the two brothers chattered eagerly in Cajun French. Logan was gratified, though, to see Remy's eyes seek out Logan. He smiled down at Remy and listened patiently to the conversation, though he couldn't understand it.

When they got kicked out of the ICU at ten, Ororo was in the waiting room. She smiled. "I hear Remy's doing better."

"Yeah," Logan said.

"Well, I've certainly seen him in better shape than this," Henri said.

"Of course," Ro said with a serene smile. "I'm so glad you were able to come to New York, Henri. I know it means a lot to Remy."

Henri nodded. "Awful glad your professor gave me a call. Didn't know when I'd hear from Remy again, and I'm awful sorry it's like this--but still, good to see mon frere again."

Ororo said, "Why don't you both come back to the mansion tonight? I know those chairs aren't comfortable, and you could come back by eight tomorrow."

Logan ran a hand through his hair and said, "I don't know, Ro."

Ro quirked her lips. "Logan, let me be blunt: you need a shower. Why don't you come with me? Then you can be clean tomorrow, when Remy gets out of the ICU."

Logan sighed. "All right, Ro. Guess I'm not doing much good in the waiting room."

"Henri, you should come too," Ro said. "There are plenty of guest rooms at the mansion, and you should not be alone."

"Merci, cherie," Henri said.

That night Logan slept poorly. He grabbed a beer and stumbled down to the rec room to watch some late night TV. Before too long, Rogue crept in next to him.

"Hey, darlin'," he said. "Shouldn't you be asleep?"

"Shouldn't you?" she asked. He shrugged, and she tucked herself next to him. "How's Mr. LeBeau?"

"Better," Logan said. "He's been up. Talking. He'll probably get out of the ICU tomorrow."

Rogue nodded. "Good. We've all been praying for him."

"That's sweet, darlin'," Logan said, though he didn't believe in prayer. "I'll tell him."

"Been prayin' for you, too, Logan," Rogue whispered.

"Thanks," Logan said softly.

"I know this must be hard for you."

"He'll be all right."

"Still," Rogue said. "Sucks when people you care about get hurt. Especially when they don't have a healing factor."

Logan laughed. "Yeah, it does, darlin'. Guess it's the risk you run, joining the X-Men."

"Yeah."

Logan tightened his arm around Rogue and offered her the remote. She settled on an infomercial for a kitchen gadget.

"Really, kid? We get a hundred channels here and this is what you want to watch?"

"I always like to watch infomercials when I can't sleep. They're so boring and everyone in them is so, like, normal. Except for how excited they get about like, cleaning products."

"Mm," Logan grunted.

"Guess you wouldn't need one of these," Rogue observed. "Your claws are sharper than any of those blades."

"Yeah. I don't use 'em much for cooking, though."

Logan and Rogue fell asleep on the couch to the soothing sounds of late night sales pitches. When Logan woke up, Ro was standing in front of them with a soft smile.

"Hey, Logan. How'd you sleep?"

"All right, I guess. You?"

She gave an elegant shrug. "Are you ready to go?"

"Oh. Can I grab a quick shower?"

"Of course, Logan. Whenever you're ready. And Rogue--you should get ready for school."

"Okay, Ms. Munroe," Rogue said softly. She gave Logan a quick hug before slipping out of the room.

"I'm glad you got to spend some time with her," Ro said. "She missed you."

"I missed her, too," Logan said. He showered, changed, and grabbed a few fresh cigars from his stash. Then he went downstairs to head to the hospital with Jean, Ro, and Henri. Ro had several vases and pots of flowers and green plants. She handed a few to Logan to carry.

"When he's out of the ICU, he can have flowers," Ro said.

"Great," Logan said, absently sniffing one of the vases. Smelled better than the hospital, anyway.

Remy's new private hospital room was bigger than his space in the ICU. It had better visitor chairs, too, and Remy was allowed 24 hour visitor access. Ro happily set up flowers around the room, and Jean handed Remy a stack of "get well soon" cards from the students and staff. Remy weakly bragged about getting a sponge bath from a pretty nurse. Logan had laughed and said, "Yeah, you smell better now."

"Always know just what to say, cher."

Ensconced in his new hospital bed, Remy received his visitors as if he were royalty. Logan knew that Remy loved the attention. He hoped it would help Remy recover more quickly, though he also knew that his lover would extend extra energy trying to look better than he felt. An orderly came by and brought Remy a popsicle. Logan knew Remy must be in pain since he ate it in an incredibly non-seductive manner.

That night Logan slept in the chair by Remy's side. It wasn't much more comfortable than the waiting room, but he was happy to be with Remy. The next day Henri returned to New Orleans, claiming he had pressing business. Before he left he said his farewells to Remy. Then he told Logan, "Real nice to meet you, Logan. Take care of my brother. Give me a call if--if he needs anything, d'accord?" He handed Logan an embossed business card.

Logan tucked it in his pocket and nodded. "Sure thing, Henri. Glad you could see Remy."

"You ever come down to New Orleans, I'll show you a real good time."

"I just bet you will," Logan said with a grin.

"Adieu," Henri said, giving a slight bow as he left the hospital room. Logan and Remy were temporarily alone.

"How you doing, Remy?" Logan asked. "You need anything? Pain meds? Food? Water?"

"I ain't allowed to smoke in here, am I?" Remy asked. His voice had gotten stronger since he'd first woken up, though it was still hoarse.

"Fraid not. Anyway, probably not the best thing for a punctured lung."

"I'll only inhale with the other lung, I promise."

Logan laughed. "Well, we can ask Jean next time she comes by."

"You've been smoking, though," Remy said.

"Yeah, and my lungs are working just fine."

"Come here and kiss me. I want to taste you."

"And here I thought you just liked kissing me."

"Well, there's that, too."

Logan carefully knelt next to Remy's bedside and gently kissed him. Remy returned it hungrily, probing his tongue into Logan's mouth. When they parted, Logan said, "I thought you were kidding about wanting to taste my cigar."

Remy grinned, though his face was pained. "It was delicious, cher."

"I didn't hurt you, did I?" Logan asked.

"Non, not you, 's just... breathing. Is a little tough right now," Remy admitted.

Logan squeezed his hand. "You're on the mend, Remy. After your lung heals you can have all the cigars you want, I promise."

"That ain't all I want, cher," Remy murmured.

Logan's lips quirked. "Soon, Remy."

Remy opened his mouth to speak and shut it when a nurse bustled in. Logan sighed and got back into his chair.

Over the next few days, Remy steadily improved. Logan installed himself in Remy's room as a combination watchdog and personal assistant. He kicked visitors out when Remy grew tired. He fed Remy all the ice cream he could want and guided him to the bathroom, followed by a tangle of cords. He slept by Remy's bedside and subsided on hospital cafeteria food and whatever snacks Ro brought him from the mansion.

One morning a nurse came in and saw Logan leaning forward, chin in his hands, watching Remy sleep. Both men had peaceful expressions on their faces, and the nurse smiled at him. "You two are such a sweet couple," she said.

"What?" Logan grunted.

The nurse blushed. "Sorry. None of my business, just--it's nice to see--that you obviously care about him so much."

Logan gritted his teeth. It wasn't any of her business, but he grudgingly kept his response in check. This lady routinely stuck needles into Remy and it wouldn't help anything if he snapped at her. "Yeah," he said. "I do."

Remy's eyes fluttered and he grinned out at Logan and the nurse. "Ah, cher, if I'd known getting shot would make you so nice to me, I would've done it a long time ago."

The nurse laughed and began her routine examination of Remy. She had him blow into a plastic tube as hard as he could. Remy winced a little as he did so, but his performance was apparently satisfactory. "Great job, honey," the nurse said. "I think we'll be able to take your lung tube out today."

Remy's hand automatically went to his chest, where the end of a small plastic tube protruded. It went inside his lung, keeping the air where it belonged, and it trailed out of his body to a water seal. He gave the nurse his most charming smile and said, "Take it out? I've gotten kinda attached to this tube."

The nurse smiled, and said, "I'm sure you'll move on. Now, we'll have to give you a chest X-ray to confirm that your lung is fully inflated. I'll see about getting that scheduled for you as soon as possible."

"Merci," Remy said.

The nurse jotted down more notes on Remy's clipboard and moved on to her next patient with a parting smile. "That sounds like good news, huh?" Logan said.

"Oui," Remy said, idly fingering the plastic tubing that escaped from the side of his gown.

"I'm gonna go call Jean, tell her what the nurse said."

"Give my best to Jeannie," Remy said.

"You got it, darlin'. You need anything?"

"Cigarette?" Remy said, giving Logan ridiculously wide puppy dog eyes.

"Sorry, Remy."

"Just had to ask," Remy said forlornly.

"I'll be right back," Logan said, giving Remy a quick kiss before heading out to the waiting room. He told Jean Remy's good news, and she promised to get to the hospital as soon as possible. The phone got passed around and he repeated his news to Ro and Rogue, along with listening to pieces of school gossip. When he got back to Remy's room, he half expected to see Remy sleeping. But he was sitting up in bed, watching a daytime talk show with a quizzical expression.

"These people are annoying," Remy observed. "Tell me, why is it that they're on television and I'm not?"

Logan laughed. "World ain't ready for you yet, LeBeau." Remy was definitely getting stronger, and Logan hoped he'd be out of the hospital soon. "You up for some cards?"

"Always, cher. The question is, are you ready to lose?"

Logan grinned and handed a pack of cards to Remy, who happily shuffled them and dealt them out on his bedside tray. He no longer seemed dulled by sedatives; he seemed like Remy again, and Logan didn't mind losing to Remy--though he still kept careful eye on Remy's quick fingers, trying to figure out if and how Remy was cheating.
After several rounds, Remy was tiring, and Jean and one of the hospital's doctors turned up. Jean smiled. "Remy, it looks like you're doing better. How do you feel?"

"Like a rich man, Jeannie. Logan's lost every hand of poker this morning," Remy said with a broad grin.

The hospital's doctor, Dr. Ames, quietly moved Remy's sliding tray out of the way to examine Remy. She nodded. "Well, Mr. LeBeau, it looks like you're doing much better."

"Pretty lady like you can just call me Remy."

Logan watched Dr. Ames' face struggle between annoyance and charm. When it came to Remy, he knew that feeling well.

"Well, Remy," Dr. Ames said. "You're healing remarkably well. We'll get an orderly in here to take you down to radiology, and if we like the X-ray, we can remove your lung tube. We might be able to release you into Dr. Grey's care as early as tomorrow."

Remy grinned widely. "Well then, let's get downstairs and look at these bones of mine."

"Technically we'll be looking at your lungs."

"Right," Remy said. An orderly arrived with a wheelchair and he helped Remy down from the bed. Logan watched, a little anxious.

Jean said, "Logan, we can wait in the waiting room. Remy will probably be back in 45 minutes or so."

"See you soon, mes amis," Remy said cheerfully.

"Bye, Remy," Logan said, biting back a smile. He followed Jean out to the waiting room. He sat with her for a few minutes, shaking his foot anxiously, and finally said, "Goin' out for a smoke, Jeannie."

She rolled her eyes, but didn't say anything to stop him. He quickly navigated the hospital with the familiarity he'd gained over the last six days and made his way outside to what he'd designated his smoking corner. He lit his cigar and watched people walk by, oblivious to the suffering that was going on in the hospital behind them. He sighed. He hoped Remy got out of there soon. It was really draining on Logan to be in there.

He glanced at his watch and stubbed out his cigar. He wasn't finished but he didn't want to be late for Remy's return from being X-rayed. Upstairs he found Jean still in the waiting room, reading over another medical journal.

"Hey, Logan," she said, smiling at him.

"Remy back yet?"

"No, should be any minute now."

Logan nodded. He crossed his arms and settled back into his chair. Before long, Ro and Scott joined them, and Jean filled them in on Remy's situation. Ro's smile was ear-to-ear. After a few more minutes an orderly came out to let the group know Remy was back in his room. The foursome went in to confer with Dr. Ames, who said, "Good news. Remy's lung is completely inflated and the tissue is all healing nicely. We've also determined that it's safe to leave the bullet where it is currently embedded in his rib. Trying to remove it would likely cause more harm than good."

Remy said, cheerfully, "Logan, looks like you and me'll have something in common!"

Dr. Ames glanced at Logan who shrugged and said, "Souvenir of the war."

"Ah. Well," Dr. Ames said. "Everything looks good. I think we can send Remy home tomorrow."

"I feel fine," Remy said. "Can I go home today?"

"We can offer him excellent care in the school infirmary," Jean said.

Remy sat up and looked hopeful, giving Dr. Ames his absurd puppy dog eyes. Dr. Ames pursed her lips and flipped through Remy's clipboard. "I would feel much more comfortable if he stayed here one more night. But you are an adult, and given the circumstances of your... home life... I suppose you could be released today, after you finish this dose of intravenous antibiotics."

Remy's wide grin returned and Dr. Ames responded in kind. She tapped his IV rack and said, "It should take another hour or so for this dose to finish. I'll make sure to let the nurses on duty know they can remove your IV after it's completed. Now, I'm going to prescribe you a round of oral antibiotics, as well as some Vicodin for the pain. It's extremely important that you complete the entire round of antibiotics. If your lung becomes infected, it will have very serious consequences for your health. You can take one or two Vicodin every four to six hours. Do not take more than eight pills a day. Is there a pharmacy you'd like this prescription called in to?"

Jean gave Dr. Ames the relevant details and conferred with her about dosage and side effects. Remy just sat there grinning like a Cheshire cat.

Before Dr. Ames left she said, "And Remy, you should really consider quitting smoking, or at least cutting back, especially for the next eight weeks or so while your lung is still healing." Remy's face fell slightly, but he nodded.

Scott and Jean headed back to the mansion, leaving a car in the garage for Ro, Remy, and Logan to return in. Ro and Logan happily sat with Remy, waiting for his official release. An orderly brought by a large plastic bag with the clothing Remy had arrived to the hospital in. Logan could still smell blood in the cloth, and he said, "You want me to throw this out, Remy?"

Remy shrugged. "Could be a good souvenir."

"Do not be morbid, Remy," Ro said. "And goddess knows you have plenty of clothing back at the mansion."

"Should that be evidence? Against the fucker who shot you?" Logan asked.

Remy pursed his lips. "Well, if they want proof, I can show 'em this scar," he said. "Or my X-rays." So they decided to throw away his old clothing, and when a nurse came by to remove Remy's IV, Logan helped him out of his hospital gown and into the silk pajamas he'd brought the first day in the hospital. He frowned, seeing how thin Remy had grown in the hospital, and he lightly ran a finger over the large white bandage taped to Remy's chest before helping him button up the pajama shirt. Remy carefully brushed out his hair while Ro packed up the gifts that were worth saving and threw away the wilted flowers, preparing for Remy to leave the room that had been his home this week.

An orderly brought down a wheelchair, which Remy was forced to use despite his protests that he'd been shot in the chest, not the legs. They went downstairs and finished up Remy's release paperwork. Ro brought the car around front and Logan, trailed by the orderly, helped Remy into the front seat. Logan was so happy about leaving the hospital that he didn't mind being crammed in the backseat of the small sports car.

When they got home, they found a big homemade banner that read "Welcome Home, Mr. LeBeau!" over the door. Remy smiled happily at it, and his smile grew wider when he found that everyone was waiting for him in the living room with a welcome home cake. Logan helped Remy settle on a couch, where he ate a big piece of cake and received well wishes from all the students, basking in the attention.

After half an hour, Logan said, "All right, kids, Mr. LeBeau needs his rest."

Remy gave a slight pout, but said, "Merci! This was real sweet of y'all. I will see you all soon, d'accord?"

The kids murmured goodbyes, and Logan guided Remy to the elevator to his second floor bedroom. "I can walk, Logan," Remy protested.

"Sure you can, but you're supposed to rest." Logan thought about carrying Remy, but he suspected it would hurt his lover's fractured ribs, so he settled for a protective arm around his shoulders. Upstairs, they found that Remy's bedroom had been cleaned and filled with flowers.

"Ah, Ro," Remy said, smiling.

"You need anything, Remy?" Logan asked. "Pain pill?"

Remy sighed. "Guess I could stand to take a few of those, truth be told." Logan provided him with a glass of water and the bottle of pills, and watched as Remy took two. "Something else I need, Logan," Remy said.

"Name it," Logan replied.

"Well, cher, in the hospital I got real tired of sleeping by myself. So if I'm supposed to rest, I want you up here with me."

"Course, Remy," Logan said, climbing up on the bed to gently embrace Remy, who laid on his good side and tucked his head against Logan's chest.

"And one more thing?" Remy asked.

"Course."

"Later, I need you to help me figure out what Ro did with my cigarettes," Remy said breathily.

Logan laughed. "Well... we'll see about that, darlin'," he said, stroking Remy's soft hair.

Remy closed his eyes and his breathing slowed. He was almost asleep when he abruptly said, "Thanks, Logan... for sticking around."

"What? Of course," Logan said, slightly offended.

"I know how much y'hate hospitals, and... thanks," Remy said.

Logan bent down to kiss Remy's forehead. He said softly, "Look, Remy, you need me--I'm there. Anywhere. I love you."

Remy smiled. "Moi aussi, je t'aime."

Tucked under Logan's arm, Remy gently drifted off to sleep. Logan smiled, incredibly happy that Remy was alive and out of the hospital. And though it was only the afternoon, Logan fell asleep too. Sleep came much easier under silk sheets and Remy's hair than it had on the uncomfortable hospital chair.

 

end