His Damned Faded Grace

BY : Vain
Category: X-men Comics > Slash - Male/Male > Remy/Logan
Dragon prints: 2577
Disclaimer: I do not own X-Men comics, or any of the characters from it. I make no money from from the writing of this story.

His Damned Faded Grace
By: Vain 8/7/01

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If I owned Gambit, Scalphunter, Wolverine, the X-Men, or the Marauders, I would be rich and have better ways to spend my summer than writing fan fiction.
I obviously don’t own them then. Marvel does, damn them to hell, and they abuse him far more than I ever could, so raspberries to them.

I also don’t own the song “California King.” Ts trs track number 13 on the album So Much for the Afterglow and was written by and is the property of the band Everclear and Capitol Records Inc.

But read and review my stuff anyway. ^_~

~ Vain

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FYI: I haeen een to Stone Mountain in Georgia and my little cursory description is accurate. It is the largest solid piece of granite just about anywhere, you can see half of Georgia from the top, and the surface is barren and relatively flat, so it is possible to have a knock-down drag-out up there. Hell, you could have the Franco-Prussian War up there.
There is also a monument carved into the side of the mountain. The monument is so large that a dinner party was once held on the shoulder of one of the carvings.

You don’t believe me? Ask someone from Georgia! ^_^

*****++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++*****

// I see you have made yourself
A brand new life
Such a cool blue star
With a bright new shine
//


He walked over the bare stone calmly, confident with his abstract beauty and faded grace. The wind lifted up red-ish auburn and threw it carelessly over his shoulder as his friend watched him with mild irritation in his blue eyes.

“You’re late,” he said sharply as the slim young man approaching him.

“Desolé,” the Cajun apologized in his bastardized French drawl.

“Was there a problem?” the other inquired, unsatisfied with the apology.

“Feh!” A noise of disgust. The younger man pulled his shirt off, odd half-mask struggling briefly with his hair a moa moment before reluctantly yielding. The expensive armored garment was tossed in a pile next to the trench coat and carefully cut up gloves he had removed during his stroll over to his companion. “De damn F.O.H. encore,” he explained.


// I see you wear your checkered past
Just like a shining suit of gold
I know you think you look so special
//



The overly bright moonlight illuminated his smooth chest. A large bruise ran from his left nipple down to his belly button. A grimace spasmed across the other man’s face when he saw this. “We don’t have to do this tonight . . . not if you’re not up to it.”

The Cajun merely shrugged. “Lived wit’ worse, me. We still on?”

“Of course we are, Remy.” The other man pulled off his brown jacket and tossed it aside. It landed heavily on the ground with a distinctly metallic clatter.

The Cajun cocked his head and lifted one perfect eyebrow as he removed superfluous Ray Bans to reveal his red on black eyes. He said nothing however. They both knew the merits of paranon thn their respective lines of work and he actually would have been concerned if his old friend was not walking around armed to the teeth. “Ya remember it?” he asked.

“Of course I did,” the other man said with a false look of scandalization. “I’m not you, after all.”

This comment earned him a grin and a playful shove to the side. “Cher, ya wound me!”


//I am told you found yourself
A brand new time
Watch the world stand still
Ae yee years go by
//


The other man chuckled. “And you?”

Red on black eyes flashed mischievously. “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”

A wry snort emerged from the taller man and he bent down and dug around in his jacket. The silver blue moon light turned his naturally blond hair an odd shade of greenish yellow. He stood and triumphantly displayed a large heavy collar. It looked like oppression cast in steel.

Remy made an odd fluttering motion with his hands and an identical collar appeared in a flash of silver and a bit of sleight of hand.

“Show off.”

“Oui,” the Cajun agreed with a bold smirk.

A pair of blue eyes rolled in mock exasperation. “Am I ready?”


// I know you think you are new and different
But it makes no sense to me
//


Remy walked around him in a tight circle, alien eyes devouring him critically. His opponent stood over a foot taller than him and was twice as broad, his huge barrel chest sprinkled with fine blond curls. Tight pale blue spandex clung eagerly to his thick legs and a pair of black shin high combat boots covered his surprisingly small size thirteen feet. Muscle covered every inch of that broad frame, rippling boastfully in the midnight moon. Long, slightly curly and nearly kinky blond hair fell down to his wide shoulders and framed a strong, weathered face. An out of place, ant wnt wisdom and deep shadows filled his startlingly clear blue eyes and seemed to impose themselves on the rest of his carriage, making him look dark and slightly tragic—like an old lion that had just lost his pride. There was something noble about him. And something more than a little bit frightening, too.

Remy nodded once in satisfaction. There were no weapons or props that he could see. Long clever hands, the hands of a thief, reached up and snapped the heavy Genoshan collar around that broad neck with surprising gentleness. They had been playing this little game of theirs for years now—a vain attempt to exorcise some of their demons. They both knew the rules. They were the ones who had written them.


// There is nothing new about you
Just another self-made man
//


Remy stepped away from the other mutant and stood still, awaiting his own inspection. His partner circled him and took careful note of his slim frame. The boy-chile, as he was sometimes called, was built like a panther—smooth flowing lines and liquid muscle as far as the eye could see. Shorter and almost petite in his leanness, the southerner was made for suppleness, flexibility, speed, and often surprisingly explosive bursf stf strength. This was not a body made for brute force or grunt work. This was a work of art. Tight black spandex practically made love to long muscular legs and ended just below the belly button, almost as though afraid to touch the young man’s smooth upper body. Set atop narrow hips, that upper body itself curved and sloped like the lines of a jaguar convertible. The stomach was muscular and tight, but the slight protrusion of his ribs gave the impression that this particular body had once been prey to prolonged periods of extreme hunger, if not outright emaciation. The wealth of fox red hair that made him every shampoo advertiser’s wet dream fell in graceful coils between the shoulder blades and tumbled down, partially hiding his unnaturally beautiful face. Brooding and secretive eyes, the color of fire and onyx, waited for his judgment and a broad, pouting mouth was set expectantly.


// There is nothing new that I can see
Enjoy it while you can
I know you think you look so special
//


For a moment, the big man simply admired the view. There was a mind and personality in that body to match, too. Hotter than those damnable Cheyenne peppers he loved so much and a thousand times more addictive than heroine, Remy Lebeau was as hungry and intoxicating as a fever dream—something so good you could almost taste him just to look at him. But he was also more dangerous than most people would ever imagine; not because he meant to be, but because of what he was. For him, people would do the stest est things ever imagined, both male and female. He was a living fire whhe whe world was a glacier—the closer you held him, the more he burned you, and the more he burned you, the more you needed him. But the worst of all of it was that he didn’t do it for spite or revenge: he did it because he didn’t know how to do anything else, he couldn’t know. And you never saw it coming because it’s all packaged in a neat bundle of wildness and mystery and delivered on time with his flawed and faded grace.

“Well? Est-ce que je suis prêt?”


// What makes you think you are so special?
What makes you think you are unique?
//


Blue eyes blinked owlishly, snapping the taller man out of his funk. “Yeah.” There were no tricks or weapons present on the Cajun. Large hands snapped a collar around Remy’s slender neck. “You’re ready.”

The two men picked up their respective piles of clothing and began to walk towards the tourist store that served as the only entry point on or off the mountain. Well, short of a long, long fall to solid earth below.

Remy was the first to break the amiable silence. “Ya know, homme, we really shoulda jus’ done dat over ‘ere and saved de trip, non? Den we wouldn’t have ta come back and drop our things off before going back out there.”

A blond head snapped sideways to regard the younger man in amusement. “Your accent, Rems . . . what’s up with that?”

There was a white flash of teeth as Remy smiled. “What? I don’t do eastern Pennsylvanian well?”

“It’s fine.” A speculative eyebrow rose. “But do I get an explanation?”

Smooth, slightly bronze shoulders rolled in what would have only been a shrug on another man. “Il y a un travaille que j’ai acceptais,” he flowed back into French once more. “I need ta practice my accent under some heat.” A flippant wave of his free hand. “If I start doin’ dat in de Danger Room, il y aurait des questions.”


// I see you smile and I get angry
As I watch you go colossal
Like a California king
//


A frown marred the other’s visage. “I thought that you weren’t going to work while you played hero.”

Another shrug. “I’m full-fledged Guild again, cher. I got quotas to meet.”

“I’m sure that Summers would be thrilled.”

“Damn Scott Summers to the pits of darkest hell,” a flat voice stated in flawless English.

They reached the little shop and deposited their things on the ground. The larger man eyed his friend in obvious concern as they stood again and Remy bent over to drink from a conveniently placed water fountain. After a moment of careful deliberation the taller of the two probed the Cajun delicately. “Dare I ask why exactly you reacted like that?”

“No.”

He nodded and let it drop. Remy would tell him in his own time, if he felt it necessary or appropriate. Remy picked up something and then the two headed out towards the barren and uneven mountaintop again.


// I hear you gave the world a brand new voice
Such a happy melody with a new wave whine
//


“I,” rumbled the big man in the unnerving stillness, “chose the place. You chose the weapon, right?”

The Cajun nodded and handed his opponent one of the objects he’d retrieved from his items in the gift shop. It was a long, thin silver rod built from what appeared to some sort of tiny electronic devices and utterly smooth. With a flip of his wrist, the thief expertly sent his rod spiraling open until it was about five fin lin length and an inch in diameter. “Bo staff,” he explained.

His companion grunted noncommittally and mimicked the motion was practiced ease. He glared at the deceptively simple-looking adamantium rod in his hand. “I haven’t used one of these things since you left us.”

Remy stopped and smirked, a slightly cruel expression on his face. “It’s just like ng ang a bike,” he replied, false accent back.

The bigger man stood about five feet away and assumed a fighting stance, staff held ready. “Then let’s begin, shall we?”


// Yeah I see you hide behind your own noise . . .
I think I’ve seen enough!
//


--------------------*++++++++++*--------------------


It was unnerving. There were no security guards around. Stone Mountain was a state park. It was a natural monument—it fact, it had a monument carved into the face of it— but there was not another living soul on the grounds. Furthermore, all the security cameras were off. It was simply disturbing.

Wolverine sniffed the air and growled menacingly. If he wasn’t certain before, he sure as hell was now. Logan had decided to tail the Cajun ever since the boy had fled the mansion like his tail was on fire. He had really gotten nailed by some bigot with a baseball bat during that little mini riot a few hours ago, and although it wasn’t unusual for Gambit to hide wounds and avoid Hank, his scent today had been . . . weird to say the least.

Dread, tinged with fear, and eagerness, and hunger—it was an odd combination that set the feral Canadian’s nose twitching. It had all been building over the past few days, too.

Remy was one of the more mysterious characters at the mansion, even more of an outsider than Logan since that ridiculous Trial, but watching the Cajun come in and grab a piece of toast for breakfast—that damn kid ate like a flamin’ bird anymore—the stout warrior had one of his lightening bolt realizations: Gambit got like that once or twice a year then he tended to vanish for a day or two before coming back to Westchester. When the boy did return, he was a bit calmer, more relaxed, but he carried a disturbingly familiar scent on all his clothes and even his weapons occasionally. Every time it happened, Wolverine vowed to figure out who the little brat was meeting and what he was up to, but he never quite seemed to get around to it.

Now however, standing here at the foot of Stone Mountain—in Goddamn Georgia, of all places—that scent was alive, fresh, and very near and suddenly Logan knew why it made all his skin try to crawl off his body: that was a Marauder’s scent. But not, of course, just any Marauder, but one of the worst of them: Scalphunter.

Scalphunter was ahleshless killer. Sure, he wasn’t as sadistic Sabertooth or even as obviously psycho as Riptide and Blockbuster, but he was undoubtedly one of the most single minded and remorseless killers Wolverine could recall in his long, long life. It wouldn’t be so bad if the bastard would just stay dead, but the Marauders were like the Timex watch from hell. It takes a licking and keeps on and keeps on and keeps on ticking. In fact, they just never seemed to stop—killing them just slowed them down. If you got lucky.

Logan sniffed the air. Remy’s scent was there, too. Another growl. So the little punk was still playing with fire, huh? When he caught that boy, he was gonna beat the little brat within an inch of his sorry, useless life, haul him back to the mansion, wait till he healed up, and then serve him up to the others on a silver platter. Maybe he’d even shove an apple into his mouth for good measure. Damn him. Logan had actually liked Remy, too.


--------------------*++++++++++*--------------------


// I will find you in a crowded room
I will knock you off your feet
//


Remy groaned slightly as the other man brought his bow staff down against the Cajun’s with mind numbing force. There was no chitchat, no idle banter. This was a serious fight. Powers were forbidden and anything more than the agreed upon weapon was not allowed. There were, granted, no penalties or punishments for breaking the rules, but it had genuinely never occurred to either combatant to ever break the rules.

They met in secret at a predetermined place perhaps twice, maybe even three times a year. They always fought in a different place and alternated who got to choose where and the weapon type. They fought until one of them cried for mercy and then it was over. There was no discussion of the battles, no gloating or mocking. There was a score, but it was never mentioned and they both knew who was leading at any given time. The longest fight they ever had was six hours on a rooftop in Chicago; the shortest was ten minute in a sewer in Odaiba, Japan.

Remy relaxed and fell to the ground, rolling over backwards. His opponent, caught off guard, fell forward, hitting the ground with a grunt of pain. Remy twisted up to his feet, wrapping his bo staff around his body as he did so. Continuing the motion, he brought one end of the staff down towards the other man’s chest. With agility surprising for one his size, the blond rolled to the side and the adamantium rod clattered loudly on the stone.

The big man twisted to his feet and they both froze, blue eyes locking with red ones. For a heartbeat their gazes were tangled up in one another then Remy lunged forward, bringing the staff towards the other’s knees. The big man blocked and the impact jarred them both. They grunted in unison.


// I will burn you just like teenage love
I will eat you just like meat
//


The blue-eyed man feinted, trying to throw Remy off guard. These little fights of theirs were always such a test for him. All of his contact with Remy was a test, but this seemed to intensify it. Perhaps it was the isolation. Per it it was the adrenaline. Perhaps it was the fact that he held Remy’s life in his hands. He didn’t know. He also didn’t care. The only thing that mattered right then was the scent of sweat and the flash of adamantium in the moonlight. A blow landed across his left arm. First strike went to the Cajun.

The problem was that they were so close. The two battling men were closer to each other than they would probably be to anyone else in their lives. Not because they knew everything about each other’s lives and told each other everything, on the contrary—they rarely ever spoke of their personal lives—not unless they really needed to vent or it involved the other. No, they knew each other. They knew the other’s reactions and actions in any given situation. They knew each other so completely that it scared them.

They were, however, also so very far apart . . . They stood in the gray areas of life: somewhere between murders and saviors and angels and demons. But there was a line drawn even in those gray areas, and they stood on opposites sides of that line. Yet they were still inseparable, and therein lay the tragic irony.

He viciously kicked Remy’s left knee out and the Cajun dropped to the ground with his back to his opponent. Always a quick thinker, the younger man lay down flat and kicked his friend in the face with his free leg. The big man was sent reeling.

He shook his head, vision swimming. A slight displacement of air warned him to move just before Remy’s staff came cutting through the air. It would be so easy to just give up and hate him—to actually hate Remy—but he just couldn’t. Remy was a force of nature. He may as well hate the wind—it would amount to the same thing. What made it hardest, though, was that for some reason Remy needed him. He clung to their old and battered friendship like a security blanket and just refused to let go.

Remy needed him.

It felt good to be needed.


// I will break you into pieces
Hold you up for all the world to see
//


Remy whirled around in a flash of silver and the tall man reached out and grabbed the staff, meaty hand closing firmly around the bo. Pain tingled up his arm and he knew without looking that he was going to have an enormous welt there.

Remy looked startled. This was not supposed to be happening.

His opponent twisted and yanked the staff free from those delicate hands. As the staff came free, the tail end scraped hard across Remy’s bruise from the F.O.H., jarring a rib and sending white-hot nails of pain raking through him. Sensing the weakness, the big man slammed his staff into the back of Remy’s knees again with his free hand. The distracted Cajun fell like a tree.

For a moment Remy lay there, stunned by this turn of events. Then he felt a heavy tap against his throat. He looked up and saw his opponent silhouetted in the moonlight. “Mercy,” he whispered.


// What makes you think
You are better than me?
//


The staff didn’t move. Remy hadn’t followed the rules.

“Mercy, Gray Crow,” he repeated in a loud voice.

The weight vanished and a strong hand gripped Remy, pulling him to his feet. The Cajun swayed for a moment as all the blood rushed from his head.

“Hold still,” a strong voice ordered him.

Large gentle hands ran themselves over the bruise and the Cajun hissed in pain. “That hurts,” he snapped, fake accent still locked in his mind.

The man now identified as Gray Crow straightened and put his hands on his hips, standing akimbo. “Those ribs are bruised, maybe even broken.” A dark frown marred his face. “We shouldn’t have done this tonight.”

Remy shrugged indifferently. “I wanted to. I needed to.”

“You were distracted tonight.”

“So were you, Gray”


// What makes you think you are better?
What makes you think you are complete?
//


They stood and watched each other awkwardly for a moment and then Remy looked up at the star-studded sky. “Time.”

Time blurred when they fought, either in these matches or against one another for “work,” and it was easy to forget everything else. Gray Crow also looked up, estimating the distance the moon had traveled. “An hour. Maybe an hour and a half.”

“Do ya hate me, Gray Crow?”

“What?!” The blonde’s head snapped down and he stared at Remy in shock. Every once in a while the Cajun had the unnerving tendency to throw out these random out of the blue questions at him. It was a bit alarming. Everything would be fine and then: BAM! Suddenly Gray Crow found himself absolutely and hopelessly lost in the conversation without any hope of returning to where they originally were.

Remy’s head was still tilted back and his eyes were closed. He could have been asleep.

Gray Crow, however, knew better. The slip bacto Cto Cajun and the unnaturally tense carriage of his body all told the older man that this was something very important to Remy. Plus the muscle in his right jaw was twitching—that was always a telltale sign that something was up.

“I asked ya if ya hated me.” He dropped his head and peered at his old friend through the night. “Ya know . . . for all de weird shit dat we went t’rough? All de betrayals an’ lies an’ broken promises. Do ya hate me?”

Such a simple question . . .

For a moment the other man was silent, his blue eyes locked on the inhibitor collar wrapped around his partner and opponent’s neck. He could lie. Without his empathy, Remy would never know the difference, and the young Cajun made it a point not to pick other people’s brains. But what was the point?


// What make you think
You are the only
Immune to falling down?
//


“I could never hate you, Rems. You know.”

Red hair swayed as the shorter man tilted his head to the side. “Yah,” he replied after a moment. “Yah, I know.”

And that was that. He didn’t—couldn’t—ever hate Remy; not his Remy.

They needed each other.

Companionable silence fell between them and they picked up their weapons and began to limp back to the shop to get their things. Gray Crow’s eyes were locked on the ground as they went and he though of Remy’s question.

“Sacré merde!”

The curse startled the big man and he froze, settling into a comfortably familiar fighting stance. “What is it?”

Remy quickened his pace. “We got company, cher. I was followed.”

Gray Crow peered ahead, inferior eyes trying to see what the other’s mutated ones had easily made out. A man: short, stocky, clad in yellow, claws . . . Wolverine. Broad shoulders slumped and he bit his lip. “Son of a fucking bitch.”

“Oui,” agreed Remy as he continued forward.

Gray Crow quickly caught up and he steeled himself. This was was certainly going to be interesting.


// Why can’t you see? //


--------------------*++++++++++*--------------------


Logan had seen a lot of things in his life, so he was pretty much prepared for just about anything when he reached the top of the mountain. The ski lift would have been far too loud and hiking would have taken too long, so he simply climbed up the ski lift cables to find his prey. That had been well over an hour ago. He arrived at the top to find himself in an overdone tourist shop. There were no security guards up here, either.

A low rumble slid through his chest and he popped his claws open as he smelled his quarry. He quickly made his way through the shop. When he came to the large glass doors that led out onto the mountain he paused and knelt down for a closer look.

Two piles of clothing were lying just inside the doors, one was the Cajun’s and one was the Marauder’s. Wcaugcaught Logan’s attention, though, was the fact that all their weapons were piled with their clothes—or more accurately, with their shirts and jackets. Just what the hell was going on here? Why on earth would those two be out on a barren slab of rock, unarmed, two miles above the ground, without their shirt 12t 12:30 in the morning? This just kept getting weirder.

A thud followed by a groan caught the Canadian’s attention and he stood and exited the shop. The surface of the mountain was highly visible and it took Logan less than a second to see them.

Remy was standing about a foot away from Scalphunter and bringing his bo staff around to block the Marauder. Scalphunter, who was also wielding a bo, Logan noted with interest, abruptly changed the angle of his blow to strike at the other man’s head. The Cajun dodged easily. They were both wearing mutant inhibitor collars.

A dark scowl disfigured the stocky man’s face as he watched the two combatants go at it. Just what was going on he The The two of them said nothing to one another and seemed to be totally dead to the world. They fought as though they wee the only two beings on the planet, and yet . . . it seemed as though they weren’t trying to harm one another. Their scents were determined and even relaxed. Nonetheless, no quarter was given or asked for and despite their lack of malicious intent, they were both hell-bent on winning—not defeating the other man, but simply winning for the sake of winning.

Wolverine watched them for a minute and his expression shifted to something pensive. An old warrior, he knew what it was like to have demons to slay and shadow that couldn’t be escaped. He understood a great deal more than most people gave him credit for. Yet this was somehow unexpected. He had come up here with the full intent of killing the Marauder and righteously returning their prodigal son home for him to take his licks. He couldn’t do that now, though—not after what he had just seen. He also could not accept that his teammate was also best friends with one of their worst enemies. He didn’t even want to try. He had more than enough problem in his life without that happening. He sighed and then turned and entered the shop again to wait for them. Something was going to have to be done about this.

He didn’t have to wait long.

“Mercy,” Remy whispered.

Logan leaned forward slightly, sensitive ears striving to hear what was going on. He watched the two carefully.

“Mercy, Gray Crow,” the Cajun repeateda loa loud voice. Wolverine’s brows contracted. Where had the kid’s accent gone?

He watched with interest as Scalphunter pulled the kid to his feet and began to inspect a rather painful-looking welt on his chest and stomach.

“Hold still,” the Marauder ordered when Remy squirmed.

“That hurts!”

“Those ribs are bruised, maybe even broken. We shouldn’t have done this tonight.”

“I wanted to. I needed to.”

“You were distracted tonight.”

“So were you, Gray”

The Canadian frowned impatiently. He had to know if he was right about what was going on here.

The Cajun tilted his head back and stared up. “Time.”

Scalphunter mimicked his posture and Wolverine nearly growled. This was all just small talk. “An hour. Maybe an hour and a half.”

“Do ya hate me, Gray Crow?”

“What?!”

A triumphant smirk sneaked its way onto Logan’s lips. It was about goddamn time they got to the important stuff.

For a minute Remy was quiet, still looking upwards. “I asked ya if ya hated me.” He dropped his head and peered at his old friend through the night. “Ya know . . . for all de weird shit dat we went t’rough? All de betrayals an’ lies an’ broken promises. Do ya hate me?”

“I could never hate you, Rems. You know.”

“Yah. Yah, I know.”

Logan swore internally. He was right. Damn them all, he was right.

He watched them as they approached him, noticing with slight amusement that neither looked pleased when they saw him.

Remy reached him first, face set in an aloof mask as he tried to pretend that he wasn’t wearing a collar and out playing with a Marauder. “Sup, mon ami?”

Logan glowered at him. “Spare me, kid.”

A quick glance was tossed Scalphunter’s way and then Remy stepped towards the pissed-off looking Canadian, hand raised in defensive supplication. “I know dat what ya saw didn’ look too good, Wolverine, mais—”

“Saw?” Wolverine growled, still glaring. “I didn’t see anything.”

Confused looks passed over the other men’s faces and Remy shared another look with Scalphunter.

“Stop doin’ that, Cajun. It’s pissin’ me off. Go home,” he ordered.

“Mais—”

Blazing blue eyes stared at the kid for a long minute until he looked away. For several long, uncomfortable moments the Marauder and the X-Man gathered their things under Logan’s extremely watchful eyes. With no small amount of self-consciousness, Remy unlocked Gray Crow’s inhibitor collar and pocketed it, trying not to fidget when Gray Crow did the same to him.

“You girls done yet?” Logan demanded.

Another one of those damn looks.

“Yah,” Remy responded as he pulled on his duster.

“Good. I’ll see you at the mansion.”

The Cajun started, unsure how to deal with this.

“Go,” Logan insisted again. He looked away from the taller mutant’s eyes to send an impressive glare at the big Marauder behind him. “I think yer friend and I need to have us a chat.”

Never one to look a gift Wolverine in the mouth, Remy cast Gray Crow a backwards glance and then left. The Marauder could handle himself and there was no need for them to say goodbye—goodbyes never lasted between the two of them.

Once they were alone, Logan turned back to Scalphunter and grinned like a cat with a very small mouse in front of him. “Well, well, well; what have we here?”

Scalphunter glared angrily, but the X-Man merely waved a hand to stop him from speaking and continued in his gravelly voice, “So where are all the guards?”

The question startled the Marauder a bit. “Remy paid them off. They’re only glorified rent-a-cops.”

“And the cameras?”

“Remy took care of it.”

“And the park rangers?”

“Remy.”

Wolverine narrowed his eyes. "Just how long have yeen een planning this?”

A chuckle. “About a month.”

“Ah.”

A tense, uneasy silence fell between them and after a long moment Wolverine frowned and turned to him. “I know what you two doi doin’, I just wanna know why.”

The Marauder tilted his head in an odd bit of body language that was very reminiscent of Remy. “Why does it matter to you?”

“For the same reason yer doin’ what yer doin’. I just wanna know if I’m right.”


// I see you fall and I get happy //


Scalphunter shrugged, his hair shifting with the motion. The big man settled his frame against a glass counter with feigned nonchalance. “I guess it’s about trust. That’s why I risk my neck and lie my way away and he risks his . . .” he paused and frowned at the ground, searching for the proper word. He looked back up and flicked a lock of hair from his eyes. “His redemption . . . and comes out to meet me. We know what we’re doing, hero.” His blu blue eyes locked onto hard blues and remained unwavering. “We’ve been doing this since before there ever were Marauders. Or X-Men.”

The stout man grunted noncommittally. “Trust?”


// I will watch you burn like fire //


A look of tired disgust settled onto the blonde’s face. He nodded. “Funny. Don’t act stupid. You know how it is. You’re a fighter.” Large hands pushed himself off the counter and he went tare are out over rock. The moonlight silhouetted his frame eerily. “He doesn’t trust easy, ya know? It’s hard . . . in our lines of work. We’ve known each other . . .” another shrug, “aw, saints, it feels like forever now. You gotta trust someone. I think Remy and I woulda really lost it . . . if we didn’t trust someone.”

A bark of laughter ripped out of Logan’s lips. “Yah, I’d say that yer just the poster boy for sanity.”

Scalphunter spun around fast. “I guess. Any more conclusions you want to jump to? I mean seeing how well you know me and all . . .?”

The X-Man was not amused. “And you don’t got any problem with him? Not with the Massacre, or Sinister, or anything?”

Scalphunter rolled his eyes. “Oh, God, Remy was right! You people don’t understand anything! Remgot got a,” he waved a hand airily, “a way . . . There’s just something about him. Something that you just can’t hate.” He shook his head. “Nah. I don’t hate Rems. But you understand this.” He tilted his head to the side again. “Don’t you?”

Wolverine nodded sympathetically. “Yeah, I know. I won’t rat you out.” The shorter man turned around to leave, but stopped as something occurred to him. He turned back around. “But if you ever hurt him, or change yer mind, not even Essex’ll be able to put you back together when I’m done.”

The Marauder grinned his approval. “Now you understand.”


// I will watch you burn
Like a California king
//


--------------------*++++++++++*--------------------


Vertigo looked up from her copy of Spin Magazine just in time to see Scalphunter walk—limp—into the control room. “Hey, boss-man. How’s it, how’s it?”

He grimaced at her and sat down in a chair with exaggerated care. He looked up at the monitors. “You really need to stop reading that shit, Vee. I think it’s making your head deflate.”

She glared at him and leaned over to adjust the sharpness on one of the screens. “Laugh it up G. The big boss is pissed.”

“Huh?” Blue eyes blinked in startlement. “What’d I do?”

A snicker answered him as she buried her head in her 'zine again. “Did you forget that you were supposed to lead the hit on JDH Medical this morning?”

“Oh, shit.”

“Yeah.” She looked up and patted him on the shoulder, genuine sympathy on her china-doll face. “Arc covered for you.”

Grayw ruw rubbed his face with obvious relief. “Thank god for small favors.”

“Yeah,” Vertigo chimed with a smirk, “especially when that favor is particularly well-endowed and can screw for three hours straight.”

Laughter rumbled out of the big man and he gazed at the monitors while smiling broadly. “Well, my girl’s one a million.”

Vertigo returned to the article she was reading. “For which we are all grateful.”

Scalphunter stood up and stretched, popping his bones with the motion. “I imagine that Arclight is going to extract her revenge as soon as she gets back, so I’m gonna go find Essex and suck up. Do you know what she told him?”

“The same thing she told him last time you skipped out. You were out playing with him again, weren’t you?”

“Yeah. He says hi.”

The slim, dizzy-making Marauder looked up at her leader, an almost painfully serious expression on her face. “Is it worth it, Gray Crow? I mean, really, is it worth the risk?”

He gazed at her levelly and it absently occurred to him that she was beautiful. “Every time, Vertigo. Every fucking time.”


// I will watch you burn
Like a California king
//

~~~ Fin ~~~

*****++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++*****



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