A Penny For Your Thoughts
The bongos grew louder as their player made their own rhythmless tune inside Remy's head. Every ragged breath he gasped for felt under two fathoms of the blackest depths of ocean. Remy blinked open his eyes and regretted it as the blinding false sun came from dimmest of reading lamps, of the far corner of the bedroom. Their feather bed had been comfortable but only for a short time. He groaned and tried several unsuccessful attempts to roll onto his left side, or even sit up, as his back itched with ache from laying there too long. Remy had kicked off the fine satin sheets and light-weight comforter long ago, as well as shoved Logan away from beside him, in bed, by flailing his arms to fend off dark dreams. Two strong hands grabbed at his forearms and pulled him to sit up and held him for a long moment until he finished swaying vertigo in movement.
"Good mornin'. How do ya feel?" Logan's voice was heavily muffled to Remy's ears. Kneeling down to look at Remy's face, Logan brushed his thumb against a pale cheek. Receiving no answer, Logan's tone rose while he concentrated on making eye contact into very distant demon eyes, "didja hear me?"
Remy reclined back, away from Logan's grasp, resting on his left hand. "Fine. Quit yellin' at me." Remy had been stripped down to his white with little Woodstock and Snoopy boxers and yet he overheated, more. "It's mornin'?" His head turned to look over his right shoulder and stare at the black curtains over the window but cringed and turned back as the gleam of the faint reading lamp, on the oak desk, behind him, blinded the corner of his right eye. Such small size of a lamp still shone bright enough to blind the waking Cajun.
"In a few hours." Logan adjusted his position on the bed so that he faced Remy's reclined shape. Silently, he revelled in how Remy glowed in the faded lamplight, as such an adonis. His tone lowered to barely a whisper. "You've been out for a few days. Didn't think he hit ya that hard."
The he Logan referred to had been Mastermold, the top supplier of the Sentinel program. Remy and Logan had diverted attention from a pre-emptive strike from Storm, Emma and Scott, in an opposite direction. Remy vaulted himself over a tall assembly machine's conveyour belt and landed on Mastermold's right knee. Charging his staff and slamming one end of it down, into the joint, Remy had calculated that his blast would unhinge one of Mastermold's main elements and therefore prevent the enormous machine from continuing production.
In the effort to do such damage, Remy had been swatted with the back of a large, metal hand as if he were nothing more than a fly. He had been taken completely off-guard and released his staff, setting off the detenation and maximizing his own extemporaneous flight across the vast underground workshop. The burst had come so unexpected that Storm's attempt to catch him with a gust of wind had only slowed down the inevitable crash into the over-sized generator, at the far end of the room. Remy was grateful the generator was off and unplugged, before he lost consciousness yet he was in too much pain to give Mastermold his repercussions.
Storm's attention had been redirected to the opening in the chest of the giant as two complete Sentinels emerged from within and headed in the direction of she and Emma, from the air, firing stun lasers into a smoke screen she had conjured only to dissipate the cast cloud. Each Sentinel divided their attentions between the three remaining mutants; two in the air and one on the ground. Storm called forth a cataclysmic tornado, comprised of thundrous lightning and sub-zero temperatures of hail and wind. Two twisters came from one and enveloped one Sentinel, hurling it backward into the following second robot.
The two frost-bitten and electrified drones sounded an awful crash as the twisting of metals and wires met in mid-air and fell from a great height to crumple ferociously into the controlboard. Scott hadn't been too far away from the landing sight and blasted another fresh Sentinel as it fully freed itself from Mastermold's inner shell. "Wolverine! Another is about to come out! We have to get up to--"
Logan had anticipated what Scott's next words would be and released his claws from embedding themselves into the central powerbox that Mastermold was sitting on. With one last slash to the core of wires protruding from the giant box. "My pleasure." Logan stabbed one fist into the side of the box after the other, climbing his way up to Mastermold's right thigh. Once making it to the top, Logan was grabbed by a large fist and held in mid air, in a grip that threatened to cut off his circulation. Though his hands and arms were pinned to his sides, his claws were still unsheathed enough for him to slice upwards the inside of Mastermolds giant fingers, doing minor damage but ultimately coming close to dismembering the huge metal digits at the second knuckle.
Two more Sentinels had been completed and soared out of Mastermold's chest, ready for attack, followed by two additional ones. Mastermold had sped up production when he perceived himself to be in danger. With Logan slicing at his fingers and Scott using his ruby-lasered eye beam to keep Mastermold's legs from straightening as the massive machine made a movement to stand up, Mastermold grew impatient with his attackers. After dropping the mutant in his right hand and swatting at Storm with his left, his sensored vision alerted him to Remy, the same kinetic energy-using mutant that he had flung across the vast cave room, making another go to damage Mastermold's production line. He waited as the small mutant vaulted himself closer and then gathered enough energy to blast the tiny being to the far end of the room, leaving Remy to freefall into the shiny, diamond hard surface of his teammate; Emma Frost.
The strike had merely phased Emma, knocking her sense of balance off and shaking her mental holds to the core but doing more damage to the Cajun by rendering him unconscious as the back of his head smacked smartly on the foam-covered, high-velocity water pipes that were used to cool the heated metals of the newly formed Sentinel molds.
Raising his left hand with his palm flattened, Mastermold aimed a laser and fired into the gathered group around Emma and Remy, ending the simulation.
"Dat pile a nuts an' bolts ain't never gonna hurt Gambit." It had taken a long few minutes but Remy stiffened and admitted proudly his denial. He hadn't dared to look at his lover while saying it, his words as cold and tight as he was.
Logan shifted, not buying the cover story Remy had offered. He said nothing. Outstretching his right hand and placing it casually on Remy's left shoulder, Logan suggested they go downstairs to scrounge up something to eat.
Remy shook his head no. What he hadn't admitted, not only to Logan but to himself, was that he had been mortified in learning that a simulation villain almost cost him his team as well as his own life. It was a fear he had come to know years prior to joining the X-Men. His back and legs hurts from points of impact and his head swam with blurry vision and a constant ringing in his ears that refused to be silenced. Yet, the main ache he had was his pride. His ego outright denied that the Prince of Thieves had been tossed around as a ragdoll and humiliated in front of his teammates by a simulation, a hologram. "Think I'll just go back ta bed. Head hurts." Shoving himself back, behind Logan and laying back down as Logan had stood from the bed, Remy rolled away from him and shut his eyes.
Minutes later, Logan clicked off the desk lamp and removed his clothing, getting ready for bed. Slipping silently into bed, next to Remy, they faced each other. Remy's eyes were closed and his breathing had slowed, indicating he was asleep. Logan stared at his lover's peaceful sleeping face and placed a hand lightly on Remy's left forearm. His thumb rubbed against the alabaster skin, quietly telling Remy "good night."
The summer morning was not at it's peak but came closer and closer with every breath Remy took. He sat in a small, green lawn chair on the second story veranda, a small red plastic cooler with a white lid placed to his right, acting as a table for his drink of choice. The brown bottle was cold and sweating from the humidity. His arms rested on the thin metal armrests of the chair, the bottle in his right hand. He woke early, dressed in tan khaki shorts and an untucked green polo shirt with black Tevas, drove Logan's Jeep down to the Corner Mart and picked up his supplies for the day. Remy was now on his second beer.
"A little early to start drinkin', don't ya think?"
Remy didn't turn around, simply raised the bottle of Stella Artrois to his lips for another sip. "Den, you're a little late ta start scoldin' me."
Logan moved to stand next to Remy, the red cooler between them. "How many you had, already?"
With the same hand that held the mostly empty second bottle, Remy lifted two fingers; index and middle fingers. His eyes never moved from staring out, over the front yard and the stone fountain that stood proudly in the middle of the paved drive. As Logan informed him of the time of day, 10:30 AM, Remy laid his index finger back down, flipping Logan off as he continued to drink his beer.
Logan's eyes narrowed at the remaining lifted finger, "mature."
"Pull up a chair, have one."
Turning the cooler long-ways and straddling the end, balancing himself so that his weight wouldn't crush the fragile box, Logan removed the bottle from Remy's hand, took a sip before placing it on the ground, beside him, and stared at Remy's profile. "Who stole yer penny?"
Remy turned and flashed Logan a quizzical look.
Logan started to answer but paused to look deep into Remy's blank stare. "'A penny for yer thoughts.' You've been sittin' out here for a week, tryin' to stare a hole in that damn statue. This mornin's the first time you've been drinkin' while doin' it. What'cha thinkin' about?"
Remy turned back to stare out at the front drive, looking at anything BUT that fountain. "Nevermind."
"Bullshit. Since the Danger Room fail, you've been mopin' around. Now, what the Hell is wrong?" Logan reached out and grabbed Remy's right wrist. He hated the fact Remy had become distant and numb around him. He knew there had been a revelation in the training sequence that Remy hadn't shared with anyone and it was eating at Remy, at both of them. "Rem, we've been together too long to keep secrets from each other. What's goin' on?"
Remy sighed inwardly. He knew Logan wouldn't let him escape. He had thought about each word carefully, planning the correct moment to say them in the order he thought best. All that planning and reciting now seemed corrupt. "Jean, Jean-Paul, Piotr, Kitty, de Prof..... dey're all dead. Dey died fightin' bad guys. All o' dem had powers to keep dat from happenin'. But, dey died, anyway. This team, right here, we're what's left to fight. Jus' a handful of people dat can get killed off by a swat o' de hand, like flies. I could die. You could die. And, we ain't never had a life ta live, together, Logan. We never tried ta have a family life, outside of dis place. You okay wit' dat? Remy's not. I wanna live, Logan. I wanna live wit' you. I want more dan really great sex after fightin' bad guys. I wanna feel you inside my soul, not just my body." Remy had finally turned to look at Logan as he finished his statement. He saw the answer in Logan's eyes.
Nodding, Logan understood how much it had scared Remy to be thrown around in a simple training sequence that they should have won. Remy had always been stoic and never admitted defeat, yet this time it was different. Remy had been off his game and it nearly cost the team their lives. But the same could have been said about any of them. A shiver ran up and down Logan's spine. "Tell ya what, we've got some time before the kids get back, let's take a road trip. Just get on the bikes and go."
"To where?" A solitairy tear slipped from Remy's eye. That had been the first time he had ever shown emotion to anyone else.
Logan wiped the damp trail away from Remy's cheek and added, "anywhere but here."
Remy thought for a moment. A light breeze had swept through his short hair as he nodded and flashed a simple smile.