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Special thanks to "Nameless Entity #1," "Isolda," for vetting my French for me! Merci beaucoup, padnat!

The Starlight Saga, Chapter Six

Mac O'Roni

     Ororo Munroe’s beautiful face was a super-cell thundercloud the next morning after training when she pulled Wolverine and Beast out of the corridors and into the empty War Room.
     “What in the name of the Bright Lady are you doing to my brother?” she demanded without preamble.
     Hank’s jaw dropped, but Logan merely scowled. “What do you think we’re doing to him, ‘Ro?” he asked.
     “I don’t know, Logan, but last night it looked very much like you were fucking him.”
     Hank winced. “That’s such a crude phrase—”
     “But apt, if what I saw last night is any indication.”
     “Look, ‘Ro, we’re not raping him, for Christ’s sake. He wants it—” Logan began.
     Storm cut him off as well. “Does he really, Logan? Or does he merely want you to think he wants it?”
     That silenced both men. Storm raged on uninterruptedly.
     “I cannot believe you would do such a thing. That’s not entirely true. Logan I believed would do such a thing, though I remain shocked and disgusted that you have. Henry, I simply cannot believe the way you are behaving. You are a doctor, a man of education, intelligence, and I had thought compassion, and yet you fail to see that my brother is far from well, and risk his mental health with such utter disregard! I am deeply disappointed in you, Henry. Deeply disappointed.”
     Beast hung his head in shame, but he spoke with quiet dignity nevertheless. “It never seemed to me that there was anything wrong with Gambit—he’s overcome his fears quite admirably.”
     Storm howled like a tornado ripping through a trailer park. “You blind fool—are you really so besotted with my brother’s charms that you can’t see he’s not really there?”
     The stark confusion on both bestial faces spoke more eloquently than words. She threw up her hands in defeat. “I give up on the both of you,” she said. “I will find a way to bring Remy around myself. But I’m warning you—” she stepped up close to them, waving her well-manicured finger in their faces, somehow dwarfing both big men—“if you hurt my brother, I will have no compunctions whatsoever about retaliating in kind on the two of you.”
     She stalked away, leaving two very chastised X-Men standing stunned and thoroughly rattled in the War Room.
     “Logan, I think we have to find Remy. Right now,” Hank said, striding determinedly out of the War Room, a man on a mission. “We’ve been acting like fools. It has to end.”
     “Are you sure it’s right to just drop him?” Logan asked, trotting after the doctor. “I mean, the kid is emotional mashed potatoes; he might not understand.”
     “We’re doing the right thing, Logan. For once,” Hank assured him.
     “I hope you’re right, Blue. But God knows I don’t want to do it.”
     “Nor do I. But if Storm is right, and you’ll have to admit she makes a compelling point, then we have little choice. We can’t keep using him, we’ll only end up hurting him worse.”
     Neither man had any difficulty making the treacherous ascent to the rooftop, although it was a bit of a leap for the stocky Canadian. As they had known they would, they found Gambit laying back on the cinnamon-colored shingles—shingles that almost perfectly matched the fiery hue of his hair, they both noted with a stark pang. Beast was alarmed to note that the black-eyed Cajun was staring directly into the early afternoon sun, his pupils contracted until they had more or less disappeared, with that now familiar vague half-smile on his face.
     “She was right,” he whispered to Wolverine. “He’s not really there at all. What a fool I was! How could I have missed the signs? The dissociation in his speech and his sudden lack of interest in his usual activities should have told me everything I needed to know. I shouldn’t have needed to see this hollowed-out shell!”
     Logan’s voice, when he spoke, was strangely choked. “Don’t blame yerself, Blue. I shoulda smelled the lie on him from the start. An’ I should never have pushed him so hard—I promised myself I’d protect him, that I’d never let anyone hurt him like that again. And then I went ahead and did it myself.”
     “You really didn’t smell anything?” Hank asked. “I mean, I know from what you’ve said in the past that deceit has a strong odor for you to detect.”
     “Yeah, it usually does. But I didn’t smell anything at all, Blue, honest. Just him. But God knows, when I smell him, I can’t really think about much else.”
     McCoy nodded thoughtfully. “You know, I don’t doubt at all that there was no deceit to smell.”
     “You mean he wasn’t fakin’ it?”
     Hank shook his head. “No, no. I believe he was, at least to a great extent. But think about it, Logan—you’ve never been able to smell a bluff on him, either, have you? When you’re playing poker.”
     Wolverine gaped. “Christ on a handcar, Hank. You’re right.”
     “Answer me this, now: Have you ever smelled a lie on him?”
     Logan shook his head slowly. “No, not when it counted. Not when he didn’t want me to know he was lyin’. That has a different smell, y’know—wantin’ to be caught out.”
     “This is fascinating. We should discuss this more in-depth later. However, I feel we must do what we came to do. The hour draweth late, I fear—if we don’t bring him back to himself soon, I’m afraid we may never get him back at all.”
     They knelt down on the roof to either side of the young man. Both of them experienced deep pangs as they beheld his beauty—he was so seldom seen in the full glorious light of the sun that neither of them could remember a time when his handsome face and figure hadn’t been cloaked in secret shadows. He looked like a seraph, bathed in the glories of Heaven itself.
     An angel dying in the light of God.
     “Oh, my stars and garters,” Beast breathed. “I only hope we’re not too late already.”
     At the sound of his voice, the crimson-and-coal eyes blinked, the pupils dilated slightly, and the young man moved to look into the doctor’s anxious, leonine face.
     “Bonjour, Henri,” he said, his voice thick, slow, and groggy. “Beau jour, n'est-ce pas?”
     “Oui, très beau. Remy, descendrait-toi du toit avec nous, s'il te plaît?”
     The tousled head shook slowly in negation. “Non. J'aime être ici en haut. Il est chaleureux ici.”
     “As-tu froid, mon ami?”
     Remy nodded. “Il fait toujours froid ici. Le soleil est trop loin.”
     “Qu'est-ce que tu dit?”
     “C'est une si petite étoile, à vrai dire. Beaucoup plus petite que moi.”
     “Remy, de quoi parles-toi?”
     “Mais moi—je serias trop chaud pour la proximité. Nous incinérions. La planète cesserait d'exister.”

     Hank looked up at Logan, his expression grim and worried. “He’s delirious. Raving.”
     “What’s he saying?” Logan asked sourly. “I can’t understand one word in twenty you two are spewin’.”
     “Something about the sun being much smaller and colder than he is. Like I said, he’s delirious.”
     “Je ne suis pas délirant, Henri. Pendant une fois dans ma vie, je suis complètment lucide.”
     Logan cocked an irritated eyebrow at his interpreter.
     “He said he’s not delirious.”
     “Hey, kid—if you’re not delirious, would you mind speakin’ English? You know I don’t get Frog, not as fast as you speak it.”
     “Sorry, mon cher,” Remy said, smiling up at him in a rather sleepy way. “I didn’t realize you were here, too. I guess Remy was dozin’ off when you showed up, ain’ really waked up yet.”
     “You were awake, Gambit, at least as much as you’ve been lately,” Hank said in his best business tones. “And that’s why we’re here. We know you’ve been leading us on. We don’t know why, but that’s not important right now. What is important is that we’ve finally woke up ourselves—with the help of a lightning bolt to the britches, so to speak.”
     Hank shared a significant look with Wolverine before continuing.
     “We never intended to hurt you, Remy. We’re your friends, we truly are, and I hope someday you can forgive us our stupidity and selfishness.”
     Remy seemed to be waking up now. The frightening serenity dropped out of his face like the floor out of the stock market and fear was creeping in to replace it. But it did not appear to be the same crippling terror that they had already attempted to deal with, and so Beast plunged on, wanting to get this over with quickly as he could feel his heart breaking with each word he said.
     “We want you to be happy and healthy, Remy, and you’re not either with us. I think you’re just letting us use you out of some idea of penance for your past troubles, perhaps? Or as repayment to us for caring about you? Neither reason is a good one, my friend. In that room over there,” he said, pointing to Storm’s attic, “is a fine lady who thinks the very world of you. She wants to help you. I think you should let her. She can give you back your self-respect, your dignity…your joie de vivre. We’ve only been taking those things from you, even though we did not know it and certainly did not intend to.”
     “You…you leavin’ me, Hank?” His eyes were very large and round now, the pupils eclipsing his lovely crimson irises until his eyes were all black, like smooth obsidian stone.
     McCoy nodded sadly. “We think it for the best.”
     “Logan, you not…you ain’ runnin’ out on me, too, are you?”
     “Sorry, kid. I don’t want to, believe me. But if I hold on, I’m gonna end up hurtin’ you. There’s no gettin’ around that. This ain’t what you really want, you’re just doin’ it ‘cause you think you gotta.”
     “But…but you said you love Remy.”
     “I do, kid. I love you enough to let you go.”
     “Non!” he yelled out, twisting to his feet so suddenly that both his companions started and Hank nearly overbalanced and toppled. Logan caught hold of him just in the nick of time and saved him a nasty tumble.
     “Non, you can’ do dis! Please, don’t do dis! Don’ leave me alone! S'il vous plaît! S'il vous plaît, restez avec moi! Aimez-moi!”
     “I’m sorry, my friend,” Hank said, and he truly meant that. “I’m sorry, but that kind of love, you simply don’t need.” It was the hardest thing either he or Logan had ever had to do, but they turned away from the pathetic figure now collapsed and crying on the roof, and climbed back down to the ground.

On to Chapter Seven!


* Bonjour, Henri - Hello, Henry.
* Beau jour, n’est-ce pas? – Beautiful day, isn’t it?
* Oui, très beau. Remy, descendrait-toi du toit avec nous, s'il te plaît?– Yes, very beautiful. Remy, would you come down from the roof with us, please?
* Non. J'aime être ici en haut. Il est chaleureux ici.– No. I like it up here. It’s warm.
* As-tu froid, mon ami? – Are you cold, my friend?
* Il fait toujours froid ici. Le soleil est trop loin. – It is always cold here. The sun is too far away.
* Qu'est-ce que tu dit? – What do you mean?
* C'est une si petite étoile, à vrai dire. Beaucoup plus petite que moi. – It is such a small star, really. Much smaller than I.
* Remy, de quoi parles-toi?– Remy, what are you talking about?
* Mais moi—je serias trop chaud pour la proximité. Nous incinérions. La planète cesserait d'exister.- Now, I--I would be too hot to be this close to. We'd all burn to death. The planet would cease to exist.
* Je ne suis pas délirant, Henri. Pendant une fois dans ma vie, je suis complètment lucide.– I am not delirious, Henry. For once in my life, I am completely lucid.
* S'il vous plaît! S'il vous plaît, restez avec moi! Aimez-moi!– Please! Please, stay with me! Love me!