"Where the Hell is Gambit?" Cyclops snapped.

Rogue rolled her eyes at him. Wolverine shrugged. "Wasn't in his room when I got up."

The field leader frowned. "Phoenix, get a line on him. Cerebro, locate designate Gambit."

"Designate Gambit is not on the grounds."

Cyclops narrowed his eyes Archangel. "Wasn't he supposed to be visiting Worthington Industries yesterday?"

"Yeah. He did a tour of the R&D labs and sent a security report yesterday. I haven't read it yet, but the head of security wants to have his baby."

Wolverine snorted. "Want me to check if he's been in the house since last night?" He left at Scott's nod.

"Okay, kids, stand down, but be ready. We might have a situation."

Jean sat down quickly. "He's alive." She rubbed at her head. "He's not sure if he's in trouble or not."

"He's in trouble one way or another," Scott muttered. "Where is he?"

She shrugged. "He doesn't know. Feels like he's still on the East Coast, but he could be in Georgia by now."


"Or a concussion."


//I'll locate him.//

"Okay, I need Wolverine and Rogue ready for immediate extraction if necessary. The rest of you, stand down. Get some rest. Jean, my office. I want everything you've gotten from him."


"Wake up, kid." Sabretooth chucked the thief under the chin. The red and black eyes blinked slowly, trying to focus on him. "Time to move. Can you walk?"

Gambit cocked his head to the side. The Canadian shook his head and picked the young man up. It wasn't the first time he'd carried the Cajun. The thief curled up as sweetly as a child and closed his eyes. "Chatton?"

"Yeah. I got ya now."

"Trying to mess with my head." Creed raised his brows at the tumble of French. He filed that away for further reference. The men in charge of transporting him were dead, but he didn't know who their boss was yet. He'd smelled the young man in the back of the black SUV while it was stopped in the parking lot of a roadhouse. He'd followed the men to a cheap hotel and disposed of them while they took a break. The idiots didn't even know enough to not keep a kidnap victim in the back of an unventilated car. He settled the confused Remy into the passenger's seat of his car and strapped him in.

"Let's get ya somewhere where ya can sober up before I send ya back up North."

"M' fine, Jeannie. Get outta m' head," Remy murmured.

Sabretooth shook his head. "Yer own damn fault fer working with good-guys, punk," He shifted into gear and headed toward his cabin. It was far enough out of town that even if the kid did end up blowing something up, no one would notice. "You got yer phone with ya?"

Remy blinked at him. "Chatton?"

"Yeah. Go to sleep. I'll wake ya later."


"Summers, this is Creed. Picked something up on the side of the road that you might be lookin' fer."

"Where are you?" Scott demanded. He put the phone on speaker.

"I'm in South Carolina. God knows where the kid is."

"Who's dat?" they heard a sleepy voice ask.


"Summers? The golden chile?"

"Yeah. That's the one." Creed's voice was gentle. "I told ya I was callin' him, remember?"

"Non. Why y' callin' him? We workin' wit' them now?"

"You are. I explained before. Ya went to work fer the X-punks."

"Don't make no sense."

"The pancakes didn't make sense this mornin', punk. I ain't surprised. Close yer eyes and lay down again."


"Okay, so I've got the kid here and he's supposed to be there, but I ain't drivin' with him out of it like this. He gets frustrated he'll blow the car. Oh, hey, no, lay down in the bed or on the couch. Floor ain't a good place."

"Mew. Mew. Mew."

"Yeah, I know. You don't wanna listen to me. I don't give a damn. Up."

Scott's lips twitched. "Good luck with that."

"You don't want him back? Got plenty of others who wouldn't mind him in this state. He's sort of like a sleepy puppy right now. Says someone's messin' with his head. That your girl?"

Jean shook her head.

"Not right now," Scott told him. "She just checked to make sure he was alive this morning."

Creed was quiet, but they could hear the sounds of cloth and movement. "Before that." The killer snorted. "I should've just gutted him. Lemme give you directions. You can come pick him up."



"Yeah, it's me." Creed stroked the Cajun's hair out of his face. The young man's eyes didn't focus on him. They didn't actually focus on much of anything. "What the hell did they give you?"

"Don't feel good."

Creed sighed. "You gonna be sick?"

"Non. Y' lay down wit' Remy?"

"Fer a little bit." Creed stretched out on the bed and the thief immediately snuggled close to him. His skin felt cold under Creed's large hand. "Ya better not be goin' into shock. I ain't got no way to treat it."

"Someone's in m' head and I can't get 'im out."

"Might be yer friend Xavier."

"Ain't m' friend. Feels like ants in m' head." Creed tucked him closer and pulled up the blanket. He couldn't do anything about telepathic manipulations or drug allergies, but keep an eye on things. Remy's fingers flexed absently on Creed's belly. It felt good enough that he didn't tell the kid to stop. "Wants m' t' hurt folks."

The older mutant smirked. "Hell, I know ya can do that without someone in yer head. He's just gotta pay ya right."


"Watch the mouth."

Remy nuzzled against Creed's neck. "Sleep now?"

"Yeah, sleep, kiddo." Creed didn't remember falling asleep.


"No, make them go away. Victor!"

Sabretooth recognized the panicked look in Gambit's eyes. "Get back or get down!" he snapped at the X-men. "Focus, Gumbo. Come on," he cajoled, "you know how to do this. Done it plenty of times before."

"There's too much."

Phoenix's eyes widened. "Crap." She glanced at her husband.

"Rogue, Storm, back to the car. You okay on your own?"

She nodded. "I think it would be better with you here."


"You've got the best shields. Choke down your emotions. Someone's forced open his psi channels and his shields are down."

Cyclops nodded. "Go."

The thief seemed to calm slightly as the three X-punks retreated. Cyclops stepped forward, his head cocked to the side. "Remy," he said quietly, "is that better?"

"You're Summers?" The young man looked through his bangs. He shuffled closer to Sabretooth. His fingers twitched as if he were trying to keep himself from grabbing something to charge. "I ain't goin' with him, M. Chatton."

"Told ya. Yer workin' with them now."

"Piss folks off if I hurt him. The ants in my head want me to hurt folks." Remy shivered suddenly, wavering on his feet. Creed caught him just in time. He set him down on the couch. He folded the long fingers over his chest.

"Ants in his head?" Cyclops frowned. "Telepath?"

Sabretooth nodded. "Seems like someone had him taken fer a reason. They're tryin' to program him, I think. Keeps talkin' about how they want him to hurt folks."The large mutant shrugged. "I could just take him out fer a night on the town, but he's more useful sane."

"How long is he likely to sleep?"

"Normally 'bout half an hour to forty-five at a shot."

"Not long enough to get him to the med-lab."

"Ya ain't got somethin' to sedate him?" Sabretooth raised his brows. "Maybe he's better off stayin' with me then."

Summers sighed, relaxing out of his professional mode. "I'm not comfortable with that. Hank wants to do a blood draw. Think you can keep him calm?"

Sabretooth snorted. "Yeah. Just bring extra needles. He blows 'em."

Summers cocked his head to the side. "And how do you know that?"

"Kid ain't told you why he hates hospitals yet?" Creed shook his head. "Wake up, Gumbo." He kept his voice even. The thief's eyes opened, but didn't focus. "Doc's gonna take some blood. Yer gonna be good."

"Non! No needles." The young man sat up. He folded his arms over his chest and pouted like a four year old.

"Yer gonna be good."

"Y' purrin', M. Chat." Remy's face was transformed by a bright smile. Creed chuckled. He chucked the Cajun under the chin. Summers' fingers twitched at his side.

"You gonna be good or do I got to hold ya?"

The thief shrugged. "Don't like needles, me."

"That ain't what I asked."

Remy chewed at his lower lip and dropped his eyes to the fabric of the couch. "Oui. No, blowin' needles. I don't got to go to the hospital?"

Creed shook his head. "No hospital. But yer gonna do what the doc tells ya and yer goin' home with the X-punks."

"Non! I ain't goin' nowhere wit' them."

"Why not?" Summers asked. His voice was calm and gently fond. Creed found himself raising his brows. The leader of the X-men shrugged. "I have a son, remember?" He turned back to the young man on the couch who was attempting to maintain his pout while he rubbed at his temple. "Remy, why not?"

"Remy's trouble. Ain't gonna be anyone's chien."

“You’re my thief, not my dog.”

The younger man blinked at that. “How long?”

“You been with ‘em fer three years now,” Creed said.

“Merde. Someone really scrambled po’ Remy.”

“Not that you’d notice. Except for being all touchy-feely with a man I thought you wanted dead.” Summers cocked his head to the side. The visor that hid half of his face made him look like a robot when he did that.

Remy’s smile was downright vicious. “Well, it’s fun tryin’ t’ kill him. Ain’t like he takes it personal.” Creed laughed at that. He settled down on the couch and Remy immediately curled up against his side. “Y’ sure I got t’ go wit’ them, Chatton?”

“Yeah. You do.”

“You can come with us too. Wouldn’t be the first time you’ve stayed at the Mansion after all.” Summers’ smile turned sly. “Think of the symmetry.”

“Funny, punk.”


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