Pack Parallels
A Sentinel/ XM crossover

Logan turned and sniffed, then turned again, a frown on his fce. "Yer sure about there bein' a kid?"

"Oui. I can feel her. She's terrified." The woods were chill, but not freezing. Scott stretched while Remy and Logan talked. "What's wrong, Runt?" he asked.

"Our scent just disappeared."

Remy raised a brow. "Y' feelin' alright, cher?"

"Yeah. Let's go find this kid. Which way?"

"Why y' askin' me?"

"Yer the one that sensed her."

Remy frowned. He closed his eyes. He pointed. "That way."

"So let's go." Scott made shooing motions with his hands. He was on vacation. He didn't *want* to be a hero, but he wasn't going to leave a child in trouble. The foothills of the Cascades were beautiful. He wanted to get back to enjoying them.

Logan's nose twitched. "There's somethin' weird goin' on here," he said. He took the lead when he caught the fear-scent, which conveniently put his young mate between him and the alpha. He shook his head to clear away the feral thoughts.

They settled into the steady hiking pace that had brought them this far into the woods. Logan's ears finally caught the muffled crying.


Across the woods, approaching from the other direction came two detectives. Ellison's head cocked to the side. He was the taller of the pair.

"What do you hear, Jim?" his partner, Blair Sandburg asked.

"Crying. And there's someone else. Three someones. They're going to reach her first."

"Okay. Keep an ear on them and we'll step up the pace. Do you think they're the ones who took her?"

Jim listened carefully. "You're sure it's this way?" he heard. "It's awfully deep in the woods for a little kid." Jim frowned.

"Girl, chere," another voice corrected.

"Gumbo's right. It's a girl. And she's just over there. I can see her pigtails."

"I don't know," Jim answered finally. "I don't think so. But there's something strange. They know she's a girl, but one of them wasn't even sure that she was there."

"Maybe they were split up when one of them heard or saw her?" Blair suggested.


"Bonjour, petite," Remy said softly. He extended his charm to soothe the upset child. Her blonde pigtails were knocked askew and full of twigs and leaves. Tear streaks ran over the dark bruise on her cheek. There was blood on her hands. "Y' hurt, sweetie? Mebbe Remy can help. We clean y up an' take y' back home?"

She trembled, curling in on herself. "I'm Remy, chere. Dat's Scotty. An' dat's Logan. Y' look cold, petite. I got an extra sweater. Get cold easy, me." Remy moved slowly and carefully to remove his pack and find the heavy Aran sweater. He offered it to her. Little hands trembling, she took it. "Y' need help or can y' get it on y'self?"

"Help me?" she asked. Her voice was a hoarse croak from crying. Remy helped her pull it on. He avoided touching her.

"What's y' name, chere?"

"Not 'Cherry.' I'm Rachel."

"Nice t' meet y' Rachel. Y' let m' clean y' hands?"

She nodded. Scott held out the first aid kit. "Can I bring this over?" he asked the little girl. She nodded. He handed the kit to the Cajun and retreated. Remy cleaned and bandaged the brush cuts. He picked some of the twigs out of her hair.

"How'd y' get out here, Rachel?"

Her eyes widened in terror.

"S'alright, petite. Y' don' got t' tell ole Remy nuttin'. We take y' home t' y' mama and papa, okay?"

She nodded. Remy put on his pack. "Can y' walk or y' want m' t' carry y'?" She held up her arms mutely. Remy picked her up. He guessed she was about six. "let's get t' that Ranger Station, chers. We need t' make some lunch f' Rachel."

"Sure, kiddo," Logan agreed. He led the way.


"What is it, Jim?"

Ellison shrugged. "They're heading for the ranger station. I just have a feeling that there's something weird going on."


"What's wrong, Logan?" Remy asked. "Y' been real tense f' awhile now."

"There's a couple coming after the kid. One of 'em's like me I think."

"We in danger?" Scott asked. Rachel was asleep on Remy's shoulder.

"I ain't sure."


"We're police detectives. We don't mean any harm. We'll meet you at the station."

Ji'ms voice startled his guide. "What?"

"One of them can hear us."

"Really? Cool."


"Who the fuck are ya?"

"Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg." Logan nodded.

"What is it?"

"Names are Jim and Blair. Cops."

Scott sighed. "Why can't we ever have simple vacations?"

"Because y'all attract trouble Now hush. De petite is sleepin'. Let the po' chile sleep."

"Your accent's getting stronger," Scott informed the Cajun.

"I know. I know. I'll work on it. Jus' this place feels sorta like home, 'cept f' de trees an' the cold an' the lack of predators wit' big ole sharp teet'."

Logan snorted. "Just cuz we ain't seen 'em don't mean they ain't there."

"That's why I got y', cher. Y' protect dis po' Southern boy from Northern critters."

Scott bounced a pinecone off of the back of Remy's head. The thief scowled over his shoulder at his other lover. Scott simply shrugged. They made the Ranger Station soon enough. Scott set to heating up some water. He wasn't allowed to make anything except coffee or instant soup, but he figured the soup would be good enough for the poor girl. He looked at the ranger's list of campers and froze. They weren't on the list. It was dated properly, but they weren't on it at all. "Logan, come here. You told the rangers we were out here right?"

"Course I did, Darlin'? What's the trouble?"

"We're not on the list."

Remy settled Rachel on the bed. He tucked her in with his coat. He shivered in the cool air.

"What do ya mean? I told Billy myself."


"Yeah. The ranger here. I met him a few years back. Billy MacElwain."

Scott looked at the records. "Well, the name's right. The date's right. Must be a mis-print. Or else he knew you well enough that he didn't bother to put you on the list."

"That ain't Billy's style. Maybe he got the dates wrong or soemthin'."

"That's reasonable. Wonder how long she's been missing? That distraction might be enough to have made him forget."

"They're just startin' the search, I think. I don't think there's many folks out lookin'. And Billy shouldn't have left the station. That ain't his look-out."

Remy stepped out onto the lookout platform. He paled. "He didn', cher."


"He didn' leave."

Logan stalked over. The man was freshly dead. He hadn't even been dead an hour. He checked for a pulse even though he didn't hear any heartbeat. "Well shit. That's Billy okay. Scott grab the radio. Tell 'em Billy's dead."

Scott reached for the transmitter, then paused. He looked out the window. "Logan?"


"Those two cops, what do you think they'd look like?"

Logan considered. "One's younger'n the other. Beyond that. Anyone's guess. White or Hispanic I think."


"Yeah. I think."


Jim paused. "Yes, we're the cops."

"It's them, Slim," he heard the possible Sentinel say. Jim tried to shake off the creeping oddness of the situation. Why was the man here? They were obviously supposed to be camping. MacElwain was a good man; he wouldn't have forgotten to put someone's name on the list. First, he had to see Rachel safe. Then, he'd deal with the rest of the trouble. He mourned Billy, but he could smell the death from where he was standing. He almost told Sandburg, but stopped at the last minute. They'd discuss that later, away from prying ears.

Jim looked at the man who was standing at the top of the stairs. The man seemed to look him and his Guide over, then turned his attention inside. "You coming?" he asked sharply.

Blair followed his Sentinel up the stairs and into the one room look-out station. "Where's Billy?"

"Back porch, Chief. He's dead."

Blair shook his head. "His heart must have finally given out. I warned him he should think about retiring."

Logan snorted. "He'd be happier to have died here than some fuckin' hospital. He hated civilization. Got along real well because of that."

Blair had to smile. This man did make him think of Billy in a way. The Guide went to the back porch to say his good-byes and whisper a prayer for the man's soul. He was surprised to find another man leaning against the rail, smoking. Blair identified the cigarette as a clove without Jim's hyper-senses. "Hi," he said softly.

"Bonjour," Remy answered absently. His mind was absorbed in remembering Last Rites. Tante had made him learn them. It was part of his training that he'd thought he'd never forget. It was like a sun came from behind a cloud and illuminated the words on the page in his mind. He relaxed. He went to the dead man and whispered the Latin phrases. Sandburg blinked at the scene, then smiled. He added his own blessings to the traditional ceremony. When the long-haired man turned to him he held out a hand.

"I'm Blair Sandburg."


"Nice to meet you."

"And y'." Remy stubbed out the cigarette and tucked the butt into a pocket of his trench. He took in the scene with a glance. Logan and Jim were glaring at each other. He could hear the growl growing in Logan's throat. "Scotty," Remy said softly.

"I know. I know. If he moves, I'll jump in. Right now they're just. . . staring."

"Staring. That's challenging, cher, not staring."

Blair set a hand on Jim's arm. The muscles were tense. Jim's gaze flicked to his partner's face. He cocked his head to the side.

Logan shook his head and stepped back a pace, to stand next to his mates. He looked the Cajun dead in the eye. "You trust 'em?"

Remy blinked. He looked at the men. "The lil' one, oui. Dat big homme? I ain't so sure. I don' get on wit' military types. Ask Cable."

Scott snorted. "You don't get along that well with me, let alone Cable."

Remy grinned at him. With his shades on, Remy could be Scott's brother, but that was mostly because they changed the line of his cheek. That was the obvious conclusion that Jim and Blair came to, despite the disparate accents.

"You?" Logan growled at Scott.

"They're cops alright. That's obvious. But I don't think they're going to screw us over. If you're asking whether or not I'm going to hand Rachel over to them on no more strength than a badge, no way. I'm not letting her go until she identifies a family member she'll go with willingly."

Remy nodded. "Y' gonna get that soup on or should I just get her a power bar?"

"Maybe you should do it. That way no one will complain about it."

Remy snorted. "Non, cher, I tol' y' I'd teach y' t' boil water."

"Gumbo," Logan said calmly. Both of the younger men looked at him. He rarely got that tone in his voice. It was a timber that said, I'm older and meaner and about to put you out of your misery.

"Oui," Remy answered, sweetness and light.

"Tell me you feel that."

"Y' mean the lava that's rumblin' under the ground?"


"Non, cher, it's just imaginins. Y' feelin' a lil stress an' so y' makin' it all up."

"I should beat ya, kid."

"No threats," Scott stated.

Jim and Blair shared a quirked smile. Jim went to check on the sleeping little girl while Blair started the water boiling. "Don' touch," Remy hissed. He managed to get between Jim and the girl. Scott's hand was suspiciously heading towards the knife he didn't carry anymore. He shook his head. He hadn't carried a knife since he was well, since Xavier had found him threatening Warren with it.

Jim looked at the young man, face impassive. He zeroed in on the covered eyes looking for their real color. He found himself trapped by the odd glow there. There was something wrong with those eyes. He blinked awake to Blair's hand on his arm. The other three men were staring at him. Logan had heard every soothing word. "You okay, Big Guy?"

"I'm fine, Chief. I was just wondering if our friend here would mind taking off his glasses."

"Yes, he would," Scott answered. "We both have an eye condition that makes light very painful. Remy won't be taking his off anymore than I'll be taking off mine."

Remy smiled to himself. Trust Cyke to make sure they both had a cover story. Rachel was sleeping, but her breathing was rapid. "I t'ink, mes amis, that it's time we take Rachel out of here. How far t' the main road?"

Logan and Jim both considered. "About twenty miles," Jim answered first.

"Merde." Remy shook his head. "We gonna have t' sleep here t'night, less y' can call in a chopper t' pick us up."

"We don't want to tip off her abductor," Jim informed them. "We're going to have to walk her out. He'll probably assume she's dead."

"De media'll have a field day when she's returned."

"They aren't going to know. Her family's in seclusion. We've been trying to keep this quiet. She's the third child to go missing."

Remy's lips hardened. Blair found himself re-evaluating the red-head. He'd assumed he was the least dangerous of the group. Now, he was setting off all sorts of bells. "Scott," the Cajun said softly, "we need to talk."

Scott cocked his head to the side. "When and where."

"Now." Remy looked at Jim, he paused. "Fuck," he muttered. "Well, here, I'm supposin'. Jim here's got Logan's range, we ain't gonna get no privacy."

Scott snorted. "Jim's an honorable man, I'd guess. He'd have to be, to be a police officer. And I'm sure he's good at keeping secrets."

Jim looked at Scott. He re-evaluated the man. These three weren't what he'd first assumed. It wasn't two brothers with a guide. It was definitely a team. He'd guess not special forces, but some sort of intelligence group. Scott was used to being in charge and both of the men, despite Logan's obvious experience, deferred to him. Jim nodded. "I'll keep your secrets if they aren't illegal."

Remy laughed bitterly. "Don' matter. Ain't gonna give y' dat sort of info, cher." He pulled Scott over to the opposite corner. "Scotty, y' know I can't leave it t' them now."

"You've got to. You don't have any authority here. You don't have any contacts."

"I got contacts, cher. But that ain't it. I can't let no child-stealin' happen on my watch."

Scott considered. "Explain."

"I made a promise, cher. I stood by once an' more'n one chile died. I can't do it again. I can't walk away."

Cyclops considered. First off, Remy was using 'I' which indicated the seriousness of the situation. Secondly, he had a guess as to what Remy was referring to. "I need more than that. To whom and why was this promise made?"

"T' the gods, cher. T' le Baron. T' myself. I stood by. I didn't intervene. If I'm goin' t' hell it ain't gonna be because of somethin' I didn' do. I've got t' protect her, cher. If'n I don' there ain't no reason f' the rest of it. The chilen is who we fightin' f' ain't it?"

"You were injured when you stood by."

There was a slight tremble in Remy's jaw, but he forced it away. "That ain't an excuse f' what went down. I should've. . ."

"What? Blown the place? Gotten killed. Is that what this is? Some elaborate suicide. Some death wish. These two are perfectly capable of tracking one kidnapper."

"Non!" Remy hissed. "Collectors don' just kidnap. They use up chilen. Ain't none of de petites that been taken gonna survive if'n they ain't found soon. And they ain't gonna be the last. These folks don' care. Y' and me both got experience wit' them. They cold-stone crazy. They look at y' sweet and light, then once they get y' they try t' destroy y'. Merde, cher, I've *dated* killers that ain't as crazy as baby-rapers."

Logan snorted and set to making the soup. "Gumbo," he said quietly, "yer taste in men's gettin' better."

"I weren't talkin' about the men neither," Remy shot back. "Besides, only dated one male killer."

Scott shook his head. "I understand your reasons, but I cannot allow it."

"This ain't somethin' y' can allow or not. I'm just informin' y'." Remy's mouth was tight. Scott's mouth compressed into a flat line. He crossed his arms and straightened, giving the thief his best glare. Remy's chin tipped up, defiant.

"If I gave you a direct order to do nothing more than see Rachel to her parents, you would obey it."

Remy considered. He nodded slowly. "But I'd likely hate y' f' a few mont's. And I'd hang it over y' head f' years when y' wanted somet'in' from me."

"Blackmail is not conducive to a team environment and therefore I'm going to have to allow you to interfere, but only so far as the authorities will allow. Perhaps you can help with the search, or the profile, or the analysis of how the motherfucker could have gotten to the children. If I think you're getting too emotionally involved, I am going to pull you out no matter how much you bitch at me. And Cajun, you *know* how nasty I can get."

"Bring it on, cher," Remy purred. "Didn' y' hear, I like 'em rough and tumble?"

"Soups ready," Logan stated. "Why don't ya get Rachel up, Darlin'?"

Scott sighed. "Logan, will you stop trying to play peacemaker. The two of us are grown you know."

"Nope. Neither of ya act it. We'll have to get supplies before we head back out. We can feed six, but not fer long."

"We brought supplies," Sandburg said as he dished up the soup. "We should probably pool our food if we're going to travel together."

"Good idea, Blair isn't it?"

"Yeah. Blair Sandburg. And you're Scott?"

"Summers," Scott said after a moment's pause. He hated giving out his name to cops, but there was no reason to worry. Summers was a clean name. His FBI file was sealed. Jim caught the pause, noted it and filed it away. He'd check the alias when they got to town. Scott Summers, the Cajun's name was Remy, he needed a last name, and Logan, also needed a last name. He wondered if the other two would cough them up or not. He'd leave it to Blair.

Rachel rubbed her eyes. The man with the sunglasses and the warm sweater was calling her name. She smiled at him. "Time t' eat, chere."

"Rachel," she corrected.

"Bein, Rachel. I f'get that not all the ladies like bein' called 'dear'."

"Is that what cherry means?"

"Chere. Oui, petite. That means 'little' or 'little one'. That's what Papa used t' call m'."

"Really? It sounds funny. It's a dress size. Mommy wears petites."

"An' she's little right?"

Rachel considered. "She's mom-sized."

Remy laughed. "We got chicken noodle soup. And these two hommes brought some granola bars for desert. An' I want y' t' drink up some water too."

Rachel made a face.

"You're face'll freeze like that," Scott threatened. Rachel rolled her eyes at him. "Don't look at me in that tone of voice, young lady."

She stuck her tongue out, secure that Remy would save her.

Scott shook his head. "Even children don't respect me." He put a hand to his heart and gave a mock sniff. All of the adults laughed. Rachel didn't get it, but didn't mind. She was warm and cozy. Remy's coat was wrapped around her and she was sitting next to him.

"Are you police officers?"

"She's so polite," Scott said in shock. "Why don't you show her your badges?"

Jim pulled out his badge and Blair fished for his. They handed them over. "Wow, I've never seen a real one before." She frowned. "Cascade Police Depar- Department. Det-ect-ive."

"Real good, petite. What's this say here?"

"That's the address."

"Right. And this here?"

"Jim Ellison. Mommy says Detective Ellison is like superman. He's never messed up a case."

Jim flushed. "You're mother is exaggerating. Everyone messes up some thing."

"Like putting the vegetables into the wrong color of container," Blair tweaked.

"Except that. *I* always get leftovers into the right containers." Jim smirked at his partner. "How are you feeling, Rachel?" He took his badge back.

"Better. I'm not cold anymore." She was snuggled under Remy's arm. He smiled at her. Scott watched her as carefully as Jim did. He'd had a hand in raising several children when he and Jean and snapped into the future. He knew the signs of exhaustion, of stress. Rachel was doing fairly well. She would have nightmares tonight, but they'd deal with that when they could. Remy would probably have nightmares too, but they'd come later and he wouldn't disturb anyone who wasn't attuned to him. Logan would be a pain in the ass in the morning. Scott just wasn't sure what to do about the two cops. He didn't like them. Blair was okay, he decided, if a little too perky. Jim was listening to Blair spin some outrageous story about an aboriginal tribe. There was something in the intensity of his focus that reminded Scott of Ororo. Remy was busy trying to get the giggling little girl to drink her water. She was busy attempting not to. "It tastes nasty," she said.

"Remy's done tasted it an' it tastes like water. Now, it ain't fancy water from a bottle, but it's safe enough an' it don' taste nasty."

"Why do you do that?" she asked.

"Do what?"

"Say 'Remy' instead of 'I'?"

Remy shrugged. "Always done it. Just a tick. Folks get strange things int' their language. Drink up. Y' ain't gonna distract m' that easy."

Rachel finally drank the water. "Happy?" She pouted.

"Oui. Merci, petite." Remy collapsed the plastic glass and stuck it back into his pack.

"I'm thinkin' we should redistribute what's in yer pack, Rems," Logan said once they'd tucked Rachel back into the bed.


"Because yer gonna be carryin' the kid most of the way. Ya need less in that thing."

"Some t'ings I need close."

"Not everything, just some of the stuff that we can take with no trouble," Scott soothed. He knew exactly what Remy felt he needed close. And what he wouldn't let anyone else touch. They'd set out the sleeping bags on the floor. Remy was already cold just looking at them. He'd normally wear his sweater to bed and have his coat over him, but Rachel needed them more than he did. He let Scott and Logan fuss with his pack until it was at minimum weight. He shook his head.

"Y' don' need t'."

"Rems, shut up." Scott's voice was affectionate. Remy smiled at him and shrugged. He settled down on the end of his roll and took off his shoes. He checked Rachel once more, then laid down, pack within arm's reach. He slipped his shades off, eyes closed to hide their red glow in the night light. He set the glasses on top of his pack. He curled up inside his bag, shivering slightly. He felt Scott's hand brush his bangs back. Then, there was a weight settling on his body -- Scott's parka. Remy smiled. "Sleep well, babe." Scott kissed his cheek, then settled down. Logan nudged Scott closer to the Cajun. He wanted to be sure that neither of them would be disturbed by the cops and that Rachel wasn't going to be easy to get to. Scott obediently snuggled closer to the Cajun's sleeping spot, his goggles garnering him a sympathetic look from Jim. Of course a man with heightened senses would think in terms of over-sensitivity to light. Logan stroked Remy's hip, then settled his arm over Scott's middle.

Blair watched the three men, trying not to stare. He'd met plenty of people in plenty of relationships, but he'd never met a poly-amorous trio that was so tame. These men weren't trying to prove anything, break any barriers. They were simply so comfortable in their relationship that they didn't bother to hide it. He sent a silent prayer to God that someday everyone would be that at ease. He was doubly curious now as to what "eye condition" the younger two had. That was their real secret. Blair settled down next to Jim. "Get some sleep," he said softly.

"Don't worry, Chief."

Blair sighed. Jim's gut said to trust these men, his brain told him not to. He wanted to grab Rachel and run, but he didn't think he had to. He understood their protectiveness. He understood their wariness. When he'd been in covert ops there would have been no way he'd have trusted an outsider. These three had taken him at his word, but didn't trust him. He couldn't blame them at all, but he wished he could. He scanned the woods. He detected and noted the different heartbeats of the people he would be sleeping with. With the baseline set, he settled back, not to sleep, but to watch. One hand settled on Blair's hair unconsciously reassuring himself that his Guide was there.


Remy was wearing his trench-coat which Blair found odd. He'd never met anyone who went camping in a trench-coat. "So, Remy, what's a Cajun doing this far north? Or is it just a nickname?"

"Non, cher, Remy's sure 'nough Cajun. He's up nort' because he trusted these two hommes not t' get him int' too much trouble. Y' see how well that's worked out."

"So you live down south?"

"Non, New York, with them." Remy nodded his head in Scott and Logan's direction. The two were in quiet conversation, about what Remy didn't know. It wasn't anything private, but it just wasn't something they thought he'd be interested in. His lovers had known each other for years before Remy'd shown up and had a wealth of things in common that Remy didn't care about.

"How'd you get to New York?" Blair was genuinely curious, not only from an anthropologist's perspective, but from a cop's. The Cajuns were a quickly dissolving group. They'd generally joined the general culture and left a lot of theirs behind. It was sad. But there was a distinct reason why Remy had moved and Blair could sense it. It wasn't a rejection of his home culture, or his home-town.

"I helped out a petite, turned out she was livin' in New York. I took her home and ended up stayin'." Rachel's arm tightened around Remy's neck. She was looking forward to getting home, but she was also enjoying being spoiled. It was such a difference from what *that woman* had done to her. Remy patted Rachel's back. "Y' want t' walk some, petite?"

She nodded. Remy set her down and offered his hand. They walked together like that while Blair kept up his end of the conversation. "That's a really big move to make. Why did you stay?"

"She needed me." Remy shrugged. "She'd lost her mem'ry when I found her an' we ended up adoptin' each other y' could say. She's always gonna be m' sister. I'm always gonna look out f' her. Can't do that if'n I ain't in the same state. B'sides, I met someone."


"Non, a femme. We, well, we finally broke up f' real just about the time I was realizin' that Logan and me had a connection. She broke it off t' deal wit' her issues. Still love her, me." Remy shrugged. "She come home some day."

"And in the mean-time you're with Logan?"

"An' Scotty." Remy smirked. "I know that's what y' been workin' up t' ask about, cher."

"But it seems too deep for you to just leave and go back to someone else. And I've only known you for about a day."

"Ah, merde, cher, it ain't like I'm cryin' over her not bein' there. We good friends, we good partners, but as lovers, we ain't all that great. We broke up so often it became a joke. I'd have folks ask m' whether we're off or on at any given hour. Broke up four times one day." Remy shook his head. "And it weren't like it was f' the makin' up part. I only ever kissed the femme once in m' life."

"How long were you together?"

"Mais, almost a year, I t'ink, give or take a week here an' there."

"What's her name?"


"That's an interesting name."

"She's an interestin' femme."

"A year's a lot longer than I'd be able to deal with nothing more than a kiss."

Remy's smile was sad. "She couldn', Blair. She just couldn't. Let's leave it dere f' now."

"Sorry, man." Blair held up a hand. "So, how'd you hook up with tall, dark and scary?"

"Scotty? Well. . ."

Blair laughed.

"Oh, Logan? He ain't scary at all. Y' just don't know him yet. Like Jim there. Y' call him scary?"

"When I met him? Hell yes. Now, not so bad." Blair smiled. "So, spill, man, how'd you end up with them?"

"Mais, it just sort of happened. Y' rub wit' folks every day. Y' live wit' them. Y' shop wit' them. Y' hang around in bars. Y' play poker. Y' yell at sports teams. Then, one day y' realize that when y' got nightmares, there's one person who comes to make sure you're okay. Y' find y'self doin' everythin' y' can t' make sure he's okay when his nightmares come. Y' know how he likes his steak. Y' know what color he likes the paint in his room t' be. Y' hear all his old war stories and can parrot them back when he ain't told no one else about them. So, eventually, y' find y'self lonely when he ain't there. And when y' hurt he comes t' y'. When he's hurt y' go t' him. It just was easier t' admit it than deny it. We stopped denyin' it."

"That sounds beautiful," Blair whispered. "I've known couples that aren't half that close."

"Bien." Remy found Rachel was skipping next to him. She seemed so happy that he couldn't do anything but smile at her. "How 'bout Jim? Y' just get assigned t'gether?"

Blair shook his head. "He needed help with something and came to the university. I was able to help him. And then, I managed to become an observer on the force. Eventually, I did end up going to the academy. I wrote my dis on police culture and got my Ph.D. too." Blair grinned. "And for some reason, no one else *wanted* to work with his mean, scary self."

"Watch it, chief," Jim said over his shoulder.

Remy brushed his charm against the detective at his side. There was something more in the cops' relationship, but he couldn't decide whether it was brotherhood or lovers. It was odd. He'd always been able to tell right away before. Rachel tugged on Remy's hand. "What's that?"

Remy looked up at the bird. "A raven. Logan, raven ahead."

"I see 'em. Ain't the only one. We got a flock. Ellison, you wanna stop and see what they're after?"

"Yes. Wait here. Blair?"

"Right with you, man."

"Why are they stopping?" Rachel asked.

"Because someone could be hurt, petite. Ravens eat dead things. And sometimes, if there's a hurt animal, they'll wait until it dies."

"I thought vultures did that?"

"Oui, they do. But some places ain't got vultures."


Blair and Jim came back to the road. Blair tied a bright yellow ribbon to one of the trees. "Let's go."

Rachel looked at Remy. "That's not good is it?"

"They just want t' be able t' find the place wit'out the ravens. Mebbe there's somethin' there they want to get."

"Someone's dead."

"Or somethin'. There's endangered animals up here. Mebbe it's a brown bear or somet'in'. Somet'in' that needs keepin' track of."

"Pick me up?"

"Sure, petite." Remy carried the young girl back to civilization. "Rachel?"


"Will y' do somet'in' f' me? If'n y' don' see anyone y' know, like y' mama or papa or someone, pretend y' mine?"


"In case it's reporters. We don't want them to know that y're back yet, oui? So we can catch the one that took y'."

She nodded. She settled her chin on his shoulder and watched Scott and Logan walking behind them. Scott was walking backwards right now, so he could look at Logan's face. She didn't know how he did that. She'd have to practice. It was a good trick. Her friends would love it. She shivered. Her friends, she'd forgotten about them. She'd hoped and prayed and wished that a hero would come and rescue her. She'd hoped that one of her friends had gotten a police officer, or a teacher, or a mom, or anyone. But no one had come. She'd finally had to run away while *that woman* was distracted. Now, her heroes found her and they hadn't even known to be looking. Scott was facing forward again. He cocked his head to the side and looked at her. That's when she realized she was staring. Her cheeks reddened and she looked up at the trees. Scott just smiled at her.

"Shit, boy, you've even got the little ones wantin' ya." Logan shook his head. "Just remember they can look, but they ain't allowed to touch."

"Oh, and why's that?"

"Because yer mine." Logan's smile was full of teeth. Scott raised his brows.

"How involved should we let him get?"

Logan considered. He shrugged. "I think it ain't our decision, it's whatever sort of Feds are workin' in the case. Three kids missin' ain't such a good thing. I'm half a mind to help out myself."


"Like you ain't?" Logan shook his head.

"I don't like cops. I especially can't stand Feebies. Why would I want to get involved?"

"If you just heard about it, what then?"

"If there wasn't an investigation with an obviously good team on it, I'd think about it, but there's always cases like this, you just don't hear about them. Kids go missing all the time. And sometimes families just don't care."

Logan frowned. "Sometimes."

"I'm serious. There are people who don't care. There are kids that go missing that nobody misses. Jubilee never had a report on her. Neither did Rogue. No one reported Remy missing. No one gave a fuck that I ran away. And I know for a fact that there's got to be plenty more at the Academy."

"Like Starsmore." Logan grunted. "I see yer point. But there's plenty of folks that do care. Deeply, painfully care fer their kids. I wish to God that you'd met more of 'em."

Scott shrugged. "That's life. Jean's parents couldn't stand me when they first met me. I guess I've mellowed."

"Nobody can stand ya when they first meet ya. Except kids."

"Hey." Scott punched Logan in the shoulder. Then, he shook his hand out.

Logan grinned at him. "Yer gettin' violent, Darlin'."

"Don't 'darlin' me, you creep. I'm not the one who goes off half-cocked to hunt deer with his bare hands."

"That's just bein' sportin'."

"There's other things for you to go hunting you know. Things that won't have Ro yelling at you for bringing meat into a house that should be vegan."

Logan snorted. "I ain't never noticed you complainin'."

"I like meat. Jean doesn't. Charles eats what Jean likes. All of the five eat what Jean likes." Scott rolled his eyes. It was an automatic reaction despite the fact that no one would ever get to see it. The thought depressed him suddenly. He reached for the link with Jean and found a stubborn not-here message there. He frowned.

"What is it?"

Scott shook his head. He wasn't going to talk about it. It wasn't really important, it just was odd. Before she'd taken up with Storm, Jean had kept the link wide open. It was strange not to have her attentive to his thoughts. If he'd even sought the link before she'd have said something.

Logan frowned at his lover. There was definitely something serious going on. Scott was as twitchy as a cat. They lapsed into silence. Remy was humming now, probably to get Rachel to sleep while he carried her.

Jim listened to the conversation. He considered what he knew. The three men didn't like the police, that was obvious. Scott was the most resistant to the idea. Logan very likely had ties to law enforcement, somehow, someway. Perhaps he was just a forest ranger. Remy, now he was difficult to place. He could well have been on the force, in vice or something where he had to watch the horrible things happen without intervening because of a case. That made Jim think he was federal. This was all coming together into a bizarre little picture. Remy had met Scott and Logan when returning a young girl to her home. He'd stayed to watch over her. That begged the question where had he met her and why did he have the leisure to stay? Well, obviously he worked for Scott. Logan did too. But doing what and why? What level of authority did they have? And what was really between them. Blair seemed to think they were lovers, but they couldn't have a working relationship and sex. There was just something wrong about it.

And what was behind those glasses? He'd zoned on Scott's eyes last night. He hadn't done that in a long time. Just how had they known that Rachel was in the woods? Why were they hiding their eyes? Why were they out in the woods at all if it was a serious condition? Shouldn't they be home? Jim sighed, breathed a deep breath like Blair had taught him and let the questions rest for awhile.

Blair had fallen silent, listening to the soft tune. He wandered forward to check on Jim. "What's up, Big Guy?"

"Can he make it all the way carrying her or should we take turns?" Jim asked.

Blair considered. "He seems just fine, like it's nothing to carry her." The young man hesitated. "Jim, I'm not sure, but there's something going on here that I don't like."

His voice was so low that only a sentinel could hear it, or a Wolverine. Logan was focused on Scott's voice at the moment, so Blair might get away with it. Jim didn't respond, but Blair knew he was listening because of the little twitch in his cheek muscle.

"He talks around things better than I do and makes you feel guilty for asking questions. And I'm pretty sure that Logan's a full Sentinel."

Logan's ears pricked up at the word "sentinel". He hadn't smelled any of them, or heard any of them, but he didn't know what Jim's range was.

Ellison's brows rose.

"I'm serious here. You react to him like he's a Sentinel."

Logan forced himself to remain calm. He wondered what kind of Sentinels these two had dealt with that they suspected humans, well, fellow mutants, but they'd not admitted to that outright. It was probably due to Jim's involvement with the force, he wouldn't be out.

"Hearing yes, but the rest of them? That'd make what? Three? After how many years?"

Blair was thinking fast. "But it might explain why they're out here. If they met and banded together to deal with things, being in the woods would be a good place to hide out until things were under control. And I don't think the other two are, just Logan. They rely on his hearing."

"Try to find out what's up with the dark-glasses."

Blair rolled his eyes. As if he hadn't already tried to think of five different ways to get that information. There was no way he was going to be able to crack Remy when the other two were around. He was startled by his own thoughts. He was starting to think like a cop. The youngest member of the gang was the one you pressured to talk. Oh, shit, Naomi was going to have a field day if she ever found out. Still, it was a sound policy. They continued in mostly silence. Remy's humming had stopped. Jim could hear Rachel's steady heartbeat.

"What is it, Logan?" Scott asked, quietly.



"Blair thinks I'm a Sentinel. Makes me wonder what sort of government shit's been going down around here."

"You're too short."

Logan snorted. "Glad we agree. Don't mean our boys don't think we're some government experiment waiting to happen."

"You're getting paranoid."

Blair was soon walking next to Remy again. "So, why are you guys camping in Washington instead of New York?"

"Because Logan knew a guy an' wanted us t' see the place. He's Canadian originally an' he loves braggin' on how pretty it is. This place is close t' what he likes about goin' home. I wasn' about t' go over the border t' just camp. Non, I ain't goin' t' Canada less'n those boys'll let me go to the museums."

"In yer dreams, Gumbo," Logan called up. "I ain't spendin' anymore time in one of those painting crypts."

"I ain't even taken y' t' Rome yet. Mais, the Sistine chapel'd make a beautiful statement in the main foyer."

Logan snorted. He turned back to his conversation with Scott.


"Art historian."

"Really? That's fascinating. So did you get a degree in it?"

Remy paused. He looked over his shoulder. Logan and Scott seemed to be distracted. "Seemed" being the word for it. He knew he would regret it later, but he couldn't lie about it. "Oui, got m' Ph.D. last month."

Scott's head snapped to Remy's back. His mouth fell open. "And you didn't fucking tell me?"

Remy winced. "We talk on it later, cher?"

Scott took a deep breath. "I can relax. I can let it go. I will *not* kill him."

"Better not, Darlin'. Why didn't you tell me, kiddo?" Logan asked more calmly.

Remy shrugged. He was glad he didn't have to face them.

"It's important," Scott said dryly. "He didn't tell me because it's something important to him. Now, I don't know why he didn't tell you, but that's the explanation for not telling me."

"Didn' need t' tell no one. I didn't do it f' no one else," Remy said over his shoulder, eyes flashing red behind his shades. "It ain't f' bein' called 'doctor'. It ain't f' prestige. It's just because I needed t' do it, D'accord?"

Scott snorted. "Fine. But we will discuss it later."

Remy gave Scott the finger.

"If you're good," Scott said sweetly.

The silence was a little more tense now and Blair didn't have the heart to open the conversation again. He joined Jim upfront. "Talk about foot and mouth syndrome," Blair muttered.

Jim tugged at his partner's ponytail. "Not your fault, Chief. You couldn't have known."

Remy picked up his pace. "Blair."

"I'm sorry, man."

Remy shook his head to stop the rest of the apology. "Non, cher, I could've just lied t' y'. Probably should've. There's lots of pitfalls in m' past. And lyin's caused a good many of 'em." He gave the anthropologist a rueful smile. "And it ain't y'r fault Remy's got relationship issues." Rachel was out cold on his shoulder. He looked natural carrying her. "F'got t' tell 'em I was married f' a while too. This ain't not'in' compared t' that."

Scott had caught up with them now, leaving Logan to cover the rear. "Rems," he said softly. "I'm sorry."

Remy stared at the field leader. He stopped moving. Then, he shook it off. "F' what?"

"Being a bitter bitch?"

"Y' channelin' Jeannie then? I didn' notice."


"Y' love m' anyway."

"Why else would I put up with you?" Their steps fell into place. "What was happening last month that made you hide taking orals from us?"

Remy looked up at the canopy of trees. "I went away f' a week t' get some information f' y'."

"You did."

"I took m' orals, then I got the info. Only took m' half a day t' get it."

"You've been padding your. . . Don't you dare quote Star Trek."

Remy smirked. "'Always pad yer estimates, lad. That way ya always look like a miracle worker.' I always adored Scotty. I wanted t' be able t' work wit' machines like that."

"You do."

"Merci. Comin' from y' that's a compliment."

"But you still don't get to touch my Beamer."


Logan's laughter eased something in the back of Jim's mind. He wanted to like these men. He wanted to trust them. He just wished his cop's mind wasn't telling him that they were trouble with a capital T.


Rachel was walking again after lunch. It was only a few more miles until they were clear of the woods and back to the police base. She held onto Remy's hand, her tiny grip tightening with every step. Remy knelt down to talk to her. "Y' scared, petite?"

She nodded. Her eyes were wide and full of tears.

"How y' want t' play it, chere."


"When y' make y' grand entrance? Y' want t' be the princess or the hero?"

She considered. "I want to be a hero."

"An' y' will be, Rachel. Y' will be. When y' walk out there, y' gonna think of all the bad t'ings that have been happenin'. It's gonna be confusin'. There's gonna be plenty of folks y' don' know. But y' know how y' get through bein' scared t' y' bones?"

She shook her head, green eyes wide.

"Y' hold y' head up high and pretend."


"Oui, chere. The bravest folks in the worl' are scared, they jus' don' let it stop 'em."

"I bet you're never scared," she said softly.

"I am scared every day, petite," Remy said softly.



"What are you scared of today?"

"That Jim an' Blair ain't really cops, that they really leadin' us int' a trap. That mebbe at the end of this road there's some folks I don' want t' see. That t'night I'm gonna have nightmares." Remy shrugged. "There's always somethin' t' be scared of, but if I don' keep goin', I'll just have t' curl up in a corner. An' y' know what, Rachel? I want to be a hero too." He smiled at her.

Scott adjusted the tongue of his hiking boot as he retied it. He was doing his best not to be paying attention to Remy's words, but it didn't work.

"You're not going to let go?"

"Not until y' tell m' t'."

Rachel nodded. "Okay."

The group started moving again. They eventually crested the edge of the trees. The lights of the trailer were sharp against the night. The door banged open to reveal a tall, imposing black man. Remy's brows rose. Oh goodie, he thought, Bishop's got a little brother. Shit.

"Hey, Simon," Blair greeted. "Captain Simon Banks, may I introduce Rachel Meyers, Remy, Scott and Logan."

Simon smiled and Logan relaxed. At least he wasn't going to have to break up an alpha challenge today. He considered, well at least not on that front. His mates seemed to be playing nice for a change, but that could change at the drop of a hat. Both of them liked to fight.

Scott nodded a greeting. "Nice to meet you, sir."


Logan just nodded.

Rachel held her head up. "I want to see your badge." Simon blinked. Then, he reached for his badge and showed it to the little girl. She sounded out the words on the badge carefully, then handed it back. "Thank you." She looked up at Remy. "You should be more careful," she lectured. "You're the one who wasn't sure they were real."

Remy laughed. "Oui, petite. Y' right." Blair couldn't help but smile.

Scott laughed. "She's got you on that one, Cajun."

Remy shrugged. "Dat's life, non? Okay, mes amis, how this gonna work? We ain't turnin' her over t' no-one but her parents."

Simon frowned at his detectives. Blair shrugged. "Come in," Capt. Banks said formally. "We'll get Rachel to the safe house tonight."

"All of us," Scott stated firmly.

"Yes, all of us." Simon nodded. He turned his back and led them into the trailer. "Although, I'm not sure how to fit us all into the cars," he muttered.

"Logan can ride in the back of that pick-up out there. He likes the wind in his hair."

"Don't make me hurt you," Logan growled at the field leader.

Remy rolled his eyes heavenward, asking for help he knew wouldn't be forthcoming. "Rachel, petite, how y' feelin'? Y' want t' sleep some? Or eat somet'in'?"

"I just want to go home." Her voice was soft. "I want to forget."

"Ah, chere," Remy picked her up and settled down on the closest chair, "F'getting ain't that easy."

"No one came for me. It was days and days and no one came. I was so scared. Why didn't Daddy come for me?"

"Y' papa went t' the police, didn' he? He went t' someone he t'ought could help you best. Y' said y' mama said Ellison was the best, non? I bet he an' y'r mama are worried sick."

Rachel shook her head. She was shivering again and Remy folded her close to his body. Scott was shrugging out of his parka. He settled it around the little girl's shoulders without a word. He knew for a fact that the Cajun would be able to get more out of her than any psychologist. And think of the devil, he thought to himself as the woman in the cardigan twin-set appeared with a box of juice and a teddy bear.

"Hello, Rachel," she said in a chirpy tone, "I'm Bessy Parsons." She offered the bear and the juice.

Rachel went white, wrapped her arms around Remy's throat and buried her face in his chest. "Daddy, can we go home now?"

"Oui, petite. We go home now."

"Rachel? Honey? I'm a psychologist. I just want to help, sweetie. I know you're scared right now. I just want to make you feel better."

"Lady," Scott said, voice dripping with ice, "back off. After we get her to her mother, maybe she'll talk to you, maybe she won't. The last thing she wants or needs right now is some stuffed toy and a false-toned idiot talking down to her."

Bessy drew herself up to her full height. "And who are you?"

"Scott Summers. I run a school populated with run-aways, abused children, and other freaks and misfits. Rachel will talk when she's ready and not before. I don't care how many degrees you have, who owns you, or what toys you have hiding in your toy-box."

"Rachel, chere, y' want t' tell Remy what's got y' so scared."

"She's just like *her*."

Remy hugged her more tightly and closed his eyes. He'd hoped he was wrong with that guess. He'd hoped it had been a man who'd stolen her. He'd have no trouble getting Logan to kill a man, but the man was too damned chivalrous to gut a woman if she wasn't trying to kill him. Scott might not have a problem with it though. "Bessy," Remy stated, "Rachel ain't gonna talk t' any woman wit' such bad sense in clothes."

Rachel blinked, then giggled. Bessy looked like every teacher she'd ever had. That was the worst part of it. *She* had seemed so normal. *She* had pretended to be a teacher from another class. And Rachel felt so stupid for being taken in. Mommy had warned her so often not to talk to strangers. Of course, she was sitting in a stranger's lap right now, but that was different. He was a hero. Remy stroked her hair.

"Tell m' about her?" he asked. The child-psychologist glared at him, but started the tape recorder.

Rachel shook her head.

"Why not, petite?"

"She'll hear."

"Non, petite. She ain't gettin' in here. And she ain't gettin' past Logan t' listen neither. Please, petite? So we make sure she don' hurt y' again?"

The room was silent for a long moment. Then, Rachel said, "She said she was the second grade teacher and she needed me to help her on a project. We were on the playground and the next thing I knew, she was throwing me in a car and we were in the woods and she wouldn't let me do anything unless she said I could do it. I ran away but there were other girls there and I wished I could do something, but they wouldn't listen when I said we could run, that my daddy would be out there, that he'd help us. They just sat and stared at the walls like there was a tv there or a video game or something and I just couldn't make them answer. I ran away and then I got lost and then you found me and brought me here. I was scared and I didn't know what to do. But I left them there and I couldn't get them to come with me!"

"It weren't your fault, Rachel. They was likely drugged or something."


"Oui. Given somethin' t' make them sit nice an' quiet like that. She'd probably have y' like that too after awhile. Y' did real good, petite. Y' got out. What she look like, this woman? She got dark hair like Miss Bessy?"

"No, she's got brown curly hair like Detective Blair, not black hair like her."

"And what color skin she got? White like po' Scotty over there? Or dark chocolate like Capt. Banks."

"She wasn't white like him, more like you."

"Tanned? Like she been outside?"

"Yes." Rachel nodded.

"What about her eyes? What color were they?"

She shook her head. "She told me not to look at her. She hit me when I tried to."

"That's okay, petite. She have anything weird about her? Somethin' y' don' see much?"

"No, she looked like a teacher."

"Okay, petite, let's see. She's tan, with curly brown hair. Is her hair short or long?"

"Short, up on the top of her hair. She had these pretty diamond earrings too. I wanted earrings like that once."

"What was she wearing?"

"Pink jeans and a sweater. It was a fuzzy sweater and it made my eyes itch."

"Really furry?"

"Yeah." Rachel nodded. "And she had these pink hiking boots too. They were Timberland. But they were all muddy. If I had shoes like that I'd keep them clean."

"Good f' y', petite. Did she have a ring on? Somethin' like this?" Remy showed her his own simple band of white gold that Logan had given him. It was wide with tiny cuts to make it shine when the light hit it.

"No, she didn't have anything on her hand. Just nail-polish. It was pink too. I thought it was funny that she seemed so like Mrs. Tinkerbaum, but she was so girly."

"What's Mrs. Tinkerbaum like?"

"She's married to a girl. Mom thinks it's wrong, but I like her. She always says that girls shouldn't be put in boxes."

"She's right. Girls should make up their own minds 'bout what they want t' be. What made y' t'ink she was like her?"

"She had strong hands."

"What her hands look like? There was pink nail-polish. They was strong."

"She had long fingers. Thin, sharp, and there was a bruise on the back of her hand. She must have got it when she hit someone. She had a funny looking lump on the top of her hand."

"Oh? Where?"

Rachel pointed out her knuckles. "Only on the other hand."

"On her right hand?"


"And what sort of mouth did she have, petite?"

"Like Daphne on Scooby-Doo."

"So she got big lips, all painted up?"

Rachel nodded. "She always does her make-up. Wants it to look good." Rachel frowned. "But I don't know why she does it in the woods. Who's going to see her? The other girls were all done up too. Every day. Like little dolls." Rachel's voice cracked. She started to cry. Remy let her cry. Scott handed him a Kleenex from the box on the table. Bessy was taking notes. Remy waited until Rachel had calmed down before giving her the tissue. She blew her nose. He wiped her tears away with the back of his hand. There were no bruises on her face, but he knew she was tired.

"Petite? How 'bout we go see y' mama an' papa now. Y' can talk some more later? Remy's gonna try t' draw a picture of the bitch, but y' gotta help him out some, okay?"

Rachel giggled. "Mommy's gonna be mad if you say 'bitch' in front of her."

"Well, adults got their own funny ways of speakin'. Remy don' care much f' convention, oui? Most folks know he don' mean no harm by it. Y' jus' be real careful when y' talkin' t' Mommy an' Daddy. I won' tell if'n y' call *that woman* a bitch."

Rachel laughed. "Mom'd wash my mouth out."

"Now, I ain't exactly y' mama, am I?"

Rachel curled up, still smiling and let Remy carry her out to Banks' SUV. He settled in the back with Scott. Logan sat up front with the Captain. Jim and Blair were in their truck. Bessy stood with her hands on her hips, glaring at Scott. "Now, gentlemen, I'm not going to be left here in this back-country trailer from Hell, so just push over and give me a seat."

Scott sighed and moved to the center seat. He settled his arm around Remy's shoulders. Their packs were safely stowed in the back of the car. He just hoped that no one had the bright idea to search them. He knew for a fact that the Cajun had a handgun and some of his tools in there. He himself had a gun and his battle-visor. And Logan, well, he didn't have anything suspect in his pack. That in itself would make them suspicious. He toyed with Remy's hair and the thief leaned against him. Rachel laughed at them.

Banks started the car, following Jim and Blair out. "You gentlemen interested in the radio?"

"Not a good idea, Banks. Those two'll start arguin' again and I ain't puttin' up with it."

"Logan?" Scott said after a long pause.

"What is it, Slim?"

"You're on dish duty and I'm making you use Jean's gloves."

"Yer not that dumb."

"Ain't I?" Scott grinned. "I can't wait to see you in an apron and pink rubber gloves."

"It ain't happenin'."

"Hmmm. I'm thinking two weeks, what do you say, Babe?"

"I'm not gettin' in the middle of it, mes amis."

"You're no fun."

"Yer bein' a brat, Slim."

"Now, Logan, you're supposed to respect me."

"Ha." Logan glared out of the front window. "What's the weather supposed to be like tomorrow?"



"Don't curse in front of the child," Scott stated.

Rachel rolled her eyes at him and he grinned. He put a finger to his lips.

"Shut it."

"Make me."

"Yer cruisin' fer a bruisin', Slim."

"Hm. Sounds interesting. Wonder if I could interest you in some target practice? You be the target."

Logan glared over his shoulder. He turned on the radio. "Happy?"


Bessy looked at Rachel. Rachel stared at her, face blank. She tightened her arms around Remy's neck and he stroked her hair. "Now, now, petite, be nice. Glarin' the po' femme's head off ain't the answer."

Rachel closed her eyes and rested her head against Remy's shoulder. The ride made her drowsy and she fell asleep again. Remy smiled into her hair. He leaned more completely against his lover's shoulder. Scott rubbed his cheek against the wild bangs and gave him a squeeze. The classical station would usually have sparked a very sharp debate about who got to set the radio stations, but this was Banks' car and none of his guests were going to push him just yet. They didn't know him well enough.


"What do you think of them, chief?" Jim asked.

Blair blinked. "I like them."

"So do I. That's the problem. I like them, but I don't know if we can trust them."

"I don't think they'd do anything to hurt Rachel."

"It's not Rachel I worry about. I think they're government, chief. And I think they're so far under that there's no way to find them."

Blair looked at him in mock surprise. "You think they're covert ops? I thought they were just paranoid social workers." He blinked innocently.


Blair grinned. Jim's jaw wasn't twitching yet which meant he wasn't actually upset. "What gave you your first clue?"

"Just their reactions to one another."

"Jim, they're poly-amorous. That's not going to give you the usual reactions."

"I don't care who they're sleeping with. No, the way Scott and Remy interact is what does it. Remy works for the man whether or not they're actually sleeping together. They could be brothers."

Blair snorted.

"Don't make assumptions, Chief. It may be a cover." Jim glanced at his partner. "Unless there's something you haven't been telling me?"

"There's a lot of things about me you don't know, Big Guy. But I'd tell you if I was sleeping with more than one someone."

Jim raised a brow. "So sleeping with one guy wouldn't be on the list of things you'd tell me."

Blair laughed. "You know me, I keep secrets."

"I've noticed." That had come out a little more serious than he'd meant it to, Jim realized as Blair quieted.

"Is it a good thing or a bad thing?"

"Good, Chief. Good." Jim smiled. Well, in for a penny. . . he thought. "Thanks."

"All in the job description." Blair looked out of the front window at the captain's car. He wondered if these three would be the breaking point. The Sentinel of the Great City wasn't reacting like he'd had a challenge to his territory, but there was something about these three that set him off. Blair, anthropologist, cop and Guide, liked them, but his gut told him there was something strange about them. He didn't realize he was fading into a trance until they hit a bump. "Do you have to hit all of the holes?"

Jim glanced over at his partner with a grin and steered into the next rut. Blair hit him in the upper arm. "Rain's coming in."

Blair nodded. "I'm gonna tune out for a bit."

Jim nodded and put his eyes to the road. He didn't find as much comfort in mediation as Blair, but he understood it. He was the Sentinel. The Shaman of the Great City had to deal with things in his own way. Blair would always be there for him. The silence of the car was soothing. Blair's breathing was soft and regular. The engine was running better than usual. Jim found the tension in his shoulders easing. They'd gotten Rachel back. Now, they just had to find the bitch.


Rachel ran into her mother's arms. Her mother picked her up and held her easily on one hip. There were tears running down her high perfect cheekbones. Remy felt his mind go off-line at the sight of her. Rachel's mother was the perfect height, with the perfect curves, the perfect soft chest, perfect lips and perfect cheekbones. Her blonde hair fell to the small of her back from a high ponytail. Scott reached over and closed Remy's jaw with a single finger. He agreed with the unspoken assessment. Logan snorted and shook his head. "Boys," he muttered to himself. Jim glanced at him. "Rachel, you gonna introduce us?"

Rachel turned at the gruff reminder. "Mommy, that's Logan. That's Scott. And that's Remy." She pointed to each one in turn.

"Spacey Zimmerman-Meyers."

"Spacey?" Scott asked, brows raised.

"Would you believe it's a stage name?" Spacey smiled.

Scott's lips curled up. "I can guess what stage."

"A co-worker?" She laughed as Scott shrugged. "I'll put Rachel into the bath and we can talk about *that* later. And the man who is just getting out of the shower is my husband, Mike."

"Hello, Mike." Scott introduced his party. Rachel and her mother went to the upstairs bathroom. The boys were just about to take their leave when Rachel screamed. "Circle, I'll check. Get me a solid perimeter now."

Remy and Logan sped out of the room. "Runner on the right, headin' f' the road!" Remy sped after the man, resisting the urge to charge a card. Logan circled the house. What Gambit couldn't resist was the urge to stretch his muscles after having spent so much time in the woods. He did a fast series of flips to bring himself closer to his prey. A flying tackle later and he was pulling his punch so as not to kill the idiot reporter. "Y' a lucky man, cher. I ain't let her mama come after y'. I done that, y' fool head'd be in the gutter. Ain't much reason t' let y' go now. Gimme the fuckin' camera."

The reporter gasped in breaths. He shook his head. Next thing he knew there was a knife under his throat. "Now, cher," the man above him chided, "y' don' want t' feel this anymo' do y'?"

The man's hands shook as he handed over the camera.

"Dat's a good boy," Remy praised. "Now, who else y' come here wit'?"

"Just me."

Remy frowned. He let the knife shine in the light. "Now, I know y' lyin'. You know y' lyin'. Mebbe we try the trut'?"

"I'm here on my own. I swear."

"Oh, cher, if'n y'd tol' the truth I'd've let y' go. Come on, boy, let's move it." Remy stood, pulling his captive up. The patrolmen at the edge of the street exchanged a glance and then ignored it. The two men were heading for the house, Capt. Banks could handle it.

"Report," Scott snapped.

"Brought y' a present," Remy shoved the man towards Scott. "Was through the perimeter wit' a camera. Don' know what all he might have shots of. Don' want t' take a chance neither. Gonna check round f' others. Says he's alone. I don' buy it."

Scott nodded. He snagged Sandburg's handcuffs without thinking about it and locked the man's wrists behind him. "Spacey, where can I put this?"

"The ground?" Spacey's voice was icy. Mike put a soothing hand on her arm.

"Now, honey, that's too nice. I say we make him at least suffer."

Simon cleared his throat. "I'd talk, son. Who knows you're here? Who do you work for?"

Scott blinked, realizing that this wasn't his house, these weren't his people to be ordering around, and Spacey was still perfect even when she was pissed. Of course, he'd had years of practice, and so didn't lose his "fearless leader" face. Logan came in dragging his own captive.

"Damn, see Gumbo brought ya one first. Here, all yers. Make sure it hurts."

Scott's smile was about as feral as Wolverine's on a bad day. Today was a bad day for these two. "Check left. Cajun's worried about this one having a partner."

"On it, Slim."

"I'll take them to the basement," Jim said. His eyes turned ice cold. He didn't like reporters, especially not ones after a child. "Gentlemen." Jim cuffed the second man. "You are being detained for your own safety." He led them downstairs. "And trust me, you don't want to leave."

Blair found himself bouncing in place. He trailed after his partner. Simon caught his arm. "Make sure they don't trip, Sandburg." The young man sketched a salute and caught up with his partner. Simon studied the young man in front of him. When he was sure the detainees were out of ear shot, he spoke. "Why exactly were you ordering my men around?"

Scott winced. "Sorry, sir. Ingrained reaction. We have a lot of problems with our campus security." He shrugged. "The kids that come to us are run-aways, abused, different in some way. They're targets. And the school is a target because of its politics."

"And those politics are?"

"Liberty and equality are for *everyone.* Children should be safe from all harm, including that from their parents, no matter what the state thinks." At Simon's raised brows, he continued. "We don't report run-aways."

Simon scowled. "What state?"

"New York."

"Fine. I'll forget I heard it. But unofficially, as long as the kids are okay, I don't care who takes care of them."

Logan and Remy returned empty handed. "Weren't no one there, cher," Remy sighed. He was flipping a knife in his hand.

"Kid's right though, there was someone out there."

Scott caught the knife in mid-flight. He found the engraved initials. "Where did you find my knife?"

Remy blinked. "In Charles' office."

"I looked in there at least five times!"

"In his safe?"

"Yes, in his safe. And in his desk. And his file cabinet. And every freaking book in the room."

"It was in his top drawer. Next t' some t'ings I'm guessin' are Bobby's. He had m' lighter in there." Remy shrugged.

"You're lighter? What were you doing with it?"

"Mebbe, just mebbe, I was thinkin' about settin' fire t' Robert's hair."

"Was this a Rogue incident?"

"Oui. How'd he get y' knife?"


"I won' f'get."

"I promise, but not in front of the children."

"A hint?"


"'Nough said."

Simon shook his head. He truly wanted to like these men. Blair and Jim returned. Jim looked grimly at the vacationing X-men. "We need to talk."

"'Bout what?" Remy's voice was sweet, innocent and no one in the room bought it.

"About threatening a man's life."

"Didn' t'reaten no one, cher."

Jim's blue eyes were like lasers, but the men weren't impressed. "Leash him," Scott said to Blair. Blair's eyes widened. "Now. And don't give me any bullshit. He's your partner, leash him or I will."

"No way, man." Blair put up his hands. "Jim is in the right on this. Threatening is assault."

"I didn' t'reaten," Remy stated.

"You held a knife to the man's throat."

"I ain't got a gun on m'." Remy shrugged. "It weren't a threat, cher. T'reats are f' amateurs."

Jim's back stiffened. He felt the muscle in his jaw start to twitch from the grinding of his teeth. Blair's hand was calming on his arm. "Simon."

"If the men want to press charges, we will." Simon's voice was firm. "But that will be after they have been charged with child pornography, stalking, and burglary."

"Child porn?" Scott was impressed. "You have got balls, Captain."

"What else do you call photographing a little girl in the bath?"


"That's not illegal."

Scott's smile grew. "I like your style, sir."

Remy and Logan's heads snapped to Scott.


"Ya called him 'sir', Slim." Logan blinked at his lover.


"Only homme I ever heard y' say that t' was Charles," Remy informed Scott.

"I'm always respectful. I just haven't met many people who deserve my respect." Scott shrugged.

Spacey was holding a trembling Rachel. "It's okay, sweetheart. The bad men are gone."

Rachel looked up at her mother. She tightened her grip. Spacey sat down on the couch, Rachel in her lap. "When will they catch the b-lady that took me?"

"Not tonight, kiddo, but soon," Logan promised. His gruff voice was supremely gentle. Remy couldn't help but smile at the sound. Hearing it kept him out of dark places in his head sometimes. The smile faded as he remembered what they were facing. Rachel looked over her shoulder at Remy. He nodded at her. Scott did as well. She seemed to take the confirmation to heart.

"Come on, sweetie. I'll put you to bed."

Rachel nodded, snuggling her face into her mother's shoulder.

"I even brought Mr. Wiggles."

"Where's Bessy?" Scott asked suddenly.

"I'm in the kitchen," she called. "Making coffee."

"Coffee? You are the most wonderful woman in the world," Scott said heading towards her voice.

"You didn't think so earlier."

"You weren't making coffee then," Scott pointed out. He counted the number of mugs she had out. "Or am I not offered any?"

"Oh you can drink it, just don't expect me to get it for you."

"I'd never do that. That would be as demeaning as asking you to pretend someone else might know what they're doing."

"Excuse me, but where did you get your degree?"

"Four years on the streets of New York City, three years of being abused, and the past fuck, fifteen years?" Scott stopped to count. "Shit, if I'm thirty-two and I moved in with Charles at 15 that would be 17 years. And 17 years living and working with a multiple Ph.D."

"And you don't have a degree?" Bessy's brows furrowed. "You never went to school?"

Scott poured a cup of coffee for himself and one for Remy. "Tell me there's beer in there?"

"No such luck."


"Why didn't you go to school?"

"I live and breathe my school. Sometimes there's a greater good to work for."

Bessy looked at the coffee in her hand. "That's what I'm doing. I wish to God you could see that."

"All I see is a piece of paper you're hiding behind. I haven't seen your heart yet, Bessy. I haven't seen you care. You're no different than any other social worker who sends kids off to their doom at the hands of the state."

"I'm a psychologist, not a social worker. I don't send children to their doom. No self respecting social worker does either. We just can't be everywhere! There's too much work, not enough support and not enough hours in the day! Sometimes kids slip through. I hate the idea, but it happens. And I'm sorry you had a bad experience, but you can't blame all of us for what happened with one person."

"I knew you had to care about something," Scott said.

Bessy's eyes narrowed. "I have no idea how you managed to pass a psych eval."

"Oh, I'm a psychopath, Bessy." Scott grinned at her. "The process is just a game for me. I don't care enough to fail at it. Remy! Get your ass in here."

"Y' yelled, Fearless?" Remy popped his head into the door.


"Non. But Logan'll drink it f' m'. I'm gonna crash on the couch f' awhile, then catch a shower. Mebbe y'all want t' try that too?"

"My guess is it's too small for two."

"Non, cher, y' got t' be more creative. Flexible, oui?"

"Go get some sleep. Usual rotation for watch?"

"Oui. That'll work. Logan'll be up in front of Rachel's door. Get m' up in five?"

Scott nodded. "Take this up to the runt."

Remy took the mug. He kissed Scott on the cheek. "Night, cher."

"Sleep well."

Bessy pulled out a chair. "Sit down, Scott, we need to talk. Tell me what you really know about Rachel."

Scott settled on the other side of the table. "We guessed she'd been taken by a woman when she went to Remy so easily. She wasn't scared of Logan or me. Are you guys coming in for your coffee or not."

Jim took his mug silently and started fixing Blair's for him. He handed his partner a mug with sweet cream and no sugar. The detectives settled at the table.

"Captain?" Scott asked.

Simon sighed and fixed his own mug. "How much of this is going to need editing?"

"Nothing, sir," Scott said. His voice had dropped into officer mode. Jim kept an ear trained on everything else in the house. Scott found himself watching the officer for the tilt of the head that would indicate trouble if he were Wolverine. "We were in the woods, camping. I was actually sleeping because my watch was first. I'm not a night person. Remy roused us saying he was sure there was a little girl in trouble. He pointed us in the direction and we located Rachel by her pigtails. Remy offered her his sweater and got her to let him clean out the brush-burns on her hands. He picked her up and we proceeded to the Ranger station, where we met up with Jim and Blair. They led us back here."

Jim and Blair were silently thankful for Scott's tact. But it also made them more curious about what these three men were hiding. There hadn't been any hesitation in the young man's voice. Blair considered his classification. Scott wasn't that much older than he was. He couldn't be any older than Jim. Still, he seemed young. "So, how are your eyes doing?" Blair asked.

Scott shrugged. "The same as always. Thanks for asking. Do you happen to have any Excedrin around here though?"

Simon laughed dryly. "Sandburg?"

"You know I don't approve of that stuff. It makes you guys cranky. If you have to have something try the tea I brought. Headache?" The last was directed at Scott.

"Yeah. I'd get Gumbo to rub it out, but he needs some sleep. And he's going to have to eat when he wakes up." Scott shrugged. "I'll live. Excedrin's the only thing that works for me."

"You didn't bring any in your pack?" Jim was surprised.

Scott willed himself not to flush. "Somehow it managed to fall from the top of a tree into the river."

Jim smirked. "Purposefully?"

"No comment."

"Which one of the no comments did it?"

"Three guesses." Scott shook his head. "If I didn't care so much I'd kill both of them and make my life a lot easier."

Simon nodded. "Now, son, just *how* did your friend know there was a little girl out there?"

Scott blinked. "Well, sir, you'll have to ask him when he wakes up."

Jim notched another point in the air. Scott managed to lie without lying. His heart rate didn't even stumble. "Gentlemen, I'll see you tomorrow. Goodnight." Bessy left the room. Jim tracked her to the upstairs room she was sharing with the female officer in charge of Spacey's protection. He could hear Rachel's soft breathing, then identified her parent's voices. They were in a delicate discussion so he tuned them out. He didn't think they'd come down until the next morning.

Scott cocked his head to the side, watching Jim's face for the moment when Bessy was out of hearing range. It was nothing he hadn't done a thousand times before with Logan.

"Tell me more about this school."

"I'd tell you, sir, but then I'd have to kill you. The less you know, the better. Honestly. I don't want you targeted. Our enemies don't seem to care who gets hurt."

Blair glanced at Jim, wondering silently if it was time to push for a sharing of secrets. Jim met his partner's gaze. He'd noted Scott's attention as well. He gave his Guide a nod. Blair grinned at his partner. "So, how long has Logan had enhanced senses?" Blair asked.

Scott stared at the younger detective. He looked at Simon. The captain looked surprised that Blair was bringing it up, but not skeptical. "For as long as I've known him. Most ferals do."

Blair blinked. "Ferals? I've never heard that term before. Maybe it's kinda like a primal sentinel. Going back to nature to control their senses."

"Jim's a feral?"

"Jim's a Sentinel."

Scott shook his head. "Sentinels are tall ugly pieces of metal shit that the government sends *after* mutants."

Jim raised a brow. "Mutants?"

"Yeah, you know, enhanced senses, telepaths, that sort of thing? Any of this striking a bell? Sentinels causing destruction in downtown Westchester New York, Chicago, and LA? I didn't think there was that big of a cover-up."

"Man, I have never heard of anything like that. Richard Burton, the adventurer, thought of Sentinels as Gaurdians of the tribe. Theoretically, they all died out, but the genes just went dormant. Jim's an example of a full Sentinel. But there's always been cases of people with one or two enhanced senses. Wine tasters and that sort of thing."

"Like a blind man who reads Braille?"


Scott considered the argument. "I'll grant you senses aren't that unusual, I know three or four people with them, but you're the first one I've met who's truly integrated into society this well. Logan's a loner most of the time, and the other two I know are more feral than he is. Logan will spend days out in the woods if he's injured or out of sorts. Drives me fucking crazy when he does."

"How did Remy find the little girl?" Jim asked. "It wasn't Logan. I heard him questioning. He didn't know she was there until he spotted her hair."

Scott's lips pursed. "What's your department's policy on mutants in the work-force?"

Simon smiled. "We don't discriminate on the basis of race, creed, sex, religion, or sexual orientation."

Scott blinked. He was starting to get a very bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. "I can't tell you anything right now. I'm sorry. I need to make a couple of calls first. And Jim, please keep it reigned in. I'm calling my boss."

Jim nodded. Scott went to the living room. He settled next to the phone. He scratched absently at the day's growth on his chin. He felt grungy and irredeemably scruffy. Remy'll have a field day when he wakes up if I don't shave, Scott thought. He dialed the phone using Warren's phone card from memory. "Hello?"

"Let me talk to the Professor." Scott didn't recognize the greeting. Jubilee must have a friend over.



"There's no Charles here."

"Is this 914-555-5215?"

"Yes, but there's no Charles here. Never has been."

"I'm sorry to have bothered you." Scott hung up. He took a deep breath and let it out. He dialed Beast's extension.


"May I speak with Dr. McCoy?"



"There's no one here by that name."

"Thank you."

Scott dug for his address book. It was in the bottom of his pack. He flipped through. "You better be there Havok," Scott growled at the address.

"Hello, Diablo Research Center."

"May I speak with Alex or Lorna?"

"I'm sorry, I don't recognize the name."

"Alex Summers?" Damn phone interfaces are getting too realistic.

"I'm sorry, there is no one here by that name."

"Lorna Dane?"

"I'm sorry, there is no one here by that name."

"Lorna Summers?"

"I'm sorry..."

"Thanks for nothing." Scott hung up on the directory. "Rems, wake up," he said firmly. Scott reached for the link between his mind and Jean's. The link was there, but persistently off line. He didn't have the psi-aptitude to open it.

"What's the problem, Cyke?"

"I can't raise the professor, or Havok, or Polaris. Call Mystique, Angel, and someone in New Orleans."

"Y' got Ange's callin' card?"


Remy dialed and let Scott input the calling card numbers. "Bonjour, Belle, sil vous plait." Remy paled at the response Scott had been fearing. "What y' mean she ain't there? She's out? Merci. Sorry t' bother y'." Remy shook his head. "Says it be the wrong number, but she been at that address f' as long as I known her." Remy cycled through the rest of the numbers Scott had suggested, then added one. A more local number.

"You know someone around here?"

"Seattle. Close 'nough."


"Y' don' want t' know. Hello? Yes, Essex please. Nat'aniel Essex. This isn't 555-7809? It is? Never? Sorry to bother you." Remy stared at Scott for a long moment after he hung up. "Now, cher, when we lose our teammates it's one t'ing, but losin' enemies ain' a good t'ing."

"Give me the phone. There's one more to try." Scott dialed a number Remy didn't recognize. "Hello, is Eric there?" Scott tried to keep his heartrate even, but it skyrocketed at the now familiar response. "Thanks." He hung up. "Shit. Shit. Shit."

"That was Magneto?"


"He's gone?'


"But that don' make no sense."

"Think Mojo."

"No way."

"Logan lost our scent."

"Non." Remy's voice was low. "I ain't gonna believe this ain't just a giant mind-fuck. Someone's playin' wit' us."

"Yes, they are. And I think we need to do a little investigating. Go calm Logan down while I find a newspaper." Scott sorted through the pile of papers on the floor. All he needed was a couple headlines. He scanned the articles. There was nothing on mutants. Nothing on President Kelly. In fact, Kelly wasn't the president. The dates were right, but nothing in the paper had anything to do with current events.

Remy found Logan rubbing his knuckles and growling. He wrapped his arms around his lover's neck and kissed him soundly. "We solve this soon. Jus' keep watch."

"Always." Logan brushed his fingers along the bristled cheek. "Ya need a shave, kiddo."

"Mebbe, Remy's growin' a beard."

"He ain't." Logan said firmly. Remy rolled his eyes. Logan lifted the shades up and away. He looked deeply into the flame and onyx he found behind them, drinking in the sight he wouldn't get to see for awhile. Then, he settled the shades back down. He kissed the Cajun on the nose. "Go on. Make sure Cyke keeps his head."

"Y' ask the impossible."

"Ya usually deliver."

Remy smiled, feeling completely gooey inside, though he'd deny it to his dying breath. He left Logan there. They were both much calmer.


Simon watched Jim's frown develop. "What's up, Big Guy?" Sandburg asked, sentinel-soft. Jim shook his head. He gestured for Sandburg's notebook. He scribbled in it.

"They're out of contact with their controllers and their teammates. 'Enemies' too. They think there's mind-games going on."

"?" Blair responded, letting Simon see.

"I don't know anything more." Jim tuned away from the quiet assurances that flowed between the Cajun and the other Sentinel. Scott was scanning the newspaper and cursing softly to himself.


Remy wrapped his arms around Scott's neck. "Got me an idea, cher."


"Oui. We find de bitch dat hurt Rachel, don' matter if'n this is just a game or not, then we figure it out after that."

Scott took a deep breath. "I'm not arguing. But, check out the front page."

"That ain't right."

"No it isn't, which is why I'm not happy right now."

"Go take a shower. Remy'll talk wit' the nasty policemen."

"They're very nice and you know it. We're the ones who'll get sued for brutality. Can't you go one day without threat. . . Nevermind, I can't believe I just started to say that."

"Me neither. Go take a shower."

"Is that a subtle hint that you want to corner them without my calming influence?"

"Y' always make m' hot under the collar, an' other places too. That don' let m' work too well."

"Fine. Don't do anything to get us thrown out of this investigation right now. Oh, and they want to know about secrets."


"Like what we are."

"Merde. Okay. I'll talk t' them." Remy made little shooing motions with his hand. Once Scott made it up the stairs the thief joined the officers in the kitchen. "Merci, f' lettin' us pretend y' weren't listenin'. Now, what questions y' got f' us?"

"What do you mean?" Ellison asked.

"Y' know an' I know that y' been listenin' in on us. Ain't like it just shuts off. An' I know cops ain't got the ability not t' be nosy 'bout folks."

"Invasion of privacy is not something I practice."

"So y' don' listen when we cooin' at each other, but there ain' no way an ex-military boy like y'self let us plot behind y' back."

"Take off your glasses. We'll turn down the light, but take them off."


"Because I showed you my secret," Jim said firmly.

Remy slowly removed his shades. He winced at the harsh light, but settled his shades on the table. "Scotty can't remove his, ever. Or he can, but y' ain't gonna like the results."

Remy's eyes were glowing faintly from anger in their depths. "Wow," Blair said softly. "And you're sensitive to light?"

"Oui. Infra-red too." Remy shrugged. "Most folks are creeped out by m' eyes."

Simon willed himself not to react negatively. He already knew this young man was dangerous, but in a positive way. Rachel adored him and she stuck him as a good judge of character. Besides, he'd already accepted a Sentinel and Guide hadn't he?

"It's not just the eyes," Jim said softly. He could smell ozone lingering around the young man and the soft scent of. . . cotton candy?

Remy stared. "Y' can smell it too, non?"

"Yes. Like ozone."

"Remy's got another trick, but it's noisy most times. Show y', but not all of it." Remy pulled out a card. He charged it until it glowed fuscia. "Now, if'n dis gets thrown, it'll go boom."

"How?" Blair asked excitedly. "How does it work? Do you know?"

"I change potential energy int' kinetic. Break the bonds in the molecules, oui? Things go boom when y' do that. All of that energy wants t' distribute an' when I hold it back it gets angry. Then, it explodes when it hits." Remy concentrated on reversing the process until the card was harmless again. "Mais, it explodes when it reaches where it supposed t' be." Remy shrugged. "Ain't sure all of the hows on it."

"And Scott? Does he have a second power like that? And Scott called Logan a 'feral'. What does that mean?"

"It come wit' an off button, mon ami?" Remy asked Jim. Jim shook his head.

"Just answer his questions. He'll keep bugging you until you do."

Remy sighed. "Scotty emits concussive blasts from his eyes. They ain't like lasers. They don' burn t'ings, but they do blast 'em. He can bounce 'em off of t'ings an' they don' lose momentum, so we pretty sure they got t' be some form of photo-beam. He absorbs sun-light t' power it." Remy frowned, eyes searching. "The transformation of photo-electric energy into a more electro-magnetic form may explain the ability of Summers to direct his beams. His ability to rapidly calculate angles and geometric calculations is likely a result of a heightened cognitive ability focused squarely on the mathematical arts. Further study would be necessary to determine the ability of Summers to direct his optical blasts over a long area, although his beams have been shown to not lose force over areas as long as one mile."

Simon's brows rose. "Sandburg?"

"That is so cool. So what you're saying is that his eyes emit a beam that doesn't react like any normal beam. It isn't affected by gravity or any of the laws of relativity or conservation of energy."

"Non. De energy is conserved. He transforms it, not lessens it. He absorbs de photo-electric energy from the sun and converts it into somethin' else. Theory holds that his eyes an' his beams aren't beholden t' relativity or Newtonian physics."

"And your energy, where does it come from?"

Remy paused. "I ain't never seen m' file. Couldn' tell y' any more'n I tol' y' on that."

"What does being a 'feral' mean?" Ellison stepped in before the conversation could get any more complicated.

"Merde, y' can' ask easy questions can y'?" The sigh was more frustration than actual irritation. "Logan is a force of nature, oui? He's got heightened hearin', smell, an' sight. Don' know 'bout his taste. . ."

"It's good, but I ain't had a different level so I don't know." Logan shrugged. Remy leaned back. "Scott's taking over guarding."

"Dat was a fast shower."

"He don't like bein' without his shades."


"You go on up. Catch a shower. I'll answer Jimbo's questions. You get some sleep. Scott'll get ya up fer your shift. And shave."

"Where's my pack?"

"Front hall with the rest of 'em. Still got that green ribbon on it too."

"It does? Thought I took that off at the airport."

"Ya did. Scooter put it back on. He didn't want to pick yers up by mistake." Logan shooed his lover out of the room. "Now, ya had questions."

"What is a 'feral'?" Sandburg asked.

"Feral's someone who's closer ta nature than civilization. Sometimes I lose myself in my animal side. If I'm hurt or somethin' I'm more of an animal than anythin'. Shit, I call myself Wolverine, but I'm more of a wolf than a wolverine. I ain't got shitty eyesight and I don't eat myself sick and fight over my food. I fight like a wolverine, that's it."

"Wolverine? That's a nickname?"

"I'm short. Been called Wolverine fer years. Don't know how it started. Slim calls me Runt, but that's just him."

"Who's Magneto?" Jim asked suddenly. "Another member of your group?"

"Shit no. Mags is a self-centered separatist prick. Mutant." Logan paused. "Ya really don't know him? The name 'X-men' mean anythin' to ya?"


"Sounds like a rock group," Sandburg chimed in.

"Well, shit." Logan grinned. "Guess that means we ain't wanted around here."

"What do you mean?" Simon's voice was soft.

"Well, the government don't like the fact that we keep savin' people from evil mutants. So they got us on the most-wanted list." Logan shrugged. "But they don't actually do shit about it. Hell, I think Remy used to date a Feebie. Slim worked fer X-force fer awhile. Set it up, I think. But still, they put us on the list to keep the flatscans calm."

"So you're unofficially official," Blair assessed. "I hear that."

Jim cocked his head to the side. "Why are you on the list?"

"Officially? We're terrorists."


"That's what the anti-mutant assholes say. Say we cause property damage and kill people. We don't. Kill that is. Sometimes things get wrecked when yer fighting with a bunch of folks that can level a city street with a temper tantrum."

"Level a city street!" Simon was having trouble keeping his voice quiet, but he didn't want to wake Rachel.

Logan grinned. "Kid never does talk about what he can do. Gumbo can level a city street if he gets too upset. He never does. Barely uses anything more than his cards, but he could. Shit, nearly killed himself. Dropped a theater on his head. And Scott can take out a lot of shit with his blasts. Ceilings, walls. He can't control his blasts. That's why the glasses don't come of. And me, well," Logan extended his claws in one sharp motion. Blair jerked away. Jim's nostrils flared at the scent of blood and pain. "These can cut through anything."

"Those aren't natural," Jim stated.

"Nope. Government issue. Don't remember gettin' them. Get nightmares about it. My bones are coated in adamantium." Logan shrugged. "I also got a healing factor. Far as I can tell I was in World War II. Gumbo's pop swears to it."

Simon sighed. He rubbed the bridge of his nose. "I'm going to take all of this on faith because Jim isn't calling you a liar. But, gentlemen, you are on your own. I'm going to check on our guests."

Simon went to the basement. Reporters he could deal with. Mutants? Well, he was having issues with that, as Sandburg might say. He saw a head pop over the top of the stairs. When Summers saw who it was, he retreated. Simon made sure the reporters were comfortable. "You can't do this! It's against the law."

"You are in protective custody as possible material witnesses in a kidnapping and child abuse case. However, your actions lead us to believe that you're a danger to yourselves and others. You'll have to remain here until we can transfer you to a more suitable cell."


Logan's head cocked to the side. Jim extended his hearing. He could hear humming coming down the stairs and assumed it had to be the Cajun. Logan shook his head. "Now I'm gonna have that damned song stuck in my head all night. The worst part is, he does it on purpose." The little smile on Logan's lips told Blair more than Jim's sight could have.

"How long have you been together?"

"Me and Rems? Shit, more than a year and a half I think. Scott's been with us off and on fer almost a year now. Been tryin' to get a ring on him too, but it ain't worked yet. He's still got a thing fer his wife. So do I actually, but. . ."Logan shrugged.

"Longer than my marriage lasted," Jim commented dryly. Blair grinned.

"You're just not as lovable."

Logan laughed. "There's gotta be beer around here right?"

"No," Jim said. "It's considered a police facility at the moment. No alcohol."

"That's cruel, bub. Just cruel." Logan finished off Scott's coffee, not even wincing at the bitterness. "I'm gonna make sure the kid gets to sleep. You guys should crash too. Or are you on watch?"

"No, there's a night crew. We'll crash soon. Don't worry."

Logan found his lover curled up on the floor by the couch, half under the coffee table. He kissed Remy's hair. The little frog wasn't even in evidence. Logan smiled. He went up the stairs.

"Hey," he said softly.

"Hey," Scott replied. "You need a shower. Remy's shampoo's in the shower."

"How would you know?"

"I got it out of his bag."

"Thought there was only one thief in the family."

"You thought wrong."

"You doin' okay, kiddo?"

"I'm fine. And don't call me 'kiddo'."

Logan put up his hands. "Headache."

"Yeah. No Excedrin in this place."

"Did ya try Gumbo's coat?"

"I'd rather not lose a finger just trying to find a pill, thank you very much."

"Figure he probably keeps some fer ya. Ask him."

"He's probably already asleep."

Logan smirked. "So? Wake him up."

"I already did that once tonight."

The Canadian frowned. "Slim, ya know he don't sleep much anyway. He don't blame ya."

"I blame me. That's enough. I was so pissed after he collapsed. I couldn't believe he'd done that to himself. He's always been good about knowing how much he can take. Blue's got a theory, you know."

"What's that?"

"It's an answer to a. . ." Logan growled. "Chill. He thinks that when Sinister drugged him, back when he kidnapped me, that the drug did something more than put him out. He thinks that there's been an increase in the level of powers Remy is showing."

Logan's eyes narrowed. "How big of an increase?"

"He doesn't need to touch things to make them blow. I don't think he's noticed yet, not really, but it's stronger. And he uses his charm much more readily. Either he's suddenly become more proficient at it, or Sinister's pushed it up a notch. Maybe enough to become a weapon."

"How? By making people like him?" Logan snorted. "He can do that by talkin'."

"He sensed Rachel's fear through a spatial warp."

Logan considered. He gently ran a hand up Scott's arm to settle at his throat. He stroked the pulse there with an absent thumb. "Bet he can project pain too."

Scott nodded. "Yes. That's Blue's thinking."

"Why were ya pissed at him?"

"Because he woke up and the first thing he wanted to do was take away my pain. It was as if collapsing didn't mean anything. Like I hadn't been sitting with him, praying that he wasn't some vegetable because he'd taken on too much pain." Logan pulled Scott close. "I just wanted to shake him, but he looked so fragile that I thought I'd hurt him. He looked like he was ready to die."

"I know, Slim. He scared ya. And now the two of ya feel guilty when ya get into rows. Shit. I don't know what to say. I ain't the one who's good at all this stuff. Just, tell him or he won't get it. He don't understand why I get pissed at him fer usin' his powers too much. He ain't never learned that ya gotta take care of yerself too." Scott sighed into Logan's shoulder.

"Go get a shower, Runt. Then, curl up with the boy and keep him from getting nightmares."

"I ain't a miracle worker." Logan kissed Scott softly on the mouth. "Be good."

"If not I'll be better. I'd feel better if I could trust the perimeter guards more."

"It'll work out. Jimbo's on alert. So am I. We'll protect her. They won't take her like they took Nate. I swear."

"Am I that see-thru?"

"Only to me."

"Good. Go on. I'm fine."


Remy woke - carefully still - not sure what he'd heard. Then, the comforting smell of fresh coffee reached his nose and he realized that he was hearing low voices in the kitchen. That meant Scott hadn't called him for his shift. He found Scott laying next to him, watching. "Hey."

"Mornin', cher." Remy snuggled back down onto the pillow someone, probably Logan, had put under his head.

Scott didn't move, just kept looking. Remy smiled at him, sleepy, but content. He knew Scott liked to watch him when he slept. "Breakfast?"

"Did y' sleep any, Cyke?"

"No. But I'm not tired."

"But y' got a headache." Remy reached out to trace the line of Scott's forehead. Scott stopped his hand in mid-route.

"Tell me you *weren't* going to try to take it away."

"I weren't. Y' tol' m' a hunnert times y' don' want m' too. I jus' don' understand it." Remy's voice was soft. "It don't hurt me none. I swear."


"Fine. Y' such a hard-ass. Y' need sleep. I'll see if'n I can find some Excedrin f' y'. We close enough t' a shoppin' mall."

"I'm fine, kiddo. Time to go face the crowd. If we fight we might actually get some breakfast. Logan might not have eaten all three."



"Merde. M' stomach ain't never gonna be the same. Grease, grease an' more grease."

"Considering your cooking. . ."

"I know how t' use spices!" Remy squirmed out of the sleeping bag and pulled on a shirt and sweater. "Where m' boots gone?"

"The mud room."

"Oh. Coffee made?"

"Yeah. Bessy made it again. She's a goddess."

"She jus' looks like Stormy."

Scott blinked. "She does, doesn't she. Just with normal hair. What sort of chemicals does that woman use anyway?"

"I don' know, but I know the white's natural."


"I asked Jeannie."

"Sick, sick boy."

"Gotta love m'."

"Or else I'd strangle you. Come on. I'm starved."

"Y' bitchin' already? We ain't even started the day."

"It's seven. I let you sleep in."

"Merde." Remy got to his feet and followed Scott into the crowded dining room.

"Saved yer food fer ya," Logan said. He patted his thigh and Remy joined him on the chair. Scott sat in the only vacant seat, the one next to them. He poured the syrup onto his hotcakes with pleasure. There was no one there to lecture him on calories, sugar, or the exploitation of the environment and he was going to enjoy every bite.

"Oh, man, come on, Jim. You promised you wouldn't eat that much grease."

"It's not Wonder Burger. It's McDonald's."

"Do I have to go through the ingredients of sausage again?"

"No!" Simon barked. "Sandburg, lecture later. We have guests."

"I'm serious here, Simon. You shouldn't be eating that steak and egg bagel. Think of the cholesterol."

"Sandburg," Scott said quietly, voice harsh as a winter's storm, "please don't ruin this very rare treat, or I will have to personally take you out back and beat you."

Everyone at the table stared at the field leader. Spacey had to hide her smile behind her hand. Her fruit and yogurt parfait sat in front of her with a spoon sticking out of it. She'd stolen Mike's hash-browns on the "stolen food has no calories" gambit. Sandburg put up his hands.

"You want to harden your arteries, fine. Consider me quiet."

"I'll believe it when I don't hear it," Scott replied. He returned to his breakfast. Remy shook his head. Logan had obviously ordered for him because there was an extra hash-brown on his Styrofoam plate. Rachel was licking the syrup off of her fingers. "And how are you this morning, Rachel?"

"I'm fine, and you?"

"I'm okay. Did you sleep well?"

"Yes. You didn't have to stand guard."

"Yes, we did." Scott smiled. Rachel blushed. "We take care of our own."

"I meant to ask, who is Nate?" Jim said. Scott's nostrils flared in irritation.

"My son."

"Who took him?"

"My enemy." Remy wouldn't be shaken off this time. He put a hand on Scott's shoulder to calm him.

"Jim, this ain't the time or place t' be talkin' about it. It ain't a pretty story. Short part is, Nate was stolt. They injected him wit' a virus that ain't curable. An' they convinced him that his papa gave him up wit'out feelin' not'in' about it. All of it's bull, but they hurt everyone wit' it."

"Where is he?" Rachel asked.

Scott's smile was thin. "DC. Hates me still I think."

"He'll come 'round, cher," Remy said softly. Remy glared at Jim, wanting to punish him for making his lover upset. Logan's arms tightened around Remy's waist. He could smell the cotton candy build up that meant Remy was getting ready to charm someone.

"I'm sorry," Blair said quietly. "If you need to talk, I'm a pretty good listener."

"Thanks," Scott said. He pushed at his pancake, stomach suddenly not feeling as willing to accept food.

"Y' eat, cher. Even if'n y' don' taste it much."

Rafe entered the kitchen warily. "Sir, there's a report for you," he said to Simon. He wasn't sure how many people at the table were involved in the investigation. He handed the captain a sheet. Simon pinched the bridge of his nose.

"Thank you. We'll call a meeting in a minute." Simon pushed the remains of his bagel into the bag for disposal. The rest of the people around the table finished up their breakfasts. "Jim, Blair, if you'll come with me."

"Sir," Scott said, "we will be there too."

Simon glanced at the man. He nodded.

"Rachel and I will do the dishes," Spacey said with a grin. "And we'll even make a fresh pot of coffee. Will we be having more guests?"

Scott smirked at her. "I love a woman who knows exactly how to put a man in his place."

"That's f' sure. I met y' wife."

"And I've met yours," Scott reminded. "Spacey's nicer than both of them. Don't worry, Sweetheart, someone will fill you in. Never met a cop who wasn't a gossip." Scott reached across and patted her hand. Her husband glared at him. "Save it, Mike. You'll need it for someone else."

Remy glanced at the field leader. "We need t' get some sort of painkiller int' y' before y' the cause of a fight."

"I like being the cause of a fight. It's fun. You do too, so don't even try the respectable bit with me."

"Remy's honorable, unlike y'. Y' get a man out of bed at four in the mornin' an' expect him t' be in top shape."

"That's what the training is for, you know, so I can get you up at all hours of the night and you'll be in top shape."

"What was I thinkin'?" Logan wondered aloud. Rachel giggled. "Yer too young to get that."

"No, I'm not. You don't know why you put up with two friends who argue. It's like what Mom says about not knowing why she married Dad."

Logan tried not to sigh in relief. He really didn't want to talk birds and the bees with a child. Or was that birds and birds? Bees and Bees? Hell, he just didn't want to think about it. Remy was busy fussing with his coffee. They didn't have honey on the table, so he was measuring out a spoonful of sugar. Scott covered the top of the cup. "Will you just trust me and try it first?"

Remy looked at the field leader suspiciously. Then, he tried the coffee. He smiled. "Where'd y' get the honey?"

Scott waved a white packet at him. "They give it to you in restaurants when you order tea. Last time I went with Jean she ordered it. I stashed the extras in my jacket. You're just lucky."

"Y' so sweet."

"Don't tell anyone or you're mincemeat at the first practice."

Spacey couldn't help it. "You three need your own show. We could make a mint."

Scott cocked his head to the side. "I don't know. It's been awhile. I could probably hack out the choreography. But you're expecting those two to follow orders. I can't make them hit their marks on a good day."

"Ah, but we always come t'rough in the end," Remy chided. "Don' y' listen t' him, chere. We good boys most of the time. Jus' he likes t' be up wit' the sun. I can' concentrate at four in the mornin'. Mike, how y' doin'? Y' off from work?"

"It's Sunday. But yes, I'm off of work until this is resolved."

"What sort of work y' do?"

"I'm a lawyer."

"Really? Cool. Law books usually put m' t' sleep. Woke up one mornin' readin' on Miranda rights an' all, tryin' t' figure how I got there. Missed all the prior work on it. Only law class I ever took, but I respect anyone who can remember stuff like that."

"Thanks, I think." Mike was taken aback. It was the first time any of the men had really spoken to him. He'd been beginning to feel as if he were invisible.

Remy beamed at him. "Y' tell m' 'bout y' most interestin' day?"

"I'm not a trial lawyer."


"No. I'm a copyright lawyer."

"Really? Great. Dat's somet'in' I can actually understand. Y' an' me got t' talk some on digital rights."

"There's just been some new casework on that actually. I'll see if I have the write ups for you."


"If you'll excuse me?" Mike said to the table. He kissed Rachel on the top of the head and went looking for his briefcase. Spacey reached across the table to lay her hand over Remy's.

"Thanks," she said softly. "He's been wound tighter than a clock-cog."

"Don' worry, chere, I really am interested in what he got t' say. Did m' thesis on the impact of the net on historical artwork."

"Really? I would have guessed something to do with Cezanne," Scott commented.

"All the good stuff already been done. But I used t' get int' arguments wit' m' previous employer 'bout digital rights an' scientific data. It grew out of that."

"And what did he claim he had rights to?"

"All the data I could fit on a disk." Remy grinned. "An' that I not sell it t' the highest bidder after he got his copy."

Scott snorted. "And the highest bidder was?"


Logan chuckled at that. "Ya rigged it?"

"'Course not. Why would I want there t' be someone trustworthy doin' the research?"

Simon stood. "We'll be in the den. We'll see you later, Rachel, Spacey."

Mother and daughter went to work on the kitchen, while the rest of the group retired to the police stronghold.

After they were all suitably arranged in the room, Simon began. "First off, Rafe and Brown are handling the prisoner transport. The reporters have been arrested on several charges, including child endangerment. They have agreed to drop their stories and their assault charges in return for us dropping ours. They'll be set free and safe at their apartments, with surveillance to make sure they don't break their word. Second, we have gotten word of another kidnapping. We have no choice but to contact the FBI. Winters has already called the station looking for Jim, so we'll have to bring them in. That being said, if you gentlemen would like to get out, now is the time."

Scott shook his head. "I agreed to see it out, so we'll see it out, in whatever way we can. If all that means is keeping Rachel and her family sane, that's what we'll do, but we have to see it ended."

Remy leaned against Scott's legs from his position on the floor. The older man tousled his hair affectionately. Simon nodded.

"Very well. The FBI will be here soon. Jim, Blair, I want you to go over the grab site."

"Rems, run into town and pick us up some supplies. I'm sure the Captain will be kind enough to lend you his car for the morning."

"Sure, Cyke."

"Cyke?" Jim asked. "That's an interesting nickname."

Scott sighed. "Considering you've never heard of mutants, it's not surprising you've never heard of mutant names. Basically, mutants tend to take a new name. It's sort of a way of becoming part of the mutant sub-culture. I'm Cyclops. That's Gambit. Logan's Wolverine. You, for instance would probably be Sentinel or Guardian. Blair might take something as well because of his empathy."

Blair's eyes widened. They'd never discussed a guide's role with these men, had they? How could they know there was anything beyond a simple partner relationship?

"Cher, we all know what a psi-probe feels like. Y' ain't a spook, but y' are an empath. Remy knows, unfortunately." Gambit was still uncomfortable in using the term. To him it would always be his charm, but empathy was the technical term and Blair needed to know it.

"I don't. . ."

"Yes, you do," Jim said quietly. "You know how to get people to listen to you. You know when people are upset. You can get people to swallow the most outrageous stories. You know when I'm upset or hurt."

Remy nodded. "Oui. Y' keep it on low, of course. But more'n likely y' could train it up. Consider it bein' a good partner." The subject was closed in the X-men's minds. "I'll jus' go get those supplies. Can I get y' keys?"

Simon tossed them over. "Don't use the siren. Don't speed. And if you crash it, I will kill you."

Remy gave the man a lazy, two fingered salute and left the room.

"When are we being invaded?" Scott asked.

"By the Feds? They should be here in an hour. They're coming up from Seattle."

Scott snorted. "Figures."

Logan stretched. "I'm gonna catch a smoke. Coming?"

Scott looked as if he wanted to go with the Canadian, but at the last moment didn't. "No, how can I make him quit when I sneak smokes?"

"Because he's the one that had pneumonia?"

"Right. That argument doesn't hold water. His lungs look better than mine and he's been smoking non-stop for years."

"It's Jean and that incense. I'm tellin' ya."

"It's not incense," Scott shot back. "That's just an air freshener."

Logan smirked. "Whatcha been smokin' then, Slim?"

"Don't go there, Runt. Just don't go there."

"I gotta pin Jeannie down then."

Scott scowled.

"Ya realize yer gettin' jealous over a girl that ain't yers no more?"

Scott shrugged. "Old habits. Just like tweaking me over her." Scott pushed to his feet. "Thank you for letting us in on this, sir."

Simon just nodded in response. Jim and Blair left. "Scott, just a minute. Close the door."

"Sir?" Scott settled down in his chair again.

"I want a simple fairly coherent answer. How is your. . . Remy going to get supplies?"

"Don't ask me, sir. I don't want to lie to you."

Simon sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "I was afraid of that."

Scott grinned at him. "Don't worry, Simon, we don't get caught. We're better than that. I'm going to help Spacey clean up some. Is there a pool room in town?"

"Yes. Why?"

"Because I like to play." Scott shrugged. "Gambit'll be back soon enough. He'll talk to Mike. I'll keep him away from the Feds so they don't try to shoot him."

Simon nodded. "Why do you think Jim's at the site?"

Scott bit back a laugh. He nodded. He really liked this cop.


"I'm Special Agent Jack Winters. This is Agent Nate Essex our forensics specialist. And Jake Gavin, my partner."

"Good to meet you in person," Simon Banks said shaking hands with the men. "Detective Ellison and his partner are at the latest snatch."

"Nate, Jake, you want to meet them there? I'll catch up with Captain Banks."

"Sure. See you in a few." Jake grinned. He was a young man with dark hair and a bright smile. Nate was more solemn. His eyes were soft brown and his hair a rich mahogany. Scott could have sworn he knew Nate from somewhere. But Jack Winters. Oh, yeah, he knew Winters. Scott stood ram-rod straight, hands behind his back in apparent military correctness. In fact, it was just to keep him from bashing in the man's face. Wasn't killing him once enough? He screamed at the Powers that Might Be. Jake and Nate left, chatting over case details on the way out the door. Jake seemed to have read half of the files and Nate the other half.

"And who's this?" Winters asked Simon.

"This is Scott Summers, one of the men who found Rachel and brought her home. I'll introduce you to the other two after we get the preliminaries done."

"I'll look forward to hearing your part of the story, son," Winters said. He smiled his most friendly, bullshitting smile.

"Don't call me 'son' ever, Agent Winters," Scott replied, voice cold. "I'm going to check in with Spacey, sir. I think she and Rachel were going to play tag."

Simon nodded. Scott left the room.

"One of your boys, Captain?"

Simon snorted. "If my men were that well behaved, they wouldn't need me."

Winters nodded, but filed the young man's reactions away for later analysis. He'd ask Jake his read on the man. It wouldn't be the first time a criminal had managed to get involved in the investigation.


Scott laughed as he watched the gruff and tumble Wolverine playing tag with a little girl. Mike was also watching with a cup of coffee. "I hear that Remy ran into town. If you need anything, let me know," Mike said.

"We'll be fine. But thanks. I may need a lawyer if I kill the fed in there."

Mike snorted. "Probably get you off on a public service award."

Scott laughed at that. "So how are you really?"

Mike glanced at the other man. "Humiliated," he said after a long moment. "I couldn't keep my baby safe. If she had never come back, I would have gone insane. I've already been apologizing to Spacey."

Scott nodded. "I know. My first wife, God, she's gone insane." He laughed bitterly. "Though some would argue I always was, it hurt. It hurts every time I see him. There's nothing I can do to keep him safe, or make him better. They can't kill the virus in his bloodstream. And he still hates me, even if we have made some sort of progress. At least you got her back. Your job now is to make sure she feels safe. And do some damage control. Explain to her you went to the police. That you pestered them until they did something about it. Make her understand that heroes aren't only physical. Make her understand that you had to swallow your pride and your fear and everything else to go to the people you knew could help her. If you do that, you'll help yourself too. Nothing is worse than realizing that everything is out of your control and that you have to let other people save your baby."

Mike squeezed Scott's shoulder. "I think it must be harder for you. I've never been the one to rush into danger. I'm the quiet one. The nerd. When I married Spacey most of my family thought she was after my money. They couldn't understand why a woman like her would fall for a guy like me. Then, they thought she was knocked-up. When we finally did get Rachel it was a blessing. They stopped asking nasty questions and started accepting us as parents. I thought my heart would stop when Spacey told me that the school called her after recess. I want to kill the person that did this to her."

"I know. Believe me, I know. But it won't make you feel better." Scott smiled thinly. "Murder doesn't do that. It just affects your heart, makes you colder, meaner, until you realize that you've become what you hate. Don't fall into the trap, Mike. You're a good man. You have a great family. Let the pros take this one. Hell, if Remy hadn't made a promise, we'd be out of here. I don't get involved in police matters if I can help it." Scott took a deep breath. "I guess it's back into the lion's den. Wish me luck."

"Patience. That's what you really need to work with Feds, patience."

Scott grinned.


Remy walked in carrying a few bags. Scott was frowning. "Keys. Now."

"Pool hall's on Fourth and Vine. Take two of these b'efo' y' kill someone."

"Cash." Scott held out his hand. Remy sighed and shoved the bottle of Excedrin Migraine into the open palm. "Give." The Cajun rolled his eyes and pulled out a wad of cash.

"I'm expectin' half of anythin' y' win."

"Don't piss me off right now, Rems. You won't like it."

"Just tellin' y', cher." He gave the older man half of the cash.


"What cigs?"

"Don't pull the innocent bullshit. Give me the pack."

Remy scowled and turned over the cigarettes. Scott lit two, put one in Remy's mouth and left. Remy shook his head and retreated to the front porch to smoke the sweet clove cigarette. Simon's truck sped out of the drive, leaving a pile of bags on the side of the drive. Logan wandered out from around back to bring the bags in. "Feds are here," was all he said in explanation.

"Guessed that me. He's in a mood."

"Go on in. Let Simon introduce ya."

Remy gave the Canadian a lazy salute with the cigarette. Logan blinked.

"He didn't pitch a fit about yer smokin'?"

"He took m' pack f' hisself. Well, one of 'em. Bought a carton. I ain't that stupid. How long since he had one?"

"Five years that he admits ta. Reality? About a month. Figured he couldn't make ya quit if he was still sneakin' smokes on the back porch with me."

"Y' know y' run t' type, Logan?"

"Yeah. Jeannie smokes somethin' too, but Scott refuses to admit it."

"Cigars. Asked m' t' get her some last time I went down south. Picked up the papers too. Figure we need t' get current."

"Ya sent him to a pool hall?"

"Oui. Better go face 'em all." Remy tossed his cigarette but away with a small pop. He went in.

"My car better be in perfect condition," Simon stated.

"Ask Scotty when he gets back, homme. I ain't takin' responsibility f' it now. Where's the Feds got to?"

"Jack Winters."


"And you are?"

"Remy. Pleasure t' meet y'. Ain't there more of y'?"

"Jake and Nate are at the crime scene. I hear you're the one who found Rachel."

Remy nodded cautiously.

"What can you tell me about where she was?"

"She was hidin' in the woods a good two days hike in. She'd been runnin'. She hit a bramble bush an' had scraped up her hands but good. Don' know where she fell. She didn' seem t' be anythin' but cold an' hungry when we found her. Don' t'ink the cunt that took her bothered t' do anythin' t' her." Winters managed to control his surprise at the young man's obvious spitting hatred of the perpetrator.

"How did you know she was there?"

Remy shrugged. "Must've heard her. I jus' knew there was someone scared, hurt out there." He frowned. "Logan spotted her pigtails. We took her to the ranger station and met up wit' the tecs." He shrugged. "She gave us a good description of de bitch. Bessy got it taped."

"Christ, kid, how many shops did ya hit?" Logan asked.

"Only a few."

"Define that by Jubilee minutes."

"T'ree hours, cher. Hit the mall. Got everyt'in' that we left in the van."

"Shit. We didn't leave all this crap in the car."

"Non, we should've. Got us supplies f' hikin' back in an' somethin' presentable f' real company too. An' I bought shampoo so y'all can stop stealin' mine."

"Like the way yers smells."

Remy snorted. "Fine I get y' some, but y' ain't gonna know where from. They my source, cher. I don' want 'em overwhelmed."

"Don't pout at me, brat. Help me with the damn bags."

"Don' curse in front of the tec, cher, he won't appreciate it."

Winters smiled. He liked these men, even Scott who seemed to think he was lower than dirt. Maybe the boy was just used to being suspected of things. He'd obviously been sent to military school. Winters considered. Scott was the right age to have been in Desert Storm. That might have been what happened to his eyes.

"Yer just stringin' out yer talkin' to him so ya don't have to carry this shit."

"Oui." Remy grinned impishly at his lover. "I had t' carry it t' the car. I had t' get it. Y' get t' carry it in and put it int' some sort of order. Jus' give me a pack of cigs and some cards befo' y' do."

Logan snorted. "Right. Get 'em yerself, boy."

Remy pouted. Logan relented with a long-suffering sigh. Simon shook his head at their antics.

"Where's Ray?"

"Out back playin' with her pop."

"Bien. He needs t' be wit' her some. He leave those cases f' me?"

"Yeah, their on yer pack. Why didn't ya tell *me* about getting yer degree?"

Remy scuffed at the carpet. "Didn't think anyone'd care. Merde, didn' even tell Hank an' he's the one who'd understand it best. Mon pere knows of course, but who else'd care? Don't make a difference or anyt'in'. Ain't like Hank's degrees. They actually useful."

"Rems, you and me gotta have a real long talk about what ya tell me and what ya don't. Ya know what secrets do to a man."

Remy snorted. "Oui, an' y' just want details of Chat's anatomy."

"Yer sick, Rems." Logan snorted. "I ain't gonna get distracted from this. I ain't gonna let it go. And yer gonna talk to Scott once he's sane. Ya gotta know why he's so protective recently."

"I know why. I don' understand it. Ain't the first time I been sick. He was worse off a couple mont's back. Stormy was worse off and he ain't said not'in' t' her!" Remy waved it off. "Non, we ain't talkin' now. Not in front of the chilen." He waved at Simon and Jack.

Logan shook his head and took the bags into the living room so he could dispense them into the proper packs. "Ya find us a hotel too?" he called.

"Not yet. Gonna wait f' Scotty t' get back."


"Sent him t' the pool hall. Wanna see how much he makes. Rumor has it, there's a competition." Remy grinned.

"If I could speak with you a bit longer, Remy," Jack interrupted gently. He liked these men. He couldn't say why, but he liked them.

"I suppose. Y' want t' take over the den, then, cher?"

Jack nodded. They disappeared into the den and closed the door. Logan looked after them with a frown. "I don't like him talkin' to that man alone. Scott don't like him."

"He's an FBI agent, Logan, he won't do anything."

Logan snorted. "Government's how I got these, remember?" Logan let his claws just peak out of his hand. Simon swallowed hard.

"Remy will be fine."

"Ain't necessarily Remy I'm worried about."


Jim and Blair returned with the other two FBI agents following them. Jim was frowning and Blair seemed rather wilted. Nate and Jake were quiet, but they were looking over some information. Remy was watching them, head canted to the side. He put down the cases Michael had left for him and stood up. Logan watched his mate walk directly to Jake and stand in front of him. The agent stopped.

"Hi?" Jake offered. The agent's brows rose in surprise.

"Jake." Remy's voice was flat. "What y' doin' here, cher?"

"And you are?"

Remy blinked. He shook his head. "Dis is so fucked up." He turned to Logan. "Y' remember me talkin' 'bout Jake, right?"

Logan nodded. "Yeah. Jake Gavin. Yer ex that ya promised wouldn't be an issue."

"This is him. Or, least-ways this is what he looks like, non." Remy gestured towards Jake. "And Nat'aniel Essex there. Didn' no one ever tell y' not t' wear a red-shirt on a case, cher?"

"I like red," Nate replied, lips twitching. Logan could almost see the gears clicking in Nate's head. The agent was thinking that this was one hell of a trick on their part, but rather enjoying it.

"An' it suits, but y' wear it on a job y' askin' f' trouble. Y' should've warned him, Jake," Remy chided the young agent. "Lettin' a boy go 'round wit' a big ole 'shoot me' sign on him." He shook his head. "An' y' lookin' as rumpled as usual. Columbo ain't a good role model. Y' need starched shirts t' show y' off some."

Jim's lips were twitching. Blair was watching the interaction like a tennis spectator. Logan felt his own lips curling up into a cruel little smile. This was going to be fascinating.

Remy started to smooth out the wrinkles in Jake's suit-coat as he talked. He'd learned from experience that a slight amount of charge would make wrinkles disappear. "An' what didn' y' do wit' y' hair this mornin', boy? Lord bless y' a mess. Go upstairs and clean up. Y' can't be seein' Ray lookin' like a slob. Nat'aniel, y' know he can look better'n this, oui?"

Nate started to laugh. Jake scowled at his partner.

"Now that's something to see isn't it? All the boys playing nice," Jack said from the doorway of the den.

"Ah, cher, I ain't nice. I just feel free t' insult Jake."

"I am *not* your ex," Jake stated quietly. "I have better taste than that." He looked Remy up and down. Logan restrained a growl. "Besides, you're missing some essential equipment."

Remy pouted, rather charmingly to Logan's eyes, but finally sighed. "Don' limit y'self, cher. Y' might find y' like it. Now, Jack, what y' want us t' be doin' t'night?"

"We're going to prepare to go in tomorrow. But after we get a real idea where the kidnapper might be."

Remy sighed. "Y' talk wit' Logan. I ain't all that good wit' directions then." Remy put his arm through Jake's and pulled him towards the couch. "An' Jake here can tell me what he's doin' wit' his life."

Jake extricated his arm. "After I brief my partner, maybe. Excuse me."

Jack, Nate, and Jake escaped to the den. Remy winked at his lover. Logan laughed roundly. He patted his thigh. "Come here, kiddo. Christ yer bein' a brat."

"Well, Scotty ain't here. I figure I gotta tease someone." Remy was quiet for a long moment. Blair and Jim went to brief Simon, leaving the lovers alone. "Cher, y' know that they likely all dead, oui? Dat Rachel was seein' bodies dressed up like dolls?"

Logan felt the tremor in Remy's body and pulled him close. "Why is this hittin' ya so hard, Remy?" He spoke quietly, calmly. He knew that Jim would hear, but he needed to know.

"When Remy was a bebe, he was stolt. Tol' y' dat. De homme dat took me, was gonna make me his golden chile. De Antiquary's a collector. He still got him a bunch of chilen. Remy ran from him when he was six. De streets were scary, but dey was better'n bein' in de collection." Logan heard strain in the Cajun's thickening accent. "And den, after, y' know 'bout who I got involved wit'. I saw dat. . . dat massacre an' dere was chilen there an' I couldn't help and. . ."

"Shh. It's okay, Darlin'." Logan soothed the Cajun with soft touches down his throat. Remy wrapped his arms around Logan's neck and held on like a drowning man. "I didn't mean to upset ya," Logan whispered.


"What is it, Jim?" Blair asked quietly, as soon as they were done briefing their captain.

"I think Remy's too emotionally involved with this case."

Blair glanced around the room to make sure they were alone. "Why?"

"He was kidnapped as a child."

"That's not it."

"Yes, it is."

"Jim, work with me here, man. You think he's involved because he was kidnapped."


"I was kidnapped. Several times. Remember? You don't have this reaction to me being a part of the investigation. Simon was kidnapped. We rescued him. So why don't you want him involved?"

Jim's jaw twitched. His blue eyes flashed. "He's too emotional."

"He's trying to protect Rachel and the little girl who was taken today. I'm emotional. I'm fucking pissed off to a level that Mom would say is ruining my aura, but I'm not too emotional? You want to catch this bitch and shit down her throat."

"When did you start cursing?"

"Man, there are still so many things you don't know about me. But I'm right."

"You're right," Jim admitted.

"So what is the real reason?"

"Because Scott wants him out of this."

"He agreed to let him be a part of this," Blair argued. "I think that's the more important part of it."

Jim frowned. He glared at his partner, but Blair was not going to be dissuaded. "I just need to protect him. I don't know why."

Blair considered. "Because he's young?"


The anthropologist tilted his head to the side as he studied his partner. "Who does he remind you of?"

Jim glowered, jaw twitching. He waited, but Blair was quiet. "He reminds me of a guy I went through basic with. Same hair, same attitude, same movement - like a trapped cat. One day, they pulled him into a black op and he never came back. That's all. Let it go, Chief."

"Only if you do, Big Guy. Remy isn't the guy you went through basic with."



"The guy's name was LeBeau. He was an orphan. He went into the military so he could go to school. He was the best damn breaker I ever met."

"Breaker?" Blair prompted.

"He could get into or out of anything. It didn't matter what sort of security was on it." Jim smiled suddenly. "And if he thought it was going to help you out, he'd slit his own wrists for you."

"And that's who you're trying to protect."

Jim didn't answer. He was looking over Blair's shoulder at the door. Blair turned and saw Remy lounging there, arms crossed. "Well, now, cher, don't that beat all."

"How long have you been listening?" Jim demanded.

"I ain't. Logan did f' a bit. Then I came t' catch it f' m'self. Y' sure his name was LeBeau? What color eyes he have?"


Remy shook his head. He pulled out his wallet. "An' the boy's first name?"

"Jean-Luc. His foster father re-named him after his grandfather."

Remy flicked his license towards Jim who caught it reflexively. "Dat's as legal as I can make it. And y' know it weren't made t'day."

"No. Remy Etienne LeBeau."

"Mon pere's name is Jean-Luc."

"You're too old to be his son."

"I ain't sayin' I am. I'm sayin' it's a weird coincidence." Jim sailed the card back to the young man. Remy shrugged. "Don't matter so long as y' realize that I ain't him. That I don't have his problems. I got m' own." Remy grinned suddenly. "Now, I t'ink I hear Jake. Got t' go harass him some mo'."

Jim's lips twitched. "Is he really you're ex?"

"Where I'm from I did date a boy wit' the same name an' the same face. Gonna be fun t' find out how much is the same here." Remy gave them a little wave, then left the room.

"Jim?" Blair prompted.

"It was a real ID. It had all the right wear patterns of a Washington state driver's license."

"Washington state?" Blair hoped that he hadn't squeaked that.

"Seattle address." Jim's smile was dangerous.

"I'm guessing it won't be in our database."

"I'm going to check."


"And the prodigal returns. Is my car in the same condition it left?" Simon asked as Scott came through the front door.

"I should hope not, I dropped it by the oil-change place, ran it through the car-wash and got gas."

"Thanks. Feeling better?"

"Depends. Are there still Feds in the house?"

"No, they're at the hotel hatching plots to drive us crazy. Jim and Blair went home for the night. Are you going to camp out here again?"

"Then I'm feeling better. We'll take over the basement if you don't mind terribly."

"No. I think Rachel will sleep better tonight. The night-shift is here, Rafe and Brown. You met them this morning. I'm going home. Remy has my numbers."

"Thanks for the use of the car." Scott handed over the keys. "Where's my brat?"

"In the kitchen flirting with Bessy."

Scott shook his head. "He has horrible taste in women." He headed for the kitchen to head off whatever foolishness Remy was getting himself into.


Remy looked up at Scott when the older man's hands dropped onto his shoulders. "Hey, cher. What y' bring po' Remy for his troubles?"

"Depends on whether or not you sold me out to Winters."

Remy pouted. "Y' t'ink so little of me, cher?"

Scott kissed Remy's forehead. "No. There was a competition. I won. Here's your half." Scott handed over $2500. Remy tucked it away without counting it. "More than enough for a hotel."

"Non, want t' stay here so they don' f'get to call us. I mean, cher, Nat'aniel Essex! Y' know my history wit' him and him tellin' me true."

The field leader laughed. "Well, shit. I didn't recognize him."

"Don't y' worry, cher. I keep an eye on him. And Jake." Remy's grin was wicked. "Oh, gave Jim m' license earlier."

"What? Why?"

"So's he can confirm f' hisself that I don' exist. He went t'rough basic wit' a LeBeau." Scott stroked Remy's throat absently with his thumb.

"Bessy's fallen for your southern gentleman act hasn't she?"

Bessy frowned. "Fallen? Not exactly. I know he's probably just as full of shit as you are." Her voice was sweet and light. "What I don't know is what he's trying to pull on Jim and Blair. They're good men."

"Oui, chere, but they still cops and they ain't gonna believe what we done tol' them less'n they get some official confirmation. Got a real license me, but it ain't gonna show in their records. We don't exist 'round here." Remy smirked at her. "Don't like havin' my life on display. Y' gonna be headin' home too?"

"I'm on call in case they find Mary-Ann. But yes, I'll be heading home. Goodnight, gentlemen. I'm still going to talk to Rachel, Remy. We'll make sure she feels safe. Don't go after Jim and Blair. They're good men who've taken a lot of abuse. Don't hold their profession against them. They don't seem to hold yours against you."

Scott smiled. "Bessy, you are welcome any time you bring coffee. I hope we'll see you again. We're going to find Mary-Ann. The searchers are already in the woods by now. If we don't find her," Scott shrugged. "We're still going to find the cunt responsible for this."

Bessy frowned at the word "cunt". "I really don't like that word."

"And I don't like our kidnapper. That means it's fitting."

"It's degrading."

Scott snorted. "Exactly. She doesn't engender respect in me. I don't like cunts or hmm... what is a similar word for a guy that he'd take offense at?"

"Cock? Prick?" Bessy answered. Then she considered. "No, most men don't have a problem with that. Asshole. Motherfucker maybe?"

"Fuckoffs maybe? I don't know. But child molestors, kidnappers, abusers, pimps, pedophiles, they're all on my list of assholes that deserve what they get. I think we should just lock them all up together and let them sort it out. Can't stand them."

"Hey, now, cher, I done kidnapped Stormy from the Shadow King. And I done some things f' the money."

"Well, you ain't a pimp or a dealer or a pedophile so we'll let that one slide. Besides, that falls under a rescue not a kidnapping. She'd been kidnapped before and turned into a thief. You just got her out of the situation. I never thanked you for that did I?"

Remy shrugged. "Ah, cher, we do what we can. It had only been a few months since. . . the incident we ain't talkin' about."

"It was a good six to eight months after it. I don't think you've got your timing right. I think you lost a few months somewhere."

"Sanitaruim recovering from what Chatton done t' me. Time got hazy f' awhile there."

"I'll kill him too when I figure out how," Scott told his lover. "Unless Logan's already claimed that responsibility."

"Non, cher, tell y' what I told him. Chatton ain't that bad. It was just business so no revenge."

"Idiot." Scott kissed the top of Remy's head.

Bessy shook her head. "I'll get going. Have a good night."

"You too." Scott answered for both of them. Remy turned in his chair to lean against Scott's chest. "If he ever hurts you again, he's fair game.You know that right? And I won't be able to keep Logan from going after him if he's stupid enough to touch you."

"Cher, he's my best enemy. Give m' a kiss? F'give me f' gettin' involved in this?"

"A kiss no problem. We'll just have to see on the involvement thing." Scott squatted down to kiss his younger lover quietly. "How are the Feds treating you?"

"I like Jake well enough. He's just like m' Jake. Nat'aniel? Well, it's hard t' remember he ain't the man I know. He really ain't. He's got emotions and all. Jack, well, I don't like him. He's a condesending bastard and I t'ink he needs some time in the woodshed wit' mon pere, but we deal wit' it. We gonna find a condo t'morrow t' rent f' a week? I checked the classifieds and found a few."

"Just on a week by week basis, hmm? I suppose we should. We can't camp out in the basement for that long."

"Y' can't talk wit' Jeannie can y'?"

"No." Scott's voice was very soft. "Logan keeping watch or crashing?"

"He's out back stalkin' 'round the perimeter and scarin' the guards. We got the basement f' the night? No mo' sleepin' in the livin' room?"

"Come downstairs with me and we'll set up."



Logan smoked his cigar slowly. He was just wandering around the block. The gaurds on the house hadn't questioned him on the way in or the way out. He considered what he knew about Jim. It was strange to find someone so at home in the city when they had heightened senses. Everything he knew about the mutation was connected to animal natures. He was mostly wolf. So was Wolfsbane. And Creed. Shit, maybe Jim was too, but held onto it better. He'd have to corner the man and ask him. He sighed out a plume of smoke. His ears pricked up. He heard his mates talking cheerfully about nothing in particular and arguing over who had to carry what down the stairs. He shook his head. He hoped they never really grew up into the men he saw sometimes - hardened, cold men who would kill or die for a cause they thought they had to fight for.

His mind drifted a bit. He wasn't thinking about anything in particular, so when he arrived back at the house, he was mildly surprised to find himself there. He went in to find his mates. They were playing gin. "Bon nuit, Logan. Y' want t' join us f' Rummy?"

Logan grinned. He shut the door behind himself. "Nah. Got better things to do."

"Then I'll just head upstairs," Scott said with a smirk.

"I say ya weren't invited, Slim?"

Remy laughed at the flush that reddened Scott's cheeks. "Now, don' be shy, cher." He winked.

"So what was your plan, Runt?"

"I was gonna geta full night's sleep, but whatever yer thinkin' looks more interestin'."

Scott buried his face in his hands. "You both take far too much pleasure in teasing me."

"Ah, cher, we don't mean nothin' by it. Like we promised. No pressure. Honest. Just like cuddling some me." Remy was sulking already. Logan rolled his eyes.

"You tired enough to go to bed, kiddo or should I just meditate some?"

Remy shrugged. "Either way, cher. Don't matter. I'll be up later'n Scotty here."

"I resemble that," Scott muttered. "I'm ready for bed. I've just been keeping the brat entertained."

Remy stuck his tongue out at the older man. "And dey say Remy's a brat." Scott shrugged out of his flannel shirt. They'd unzipped all three sleeping bags and laid them out to make a small bed on the floor of the basement. "T'morrow we get a hotel room, non?"

"Oui," Scott replied. Logan laughed. He'd noticed Scott was starting to respond to Remy in French more and more often. It wasn't just teasing anymore. It was a habit. He shook his head at Scott's confused look. "What?"

"Nothin', Slim. Don't worry."

"He's soft in the head, cher, but he's nice." Remy rolled his eyes in Logan's direction. Logan pounced and wrestled Remy to the floor. He pinned the younger man with a thourough kiss.

"Be good," Logan growled.

"I been good all day. Night's the time t' be bad."

Scott snorted. "Let's see, I gave you license to steal equipment. You got to borrow a cop's car. And you've been teasing the FBI. You call that being good?"

"Oui. Ain't been doin' not'in' bad t'day."

"You're twisted, Cajun. Not that that's a bad thing," he added. Scott curled up on the "bed." He put on his visor and was obviously ready to sleep. Logan gave Remy's ribs a gentle stroke, then crawled up to kiss Scott goodnight. Remy gave him a follow-up kiss. there was no pressure for more than that from either of them.


Scott shifted a bit closer to the Cajun's body-heat, not ready to get up just yet. Remy put an automatic arm around him and pulled him close. On Remy's other side, Logan was snoring. He had one hand tangled in the Cajun's long hair. Scott felt a contented smile on his lips. He let himself drift, secure in the knowledge that if there were any threat, Logan would be awake and protecting them in an instant. The arm that held him against Remy's side was firm. It was very different than waking up with Jean's arm around him. And the earthy scent of pine was different than Chanel in his nose. It would be no hardship to wake up like this every day, he realized. He sighed as his body decided that it was time to get up and get to work. He brushed a kiss across Remy's forehead. Then, he did the same to Logan's hand. He stretched and headed towards to bathroom.

There was a building tension behind his eyes, so he swallowed three Excedrin Migraine and hoped they'd be strong enough. He didn't want to need morphine when Hank wasn't available. He wondered idly if Remy would score him some, but thought better of it. If he let on that he was in pain, the young man would want to ease it and he could not allow that to happen. He'd have to think about a little bit of marijuana though. Hank said that it reduced the pressure in his eyes and that's why it worked to get rid of the pain. Unfortunately, it was also illegal and he was working with the cops. He sighed and rested his head against the wall for a moment, to let the pain medication take the edge off.


Jack Winters blinked in surprise to see Summers searching through the phone book. Jake and Nate were in a passionate discussion of who was going to win the World Series. Jack had tuned them out about five blocks ago. "I didn't realize you were staying here," he said.

The young man looked up, light glinting off of his mirrored sunglasses. It made them look as if they were glowing. "We didn't have time to find a hotel yesterday, so Capt. Banks let us use the basement. I'm trying to get reservations for tonight, but they don't want to take it without a credit card. Bastards."

"If you walk in the door with cash, I doubt you'll be turned away."

"Yeah, but I don't want to run all over hell and back, just to get a reservation when I should be able to do it with a phone call. Besides, I have to find a car too. Damn it all."

"You don't believe in credit cards?" Jack hazarded.

"No. I've never had one. One of my classmates put me on his cards years ago, so I try to use them sparingly. We'll find a place. Maybe there's someone who'll sublet to us for a week."

"You were camping?"

"Yes, but we're not going to leave the area before this cunt it captured."

Jack's brows rose. "Really?"

"Really. I promised Remy. Besides, Spacey promised us a private show and I'm not leaving before that."

Jack looked up at Spacey's laughter. "Don't let my husband hear about that. He'll be upset that I didn't offer him a front row seat. Rachel slept the whole night through."

"Good to hear. Want me to get Remy to make breakfast today?"

"No, I'll make it. I don't get to cook often. I miss cooking for a big family." She walked to the kitchen and all four of the men watched her go by. She was dressed in tight black jeans and a halter top. She looked back over her shoulder and winked.

"Her husband is a very lucky man."

"Yeah." There was something wistful in Scott's voice and Jack looked at him with a question in his eyes. Scott ignored him and turned back to his phone book. "Are we going after her today?"

"What do you mean? There are searchers looking for Mary-Ann. Jim and Blair decided to see if they could help in that direction. They said Logan gave them coordinates for where Rachel was found?"

"I'm sure he did. That was the plan after all. I'll go see if Remy wants to do search patterns. He'll love being out in the woods some more."

"Scott, wait, let me reserve the room for you. You can pay me cash in hand."

The young man looked at him for a long moment. "Nothing personal, sir, but I don't want anything from you, not even a hotel reservation."

"Why not?"

"Because you look exactly like, talk exactly like, and move exactly like my 'foster' father. I want nothing to do with you. We're only staying because of the promise I gave Remy."

Jake cocked his head to the side and Jack caught the movement out of the corner of his eye. "What is it, Jake?"

"I think it's strange that Remy seems to think I'm his ex and Scott seems to see his foster-father in you. Wonder what Logan thinks about Nate."

"Nothin'," Logan grinned. "But Rems and Scooter both think yer a lot like another Nathaniel they know. Exceptin' that yer American not British."

"That's why I didn't see it!" Scott snapped his fingers. "I know him by voice more than sight. Do you want to go hunting for kidnappers."

Logan's grin was full of teeth. Jake edged closer to his partner and Jack glanced at him in surprise. Jake normally didn't get nervous just because someone smiled. Then, he saw Remy behind Logan. "Morning," Remy muttered. "Coffee?"

"In the kitchen." Scott transformed into a young man in an instant with a smirk on his face. Remy didn't even acknowledge the agents on his way to the kitchen. Scott and Logan excanged an amused glance. Jake looked too relieved by half and Scott snickered. "Let me guess, Rems is treating you like his ex."

Jake blinked. "So it isn't a game, I *do* look like his ex?"


"Yer kidding?" Logan stared at his lover. "I thought the kid was just teasin'."

"No, I've met Jake."

"How?" Logan demanded suddenly.

"I plead the fifth."

"What did you do?"

Scott just smirked at the older man. Jack grinned to himself. The young man must have had a very bad relationship with his father to cause his reactions. He hoped they'd be able to overcome that. He liked these men.

"Yer spendin' too much time with Gumbo."

"Go get some coffee. Spacey's making breakfast. We won't see Remy until she sits down."


"She's got a tighter ass than Rogue."

"Shit. At least she's married."

"And that stops him from looking how?" Scott shook his head. "Get some coffee. If we're going out hunting you need to be awake."

"How's yer head?"

"I'll survive. I've got Excedrine."

"Just lemme know if it starts gettin' bad."

"Don't worry. I'm fine."

"Yer a liar." Logan's smile changed and Scott's posture changed. There was a challenge in the air that hadn't been there a minute ago. Logan stepped forward. Scott chin dipped and his back stiffened. Logan moved forward as quickly as any predator might and caught Scott in a fierce, intense kiss. "That's better," he said. Scott was resting a hand on Logan's chest. The tension in his jaw had softened.

"Freak," Scott muttered.

Jack laughed outright at that. "Is Captain Banks here yet?"

"No. Just us and the fam. And the gaurds," Scott answered. Logan headed to the kitchen. "Is he supposed to be?"


"He'll show up or call then. Unless his men need him in the field, which they may. I'm sure there's politics involved with the search."

"Breakfast is ready," Spacey called from the kitchen. "And everyone's invited. I made enough for an army."

"Come on. Let's see if she can cook food too."


Remy watched Spacey cook. He smiled into his coffee. Scott had left a pack of honey for him next to the coffee pot. He was theirs, he just didn't recognize it yet. He'd leave that to Logan. Friendship though, that was nice to have for a change. He still fought with Cyke, sure, but they'd both die before they gave that up. It was nice to just spend time with him. Remy leaned back. He let a tendril of his charm stroke Logan's mind, then Scott's. He noticed the pain, but knew Scott would pitch a fit if he tried to soothe it. Logan ran a hand through Remy's bangs. The younger man smiled up at him, eyes half-closed behind his shades. Scott sat down next to him. "Thank you," he whispered into Remy's ear.

"Y' should let me help," Remy murmured. "It won't hurt me."

Scott didn't bother to answer that. Remy sighed. He was hemmed in by his lovers a moment later. "Yer right, she's better'n Rogue from this angle."

"Remy's gonna start tellin' Roguie all the things y' done said about her."

"She email you still?"

"I email her. She don't respond, but I know she's readin' 'em because Kitty checked f' me."

"That's underhanded."




"Children," Spacey said sharply. "No fighting in the kitchen. Who is Rogue?"

"M' ex," Remy explained.


"Non, m' ex mistress. I'm still married." Spacey turned to look at the young man. His lover didn't seem to think anything was odd about that statement.

"And she hasn't killed you?"

"Well, I ain't allowed back t' my home-town, but she won't be goin' out of her way to kill me." He grinned at her.

"Just for that you can help with the dishes. It's not nice to tease."

Scott coughed up a sip of coffee at that.

"Not one word, you. And just how were you involved in the um, stage life?"

"I needed money, they needed a bouncer, and a DJ, and about fifteen other things because they were too cheap to hire anyone. My wife is pleased that I know how to sew though."

"Two of you are married? Logan, what about you?"

"Nah, never been married, 'cept to the kid here." He tugged on Remy's ponytail. "Government don't recognize it, but I don't give a damn. And they're married by law and politics." Logan shrugged. "Jeannie don't mind me takin' a shot at Scotty and Rems' girl don't care what he does so long as they stay married and keep the business movin'. Mike bringin' Rachel down?"

"She was still asleep when I looked in on her, but he should have her down shortly. Did I hear someone else come in?"

"Just the three Feebies," Logan told her. He cocked his head to the side. "I'll be back in a sec." Scott glanced at Remy. The Cajun shook his head. He laid a light trace on Logan's presence in his mind. The Canadian had wandered outside to do a patrol around the grounds before breakfast. He didn't make it back by the time everyone had gathered around the table.


"Capt. Banks," Logan said as the large man climbed out of his car. He was dressed casually and Logan could smell mud on his boots. "Come from the forest?"

"Jim has a habit of stepping on toes if I'm not there. Our Feds here yet?"

"Eatin' breakfast. Yer gonna let us be in on the search for this bitch, right?"


"Good. I'll get our packs straight and collect the boys after breakfast. Will ya run us out to the site?"

Banks nodded. "We're keeping quiet that we think it's a kidnapping. There are several civilian volunteer groups out there today. Follow the directions and there's no problem."

"Good." Logan knew he'd ignore the directions and so would his boys, but Banks didn't need to know that. Neither did the Feds. They were going to find this cunt and nail her. If the cops were quick enough, they might get to clean up the mess afterwards. He didn't even want to think what Remy would do to the bitch. And folks think he's the calm one, Logan thought. He followed Banks into the house.


Remy scuffed at the ground, then looked up at the sky. "Least it ain't rainin' t'day," he muttered. "Y'all got that chart?"

Scott nodded as he looked over the chart and fixed the landmarks into his mind. He'd marked where they found Rachel with Logan's assistance and was now calculating where they should head, not where the cops wanted them searching. They were being sent to the "safe" areas and all three of them knew it. The civilians were in all of the areas the cops had weeded out. On the off chace that a civilian did find the location, they were under strict orders to report in immediately and not approach the building.

Scott headed into the forest. His head ached, but it was a dull pressure, not a sharp pain yet. He'd be able to handle it. They followed the original path until they were out of sight of the coordinators. Then, they turned slightly and headed towards the area that Logan had decided would be the most likely place for Rachel to have started from. She was a young girl and she couldn't have gone too far on her own, not and only have a few brush burns.


Remy followed his lovers without complaint. He knew Scott was hurting and he didn't want to add to that. He knew Logan wouldn't mind him teasing, but he didn't want to disturb his concentration. He kept his eyes down, watching his feet. He clenched his hands in his pockets and thought murderous thoughts about whoever had hurt these little girls.


Jim stiffened and Blair automatically touched his arm. "What is it?"

Jim snorted. "Our guests aren't following the flight path. Hello, Logan." He cocked his head to the side and grinned. "Don't worry. How could I rat you out? Just don't let the Feebs catch you."

Blair snickered into his sleeve. "Well, at least you aren't being territorial today."

"They found Rachel," Jim shrugged. "Maybe he can follow her scent better than I can."

The Guide nodded. He kept his hand in the small of his Sentinel's back. The Sentinel went further into his senses, trusting his Guide to pull him back if he needed the help. He found the faintest trace of Rachel's scent and turned towards it.


The three X-men walked without a word deeper into the forest.


Jake frowned at his partner. "Jack, are you sure about this? They're civilians. They just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time."

"I don't believe that," Winters replied. "They know something. Is the bug still active?"

"They just aren't saying anything." Nate sighed. "Jack, give me a good reason why we're doing this? And do you have approvals for that bug? I don't want to get slapped for this."

"My responsibility. Don't worry about it, Nate. Things will be just fine."

"Liar," Jake muttered. "That didn't protect the Nazis. And what will the papers say if they, wait they're talking." They listened to the one-sided conversation. "What the fuck was that?"

"I think our local cops set them up with communication equipment." Winters sighed. "Which means they think they're okay. I just don't buy it. There's something about them that sets off my gut."

"You like them," Jake pointed out. "That's enough right there. You don't like anyone."

"I like you."

"You didn't when we met. You thought I was a wet-behind-the-ears idiot who couldn't find the right side of a pencil to use."

"I never said that."

"Bullshit, Jack. I have witnesses. Nate, how are the sweeps going?"

"Shitty. There's no sign of anything. One team did find a dead bear. And another one thinks there's a car off the road with old bodies in it. But they haven't been able to get close to it because of the brambles."

"Wonderful," Jack muttered. "What sort of operation are they running up here in Cascade? It's a small town."

"It's a city with an international port and an international airport," Jake contradicted. He considered. "Know what? Maybe I should have flirted back to get more information out of that brat."

"Now, snookums," Nate said with a mock-pout. Jake swiped at him.



"Look alert," Logan growled. "Somethin' ain't right here." Logan turned in a tight circle. He spotted the camera's back a moment later. He pointed at it. Remy nodded and moved to check what type it was. He moved silently through the leaves and Logan felt the surge of pride that always accompanied seeing his lover in action. Remy was one of the best theives in the world, but he didn't ever get to show that off to the team. Logan had gotten to see him in action occasionally, and Storm had obviously, but no one else. It was too bad. The boy was a gem. "Watch fer cameras, Jimbo," Wolverine stated.


Remy frowed over the camera. He snipped the small wire that controlled its side to side movement. The owner would probably just think it was a random malfunction. Remy looked for the other cameras he knew would be in range. They would have over-lapping sweeps, if he'd figured it right. He sighted two more of them. He chose one more to disarm, leaving a large swatch of ground ungaurded. Not that he expected anyone was really watching the screens - not if Rachel had managed to escape from this place. He crept forward, vaguely aware of Logan and Scott following quietly behind him. He paused, listening intently for something he didn't think he could explain to anyone else. There was a hum of electricity from the circuits of the security around the perimeter.

There were pressure plates there, he was sure of it. He looked for depressions in the ground. There weren't any, but that didn't change his opinion. He eased forward and froze waiting for any response. He looked around carefully to find the next camera. There was a roof-mounted one, but it was pointed only at the back door. That seemed strange to him. He frowned. I'm missing something, he thought and looked around again. He was aware of Scott's eyes tracking his movements. He pushed that out of his mind. The camera was stationary. Was there another one? Not that he could see. There were probably no pressure plates either, but maybe there was something more primitive. Yes, there they were, bear traps of steel. They'd bite through a little girl's leg. Rachel had been lucky or very careful. He crept by the traps, reassured when his lovers followed exactly in his footsteps.

He led them past the traps and under the shadow of the eaves to the door. The camera was directed at the door. He had to figure out a way to get past it without alerting the person inside that they were coming. He looked up at the small window. He slipped his pack off carefully, trying to stay silent and hidden in the shadows. His coat followed after he fished out a few tools. He slid the grip-gloves over his hands and activated the metal spikes, thankful for the wooden walls. He climbed up to the window and stared through the window. It was a small thing, the size of a bathroom window. It was made for ventilation, not for beauty. It didn't have a screen. He checked for wiring, but there was none. He pulled the blue tape from his back pocket and placed an "x" of tape across the window. He snapped his hand into the center of the glass, metal spikes impacting and cracking it. He pulled the cracked glass free of the window and dropped to the ground.

Scott was frowning, but didn't speak. They didn't know if there were microphones out here or inside the rooms. Remy took a few more tools from his pack, then gave it to Logan for safe-keeping. He climbed up the wall and into the room. He dropped silently to the floor. This was a store-room, so there was no need for a camera in here. Not that he didn't look for one. He slipped his glasses to the top of his head, letting his eyes adjust to the low lights.The door was locked, so he unlocked it. He peered into the hallway.


Scott tried not to fidget. He'd sent Gambit into more dangerous situations without flinching, but there was something about seeing him working in civvies that made him think of his as a friend, not a teammember. He took a breath to calm himself. Logan gave him what should have been a comforting smile. Scott rubbed his forehead. He prayed for the door to open.


Remy shivered. This place felt almost deserted. He peered into a room as he passed it and froze. There was a little girl sitting there, eyes wide and staring. She was breathing shallowly. He extended his charm and it found nothing to hold onto. He moved a little more quickly. These girls needed help and soon. He found the security room. It was abandoned. He looped all of the cameras on a thirty second replay of the same scene. Then, he went to the door. He gestured his lovers in carefully. They crossed the lawn, being careful not to trigger any traps. Once they were in, he shut the door.

"They're here," Remy whispered. "And I ain't sure that the bitch is." He shivered in the dark front hall. "Want t' wait f' Jim?"

Logan considered. He stepped out again. "How far away are ya?"


"From you? Ten minutes."

"We're in. Cameras are under control. Beware of bear traps."

Jim nodded and relayed the message to Blair. They sped up. Jim piggy-backed his sight onto his hearing and located the building. He plotted a route through the traps. He could hear heartbeats. He identified and tuned out thier three guests. That left four heart-beats, all of which were so slow that they had to be drugged. No perp, too bad, he thought.

He smirked to himself as they made it into the building. LeBeau was a breaker, no question. The cameras were under control, Logan had told him and Jim believed it. "Any sign?"

"Non," Remy replied. "Mebbe went t' get supplies or t' go t' work. Expensive t' keep this up without a job."

Jim nodded. He radioed in their position. "Blair, go with Remy and Scott to get the girls. Logan, get the back door, if there is one."

All the men split up. Logan cocked his head to the side. "Figure the Feebs been listenin' to us fer as long as we've been out here. Rems showed me the tap they put in his pack. Must think we're idiots. Might want to press charges fer illegal wire-tappin'."

"I'll take it up for you," Jim said with a nod. Logan nodded back and went to survey the rest of the area.


Blair took a breath, then released it. He knelt before the little girl. "Hi, sweetie, I'm here to take you home," he said quietly. "My name's Blair. What's yours?"

She didn't respond. He moved carefully to wrap her in a blanket. He picked her and carried her to the front where Jim was waiting. He deposited her carefully next to his partner. Remy followed soon after. He was crooning a soft lullabye as he walked. The little girl in his arms had closed her eyes and was leaning against his shoulder. He set her down. Scott came down the hall with one child on each hip. Blair's brows rose, fatherhood must have its advatages. He'd never be able to balance two children that easily. Scott was talking softly to the little girls as well. He set them down.

"Rems, see if you can find *her* room. See if there's anything you get from it. We don't know who far off everyone is. She might be on the way back."

"The Feebs are coming up the drive. Nate just set off one of the bear traps with a stick. I have a feeling he doesn't like them," Jim said with a laugh. "He's setting off each one. There's no mistakes and she'll know someone was here."

Blair saw Remy disappear down the hall without waiting. He followed the young man. He wasn't sure why. It wasn't until the man slipped into a room and he followed that he understood. Remy had found the perp's room and was studying it. Blair found himself frozen just inside the door. He watched the meticulous search without a word. He couldn't even tell that the place had been touched five minutes later. Remy nodded at him a moment later. "Learnt all that's here. She got another hidin' hole."

"Let's get back to the kids then. We can worry about the perp after the lab crew gets done. We got the kids back, that's the big thing."

Remy laughed bitterly. "Non, cher, unless she's stopped, it ain't over. Y' get a lab crew messin' around in here, fine, enjoy. I want t' track her down like de bitch she is."

"And kill her or turn her over?" Blair asked a little more sharply than he'd intended.

"F' myself? I'd like t' kill her, but I know Scott'll pitch a fit so I won't. I'll turn her over t' y'all and when she gets out, it's y' own damn fault." Remy had his shades on, so Blair couldn't read his eyes.

"I guess I'll have to accept that as a promise."


"Nate, get a good stick to set off those bear-traps. I don't want any injuried if we can help it," Jack ordered. Nate went in search of a sturdy stick. He took his time snapping the traps shut. Jake winced as he heard the metallic clinks. He looked around the small clearing.

"Shit, this is going to be hell to canvas. I'll start coordinating with the base." Jake took his phone, wakie-talkie, and map to a clear corner and called back to the base.

Jack nodded at Jim who let him pass, then returned to gaurding the front door. Four little girls sat, staring forward. Their faces were painted with delicate makeup, and except for the blankets, they were dressed in perfectly doll like frilly dresses. He tried not to let his discomfort show. "We'll arrange for their parents and psychologists to be there for them."

Scott frowned. He rubbed at his forehead. He was looking pale too. Jack was surprised when he shook off Remy's hand. "When? Should we walk them out? Or look for better clothes for them? They'll be cold."

"We'll get a chopper in. It's not like we can tip the perp off anymore."

"Mebbe she'll t'ink they went an' left on their own," Remy offered with a smile. He was watching Scott as he spoke though. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a bottle of Excedrine. Scott swallowed two dry.

"Oh, that's likely," Scott snipped back. "I know, we can set a trap for her. Those always work so well."

"Well, if we didn't have police officers trampin' through the woods like steam rollers it'd help," Remy repllied. "An' if they hadn' set off all of her traps we'd be able t' do it. She ain't likely t' notice any of the stuff I done. We could sit right here and grab her when she come t' drug de petite fillies again."

Winters frowned at the young men. "And what did you do?" His voice was sharp. Remy's spine stiffened.

"Fuck off," the Cajun snapped. "I ain't one of y'r boys."

Scott frowned in Winters' direction. "Don't snap at my Cajun," he stated, voice soft and dangerous. "That's my job."

Remy smirked at both of them. "Be nice, cher," he chided gently. Scott frowned at him. Remy ignored it. "Let's just get de petites to someone who can help dem. Don' t'ink they hurt. Well, not physically." He frowned. "It's like they ain't in their own heads at the moment."

Scott rubbed at his forehead. "Well, that's what they pay shrinks for. Bessy said she was on call for this."

Remy snorted.

"She's just irrationally attached to the system. She's probably very good at what she does. Just like Ro. The sooner we can get tracking the bitch, the sooner she can be punished."

Jim turned to the scene. "Rescue personnel are on the way. Scott, why don't you lay down?"

Scott's jaw tightened. Remy shook his head. "Let m' massage it away, cher, please?"

"No. I'll be fine."

"Stubborn connard," Remy muttered. "I'm gonna check the security room, make sure there ain't no surprises in the place."

"No," Winters interceded. "This is our case, we'll take care of that. Nate!"

"You rang?" Essex said rubbing his ear. He still had a stick in his hand.

"Set up the sectors for the scene crews. Ellison, secure any other entrances."

Jim's jaw twitched. He nodded sharply. Scott had settled down on the floor next to the little girls he'd brought out to the front. Remy settled cross-legged across from him. Logan snorted and went back out into the forest.


Blair bounced on his toes. "What is it, chief?" Jim asked. They were in the privacy of their loft. They'd dropped the civilians off at a local no-tell motel that was willing to take cash without questions.

"I haven't found Remy, but I did find a Scott Summers," he said with a grin. "But he died three years ago."


"Car crash. I've got the file right here. It matches in most things. We can run the prints if you think we need to. Everything seems to jive with what he says though."

"How so?" Jim bent over to taste the sauce he was making.

"He was a principal for an private school in New York. It closed down after his death. It had been financed by his father's estate, a Dr. Xavier. It specialized in special education and emotionally disturbed children."

"And LeBeau?"

"Nothing. Not even army records."


"I haven't found anything, but we don't have much information on him. It's really strange."

"What is?"

"If you'd given me this file without the coroner's report, I'd swear that he was the same person. But they had dental, fingerprint, and facial ID's on the body."

Jim held the wooden spoon out. "Taste."

"Not bad. New recipe?"

"Yeah. Crispen passed it on when I was in the lab today. So, what's your thoughts on this chief? Are they telling the truth? Are they from another dimension or did the government fake their deaths? There were no records of Remy's ID?"

"Not a one. And, man, I tried every search possible. Should I get Kelso to look into it for us?"

"No." Jim sighed. "Chief, I'm not the shaman in this place.What's your gut?"

"Let me meditate on it. *After* that lemongrass sauce. I'll get the salad. You can look through the file I found."


Remy stared at the ceiling. Scott was asleep. Logan was meditating. He could feel the waves of pain coming from Scott even asleep. He ached to help him out. He bit his lip. It all depended on how deep Logan was in his trance. Remy watched his lover's stillness for a long moment. He seemed well out of it. He considered. He was feeling drifty himself, which usually meant that Logan was gone. He kissed the ring Logan had given him. He reached out and stroked lightly over Scott's forehead to get a full sense of his pain. He found his wrist in a painful grip. Scott scowled at him. "No," he said mildly.

Remy sighed. He laid his head Scott's chest. Maybe just being there would ease the pain. When Logan joined them, Remy was fast asleep. He'd burrowed under the covers. Logan pulled him close. One hand rested on Scott's hip, in silent comiseration. Remy muttered and turned between them, caught between their bodies. Logan smiled to himself as his lover settled down again, head settled neatly in the space between his head and shoulder.


Jim frowned in Scott's direction. The man looked ill. "Chief, you have any of that tea around?"

"Which tea?" Blair asked, not looking up from the report he was typing. He and Jim still shared a desk, even though Blair was a detective now. Blair also still did Jim's reports. It was just easier that way.

"The headache stuff."

"Oh, yeah. It's in the bottom drawer in the yellow pouch. Just a teaspoon though or it'll be too strong."

"Got it." Jim took the pouch to the break room and made a mug of it. He handed it to Scott. The three men were sitting in the main bullpen waiting to give their statements to the Feds.

"What's this?"

"Tea. Works on headaches."

"Thanks." Scott was moving gingerly. He sipped the tea and leaned back. Remy watched the exchange carefully. The young man chewed on his lip. Logan was reading the newspaper and ignoring his lovers. "Tastes better than I expected."

Jim nodded and went back to work. He dropped the pouch back into the drawer and bent over the lastest tox screens from the murder victim they'd been called in for the night before. The Feds were taking over the coordination of the manhunt for the kidnapper, but crime didn't stop just because they'd found four little girls. Blair was wrapping up the cases that were finished so that they could focus on the new cases that were coming in. Jim sighed. He rubbed the back of his partner's neck absently. He always managed to draw strength from those subtle contacts throughout the day. Blair's muscles relaxed and his typing sped up.


Remy watched Jim and Blair working. He was bored. He started fidgeting with his cards. He shuffled them and reshuffled them, bridging, folding, and cutting with unconscious speed. His mind drifted to thoughts of Seattle. He'd never come through Cascade before. He'd heard about Rainer University, but Seattle had fulfilled what he was looking for, so he'd never gone any further north. He didn't notice his hands were shaking until one of the cards hit the ground. He picked up the Ace of Diamonds, trying not to get freaked out and overly-superstitious, but it was hard. Maybe he was just automatically marking the cards and didn't know it. Logan looked up from his paper, nostrils flaring.

Remy shook his head at him and went back to his cards. Logan watched him for a moment, then looked back to his paper. Sinister had helped him, all those years ago. It had hurt so badly, but it had helped. And now, he was starting to feel out of control again. The world was spinning in infinite varieties and the emotions were palpable against his shields again. God, please, don't let it get to the strength it was. Don't let me hurt anyone else. I don't want to have to go back to the hospital. I don't want to be locked up for my own good by Henri or Charles. I don't want to hurt Logan by losing control. I don't want to make Scott bury me. Maybe it would be better if I just disappear when we get home.

That threw the Cajun into another spiral of thoughts until he excused himself to find a good place for a cigarette. He was smoking behind the building when he noticed the woman getting out of the car at the curb. "Merde," he muttered. He sucked down a few more lungfuls of smoke and hurried upstairs. Scott was not going to be happy if she was heading where he guessed she would be.


The red-head clicked into the middle of the bullpen. "Detective Ellison?" she called.

Scott and Logan stared at her. Jim waved a hand at her. Scott looked into the tea. "Oh fuck," was all he could manage. "Now I know this is a mind-fuck."

Remy followed a few minutes later. "Merde, hoped t' get here first." He shrugged helplessly.

"What is she here?"

"Social worker. She works wit' Bessy I t'ink."

"Of course she does. I think I need something a whole lot stronger than this tea." The red-head turned and headed for the three men. Scott groaned. "What have I done to deserve this?" he asked the sky.

"Y' married her," Remy muttered.

"Shut it," Scott replied.

"Hi, are you the guys who found them?"


"I'm Jean Grey."

"Scott Summers. That's Logan, ignore him.That's Remy, don't even look at him." Scott grinned at her. "What can we do for you?"

"Slim, stop bein' a brat."

"I enjoy it."

"You can tell me what the rooms were like."


Remy launched into a detailed description of each room. Jean nodded. Scott studied her, secure behind his glasses. She looked like his Jean, moved like her, but didn't react like his Jean. This woman wasn't a den mother. She didn't react like the sheltered girl he'd always known. With a little trickle of dread he yanked on his link with Jean. It still came up with a mental "busy signal." He sipped his tea.


Jean Grey, MSW, checked the men out with the corner of her eye. She was listening closely to the youngest of the three, but there was something familiar about Scott at least. He looked like someone she'd gone to school with many years ago. Logan, well, he was impressive. There were muscles on his muscles and a strange wildness that made him attractive to her. He wore an unusal necklace of a coat of arms and she wondered if it belonged to his family or not. She guessed that Remy and Scott were brothers, but there seemed to be something wrong about that from their body-language. Remy finally ran down. "What can you tell me about the surrounding area?"

Logan took over speaking then. Jean frowned as she listened. "But how did you find them?"

"We're just that good," Scott said, closing the subject.

Jean glared at him. He didn't seem to be affected. "Are you going to be helpful or should I just go talk to the officers again?" she asked sweetly, batting her lashes.

"Come off it, Redd," Scott said. "We're giving you all the information you want. We just found them because Logan's good enough to find almost anything out of place in the woods. Deal. You have all the information you need to help those kids. Talk to their parents. Talk to the cops." Scott shrugged.

Jean's eyes narrowed. "Have we met?"

"I don't know. You tell me."

"I knew a Summers once, but he died with my sister in a car crash."

"Sister? Not Carolyn?"

"No, my twin."

"Maddie?" Scott seemed surprised by that.

"We have met then. Or Bessy thought you were my type and told you about me. Which is it?"

Scott smirked at her. "Your guess is as good as mine. Where was the men's room, Rems?"

"Down the hall t' the right, cher."

Scott left them there. He set his mug on the chair. "Listen, Jeannie," Logan said with gruff kindness, "don't worry about Slim. He's developing a migraine and he's a little snippy about it."

"Excuse me, ma'am, Remy if you'll come with me?" One of the FBI agents Jean hadn't been intoduced to yet said.

"Sure, Jake," Remy said. He was looking toward the bathroom. "Logan, cher, keep an eye on the time, oui?"

Logan nodded. "I hear ya, Babe. Don't worry about Scott."

Remy left her alone with the last of the trio. "How did you get so good in the woods, Logan?"

"Natural talent and a lot of time. Tell ya what, Jeannie, you tell me what else ya think ya need to know and I'll see what I can do about it. Rems is wound tighter'n a clock-cog because of how we found those girls. He'd do anythin' to make 'em better and Scott just wants to find the bitch responsible fer it. Me, I want to find the bitch and kill her slow, but that's just me. I ain't got no love fer molesters."

"You're sure it's a woman and not a transexual?"

"It was a woman. Rachel ain't said nothin' about an Adam's apple. Rems drew a picture of her from the description. Ain't no way it's a boy. And if he's that good at dressin', then he's a girl."

Jean paused suddenly. Her cheeks reddened. "Oh, I didn't realize."

"Realize what, Darlin'?" Logan's bright blue eyes blinked at her.

"I just figured out why the body language was wrong for brothers."

Logan laughed. "Yeah, ya caught us." He grinned. "Bi though, Darlin'. Not outright gay. So ya better still watch yer tail. Ya look a lot like Scott's girl." He shrugged. "But ya should know that if a guy chooses to be a girl, that's what ya call him."

"Is that the voice of experience talking?" She asked with an answering smirk.

"Yeah, I made that mistake once. She nearly took my balls off." Logan shrugged. "I'd put money that this one's a born woman though. Ain't no drag queen gonna be caught dead in hikin' boots that ain't cleaned up."

"And you're basing it all on that?" Jean couldn't help but be skeptical.

"If yer playin' a part ya gotta play it to the full. If this was a guy he'd have cleaned the shoes and would've been wearin' a wig. Nah, this was a woman."


"Go on and give me your version of events."

Remy looked at Jake for a long moment. He had to consciously remind himself that this wasn't his Jake, even if he was a fed. "I was sure there was une petite fille in the woods. Don' ask me how, I don' know f' sure. Just when y' get one of those feelin's that y' can't ignore, oui? Y' got t' follow it. So I tol' the other two an' we started lookin'. Few minutes later, Logan seen her pigtails. I approached her an' offered her m' sweater. Scotty gave m' the first aid kit an' I cleaned up her hands some. She come with us t' the Ranger station where we met up wit' Jim an' Blair. We comed back t' town an' got her back t' her mama and papa. We hung around t' see if we could find the cunt that tooked her in the first place." Remy shrugged. "Ray gave m' a description when we got out of the woods an' I drew up the picture. She says it's good. Now, I got my own theories as t' what should be done t' the cunt when she's caught, but that's me."

"What condition was Rachel in when you found her?"

"She was bruised up and had brush burns on her hands. She was cold an' tired an' hungry. We t'ought she'd just gotten separated from her family 'til we hooked up wit' Jim. We t'ought the Ranger'd have information on any missin' kids."

"Where are you living these days, Mr. LeBeau?"

"Wit' Scott an' Logan. Why?"

"Where is that?"

"New York."

"Where in New York?"

Remy shook his head. "Y' don' need t' know that, cher, and I ain't tellin y'."

"I need your address."

"I can give y' an address if'n y' desperate f' one, but it ain't gonna be right."

"Why lie to me?"

"Simple, cher, I don' trust y'." Remy grinned. "Now, y' got anymo' proper questions?"

"Where are you staying while you're in Cascade?"

"We was stayin' in the woods, but we found a cheap hotel last night. Lemme see if'n I got the matchbook." Remy dug through his pockets and came up with a pack of matches. He tossed them over. "There y' go, cher. Tell y' honestly, I'd prefer just teasin' and flirtin' wit' y'. Ah well, c'est la vie, non?"

Jake snorted. "You'd flirt with the wall if you thought it would respond to you."

There was a commotion in the main room and both men turned towards the noise. Remy bolted from the room.


Scott leaned against the doorway of the bullpen. He closed his eyes just for a moment. His balance disappeared and he fell. He didn't even feel the floor.


"Fuck," Logan growled. He went to his knees next to the collapsed field leader. "Slim, can ya hear me?" He kept his voice low, but it was still one more stimuli. Scott curled up on himself. Logan felt Remy along his side.

"Sil tu plait," he whispered, "let m' do somet'in' t' help. Just enough that he ain't gonna freak out."

"No more'n one minute or I'll make y' stop," Logan replied. Remy scowled. He fished surgical tape out of his pocket. "And someday I'm gonna dump everything outta that coat and take inventory." Remy ignored that. He taped Scott's eyes shut and tucked his glasses away. He wrote a note on another piece of tape.

"Blair, get m' two gauze pads," he snapped. The detective handed the gauze over without a word. He knew that kind of focus. Remy taped the gauze in place with the note saying "do not remove". "Jim, who's y' favorite doctor at the hospital?"

"Dr. Reese."

"Get y' doc t' meet us at the emergency room, please. Now, Scotty, don' y' be stubborn. Gotta get y' out of here, non?" He brushed Scott's hair back from his forehead. Logan could smell the soft cotton-candy of his thief's charm. Remy's other hand was close to his own body. Logan's eyes narrowed. The boy was already hurting and it had been less than thirty seconds.

"Back off, kiddo. Don't make yerself sick."

"Don' worry so, cher. I know m' limits, mostly. Jake, y' car's got the biggest back seat. I need the keys."

The FBI agent looked torn. He glanced at his partner, then down at Scott. "I'll drive. Jim, can you ride shotgun?"

"I'll lead."

"Bien," Remy said softly. He moved aside to let Logan gather Scott up. Logan carried Scott easily. He could feel the quick pulse of Scott's heart and the sharpness of his breath.

"Rems, yer gonna have to give them his medical history."

"I know. Don' worry. I got it memorized, remember? Y'rs too. Mine I'm shaky. The rest of y'all ain't an issue."

Logan could smell the fear on Remy's skin. "Don't worry, kiddo. Just a migraine. They knock him out fer awhile. Nothin' permanent."

"Right, cher." Logan grinned at the sarcasm. It was a good sign that the Cajun wouldn't lose it. He felt one of the gentle hands rest on his shoulder. It was trembling, but he knew there was nothing he could do to calm his lover. Jake opened up the doors of the car.

"In front, Cajun," Logan stated.

"But I'm more flexible."

"Up front." There was no give in his words and he knew better than to soften at all. Remy sulked in the front seat while Logan settled Scott in the back. Jake started the car. The ride to the emergency room was silent except for the road and car noises.


Dr. Reese raised his brows at the note across his patient's eyes. "And why shouldn't I remove the gauze?" he inquired.

"Because y' want a roof on the place," the chestnut haired young man next to the bed stated baldly. "He got a migraine. A really nasty one. All he needs is some pain mediation."

"Oh, and are you his doctor?"

"Maybe I should be," Remy's voice was sharp. "Non-negotiable, docteur. Leave the gauze be."

"Jim, give me one good reason why I should listen to this young man?"

"Because they have unusual circumstances like I do."

Reese nodded. He looked at the older man who was holding his patient's hand. "Another triumverate. My practice will never be the same. Tell me, are you as knowledgable as Blair about your partner's medical conditions?"

"You'd be surprised." The one by the bed looked up sharply at the English accent.

"So tell me."

The young man looked up, then started speaking. "Scott was in a plane crash at age seven which left him in a coma for one year. He had pneumonia and bronchitis as a child. His appendix came out at age 10. His arm was broken at 11. He had five broken ribs two months later. His hand was broken two months after that. He had severe burns on his back and legs from boiling water at age 12. His first headaches began at 13. His first migraine hit six months later. He was unable to open his eyes for two years due to the cause of the migraines which is theorized to be a result of the brain damage he received in the crash. Mitigation of the migraines is best served by morphine in pill or injection form or marijuana in pill or smoked form. Use of Excedrine can delay the migraine only. These dark red glasses allow him to see, but do not stop the migraine." The young man showed the doctor a pair of red mirrored sunglasses.

"More recently he has had a punctured lung and pneumonia. That was six months ago. He had a medium concussion a few months before that. Previous to that, there was a broken leg and sprained wrist, one year ago."

"Enough. I take it that he leads an interesting life."

"Oui. Dangerous too. He's allergic to sulfa drugs and has bad reactions to stimulants. His metabolism is very high, so that he processes drugs very quickly. When in the midst of a migraine, he cannot walk or stand straight. He can't keep down any solid foods."

"Let me examine him now. Both of you will need to wait in the waiting room. I'm going to send him for a CT scan."

The young man bit his lip. "Be careful with him."

"Don't worry. Jim, Blair, gentlemen." The man by the bed snarled, revealing too-sharp teeth, but complied.


Remy paced in the waiting room. "I'll be back later. Jim, don't let them leave. We still need to get Logan and Scott's statements."

"Fuck y'self, Jake," Remy said without stopping. The FBI agent shook his head with a smirk. Remy scowled at him. He pulled out his cards and started shuffling them as he walked. Jake left them there.

"Come on, kiddo, sit down. Scott'll be fine."

"Non, don' feel like sitting." Remy paced. There was too much information crashing against his shields. There was grief, fear, love, hate, anger, compassion, but overwhelmingly there was pain. He ached to ease it all, but he knew he couldn't. There were tears in his eyes that he refused to cry. His heart was pounding in his chest, but he was careful to make sure that none of the terror showed on his face. It was too much. His powers shouldn't be that strong. He shouldn't be able to feel the babies in the nursery three floors above him, or feel the burn-ward patients in their specialized wing. He should only be able to feel the people right next to him: Logan, Scott, Jim, Blair, and Dr. Reese.

He shouldn't be able to feel the power of the chairs down the hall or the cameras that watched him. The only thing he should be able to charge was his cards. It was all going wrong. He'd been a party to murder to have his powers tamed and now they were stronger than ever. And if they were right and this wasn't a mind-fuck, then Sinister wasn't even there to confront. "What's takin' so long?" Remy demanded.

"Hush, kiddo, it's okay. It ain't Hank. This doc don't know us as well."

"All he needs is shot an' he'll be fine. Just somethin' for the pain. I could do it, Logan. I could go in there. I should've ignored him. He wouldn't have noticed anythin' different. I been doin' it since I joined up. If I had he wouldn't be in there."

"No, but maybe you would and he'd kill ya for scarin' him."

"Logan, this ain't right. I should do somethin'. There's so much pain around. Y' can't keep tellin' me no."

"Hank says ya ain't allowed fer at least a month and I already been lettin' you do little shit. So don't go say I'm bein' hard-line about it."

"But I'm fine, cher!" One of the tears escaped and ran down his cheek. "Merde." Remy brushed it away, angry at his own weakness.

"Yer a nervous wreck right now and I don't want ya addin' to it. Come here and sit down."

"There's somethin' really wrong ain't there. He ain't never been this bad before."

"You ain't never see him with a migraine before, just with headaches."

"There's something wrong that you ain't tellin' me. Somethin' Hank told ya mebbe. Like he's really sick and y' just don't want t' tell me. He's got cancer or somethin'. You just think I ain't able t' handle knowin'. It's a brain tumor or bleedin'." Logan grabbed Remy's arm in a harsh grip.

"Yer workin' yerself up fer no reason."

Remy pulled away, angry at being man-handled. "Y' lyin' to me."

"Gumbo, yer panicking."

Remy turned back into his pacing. He tried to swallow the charge that was going to set his hands glowing. He shoved his hands in his pockets. "I know, it's Legacy. He's dyin' and you don't want t' tell me!" he accused. It was irrational. He knew Logan wouldn't lie to him. He was shocked by the back-hand that caught him across the jaw. He blinked. He sat down rubbing the spot. He stared at Logan in shock.

"I need ya to stop panickin' and start thinkin'. We need a place to stay and we need cash that's as legal as possible until Scott's better. Normally that's about three days."

Remy nodded. Logan sat back down. Remy moved to settle at his feet. He leaned his head against Logan's knee. There were tears on his face now, but the panic had receded a little. "Je sui desole," he said softly.

"Hush. No harm done. Yer charge under control?"

Remy nodded. "Can't help panickin' bein' here. This is where it started. I t'ought I was goin' crazy. This is how he found me the first time. B'fore I pulled the theatre down on m'self. I refused him once. I couldn't the second time. I could take this entire place down t'day, cher." Logan stroked through the loose bangs that spread across his leg. "I'm scared," Remy said finally, voice no more than a whisper.


Jim held Blair back from springing to Remy's defense. Logan's blow was sharp, but he'd pulled it and Jim could see the strain in his muscles. He could smell the ozone building. Logan's strike had derailed the danger. "It's okay, Blair."

"Jim, man, that's abuse."

"No, that was protection. Which would be worse, to have Logan slap him or to deal with the guilt of destroying a hospital?"


"You remember Remy's little parlor trick? I could smell it building. He was panicking."

"So? You can't condone assault."

"I'm not. But I think that this is one of those times when you let the victim decide. It won't even bruise, Blair." Jim cocked his head to listen to the soft, scared voice across the way. "He's terrified of even being here. His heart has calmed down a little bit, but I can still smell it. Let Logan handle him. He's not you, Blair."

"Duh. I noticed that, Big Guy. But why are you so laid back about this?"

"Because I would be in the same state if you were in that bed. It is taking Reese a lot longer than usual. But he's probably so used to us that he doesn't have to worry about normal things." Jim smelled the tears. He watched Logan gently stroke Remy's hair. He spoke softly to his lover, assuring him he was safe. Reese stepped into the waiting room. He located Logan and Remy. Jim listened shamelessly.

"I want to keep him overnight for observation."

"Non," Remy protested.

"Hush. Why?" Logan asked.

"Because I want to be sure the medication is working without complications before I let him go. This could be a delayed reaction to his concussion. We can't get a clear shot of it though. I don't want to let him go, only to have him need to come back. We'll keep him overnight, then release him to your care if he's well enough to go." Remy bit his lip. He wrapped his arm around Logan's leg and the older man comforted him with a soft touch on the bak of his neck. "Is there a phone number where we can reach you?"

Remy started to speak, then stopped. "I don' know if my phone works out here." He frowned. "Jim, cher, y' got an office number?"

"Dr. Reese, just call our loft," Jim said offering his card. "You can crash with us for now," he said. Logan looked up at him with a frown. "We'll work out the particulars later."

"Thanks," the man said gruffly. "Can we see him before we go?"

"Of course. Please, be quiet, however."

"I know the drill." The two men followed Reese to Scott's room.

"You're letting them crash at the loft? Are you feeling okay?" Blair asked in shock. His eyes narrowed. "You just want to keep an eye on them."

"Patterns of behavior, chief. Scott Summers has been dead for three years. These two have no records, not even a driver's license. They're beyond covert. If they aren't black ops, they should be. Besides, they're living on cash economy and the hospital is going to soak them. They don't have insurance."

"Ah, man, well, I've got a little saved up."

Jim nodded. "We'll help them out. You changed rather quickly from the abuse tune."

Blair sighed. "I just can't buy Logan as an abusive partner, you know? He's so gentle with Remy. It doesn't fit. But I do think keeping them close-by is a good idea. Until we're sure."


Remy stroked Scott's cheek gently. He pushed his love through his fingers, wishing he could do more. He was torn. Logan was already growling at him, but he wouldn't lecture about a few seconds. He kissed the field leader's cheek. "Be good, cher," he whispered. He stepped back. Logan kissed Scott gently on the lips.

"We'll be back to collect you tomorrow. Don't torture the doctors, Slim." Logan collected Remy with an arm around his waist to guide him out the door. Remy sighed. He looked back over his shoulder. Scott was still, face creased in pain. Remy wanted nothing more than to take that pain away and take Scott home. They could even go all the way home. Forget camping. He just wanted to be safe and hidden away.


Remy and Blair got the back of the truck. "Should've made Jake stay," Remy muttered. "Least I fit in his car."

"Ya could sit in my lap," Logan offered.

"That's alright, cher. I'll just get comfy with Blair back here. He's nice t' me. And he's got great curly hair. His eyes are about as blue as y'rs."

"Yeah, but will he treat ya right in bed."

"I'm sure he's a quick study."

Blair held a hand up. "No offence, man, but you've got two already. Leave me out of it."

"But Logan's bein' all mean t' me. Ain't like I even been fightin' with Scotty or somethin'. Non, Remy's been all sweet and nice t' him."

"Rems, y' know how I feel about the third-person thing."

"Right, cher," Remy said with a sigh. "Y' and Scotty got such wierd ideas. Just a tick. Ain't like it means somethin's wrong."

"Ya only do it when yer upset."

"That's bullshit."

"Or when yer teasin' someone."


"Be nice," Logan chided with a smirk. Remy settled into a sulk. Blair shook his head. They were trying to be cheerful, but he could see the strain in Remy's shoulders. His pouting was a put on, but he was upset.

"So, what do you guys like to eat."

"Whatever you're used to is fine," Logan said, cutting off his lover. Remy stuck his tongue out at the back of his head.

"Chinese?" Blair offered.


"What, don't y'all cook? Stop at the market an' I'll do it."

"No, I ain't subjectin' them to yer cookin'. Jimbo stomach here ain't gonna be able to take it."

"I can do it mild. Y' just don't trust m'."

"No, I don't. Last time ya got pissed at me, I spent the night in the bathroom."

Remy smirked. "I wouldn't do that t' po' Jimmy."

"Jim. Please. Don't call me Jimmy."

Blair laughed at Remy's grin. "Oh, man, you are in so much trouble."

"LeBeau," Jim growled.

"Don't worry y'self, cher. I'll be good. It ain't no fun, but seein' as y're puttin' us up f' the night, I'll deal wit' it." Remy pushed his glasses up to the top of his head. He gave Blair an unapologetic shrug. "Some men ain't go no sense of humor. Y' noticed that?"

"I think it's genetic," Blair replied.

"Hmm. Ain't thought of that. Could explain some t'ings though. How do y' deal with Jim when he gets all grumpy like that. Y' know, his jaw twitchin'? That can't be healthy f' him."

"Oh, it's not. His dentist snaps about it all the time." Blair launched into a mildly embarassing, but entertaining story that he'd already told the whole station. He knew Jim wouldn't mind it and their guests needed it.


Remy surveyed the loft. He appreciated the blend of personalities. "Y' done a fine job of fittin' t'gether," he said after a moment. "It's welcoming. Blair, that y'r art over there or Jim's?"

"It was a gift to the loft from an artist we took care of. Here, you can take my room. I fit on the couch well."

"We won't put ya out of yer room. We can take the living room."

"Come on, let me play the good host. I'm used to sleeping on the couch and I've got some journals to catch up on, so I'll be up late."

"Merci," Remy said when it looked like Logan would object again. "Though, we could've stayed at the hotel. Y' didn't need t' bother like this."

"It's Jim's secret vice. He takes people in. That's how I ended up here. My place blew up and Jim took me in."

"Blew up?" Remy asked, following Blair to the bedroom.

"It was next to a drug lab."

"Warehouse loft?"

"Cheap space and it was comfortable."

"Don' worry, cher, I hear y'. So who's the pretty redhead in the picture?"

"My mom."

"Flower chile?"

"Completely. She's a wanderer. Turns out I'm not, though I thought I was a wanderer myself."

"Funny how that happens. Just up an' catches y' one day. Y' realize y' went and put down roots and don't remember when. Y' sure 'bout this, cher? We really can use the floor."

"I'm sure. It's a comfortable couch. I'll just grab some things and you two can actually have a good bed for a night. You've been camping for awhile now."

"Oui, cher, but that's what we signed on f', non? Don' tell Logan, but I enjoy it. Least I do when I'm with him." Remy sighed, shrugging. Blair was grabbing a pile of journals and a laptop. "Tell me true, cher, is Jim doin' this because he wants t' keep track of us or because he's just a nice guy?"

Blair blinked. "Because we want to and that's all that matters."

Remy snorted. "Y' good, Blair, but I know y' furious at somethin'. I ain't sure who, but somethin' pissed y' off."

The young man stared at him. "And how do you know that?"

Remy tapped his temple. "I can sense it. Now, tell me what pissed y' off."

"Logan hit you."

That startled the Cajun. "So? Just a small smack or pull down a hospital an' kill someone? Ain't no choice there. We all got our problems." He laughed. "Y' ain't seen me an' Scotty really get into it. Just practicin', but we been known t' go f' blood. Logan been known t' pull us apart. Had a shiner last Christmas t' match Scotty's split lip. His wife was ready t' kill us both f' fightin' like that, but it was fun." Remy shrugged. "If it bothers y', y' got t' speak up."

"I just worry."

Remy considered the young man. "And it ain't because y' a cop. Y' just care. Lord, cher, y' gonna get y' fool heart broke as a tec."

"I'm good at it. And Jim needs me." Blair shrugged. "I'd walk through Hell for him."

"Oui. Ain't nothin' compares t' love. Just, there's got t' be some way t' protect y' heart. Folk's would argue that I abuse Logan more'n he's ever hurt me. My wife f' one. I ain't sure I can explain it, but I push. He's scared t' death of bruisin' m'. He's got t' control hisself so much and I just want t' make him stop sometimes. He won't hurt me, cher. Even half-out of his mind he ain't gonna hurt me. Y' just got t' make sure Jim understands that I ain't makin' excuses or bein' abused. We look out f' each other." Remy shrugged. "Enough of this. We go get dinner an' talk about lighter stuff. Y' tell me what a flower chile is doin' with a military bastard like Jim."

"Man, that story could take years."

"Even better. We get some beer t' go with the story then. Need a hand wit' those?"


Jim and Logan looked at each other. "I don't know if we should leave them alone together," Jim stated.

Logan snorted. "Nah, boy's well caught. And Hell, I don't think Blair's interested in playin' with him. Don't worry. Biggest trouble we might have is them talkin' all night about some obscure statue or somethin'. Rems don't get to talk to folks. He gets along with Hank, our resident genius, but he's been playin' at bein' dumb fer so long that that's how folks treat him. Hell, he's the youngest in the house."

"I thought he had a little sister? Or there was a younger woman involved."

"That ain't easy to explain. It's just that Ro ain't as young as she looked. She had amnesia. He took good care of her." Logan shrugged again. "He still plays the big brother sometimes."

"Right b'fore she zaps m'," Remy added sourly. "I know she can take care of herself in m' head, but m' heart." He gave one of those shrugs that means almost anything. He put the stack of journals down on the coffee table. "So, what's the plan. Y'all got t' work some more t'day, non?"

"I've called Simon, Jake's coming over to finish taking your statement and Logan's. They'll get Scott's tomorrow. Then, it's a matter of running down some leads. Blair and I'll head out to do that. I'll get you the spare key. Enjoy the area. There's shopping within walking distance. Or you can hang out here after you finish with Jake." Jim blinked in response to triple stares that pinned him after his speech. "What?"

"You are far too laid back today, man. Well, we'll get going. You have the phone number right? Let me get my card."

"I've got them," Jim stated handing over his and his partner's cards. He ushered Blair out of the loft and to work.


"Well, that was unexpected," Remy said finally. He settled on the couch. Logan went to check out the balcony. Logan looked out over the street. He shut the door behind himself. He went to inspect Blair's room. He could smell mild incense and human scent, but oddly nothing chemical. He glanced at the pictures and nodded to himself. He scouted out Jim's room, then went to investigate the bathroom and the kitchen. He returned to the living room where Remy had picked up a journal and started browzing it. He was frowning.

"What's wrong, kiddo?"

"Dis article's got one of my aliases on it. And it sounds vaguely familiar. Genetic engineering as practiced in pre-industry."

"So maybe there's a real version of yer alias. Don't worry."

"I ain't convinced this is real. This could be a mind fuck. Hell, it could be a nightmare. FBI, cops, Jeannie and Stormy, a kidnapper collectin' chilen? Scotty getting sick. It's like everythin' I worry about showing up. It's even featurin' my ex and my ex-boss. What am I supposed t' t'ink?"

Logan settled on the couch and wrapped his arm around his lover. "If this were a nightmmare would I be here?" he asked quietly. Remy shook his head. "And would Scott's foster bastard be here?"

"Non," Remy said finally. "I'm just out of it, Logan. M' whole world's spinnin' and I can't make it stop."

"Ya gotta tell me more, kiddo. What's settin' you off today?"

"M' powers keep gettin' stronger. And I paid good money t' make them stop. So now it seems I got memory problems, and blood on m' hands, all f' nothin'!" Remy slapped a hand over his mouth.

"I know yer gettin' stronger. And I already know about Sinister. Why not tell me that's what's been makin' ya so touchy?"

"Because it is and it ain't. Merde, I don't know why you want me sometimes. I'm a mess."

Logan kissed his temple. "Because yer Remy."

"And who the Hell is he then, cher? I don't t'ink I've seen him in a long time. I been Gambit f' so long, cher, how do I just be me?"

Logan hugged him tightly. "Just know that I love ya. Ya don't have to hide from me. I'll never hurt ya 'cept when it's good fer ya," he added with a smirk. That elicited a shaky laugh. He could feel the young man trembling under his hands. The adrenaline from his panic attack was wearing off and he was starting to shake. "I'll go get ya something to eat."

"Don't go, cher. I need y' here. Hold m' in the world."

Remy kissed Logan hungrily. He straddled the older man's legs. Logan wrapped his arms around his lover's waist and held him tightly against his body. Remy settled his head against Logan's neck and stayed there. A knock on the door is what finally drew them apart. Remy peered out the peep-hole."Who is it?"

"It's the FBI." Logan could hear the laughter in Jake's voice.

"I don't know if I should let you in, cher. It ain't my place."

"Jim sent me," Jake said. Remy bit his lip, trying not to laugh. Logan was glad to see the change in his mood. "Pookie. . ." Jake whined. Remy did laugh at that. He opened the door. Jake smirked at Logan's Cajun. "Let's finish your statement. Then, I can get Logan's and head back to the station. How's Scott?"

"They're keepin' him fer observation," Logan said gruffly. "I'll just go out on the balcony. Call me when yer done."

Jake nodded. He sat down with Remy at the dining room table. Logan escaped to the balcony and looked out over the city. It was an excellent observation point. He smiled to himself. He'd have to look for his own place in the city when they got back. Remy had one, of course, but it would be nice to have a place to escape to. Maybe he could convince Chuck to let him build a small cabin out in the forest behind the mansion. He snorted. Nah, they needed to get farther away. Maybe Montana or somethin'. Remy'd pitch a fit, but he'd settle down easily enough. Kid always said he'd like to be able to let down his shields completely.

Logan looked down to the street. His eyes picked up the little details. There was a woman with a baby hauling her groceries in the stroller. Down the alley there was a couple of run-aways. There were cats running along the edges of the buildings chasing pigeons. A man was walking a large Mastiff down the street. Logan's brows rose. There was shopping available up the street and it seemed safe enough, but he could see gang-tags and the crumbling front steps. Jim must have had the place for years. There were chains and metal grates waiting for closing times. It wasn't a run-down area, but it was definitely the city. A few trees struggled to survive admid the concrete and exhaust. How does he survive it? Logan thought. It's got to be noisy as Hell. He glanced over his shoulder. Remy was toying with his cigarettes, tapping them out and pushing them back in. His face was drawn. He still looked ill. The coma had only lasted two weeks, but it had been enough.

The lingering effects of it were probably noticable more to him and Scott than anyone else. He was more nervous, more flighty than usual. He was snappish and compliant. He was going to try to run soon. Logan could sense it. He didn't know why, but he knew it was coming. He hoped that he'd be able to soothe whatever fears were preying on the young man. He watched the Fed for a minute. It wasn't Remy's Jake, but he was trying to be, at least for a little while. Logan could see the sadness in his eyes. Remy's distress was obvious and Jake was trying to calm him with a gentle touch to his wrist and a coy tilt to the head. Logan would pay good money to see Jake with suspects. They probably spilled their guts to him and never knew why. Remy made an impatient gesture, then stood up. He headed for the balcony. "Your turn, cher," he muttered. "I need a smoke." Logan nodded and went inside.


"Jim, have you seen this sketch?"

"What sketch?"

"The one Remy did from Rachel's description."

"No." Blair passed it over. "Holy shit," he said. He held the paper reverently. "He got all that from Rachel?"



"Maybe he's actually psychic. Maybe he knows her. Maybe that's why they're here." Blair shrugged. "All I know is that I've never seen a sketch like that come out of our ID team."

"I thought he said art history, not fine arts."

"Maybe he got into the art history because he's so good at it." Blair shook his head. "He should be working at a museum somewhere. Or showing at a gallery."

"Instead of whatever he's doing now," Jim added. "Sometimes we don't get a choice, chief. You know that."

"I chose to be here, Jim. I choose to be here every day." Blair addressed the guilt he could sense in the statement. "You choose to be who you are and I choose to be who I am. Got that?"

"Loud and clear, chief. Did you get this copied and passed around?"

"Yes. Every cop on the street has one. I don't know what else the Feds are doing with them. They were discussing a new conference. I declined us."

"You know how much I love the press," Jim said. Blair was glad to see the humor returning. This case had dragged on them for months now. Winters wasn't the worst FBI agent they'd worked with. He wasn't crooked, so far as they knew. That increased his standings immediately. Blair settled in his seat and stared at the picture.

"Wonder where she is," he said quietly.


Logan was making dinner by the time Jim and Blair got back to the loft. "The doc said we can get Scott out tomorrow. They're tryin' out some drugs on him. Thinks they might have somethin' new for migraines."

"Where's Remy?" Blair asked, quietly.

"On the roof."

"What?"' Jim demanded. "Is he safe up there?"

"Perfectly. Kid gets upset, he heads for high ground. Gives his powers a boost and he can see trouble coming." Logan shrugged. "Don't worry. He'll come down fer dinner. Just pissed that Scott's in the hospital. Kid's too keyed up to see him."

Jim frowned. "He doesn't strike me as the panicking type."

"Not usually," Logan admitted. Jim studied him.

"You fight?"

"Nah, not about anything important. We don't fight. Him and Scott? Yeah, they fight. It's only come to blood twice. And once they were just havin' fun."

"So you did have a fight?"

Logan blinked. His eyes were crystal blue, but full of confusion. "Told ya, we don't fight. Hell, I ain't even been making him follow doctor's orders on this trip. Hank had his way that boy would be in bed being mother-henned to death."

"Why?" Jim's voice was clipped to his own ears, like a soldier. Logan's shoulders stiffened. His eyes went cold.

"Watch it, Jimbo," he said mildly.

"Why did you take a young man who's supposed to be on bed-rest into the middle of the forest?" Jim made an effort to calm himself.

"Because a boy who's panicked ain't restin'," Logan's voice was carefully neutral, despite the anger in his eyes. "And an empath who needs to rebuild his shields ain't safe in a house full of emotions. This was the safest place for him. At least that was the plan. Three weeks of nothing but trees, fish, and fresh air. Hell, he even stopped complaining the first night. He saw an owl for the first time." Logan's voice turned fond. "He and Scott pricked at each other some, but it wasn't as mean as usual. And Scooter? He needed to be away from it all. From the professor, from his wife and her girl, from the med-lab where he'd watched Gumbo sleeping fer days and his wife trying desperately to put him together. She cried on his shoulder when she was done, but can't tell him anything about it all."

"A coma?" Jim deduced.


"What happened?"

"Long story short, kid short-curcuited his systems." Logan tapped his temple.

"And now he's on the roof staring out at the city and fighting with the pigeons."

Logan shook his head. "Nah, he's on the balcony, picking the lock on yer doors." Blair was opening the door. Remy grinned at him, but then headed for his lover. "I'm fine, kiddo. Jim just got on my nerves a bit. Promise."

Remy pushed his sunglasses up to the top of his head. He glared at Logan for a long moment. Jim had the funniest feeling that there was a battle of wills going on just below the surface. "All right, cher. But those steaks best be ready since I climbed all the way down here."

"Yeah, they're ready. And the veggies too."

Remy nodded. "Bread should be done. I'll get it."

Jim looked at Logan. "We're not done with that conversation."

"Yes, we are." There was no give in the tone. Jim surrendered.

"You want a beer, chief?"

"Hell yes." Blair was settled at the dining room table. "Remy, I saw your sketch today."

Remy shrugged. Jim raised a brow over the beer. Remy nodded and the older man got two more out. "Oui?"

"It's excellent. You should be in a museum somewhere."

Logan snorted and Remy snickered. "I am, cher. Not under my own name, mind, but I'm there. And in some private collections too." The two men's eyes met and they looked away quickly.

Jim held up a hand. "I'm going with the option that you sell through private galleries under a pen name. Don't tell me anything different."

"D'accord," Remy said, grin brighter than Jim had seen it before. He pulled out some delicious smelling rolls and Jim's mouth watered.

"Any way we can help?"

"Nope. Just sit down. This is our taking care of you payment. Kid found us an apartment to rent for a week."


"Somewhere," Remy answered. "Don't worry. They just willing to take cash for the week. Don't want t' worry them with cops, non?"

"I won't report them to the IRS, but I need to know where you are."

Remy rolled his eyes and pointed up. "Other side of the building, top floor."

"Oh, Mary and Jack's place? They're traveling for a few months," Blair told Jim. "They want to see the world before they get too old."

"Oui. Saw they was packin' stuff into their storage unit, so I asked. They were plannin' to put it in the papers tomorrow. Saved them the trouble."

Jim nodded. "That was a good idea."

Remy blinked at him. "Merde. Wish I had a tape recorder. Scotty ain't never gonna believe me I tell him a cop said I had a good idea."

"Well, it is a stretch," Logan smirked. "In fact, you talkin' to a cop without handcuffs on is a stretch."

Remy stuck his tongue out at his lover. "Now don't be givin' these po' boys the wrong impression of me."

"Too late." Logan opened the beers. He handed one to his lover. Remy paused. "What?"

"When'd you start openin' my beer f' me?"

"Since you tried to make the trash explode."



"Merde." Remy turned his attention back to the food. He started serving up the steak and veggies. Jim threw all of his questions into the a locked box in the back of his mind. Good food that he hadn't made and wasn't vegetarian was much more important.


"I'll be back in a few. I have to stop by the mall," Jake informed his partner. "Tell Nate to wear his red shirt tomorrow okay?"

Winters laughed. "Don't tell me, you're buying a red shirt?"

"Yes, I am. LeBeau's seriously upset and it'll make him smile."


"It's a Star Trek thing, you wouldn't understand."

"You're right. So you're telling me that just because the man who's pretending to be your ex is upset, you're going to buy a new shirt?"

"Yep. Which should prove that he's not my ex don't you think?"

"No, Jake. I don't believe you." Winters couldn't help but grin at the noise of disgust. "Go on. I'll see you soon." The younger agent grinned and left. Winters shook his head. He went to locate Nate. He needed an interpreter for the forensics reports.


"We have to go in today. We'll see you later," Jim called into Blair's bedroom. "Blair's leaving his keys by the door for you to borrow. It's the green Volvo downstairs. And if it doesn't start, don't blame me."

"Thanks," Logan called. Jim could hear a muttered curse in French from Remy. "No, I ain't letting you cut his balls off," Logan growled. "Just roll over." Remy made a sleepy, inarticulate reply. Jim collected his guide.


"Simon," Joel Taggert said quietly, "I think you need to come to this bomb scene."


"Just trust me."

Simon nodded. "Give me the address." He took down the details. "Ellison, Sandburg, with me."

When they reached the scene, Simon knew, without having to ask, that someone had died in the car. He could smell the burning flesh. He hated that smell. He saw Jim stiffen. "Shit," the Sentinel said softly. "That's the Feeb's car."

Simon glanced at the wreckage again. He nodded. It was the rental that the agents had been using. Damn. He found Joel easily. He marveled again at how such a big man could move so lightly and quickly. "Simon."

"Joel. What happened?"

"Whoever did this, didn't wire it to trigger on a timer or to a specific action. It was remotely detonated. They waited for him to get in, then set it off."

"Is Winters here?"

"And Essex. They identified the car. Winters is hoping it was someone else. Someone who was trying to steal the car."

"And Essex?"

"Is helping the forensics people. He's from Seattle PD originally. He knows some of our folks. Blair, can you talk to Winters? He knows it's Jake, but. . ." Joel shrugged. The young man nodded. He sought out Jake's partner.


Winters looked down at the shorter man who'd come to stand next to him, watching the forensics people working. "Detective Sandburg, I didn't know you worked with the bomb squad."

"Major crimes, Agent Winters. This counts as a major crime."

"We don't know it's Jake."

Blair nodded, his brown curls bouncing gently. "What's your gut say about that?"

"It's Jake. He was just coming to do something to make Remy smile. He denied like crazy that they knew each other, but he sure did care a lot for a guy he'd just met. He hasn't dated in over a year, not since Raven left him. It was good to see him smiling, even if it was with an irritating kid who was teasing him. He hadn't even flirted in a year." Winters sighed. Jake was dead. Now what? He wasn't going to leave until they caught the bitch, but would his director let him stay?

"We'll catch her." Blair's voice was soft, but firm. "Believe in that. If we could get Lash, we can get her."

"The serial killer who managed to take a profiler?"

"Yes." Blair looked up. There was pain in his blue eyes. "He nearly killed me, but Jim got there in time. Even if he had killed me, Jim would have gotten him. He wouldn't have been taken in by a chameleon. We'll get her, Jack."

Winters nodded slowly. "We'll get her, Jake," he murmured. "And I'll make sure she goes down and stays down." He wasn't promising vengence, but he wanted to. He wanted to strangle this bitch. Blair's hand on his arm grounded him.

"Just stay focussed and no one will question your involvement. Do you need to make arrangements or call anyone for him?"

"No, he didn't have anyone left. His father disowned him."

"He had you."

Winters swallowed against the lump in his throat. His eyes fixed on Nate. The man had retreated into the cold formality that had creeped Jake out when they first met. It was as if he had no emotions. Winter would have to watch him closely. He'd just lost one partner. He wasn't going to lose Nate too. Winters never noticed when Blair slipped away.



"He thinks it's Jake. I know it is," Blair added in a Sentinel-soft tone. Jim looked into his partner's eyes and they shared the communication that comes from two people who know each other too well. That communication let him know that Blair was speaking as his Guide, the Shaman of the Big City, not as a cop or an anthropologist. Jim nodded once. He turned his senses to the wreck. They'd need every advantage they could get. He took a deep breath and started to filter the scents away. Blair's hand settled in the middle of his back and they stood there, as still as statues.

"I have her scent," Jim said finally. "And I know that explosives she used. Let's get going. There's nothing else rigged up."

"I'll start the network searches as soon as we get back," Blair said with a small nod.


"Hey, Rems, it's okay," Scott said with a gentle smile. He held the younger man tightly. "It's just a migraine. They've got some good shit here too. I'll have to give Hank Hell over it. I've got a prescription for later. He gave me a sample run though."

Logan's brows rose. "Must be good if yer babbling."

Scott stuck his tongue out at the older man. He held the trembling thief. "Y' scared m'," Remy said into Scott's chest. Scott stroked the theif's long hair. "We can get out of here, oui?"

"Yeah. Doctors said I can leave."

"In a wheelchair, Mr. Summers," the nurse who was filling out his exit paperwork added. "It's standard procedure, sweetie," she explained gently as Remy protested. She was an older woman, but that didn't stop Remy from trying to charm her into letting him push the chair. "No, sweetie. You just get his things, now."

Scott snickered. He'd never seen the Cajun outmanuevered so easily. He settled into the wheelchair. He glanced at Logan who's lips were twitching. Scott cocked his head to the side. "What? No kiss from you?"

Logan growled, then kissed him. Scott's eyes closed automatically. He rested one hand on Logan's neck. When he opened his eyes again, the nurse was fanning herself with the clipboard. He raised his brows at her. She smiled. "Sign this. And I'll need an address for the bill."

"Merde," Remy muttered. He took the clipboard and filled in some information. Scott assumed it was Jim's address. "Do y'all take cash payments?"

"For prescriptions and bills certainly. There's a cashier by the exit."

"Thanks. Am I free now?"

The nurse shook her head. "Soon. Let's head downstairs." She recited the doctor's instructions to the three of them as they went. She left them standing at the front door.

"Let m' give these folks some money, cher. At least we make a dent in the bill." Remy took the paperwork to the clerk and became involved in the complicated task of explaining that no, they didn't have insurance. Scott looked at Logan.

"Do I want to know where he's getting that cash?"


"Didn't think so. He's not working the streets?"

"Not like that," Logan answered. "He does a good magic show with cards. Got a good crowd for it until the cops showed. After that, I ain't gonna speculate."

"As long as I don't know, I don't have to explain it to the cops. We're still staying at the hotel right?"

"No. Kid found us an apartment. He rented it for three months and you really don't want to know where he got the cash fer that."

"No one's dead?"

"He's better'n that."

"I know." Scott's lips curled up into a smile. He felt giddy. There was no pain for the first time since his powers came on-line. He had to get Hank to make more of this stuff. He hummed a love-song to himself, mental arranging the words to include "Imatrex". Logan looked at him strangely.

"I ain't never seen you like this."

"Told you. They've got the good stuff here. No pain. No headache. No lingering traces of headache. No dizziness. No nausea. It's incredible. I haven't felt this hyper since Hank put me on cannibis pills."

"Why'd you stop taking those?" Logan asked after a long moment.

"Because the professor didn't want me using a controlled substance for a long period of time. It worked though. It reduced the pressure in my eyes and the tension in my muscles. Charles was worried about the possibility of side-effects."

"Did you notice any?"

"I flirted with you. Shows a lack of good judgement."

Logan pinched his lover's arm. Scott smirked at him. Remy collected them. "They ain't happy. They think we're gonna do a runner on the balance of the bill."

"How much damage?"

"They've got near unto ten thousand in costs. Radiology, bloodwork, room stay, meals, medicines, and stuff I ain't seen outside of M. Essex's labs. I think this place got one heck of a money-maker. Come on, we got t' return Blair's car."

Scott looked at the Volvo for a long moment before he got into it. "So, if I wanted to recondition this thing, would I be able to get parts?"

"Just tell m' what y' want to do. Rebuild it all or just make it work right?"

"You think we can do a patch job that will last?"

"Possible. We got three of us." Remy turned to face the back seat and Logan growled. The theif rolled his eyes, then settled in his seat properly. "How 'bout y'all start checking into it and I'll go get some supplies and lunch?"

"Good plan. Don't get caught."

"I'm too good for that."


Blair stared at his car. "Where is the engine?" He thought he'd managed to keep his voice steady.

"Right there," Scott replied. "By the time we're done with it, it won't make those strange noises and the gears won't grind. We've already changed the brakes and improved the steering. Don't worry, it'll all look like vintage work too."

"You take apart cars often?"

"All the time. Do you want to performance of the engine increased? Do you do chases in this thing because I can't see that."

"No, I use it for errands mostly. Now at least. Where were you two years ago when it used to break down any time it got damp?"

"What's up, Blair?" Remy asked. "Y' ain't piss about the car are y'?"

"No." Blair hesitated. "Jake's dead. We're still working on the official ID, but we're sure. Car bomb."

Remy had paled. He bent his head and whispered what Blair assumed was a prayer. "How's Nate takin' that?" the young man asked.

"He's cold as ice. I think that's the only thing that's keeping Winters stable. Why did you decide my car needed treatment?"

"Well, Scotty was in such a bubbly mood that we needed somet'in' to distract him. And he weren't fond of the other suggestion." Blair stared as Scott blushed. "Don't worry. We do this a lot. We get it runnin' good for y'."

"Okay. Thanks. You like Thai?"

"Sure," Scott answered.

"Then dinner's at six, unless we get a hot lead. We'll leave a note."

"Don't bother. If you're not there we'll know," Scott told him. "Rems, give this a soak, would you?" He tossed the young man a piece of metal that Blair couldn't identify.

"Okay. Thanks for fixing the car."

"Our pleasure," Scott assured him. The young man left with a nervous smile.


Jim looked up when he heard the three X-men in the hall. "Did you pick up some lava soap when you were out?" Scott asked.

"Nope, but I've got some Dawn. It'll cut the grease well enough," Remy replied.

"How you holdin' up, Darlin'?" Logan asked. Jim wasn't sure which of the men he was talking to. "That ain't an answer."

"It's as close as you're going to get," Scott replied. "I'm taking the pills like the doc ordered. We'll see if it keeps working. It doesn't last as long as the label says. That's normal for me though."

"I can take care of that," Remy said. He sounded petulant. "It won't do me no harm to take care of some traces."

"Hank said at least a month," Logan and Scott said at the same time.

"Got t' have words wit' that boy when we get back," Remy muttered. "Been easin' your headaches since I joined up wit' your madness."

"Remy," Scott snapped.

"Oui, Cyke. I hear you."

"Try listening to me too."

"Now, where's the fun in that."

"Stop pouting. You pout like that and Blair will be convinced we're beating you."

"Too late," Remy snickered. "Jim too. Ah, po' me, so abused." He snorted. "Tol' him he should see when you and me get into things."

"Not until you're cleared by Hank."

"Hank ain't here. I'm fine. Tell him, cher."

Logan chuckled. "Yer not getting out of doctor's orders that easily, Darlin'. You shorted out, Rems. I bent the truth about as far as I could to get ya to Washington." Remy snorted. Jim tracked them up the stairs. "Great, now he's gonna pout at me."

"Aw, the big, bad Wolverine goes all gooey for puppy-dog eyes?"

"Watch it, One-Eye."

"He does!" Remy called from inside the apartment.

"Jean does them too. It's sort of scary what I can be manipulated into by here. Remy, not so much. Stay strong, Logan. Although, since he's already got you wearing his crest, maybe it's too late. Jean was lucky to get a ring on me. Then, fourteen years of running for our lives, trying to raise my son, and pretending to be other people." Scott was quiet for a moment. "And the worst part is, I think I miss it."

"Ah, Slim," Logan's voice was sad. "He'll come around."

"He fucking hates me, Logan. Okay, I think I need the next dose of pills. I always get as moody as Rogue when I have a headache."


"So, who's Rogue?" Jim asked. The four other men at the table stared at him. He smiled.

"My ex," Remy stated. He ran a hand through his bangs. "Eavesdroppin' ain't nice. You bein' a cop and all. Gonna have to start payin' you, I expect." He frowned. Scott snickered.

"You will not try to bribe cops on my watch, Rems," he added a moment later. "Even if it does seem like a good idea." Scott looked wistfully at the beer in front of Logan. The Canadian slid out one claw. "Okay, okay, no beer. Bastard."

"Prick," Logan shot back immediately.

"How 'ex' is this 'ex'?" Blair asked. "In other words, would I have a chance?"

"Somehow I don't think she's a step up from the thief, the assassin, or the drug dealer's daughter."

"She's an ex-terrorist," Scott supplied helpfully. "I think you should try her. She'll round out your collection. Give me a beer and I'll find her doppelganger for you."

"Scott!" Remy's eyes narrowed. Crap, he might be onto the game. "So, Blair, they sure it's really Jake?"

"Winters is sure and so am I."

Scott forced himself not to react to the name. He wanted to glare at the Cajun, but he really was feeling good. He frowned at that. "Damn. I need Hank to look at my pills."

"What's up, Scooter?" Logan said, responding to the muttered comment as Blair and Remy started discussing whether or not empathy could be held accountable for Blair's shamanistic tendencies.

"Mood issues. Even when I'm drunk I'm not this giddy. And I can't even manipulate the Cajun. It's got to be the pills. I'm going to stop taking them tomorrow. You have to keep him steady."

Logan nodded. He gave Scott's thigh a squeeze."We'll talk to a clinic tomorrow."

"Right. And what exactly what I'm going to tell them about my eyes? I'll last out until I make it to Hank."

Remy turned his head and frowned. "We got any ideas, on getting home?"

"It's your problem. You're the one with scientific background." Scott smirked. He reached for his glass. His hand was shaking. "Crap. I think I'm going to have to call it a night guys. Thanks for dinner."

"I'll take ya up." Logan and Scott left. Remy watched them for a moment. Then, he turned back to his conversation with Blair.

Jim studied Remy for a long moment. "Remy." He and Blair turned like bookends.


"Why is Logan so over-protective of you?"

The young man's head dropped down. "Got sick. Ended up in a coma. I was helpin' a teammate using my charm and I went too far." He shrugged. "Jus' needed some time t' deal wit' it. Scott and Logan, they ain't dealin' with it. Want t' put m' in cotton and tuck m' in the corner. I'm fine. They ain't admitted it."

"You're sure?"

"Positive. They just t'ink I'm too young t' know my own body. Scotty, though." Remy bit his lip. "Don' like him bein' sick. Not wit'out Henri t' look after him."

"Your main doctor?"

"Oui. He takes care of us. He known Scotty f'ever." Jim's nostrils flared. He smelled fear.

"Our doctor will take care of him. He's used to me making demands about Jim. He didn't have a problem when we took him in, remember." Blair put his hand on Remy's arm and the muscles there tensed. Remy nodded slowly. He took a breath and held it. His pulse slowed. He looked at Jim curiously. "Scotty and Logan t'ink you're like Logan, but you ain't. Y' can shut it off."

"My senses? Yes." There was no point in lying to them. If they were a black ops team, they'd find out eventually. "I've been training them."

"Huh." Remy frowned. His fingers tapped on the table. "And y' can track Flip by smell?"


"The perp." Remy's lips quirked up.

"Yes." If they got a general area. He didn't want to give up his actual range of abilities. "Why were you teasing Scott with the idea of paying me off. Not that I'd accept it." Time to make that clear.

"Y' a stand up cop, cher, but I'm from Nawlins. The most corrupt cops in the states. Leastways they is where I come from. Got two on payroll m'self. And one in New York that just owes m' favors. One Interpol officer that owes m' f' t'ree of his big busts and knows it." Remy shrugged. "Not like y' can prosecute m' for bribing folks when I don't exist."

"I'd like to run your prints."


Blair burst out laughing. "I won't be able to look at the booking sergeant ever again."

"I ain't judgin'." Remy's voice was sweetness and light and Jim was willing to let it go. He'd gotten Blair to laugh. The breaker was starting to get anxious. His pulse was creeping up again and he was twitching. Logan came in a few minutes later while Remy and Blair were comparing the oddest fetishes they'd actually seen in real life. He dropped his hands on Remy's shoulders and kneaded them. He placed a kiss the top of Remy's head. Logan settled into his seat and the Cajun leaned against him.

"I don't even want to know how ya got onto this topic. And if Victor's still beatin' off wearin' silk lace I don't want to know."

Remy went utterly still. He stared into space, blinking. He twitched violently. "Merde. Wish Jeannie was here. She'd take that image outta my head f' me."

Logan smirked.



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