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Lock-Down: Chapter Six

Mac O'Roni

     It was late, long after lights-out, but neither man was yet asleep. They didn’t talk—they rarely did, in truth, and although Logan had long believed that the Cajun couldn’t possibly stand to remain silent for more than five minutes at a time he had discovered over the years that the man had a remarkable capacity for natural, comfortable non-communication. This discovery, and the fact that his penchant for silence increased with the years, had no doubt ultimately saved Gambit’s life. There was no way Wolverine could have stayed quartered so close and so long with him if he had never outgrown his endless, prattling chatter. Eventually, he would have been forced for the sake of his sanity to rip the tongue out of his head, at the very least.
     There were times, like now, when Logan’s mind turned on the enigma of his cellmate and worked in its straight-forward way to unravel it. Gambit had been an X-Man, a loyal X-Man, for forty-six years. Nobody would have expected him to last so long on the, particularly in a mainly subordinate position. He had lead teams over the years, occasionally, but never seemed particularly interested in the responsibility. He had enough on his hands with his long-distance leadership of the Guild, he claimed, after Jean-Luc died. He was a good leader, though, and Xavier had kept trying to saddle him with teams. Gambit shook off the responsibility with an easy laugh and unrivaled courtesy, a charmer to the end. No one ever really managed to plumb the full depths of his capabilities, whether in his powers, his intelligence, his management, or his strategic skills—even his education. He wrapped himself away in maddeningly vague hints of hidden depths in an almost physical way, as though his trademark duster overcoat were in truth a manifestation of his mystery.
     Logan had come to suspect that LeBeau was hiding his light under a bushel, so to speak, and on purpose. How he could spend so many years with the X-Men and still not completely trust his teammates baffled Logan, although he realized that there had been times, especially back in the early days, when they hadn’t exactly warranted that trust. But he couldn’t kid himself about it: they likely wouldn’t have betrayed his trust if they trusted Remy, and Remy never let them trust him because he kept himself such a mystery.
     Oh well, he thought, the past is past. At least he’s got a plan of some kind. Hope it works, whatever it is.
     The longer he lay and thought about it, the more he hungered to know just what was on his cellmate’s undeniably devious mind. He wasn’t very good at coming up with complex, intricate plans and admired anyone who could, particularly if they worked. And he’d never known any of Gambit’s more elaborate plans, no matter how far-fetched they’d seemed at first, to fail.
     He liked that about him. Not only did the kid have guts, in the good old-fashioned balls-out psycho kamikaze style, but he had the brains to pull his crazy schemes off. There was a lot to be admired in Remy LeBeau, probably twice as much just in what little was known about him than there was to be reviled. And Logan at least had to admire the way he was completely unapologetic about remaining, basically, a criminal. He had taken to stealing back what was already stolen, true, but a thief he was raised and a thief he remained. He was true to himself, and that was what Logan liked. He didn’t try to pretend he was a plaster saint, like some of the more ardent X-Men did.
     He also liked the fact that, while typically as pessimistic as any good Frenchman when things were running well, Gambit never let down a hopeful front when things were shit, like they were now. He always had a cheerful smile for his friends, a smart-ass remark for his enemies, and a strong shoulder to bear up anyone too weak to handle it alone.
     Which thought led Logan into the topic of how imprisonment was affecting one of their mutual friends. Storm was not bearing up well under confinement, her powers stripped away and worse, her dignity. She had been in the infirmary six times over the last six months, all because of her claustrophobia. When she was “well,” she clung to her unofficially adoptive brother like a burr during outdoor recreational periods. More often than not, you could find her curled up like a child in Remy’s arms while he tried to soothe her with soft words and promises not even Logan could hear, but he knew what he was telling her just the same, because Remy had told him once when he’d asked. He promised her that he would get her out of this place, that he would see to it that she would once again be able to experience the ultimate freedom of the skies.
     “Wild birds ain’t meant to be caged, mon ami,” Remy had told him on that occasion, and it was the only time since they were imprisoned that Logan saw that sharply handsome face cloud over morosely. “Some of ‘em’ll fight t’get out ‘til eit’er they do or they die tryin’. Ot’ers’ll worry demselves sick an’ die in d’end, too. Ma’ Stormy can’t stay here. She die if she do.”
     The words had brought a shiver to Logan’s strong metal spine at the time, and the memory of them affected him the same way. And he realized that Gambit was another wild bird, even more than he was. More even, perhaps, than Storm. But he was the kind who would fight to get out. Fight until he made it, or…
     …died trying.

On to Chapter Seven!