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The Starlight Saga, Chapter Four

Mac O'Roni

     “Gambit, would you watch what you’re doing?” Cyclops yelled over the crashing sounds of mutants fighting Sentinels and practice droids. He had just narrowly avoided being hit by five glowing playing cards. “Wolverine, would you give him a hand? Find out what’s wrong and fix it.”
     Logan turned to the tall young mutant standing next to him and reached out for the sleeve of his coat. Gambit flinched away violently, eyes sparking and wild.
     On the instant, a beam from a Sentinel slammed into the Acadian and blasted him into the wall, where he crumpled and lay on the floor, unconscious.
     “Remy!” Logan shouted, moving toward his fallen companion. Another Sentinel blast almost set him to join the Cajun, but Cyclops enacted the emergency kill just in time. The ruined cityscape they’d been training in faded away until they were left standing in the homely confines of the Danger Room.
     “Kid, you okay?” Logan said, raising him up to a sitting position. Gambit groaned and his eyelids fluttered, but he did not wake up.
     “Make room,” Beast said brusquely, pushing through to his injured teammate’s side. “Hmm…I don’t think it’s too serious. Let’s get him to the MedLab and get him patched up. He’s going to be in a very bad mood when he wakes up, but he’ll be fine in short order, I feel sure.”
     “I’ll take him,” Logan said, gathering the lanky body up in his arms. “It’s my fault he’s hurt.”
     Cyclops put a restraining hand on his beefy shoulder. “What happened, Wolverine? Really?”
     “Doesn’t matter. All that matters is that he’s all right.” The burly Canadian stood up, shaking off the X-Team leader, and left the Danger Room behind Dr. McCoy, bound for the MedLab.

     Furry fingers brush his face, the sharp tips of claws trail over his skin.
     Remy burst to consciousness with sudden violence, his entire body growing momentarily brilliant, like a dying star, before the kinetic charge focused in his hands, turning the bed he lay upon into a giant explosive device.
     “Gambit! Move!” Beast shouted, and grabbed the Cajun off the bed. He pulled him into the hall and ducked down with him beneath the observation window. The blast showered shattered glass onto their backs, but Beast’s thick fur protected him from injury and he instinctively shielded his patient. “Well, I guess we’re going to have to move you to a different room,” he said sourly as a thick cloud of smoke billowed out through the door and broken window.
     But Remy was still deep in the grip of senseless terror. He tore away from the doctor and raced out of the infirmary wing, caroming off medical equipment and startled staff.
     “He’s going to hurt himself! Somebody stop him!” McCoy hollered, but no one was in a big hurry to risk contact with the wild man. He ran after him himself.
     Logan was in the hall outside the MedLab wing when Remy burst out the door. “Woah, kid,” he said, grabbing for his arm. “You’re hurt, you’re gonna kill yourself if you’re not careful.”
     The stark look of terror he received in response chilled his heart. Was Remy really so terrified of him? How was he going to be able to set things right? Was he going to be able? He cursed himself again for giving way to his impulses that night in the Danger Room. He should have recognized the possibility of this happening.
     Beast showed up then. “Oh, great. Thank you, Logan, I really didn’t know if I’d be able to catch him before he hurt himself.”
     Terror gave way to babbling insanity. Remy saw his two friends no longer. Instead, a third figure had appeared, towering over them, eclipsing them. He stumbled and fell in his desperate haste to extricate himself from Wolverine’s hard grip, eyes sparking so intensely that both men flinched away from him instinctively, expecting optic beams to shoot out at them a la Cyclops. Of course that didn’t happen, but Logan wasn’t fooled. He smelled the sharp, bitter tang of ozone baking off those eyes and knew with a sudden lurch in his guts that, pushed a little farther, Gambit’s eyes could do some nasty things. Maybe nastier than ol’ Cyke could even imagine in his darkest nightmares.
     "Obtenez loin de moi!” Gambit gibbered, backing away and making himself small. “Ne me blessez pas encore!”
     “Hurt you?” Beast was frankly stunned. “We’re not going to hurt you. Gambit, we’re your friends.” He moved toward his teammate, intending only to try and comfort him.
     “Non! Ne me touchez pas!” The Cajun curled up in a doorway, looking for all the world like a small child. How he could make such a large body fit in so small a space confounded even Dr. McCoy, who knew just how unique Gambit’s skeletal and muscular structure really was.
     Archangel and Iceman showed up then, responding to the sounds of the explosion. “What happened, Hank?” Bobby called out when he saw the blue doctor.
     “It’s all right,” McCoy said, positioning himself to block their view of the cowering Cajun. The last thing he’d need when he came to himself was the knowledge that he had let these two men, of all people, see him in such a state. “There was a little accident, but it’s under control.”
     “Under control my ass,” Logan growled. Beast shot him an ungrateful look.
     “Hey, is that the Traitor?” Warren asked, stretching to look over Henry’s broad shoulder. “What’s he doing out here on the floor? I thought he got hurt in the Danger Room session this morning.”
     “Aidez-moi! Aidez-moi, M’sieu Archange, s’il t'plaît!” Both McCoy and Logan were shocked this time. Logan knew enough French to understand without a translator that the Cajun was asking Archangel for help.
     Worthington knew it, too. “What’s going on here?” he asked, eyes suspicious. Beast knew when he was beaten. He moved aside to give the two men a clear view of Gambit’s predicament.
     “He won’t let us touch him,” he said. “Please help, Warren, we’ve got to get him out of here and someplace where he can be treated.”
     Bobby was the first to move, as impetuous as always. He didn’t really like the Cajun (among other reasons was the fact that he found it harder to take ice form around the hot-blasting mutant), but he was still his teammate and he needed help. As much to his surprise as anyone else’s, Gambit allowed him to squat down beside him and put an arm around his shoulders.
     “Help me out here, Angel,” Iceman said. “Get on his other side and let’s get him to his room. We can treat him there as well as anywhere else, and he’s less likely to blow it up than the MedLab.”
     “Thank you, my friends,” McCoy sighed as the two men carefully pulled the Cajun to his feet and walked him down the hall toward the men’s wing. “I just don’t understand it. Here I thought Bobby and Warren would be the two people on this planet Gambit would least want to help him in this situation, and yet he acts as though they had never been anything but his favorite people in the world. And you and I, who have been his friends in everything, are not allowed near.”
     “He’s scared of me because I kissed him,” Logan said matter-of-factly.
     Beast’s double-take would have been comical in other circumstances. “W—what?”
     “The other night, after our poker game, me and him went to the Danger Room for a quick workout. He freaked out when I kissed him. Ain’t been right since.”
     “You kissed him?” Beast was incredulous.
     “That’s what I said, Blue.”
     “On the lips?”
     “I didn’t figure I knew him well enough yet to kiss him on the ass.”
     Beast thought that remark was meant to be sarcastic, but it was hard to tell for certain.
     “All right, let’s see if I understand this. You…you made an advance. It was not well-received. Based on what little we know of Gambit’s childhood experiences, it is understandable that a phobia might manifest itself toward you. But what it does not explain is his reaction toward me. I have done nothing to him. Why is he so afraid?”
     “Search me, Hank. Maybe you should ask him.”
     “If he were in a more stable mental condition, and if I thought I could get a straight answer out of him even then, I would.”
     “Maybe it’d be easier to get a straight answer out of him the way he is.”
     “What do you mean?” McCoy looked into his companion’s face. “Are you suggesting—”
     “Hey, you can’t help him unless you know what’s wrong, right? So isn’t it your duty as a doctor to find out?”
     “Yes, but preferably in a way that will not cause further damage.”
     “Hey, maybe he’ll consent willingly. He likes Jeannie, you know he does, and if he’s asking Warren for help, he’ll probably accept it from her.”
     Beast sighed. Logan had a point, and not just on the top of his head. “All right, we’ll ask her to help. But if he refuses, we do not push it.”
     Logan nodded. “Understood. Don’t think it would work if he ain’t willing, anyway. Hell, his psi-shields are probably at triple-strength just now.”
     They started down the hall after Archangel and Iceman, but Cyclops rounded the corner in front of them and cut them off. “Gambit blew up the MedLab again, didn’t he?” he said. He was obviously angry.
     “Now now, Scott. Gambit has never blown up the MedLab. He did, however, blow up a small portion of it...again.” Beast tried to keep his voice light and humorous.
     “What is wrong with him? I just passed Warren and Bobby practically dragging him to his room. He gets hurt in a routine training session when he’s never been seriously injured in the Danger Room before, and all because he seems to have developed a sudden allergy to Wolverines?”
     McCoy snorted laughter in spite of himself, but it really wasn’t funny, under the circumstances. “He’s allergic to me, too, for some reason,” he said. “Which is why we need to borrow Jean from you. We think he’ll agree to let her…’look into’ the causes of his current distress.”
     “Good. Do it as soon as possible. Until this is cleared up, he’s on inactive duty. I can’t have one of my men going ballistic in a real battle situation. He could end up getting hurt even worse than he did today, and he’d be a danger to all of us.”
     “Understood. We’ll get right on it.”
     Within twenty minutes, Beast had Jean at Gambit’s bedside.
     “Gambit, can you hear me?” she asked, leaning over the prone figure.
     “Do you know who I am?”
     “Oui. Jeanne,” he said, giving her name that French twist he insisted on even when he was speaking English, which he had so far refused to do no matter who asked.
     “Gambit, I’m here to help you. Do you want me to help?”
     “Oui. S’il t’plaît.”
     “Then you’re going to have to let me past your shields. Will you do that?”
     “Oui, Jeanne.”
     She reached out with her telepathy, entering the astral plane with practiced ease. When she encountered the thick, high black walls of Gambit’s psi-shields, her progress was halted.
     Gambit, I thought you wanted me to help you, she projected.
     Je suis désolé. Un moment, he returned. With obvious difficulty, the imposing, incredibly ancient-looking walls cracked apart enough to allow her astral form to slip past. She repressed errant thoughts of what would happen if they closed up behind her and focused on the task at hand.
     She had to find a memory, something that would explain the depth of his current distress and why so much of it was directed at the blue furry doctor, who was still not allowed within sight of his patient because each glimpse sent the Cajun into a quivering fit of terror that was violently pitiable. She delved deeper into his mind until she found the near end of his extraordinarily long memory trail. The far end of it was lost in the infinite reaches of his psyche, just the bit of it she could see was already fully three times longer than the longest such trail she had ever encountered. It occurred to her to wonder why such a young man’s memories should be so abnormally stretched but she had no time to ponder the question—she could feel his strain at keeping those amazing psionic walls opened and did not want to stay here any longer than she absolutely had to. She floated into the streams of Gambit’s past and searched.
     It was not hard to find.
     Oh, God…no! she thought, withdrawing herself from the memory, from his mind, from the astral plane with a wrenching mental shudder. Dear Lord, what horror. No wonder he was in such a state. She couldn’t contain a deep, wracking sob as she returned to her physical self.
     “What? What is it?” Scott asked, moving to her side.
     “It’s awful. Dear Lord, Scott, I can’t believe he survived.”
     “Survived what? Jean, what happened? What is this all about?”
     “All this time, I thought it was his childhood he was reacting to,” she said, still not really responding to her husband.
     “Jean, tell us, please. I know it’s hard, but we have to know if we’re going to help him,” Beast said from around the corner of the doorway where he was hiding, feeling useless and more than a little ridiculous.
     “Not here, not in front of him. Can we please go somewhere else?”
     “Of course,” Scott said, leading his wife to the door. “We’ll go to the War Room. We’ll get everyone together who needs to be there. Then you’ll only have to tell it once.”
     “I’ll get Logan,” Beast said. “He’ll want to be there. Bobby and Warren, too, I suppose, since they already know too much about this. It’s best they have the full story before they go telling everyone about how our Cajun has gone cuckoo. After that, I think only Cecilia needs to be there, don’t you? She’s taking care of him, since I can’t yet.” The angry impotence in his last few words was hardly surprising to Scott. Cyclops knew the doctor hated not being able to help people when they were hurt, whether or not they were his friends and teammates to begin with.
     “Thank you, Henry,” Scott said, as he and Jean headed for the War Room. “Have them all present in ten minutes.”
     “I’ll have them in five,” the doctor said, loping away on all fours at a near-gallop.
     “What is this all about, Jean?” Scott asked, voice low, when the doctor was gone. “Tell me. Who hurt Gambit enough to make you this upset?”
     “Creed,” was all she said. Scott understood at once. Sabretooth. It made hellish sense, although he did not yet know the how and why. With Logan’s feral aspect and those terrible claws, he was just as frightening in his way as the bigger mutant, and he could see how McCoy’s animal appearance, fur and teeth and claws so like those of Sabretooth, could terrorize someone already driven half-mad with fear. But why was this manifesting itself now? They hadn’t run across Sabretooth in months. And whenever they had, Gambit had fought with his usual cocky, arrogant fearlessness and easy skill. What had changed, and when, and why?
     As good as his word, McCoy had the chosen few assembled before Scott and Jean had fairly entered the door. “What’s this all about, Cyclops?” Dr. Cecilia Reyes demanded. “I have a patient to attend to.”
     “It is because of your patient that we called you here, doctor,” he replied. “Jean has some information that will hopefully help us out in treating him.”
     “It had better,” the woman said, collapsing into a chair sullenly. They ignored her demeanor. Dr. Reyes was never exactly polite, but she was an excellent doctor who cared a great deal for her patients, even though she would have happily beaten the living piss out of anyone who suggested such a thing.
     “Please, everyone, sit down,” Jean said. “I believe what I have to say will be very disturbing, even to those of us who are not on the best of terms with Gambit.”
     When all had complied, she began. “The reason Gambit has suddenly developed this devastating phobia toward you, Logan, and you, Henry, is because he is equating the two of you in his mind with someone else. Someone who hurt him very badly in the past. Sabretooth.”
     Dr. McCoy shook his head in disbelief. “How can he put me in the same camp as that monster?”
     “Hey, I don’t exactly care for the comparison myself, Doc,” Logan growled.
     “It’s nothing you’ve said or done, Hank. Unfortunately, he was already in the grip of this fear when he woke up in the MedLab today, and the feel of your fur and clawtips on his cheek triggered an instinctive reaction and his memories insisted that it was Creed come back to hurt him again. He is aware,” she continued, “that you mean him no harm. But he cannot control this fear. Whenever he sees you, particularly when he sees you and Logan together, he can only think of Sabretooth.”
     “What happened to him?” Bobby asked. “Why is he so afraid of Sabretooth? He never was before.”
     “He always was, Bobby,” Jean said. “But he kept it under control. He was safe fighting Sabretooth with us backing him up. But…” she cast a glance in Logan’s direction and her smell changed from pity to embarrassment and he knew that she knew why Remy’s fears had come to the fore.
     “But something happened to Remy while he was working out a couple of nights ago that brought these long-buried fears to the forefront, and he’s focused them on Logan and Hank. Like I said, he knows that neither of them really mean him any harm, but he can’t control himself.
     “Sinister…was not happy that Gambit tried to stop the Morlock massacre,” she continued. “We knew already that he had Sabretooth chase him down when he tried to escape with Marrow through the tunnels, and that he was seriously injured when Creed caught him, though thankfully he had already managed to hide Sarah in a culvert. What we didn’t know is that Sabretooth brought him back to Sinister instead of leaving him for dead as we had thought. Sinister used him for his experiments, and Sabretooth…”
     “Used him for a toy,” Logan growled.
     Jean nodded, choking back hot tears of shame and pity. “He totally emasculated him, psychologically. Even called him by a woman’s name. ‘Suzette.’ And there was a very strong memory of how Sabretooth would visit him in his cell at night while he was sleeping, and wake him up singing ‘Wake Up Little Susie’…You know, the Everly Brothers song.”
     Bobby let out a long whistle. “So that’s why he blew up the jukebox at Harry’s the time someone tried to play that song. I just thought he was drunk.” He looked embarrassed and ashamed of himself.
     Jean nodded again, wiping tears from her eyes with a distracted palm. “He was brutalized. There’s no other word for it. He was able to rebound from everything that happened to him in his youth, but this happened much later on. He had learned pride, self-confidence, even learned how to be happy. If living in the Thieves Guild taught him to be a criminal, at least it gave him that in return. What happened with Sabretooth…stripped all that away. He never really got it back, although he learned how to fake it. When he came here to us, with Storm, he began to feel those things honestly. He even learned to love a little, and to trust. And then…well, what happened in Antarctica started it. Tore most everything away that he’d regained, but he was healing again, rebounding…now, he’s right back where he started.”
     “Do you think I could see him?” Beast asked. “Without upsetting him too badly?”
     “Actually, yes, Hank. He’s very strong, I never really realized how strong. When I pulled away from him, I could sense that he was calming down a great deal. I think sharing the memory has helped him in large part already. He’ll be scared, I have no doubt, but I don’t think he’ll panic anymore at sight of you.”
     “Excellent. I wish Professor Xavier were here to advise me on the psychological aspects of this case, but I think that the best way to get back in his good graces would be to keep him exposed to the two of us, and eventually he’ll fully come to realize that we’re his friends and we mean him no harm. Some part of his mind obviously has other ideas, and we need to disabuse him of that so this doesn’t happen again further down the line. Will…will Logan also be able to see him?” Hank phrased it delicately, understanding even without Logan’s hyper-senses that Jean knew also the trigger of their Acadian friend’s current situation.
     “Better and better. I would like to start the acclimatization process at once—if, that is, it’s all right with you, Wolverine.”
     “The sooner the better, Blue.”
     “Good. Do what you have to do, Hank. I don’t want to lose Gambit, but there’s no way I’m letting him back on active duty until this is squared away. I shudder to think what would happen if we were to encounter the real Sabretooth any time soon, with him in this condition,” Scott said.
     “Then let’s get started. Logan, you will accompany me to our Cajun compatriot’s domicile?”
     “Right behind you, bub.”
     They left together. When they were out in the hall, out of earshot of the others, Hank spoke to Logan. “I think perhaps a thorough apology would be helpful,” he said delicately. “It was, after all, your actions that sparked this admittedly disproportionate reaction, and Gambit needs to be made aware of the fact that you did not intend to hurt him and would not do so again.”
     “I know. I was plannin’ on it already, Blue. Say, what time is it?” Logan stopped the doctor abruptly.
     “It’s…eight o’clock. Goodness gracious, I didn’t realize it was that late. We’ll have to wait till tomorrow, I suppose. Gambit needs to sleep. Damn,” Beast said, expressing his displeasure with the strongest swear word he ever used, “I really wanted to start immediately, so this fear didn’t have time to get an irreversible hold on him.”
     “I think we oughta start tonight, anyway. Stay with him ‘round the clock for a while, ‘til he gets used to us again.”
     “You mean…sleep in his room?” Ordinarily that would have been his initial plan, but he was unconsciously wary of Logan’s motives for staying in the Cajun’s bedroom.
     “In his bed.”
     “He needs to get used to us again, the quicker the better. I’m not going to rape him, Blue,” Logan said. “I just want to get him back on the team and set things right with him quick.”
     “But that will probably send him right back over the edge!”
     Logan shook his head. “No, I really think he’s stronger than that. I surprised him before, but this time we’ll give him the choice, let him get prepared for it. We’ll be there whether he likes it or not, but I’m not going to lay a hand on him unless he gives the nod. And neither are you.”
     When Logan used that tone, there was nothing to do but agree and tag along. McCoy wondered just how it was that he had gotten himself into this, but he followed with reluctant trust.
     When they reached Remy’s door, Beast stepped up to knock. “Gambit, may we come in? It’s Hank and Logan. Your friends.”
     There was a pregnant pause. McCoy had time to think they’d have to go in anyway, but he wanted very badly for it to be Remy’s choice, for him to grant them permission. It would show that there was something there that could be salvaged from this phobia.
     “Oui, Hank,” Gambit’s voice drifted out at last. “Come on in.”
     “Well, he’s speaking some English again,” Beast pointed out to Logan as they entered. “That’s a good sign.”
     He was sitting up in bed, propped against the headboard with pillows at his back, his bare chest freshly bandaged in the precise, utilitarian manner of Dr. Reyes. The wound wasn’t terribly serious, but it was probably quite painful. It was hard to give Gambit painkillers—his metabolism made medication next to impossible, as some relatively harmless drugs, like aspirin, would put him in a coma but drugs like morphine didn’t have any perceptible effect on him at all.
     “How do you feel?” Beast asked, gesturing to the dressed wound.
     “M’okay,” Gambit mumbled. He seemed to be trying to make his eyes come level with his guest’s, but failing utterly.
     “Doesn’t hurt too badly?”
     “Nah. Only when Gambit laugh.” The joke was weak, but it was an attempt at levity, and Beast took it for another hopeful sign.
     “Jean told us about…about the real situation here.”
     Gambit nodded, face reddening.
     “We’d like to help you overcome this, if we can. We’d like to be able to be your friends and teammates again.”
     “Gambit like dat, too.”
     “We feel that the only way you can trust us again is if we spend time with you, show you that we do not intend to hurt you.”
     Gambit’s face blanched at that, but he nodded anyway.
     “I got somethin’ to say, too, Gum—Gambit,” Logan said, correcting himself as he went for the old nickname.
     “Gambit don’ mind if you call him 'Gumbo,' Wolverine,” Gambit said quietly. “It don’ really bother him.”
     Logan was a little concerned at the dissociation in the words—the Cajun had pretty well broken his annoying habit of referring to himself in the third person in the last year or so, at least around the X-Men. Still, he had something to say and damned if he wasn’t going to say it.
     “I’m sorry about what happened, Remy. I didn’t mean to hurt you that night, I just felt something and I acted on it. If I’d known this was gonna happen, if I’d thought about it for a single minute, I never woulda done it.”
     “Why did you do it, Wolverine?” Gambit asked. “Gambit never t’ought you…swung dat way.”
     “I didn’t know it myself, Remy. But the fact is, I love you.”
     It was Beast’s turn to blanch at the frank admission, certain that it was all going to go spiraling out of reach or hope of redemption. But Gambit took it with surprising equanimity.
     “Y’do?” His exotic demon’s eyes were very large, showing surprise, fear, and…hunger? Could it really be?
     “’Fraid so. Think I have for a long time, just never had a chance to really look at what I was feelin’ before. Findin’ out about…about that old bastard and what he did to you, what you had to go through, it brought a lot of things to light that I’d never really thought about.”
     “Okay. S’long as it ain’t jus’…jus’ sex.”
     Even Logan was a little taken aback by the words. He hadn’t expected this kind of acceptance, not after what Gambit had gone through because of him. He wasn’t stupid enough to take it as an invitation, but he felt a spark of hope just the same.
     Beast cleared his throat. “Well, as your doctor, I insist that you try and get some sleep, Gambit. Which brings up our next request.”
     Gambit managed to look at him more frankly now.
     “We’d like to…that is to say, the two of us think it would be most helpful, if we were to stay here with you tonight. You seem to have come back a long way already, but Cyclops will not let you back on active duty until you can show that you are truly comfortable in our presence again, and I don’t doubt that you’ll want to go back on active duty as soon as possible. Am I correct?”
     Gambit nodded. “Gambit don’ min’ if y’stay here, doc. Either of ya.”
     “We’d also like to sleep with you. I mean, in your bed.” Beast blushed furiously under his fur.
     “Dat’s okay, too.” His voice was quiet, but there was no hesitation.
     “You’re absolutely certain?”
     “Well, then, that’s all right, isn’t it?” Beast said, and prepared himself for what he felt was certain to be the weirdest night of his life. Emotionally capped out, he was asleep within moments of laying down, a fact that would have surprised him if he could have been aware of it. He lay on one side of Gambit, and Logan on the other.
     Neither Logan nor Remy felt much like sleeping, however, and as their companion’s soft snores drifted over them they began to talk in hushed voices. There was little else to do, since Gambit wasn’t in any condition to get up and roam around as he would have liked. Logan expected that their conversation would be awkward, and it was at first, but not nearly what he had feared.
     They spoke at length about Logan and his perceived feelings for the Cajun, and after a good solid hour, Gambit made his decision. “If you wan’ Remy, y’can have him,” he said, just the briefest of imperceptible pauses in his voice as he consciously chose to say his real name in place of his code name.
     Logan gaped, an expression that looked as alien on that wild face as tenderness. “What?”
     “All he ask for is to be loved. All he want in dis world. You really love him, you got him.”
     If he’d been less intoxicated with the Cajun’s tantalizing proximity, with the smell of him, with the sweet sound of his voice saying the words he so desperately wanted to hear, Logan would surely have noticed that something was still not quite right. As it was, however, he still had sense enough left to ask if he really meant it, if Remy really wanted him the way Logan wanted Remy.
     “Oui, mon cher.” Here again, Logan should have noticed the slight pause as Gambit searched for the right thing to say.
     He moved closer to the Cajun’s side, reaching to put his arms around him the way he had dreamed of. He leaned in to kiss him, but pulled back before his lips could make contact with Gambit’s. “Is this okay? Can I?”
     “Oui. Remy wan’ you to.”
     Logan leaned in again, first lightly brushing his lips to the Cajun’s, then pressing them more firmly. As in his dream of a few nights before, it was a moment before Gambit responded, lips parting slightly. Logan could not but accept the invitation and slipped into that hot waiting mouth, dancing around Remy’s teeth and tongue. Holy shit, he tasted good enough to eat.
     He deepened the kiss, pressing his whole body against Remy’s now with ill-suppressed hunger. For Wolverine, Beast had simply ceased to exist, and all he was aware of was his lover’s heat, and smell, and taste.
     There was a little resistance at first as he pressed the budding relationship further, Gambit struggling under him just a little as he rolled on top of him, practically sucking his face off in his intensity. His wriggling enflamed Logan further, but it didn’t last very long before he simply accepted it, and kept on kissing and being kissed.
     Logan was very close to feral now, his tether on his rational human mind slipping dangerously. This outburst wouldn’t be fatal to anyone, but with the last of his available thought processes he forced himself to back off. He didn’t want to rut with the kid like a bull moose in heat. He became aware of the big doctor’s snores again, and was glad he had managed to rein it in. He didn’t want to wake Blue up; he would doubtless be pissed that Logan was risking a relapse this way.
     “Sorry, Remy. Got carried away.”
     “S’okay, cher.”
     “You okay?” he asked, laying a hand gently on the bandage that covered most of Gambit’s left pectoral muscle.
     “Yeah. It don’ hurt dat much anymore. Jus’ a little burn, s’all it was. Hittin’ de wall’s what knock Gambit out. Dem practice Sentinels, dey ain’t set t’kill.”
     Logan lay back on his side of the Cajun and just looked, getting a good eyeful of him. The fall of all that risky red hair over the pillows, eyes glowing softly in the dim light cast through the window by a waxing moon, the delicate, sensualist curve of his jawline…even through the omnipresent beard stubble, Remy’s jaw was a perfect combination of sensitivity and strength. He couldn’t stop himself from leaning forward to kiss him again, just under the shelf of that beautiful jaw this time, sucking lightly on the soft skin, relishing the prickle of whiskers on his lips. His passion and his erection had subsided, but now both came crashing back over him like waves pounding a rocky shore.
     “Turn around,” he said gruffly. “Please.”
     Obligingly, Gambit turned to face Beast, and Logan proceeded to divest him of his jeans. He stripped off himself and then wrapped his arms around his lover’s chest, locking his arms to his sides, rubbing his body against him, his erection pressing Gambit’s firm buttocks. Penetration was a little clumsy and altogether too abrupt, and Remy couldn’t quite suppress his pained gasp as Logan’s huge member slid, unlubricated, into him.
     “You okay?” Logan asked.
     It took a moment for Gambit to be able to respond. “Oui. Jus’…you damn big, cher.”
     “I’ll try to be a little more careful,” he said, which was probably as close to “comforting” as he could manage in any circumstance. He slid the palm of one hand flat down Remy’s chest to his stomach, and then down to his penis as he began to thrust into him. He fondled him as he did his thing behind, caressing with gentle fingers of fine leather. His healing factor did not allow calluses to form on his skin, but it made up for that by giving him a naturally tough epidermis.
     Remy was made for sex, that was something he knew and accepted. His incredibly sensitive spatial perception made for extreme tactility and he could feel touch, particularly gentle caresses, even before there was any actual physical contact. As such, he could not help but be pleasured by any gentle touches, no matter who bestowed them. Even Sabretooth had sometimes been gentle with him, because he had liked to watch as Remy’s catlike body arched into his touch, long lashes fluttering over those mesmerizing eyes, quiet, reluctant moans escaping those full, pouting lips. Such instances of tenderness on Creed’s part, however, were always followed immediately with sessions of sexual brutality that were worse than any time he started out rough, as his desire would put him into a deadly berzerker mode and he had nearly killed Gambit on several occasions. Sinister would certainly have killed Sabretooth in kind if he had killed the Cajun, for he found Gambit’s mysterious mutant physiology highly fascinating and worked diligently and brutally to uncover his secrets, but that was cold comfort indeed.
     But in spite of those memories, he trusted Logan. Not entirely—he was painfully aware of how hurtful he might be if he were to go feral—but he put more trust in his new lover’s self-control than he truly had any reason to. He was the one with the indomitable poker face, and Logan was the one who could barely contain his rages and passions. But he’d shown his calls today, horribly, and lost all trust in himself, and he was a man who could not live in any peace at all without someone to trust in, and so he put his faith in his friends.
     Both men tried to be very quiet, but the creaking, bouncing mattress and their hard breathing eventually managed to wake Dr. McCoy. He saw Remy’s white, sweating face and heard his labored breathing and for a few moments he thought the young man was ill. Still, it was a testament to his naivete that it took him so long to realize what was really happening.
     His face grew furiously hot under his fur, and he was embarrassed and horrified to be laying there, watching the two lovers, and yet found himself completely unable to move or take his eyes off of them. Particularly Remy, who’s flushed skin seemed to glow in the light of the rising moon and who’s eyes, rolling underneath lashes fluttering like moth’s wings around a candle flame, really did glow with passionate red light. He did not know how the two had gotten this far so quickly. All he did know was that he was becoming aroused in spite of himself.
     Logan bit Remy on the shoulder—a little too hard perhaps, but it was all right—as he climaxed. Remy’s strangled cry—half moan, half scream—signified the end of their lovemaking, though he himself did not come. Logan lay with his arms tight about him, panting heavily into his shoulder blades. Remy’s eyes opened all the way, and he looked straight into Hank’s hungry and dismayed blue ones.
     “You wan’ Remy too, Hank?” he asked, as blunt honest as only he, the master of deceit, could be. Beast could only nod dumbly, too stricken with desire to pretend otherwise. “Dat all right wit’ you, cher?” he asked over his own shoulder to the stocky Canadian now kissing him all over his back.
     “Fine by me,” Logan grunted, breath puffing against Remy’s skin like a short burst of static electricity. “I can share.”
     “Does it have to be…I mean, can we stay facing each other?” Beast asked, feeling incredibly out of the loop. How exactly was this done?
     “Oui. It easier all roun’ if you on top of me,” Gambit said. “We jus’ done it dis way to try an’ keep from wakin’ you up. I jus’ put somet’in’ unnerneat’ me to kin’a prop up on, neh?” He lay over on his back and arched into the air, reaching behind his head for a pillow, but something long and hard slid underneath him while he was doing it.
     “This all right, Remy?” Logan asked. He now lay perpendicular to his lover, propping his body up for McCoy’s convenience with his own hard-muscled body.
     “Oui, cher, if it all right wit’ Blue.”
     “Oh. Fine,” Beast said, thinking, In for a penny, Henry, in for a pound. His penetration was timid, and he was much clumsier than Logan, but he was gentler and Gambit was already opened up by what had gone on before, so it didn’t hurt.
     McCoy quickly forgot himself in the intense pleasure of the experience. Remy was an exceptionally good teacher, and led him down this path with a sure, steady hand. And Gambit found himself aroused again, more by the soft fur that brushed against his stomach and penis than by the actual intercourse, feeling each hair follicle as it struck his skin like tiny kinetic charges. He came no more this time than last as Hank climaxed inside him with shuddering and astonishing ferocity for one so gentle, but he felt well-satisfied nevertheless as both lovers fell upon him with rough, passionate kisses and caresses. Both men fell soundly asleep within minutes, cuddled up on either side of him and his arms around their shoulders, and he lay awake for a long time, absently stroking their hair and not really thinking about anything. In point of fact, he was nine-tenths of the way to “not there,” that state of complete dissociation where his mind and body were no longer locked together, but he was not aware of his own condition. After a few hours, he slept.

On to Chapter Five!