Hiding behind her glasses, Dr. Frost looked at her clients, and she kept waiting, trying to be patient. They sat on the couch in front of her, building this awkward silence in the room, with two kinds of completely different poses and styles. In some certain strange way, that’s almost a kind of privity actually.
Then one of them gave up the impasse finally. Dr. Frost turn to the right for the young man, who gave back an overly sweet smile at her immediately.
"All right, I'll go first, " he said with a hint of southern descent, and made it sound like flirting unconsciously.
"Remy Lebeau, madam, at your service. That guy over there is James Howlett, my dear husband. "
His husband, the veteran who had been sitting stiffly with his arms around his chest in a cold, defensive posture finally expressed his disgust: "A waste of time. "
"It's like the annual inspection of a car. Be patient, mon cher. " His young Lover lean over to comfort him, then turned to Frost.
"You see, doc, there's nothing wrong with our marriage, and James feels the same way. He’s not a man with good temper, not mention patience. But he's not that bad. "
The husband of the young Frenchman didn’t argue anymore.
"On a scale of one to ten, what would your marriage be? "
The younger one heard the question, as if he had found a new game. Turning his head, and even leaning his body to the other side, he gave his husband a light tap on the shoulder.
The veteran did not lower his arms, but visibly, he had relaxed the tense posture. He gave a short, sarcastic, noncommittal sneer, "Ha. "
His young husband looked back at Frost with the corners of his lips raising, as if he’s been reassured. Quick as thought, they answered.
"How often do you have sex? -- If you don't mind me asking. "
Apparently they do. Silence. Frost got her answer. Silence means zero. The young Frenchman's flirtatious smile was frozen on his face. The very first time he had not come forward to answer her question, and his husband's frown deepened.
"What the hell is this? " His husband finally said, rudely. And he acquiesced to him.
"Tell me about the first time you met? "
The young Frenchman began with a short and accurate description of the whole scene: "It's in New Orleans, my city. Bars, casinos, a good hand. "
His husband added another information: "Five years ago. "
The smile of the younger one couldn't be more stiff: "... six years ago. "
"Five or six years ago. "
New Orleans. Five, or six years ago.
Gambit had just completed his mission. Bypassing guards, infrared, robots, and other random security measures, in 15 minutes he was able to sneak into Mr. Borya Cich the swindler 's big iron box, and took a small piece of his ill-gotten gains -- an ancient Egyptian statue, a small piece of art that his client had craved for so long. Gambit only waited until the client was desperate enough to offer him something more worthy of his reputation before he started to move, taking his time.
It was far more easier than he had expected. An unexplainable explosion distracted guards from him as he disappeared in the crowd, which made him want to kiss Lady Luck's hand.
The deal was going down on his home court later. In the middle of the night, When this big city full of bright lights, with a noisy bar and just enough time for changing a suit before Gambit settled down at the table.
The reward and the corresponding hush money were wired into his account, and Gambit, in a careless game of chance, threw the losing piece, with intended regret and surprise, and pushed the case over.
His client didn't even open the case, just nodded at him, then grabbed his loot and left Gambit alone on the table.
It was the time when everyone realized that there was a greater chaos pouring in from the outside. Whispers passing through tables, Gambit instinctively picked up a few words-- name of the former owner of the statue, and words like "assassination" and "death".
Cich's men went through the chaos, searching for single travelers. Gambit’s client, who had just take a few steps, had to step back and sat down again, kicking his case under the table. Gambit smiled, and reopened a game for him.
It was also the first time Gambit had seen HIM.
The man entered the bar a minute or two ago, just before Cich's men, asking for a beer at the counter right in front of Gambit’s table. Gambit's hands shuffled quickly as if having their own thoughts, and he whistled, scanning the stranger's tangled hair, broad shoulders, bulging muscles under the t-shirt and that tight waistline.
The sound was so light that Gambit was only meant to amuse himself, but the stranger apparently heard it, and, clutching his beer, he turned around as Cich’s men approached. The pair of fierce, troubled eyes met Gambit's flirting gaze.
Gambit raised his eyebrow and held out his hand to give the man a sign to sit down. The man sat down smoothly.
Before he could speak, Cich's men were standing at the table.
"We're in this together, gentlemen. Would you like to join us? " Asked Gambit, still looking at the man across the table, even when he began to deal.
Cich’s men whispered a few words, left quickly.
"Large blind a hundred, small blind fifty. May I deal you in? " Gambit smiled at the man and noticed that his brown eyes appeared an almost golden green in the lamplight, a color could only be seen in wineglass.
The man was clearly not a regular of casinoes, as he began to feel in his breast pocket half-jokingly: "what can I do for…uh, seventeen bucks? "
And Gambit did not even notice when his client left. He laughed at the stranger's not-funny joke, lowered his eyes before giving the answer, and raised them again: "buy the right to know my name? "
"Sounds fair. I'll bite. " the man said.
"Remy, " Gambit smiled. "Remy LeBeau."
Logan tilted his head and looked away. With the glare of his computer screen distracting him, he could still see through the windows to Remy. The kid typed on the keyboard with one hand, the other on the phone, talking to someone. Every now and then a big smile emerged on his face.
Logan couldn't hear the conversation, but he could see the joyful mood of Remy’s. Lucifer jumped down from the shelf on Remy's shoulder, his owner then stopped his flying fingers and scratched his chin cheerfully.
When the two of them were not in the same room, he seemed happy, even though they both refused to admit there’s something wrong in their marriage.
Logan made a sound like a sigh, unusually.
The computer obviously isn’t afraid of a depressed Wolverine. A message jumped on his screen, drew his attention back. Logan turned around to confirm his identity in the program, so the text of the notification finally caught his eye.
“Class tomorrow. 10:00. Don't be late. Cyclops.”
Logan –as if the sun has risen from west -sighed for the second time within one minute.
He pressed the confirm button. That notification vanished.
Logan hates lying, and he don’t wanna keep any secrets either. But how could he tell this to Remy – hey, babe, your husband is a X-men agent, sorry to keep the sercet from you for six years.
It will be a lot easier to just stab a knife into his own body.
At one o’clock in the middle of the night, after lying in bed for two long hours, Logan finally heard the sound of the door opening. Remy didn’t turn on the lamp, probably thought he was in asleep. His footsteps are so soft, just like his cat. Logan felt that he lifted one corner of the quilt, lighting the weight on him. Then the mattress sank slowly.
After a while, he could almost feel the heat of Remy, his back radiating a little bit heat just not far from him. It’s like the young man himself, always with an unmistakable presence, always. Logan recalled the day they first met, Remy sat under the dim light of the bar, yet as if he was the master of the stage, giving off a blinding glow generously. Logan could barely remember the glow of his now. That young man, the young man who flirted with him outrageously, is he really the one who’s sleeping beside him, his husband who has shared six years of marriage with him? Is he still there?
Logan couldn’t help but roll over. Remy left him a quiet figure, half hidden under the quilt, as fluffy and soft as cotton and cloth in the dark.
Logan rubbed forward, reaching for Remy’s waist. His young husband was apparently not into his dream, and the muscles tensed for a moment under the palm before he began to relax again.
“Good night, James.” He whispered.
Remy end up buying a beer for the stranger with the 17 bucks. And because of they had just exchanged their names and some other thoughts of Gambit’s, the word ‘Stranger’ might need to be reconsider very soon.
Remy dealt the cards carelessly, and since there were only two people at the table, it was hard even to call it a game. He stretched his arm out to the man, and leaned forward, pressing his thumb to slide out a card for him. The young face of the famous Gambit of the Thieves' Guild flickering under the dim light, he made a smile appear: "So, what brings you to our fair city, Sir? "
SIR. Logan almost marveled at the word, it’s so rare for him to be a ‘sir’.
"Business, " finally, he replied curtly, making no secret of the way he looked up and down at the young Frenchman in front of him. And the person who made him do that seemed to be fine with it, just enjoying the compliment in Logan’s sight line.
Remy raised an eyebrow at his response: "You don't look like a man of business, with all due respect, " and before Logan could bring out his wariness about being spotted the lie, he finished the second half of the compliment.
"Better be a model. There'd be a bunch of photographers who'd pay tons of money just for a glance of yours. "
Logan laughed at the kid's glib talk. "I don't know that. "
"I'm one of them, " the young man said with a wisecracking wink, "Not all beauties realize they are beauties, dear sir. "
"Jesus, " Logan Chuckled, not knowing if the dim light of the bar would hide the blush - seriously, he is too old for that already. Ignoring the team leader and his "what the fuck are you doing" in the earpieces, he changed the subject. "Photographer? "
The young man looked at him with a smile, clearly aware of his intention but decide not to point it out. "War photography, actually. But I wouldn't mind taking your portrait. "
"Tough job, Huh? "
"Maybe. You know, South Africa, Middle East, " Remy smiled nonchalantly.
He gave up trying to keep the game going and stood up, took a step toward Logan. "Life – tough labor and dance. " He put one hand behind his back, bent over and gave his right hand to Logan. "May I dance with you, sir? "
Chapter 3: Wolverine
Wolverine shot the last security guard down.
His gun with a silencer let out a soft thud, the bullet went right into the guard’s body. Cyclops stepped forward to hold the unlucky man, making sure that the way he fell would not turn into any kind of warning.
"We are clear. " Scott reported.
"Ok, " On the other side of the earpiece, their mighty technology-support staff responded immediately. Jean instructed, "now you turn left. "
So they turned left.
The lab door quietly slid open in front of them.
Logan raised the gun, lowered himself slightly and moved forward in alert silence, Scott following him sideways, covering the shooting range behind him to make sure their weapons were ready to deal with any enemy who might appear in any direction.
But nothing seemed to be happening.
This mission could be smoother than any encounter between Wolverine and cyclops in the danger room.
They found the computer they need to find, Scott turned it on, hacked into its system to find evidence as Jean Instructing him, and Logan stood straight, guarding beside him, raising the bore of the gun to the ceiling temporarily.
All of a sudden, there was an almost uncomfortable moment of calm in the mission state, only the click of Cyclops clacking of keyboard for a bit of tension.
But before the silence had lasted long, Wolverine was determined to break it.
"I’m getting married." he said.
A dead quiet. Even the tiny click of the keyboard stopped.
Suddenly, the team leader in front of him and Jean in his earpiece said at the same time, "You WHAT? "
Logan sniffed at the love birds’ fricking chemistry. "I’m getting married, " he repeated patiently for them. Scott looked blank for a few seconds before he realized that it wasn’t April Fools’ Day and neither one of them had been hypnotized by the professor.
"... That gambler you met when you killed Cich?"
"Remy." Logan nodded.
Scott’s disapproving, angry eyes almost immediately turned to red laser that had penetrated his glasses and burned Logan alive.
"You’ve only known each other for six weeks. " the team leader pointed out, calmly, with total opposite look in his eyes.
"So? " Wolverine shrugged invulnerably. "He proposed. "
"So I said yes. Why not? " Logan explained in a matter-of-fact tone.
"Cajun is a war photographer. He spends more than half a year in South Africa."
"Is this all you know about him? "
"No, it’s not. And look on the bright side, slim, no one’s gonna steal your girlfriend anymore."
" ... "
"you’re freaking insane. " their team leader finally declared.
Wolverine gave him a firm middle finger.
Frost found out that her clients had canceled the appointment. To be honest, she didn't expect them to visit again anyway.
But apparently, Frost's assessment of the situation was unusually wrong.
They made another appointment with her, individually. To her surprise, the first one who visit her studio was the veteran with a face of distrust, uncooperative and impatience -- James Howlett, the husband of the sweet young French American.
This fact alone is enough to make it clear to Frost that something was clearly wrong with their marriage, and that, even when they were alone, neither of them was willing to talk about it.
"You came back alone. Why did you come back? " Frost asked, trying to sound friendly and patient.
"I don't know, " James Howlett replied briefly, hesitating, trying to unload the part of the veteran's defense of him.
"Listen, " he said, trying to keep his temper down and his elbows on his knees. He crossed his hands with an unnerved gesture, tried to touch the cigarette in his pocket, and then gave it up because of remembering where he was (Frost found that he could be quite considerate when he wanted to) , so he fidgeted and scratched his hair. This conversation made him uncomfortable, even though it was his own choice.
"I love my husband, there's nothing to say to that. But it just -- " he uncomfortably moved and looked sharply at Frost.
Frost kept waiting as he reorganized his words.
"There are things we choose not to tell each other. I hate it, but I have to keep secrets. " He sighed, in a way that Frost didn't think he would in his old days of war.
"And then they got bigger and bigger, like a goddamn snowball, just couldn't stop. There's a giant fucking snowball between us. The point is, the more secrets there are, the less likely we are to be honest, and in the end, we barely say anything to each other at all."
”-- What is that?" He murmured angrily.
Frost knew he wasn't really asking, but she gave her answer anyway. "Mr. Howlett, " Frost concluded, "that is marriage. "
The veteran groaned noncommittally, then ducked back into his defence at once.
Chapter 4: Gambit
"Marriage? Are you sure? " with a slightly disjointed electric current running through earpieces, asked Fence, Gambit’s friend since the beginning of time. No surprisingly, he was shocked by the irresponsible decision of Gambit.
"Uh-huh. " Gambit ignored his friend’s shocking, gave a hazy sound. He walked through the dim lit of the bar with a bottle of whiskey, took a lady’s hand casually and kissed it, winked at her with a smile, then walked away again while she’s dazed. That golden bracelet of hers spun over in the thief’s hand, slipping into his jacket pocket.
"He owns a lumber mill in Canada, goes over there every now and then, which just gives me enough time to make our extra money, " said Remy, as if that’s a good reason to get married.
He turned around the corner and, seemingly carelessly, into a darker corner, leaning carefully against the wall of the VIP room, peering through the ajar door to see what was happening.
"You know, Remy, I always thought you’d get married one day. To an old lady with a lot of money, waiting to inherit a fortune. "
"Sounds good too. " The young man who’s with prodigal gene in his blood agreed.
"So, why? "
"Because I’m in love with him, Fence, " Remy explained patiently, as his ongoing “overheard” forced him to tone down his voice a little, it did not make him lose his ineffable sense of humor. "So I want to live with him, just like anyone else. I said I couldn’t find a woman to settle down with, and now I’ve found myself a man."
"Even after all these years of knowing you, your so-called good idea still has its own way to beyond my imagination. You think you’re ‘anyone’, Gambit."
"Don’t mind pretending to be one," Remy paused, "maybe half one. "
"And I have to find a reason not to go back to marry Bella Donna again. "
"Why not? " His friend asked in a dream-walking voice, "You united the Thieves’ Guild and the Assassins’, boss. "
"Because that sweetheart banished me? "
"…All right. Remember to be careful with the wedding this time, and don’t kill any more brothers.”
“And I still question every choice you make."
"Thank you, my dear friend. Now, take your black tech and let’s get this over with before we judge my marriage, shall we?"
The young man said exactly the same thing when Frost talked about it.
"Are you honest with him? " She asked.
"Of course I’m honest. " Remy nodded confidently and set off a smile of such interest that Frost couldn’t even tell if it had a heavy undertone or is it as light as it seems. This person clearly has enough experience to deal with questions and exploration, like some kind of recidivist.
The recidivist had made up his mind, but he made it sounded like he was asking for Frost’s advice. With a quick shrug and hands folded in front of him, he turned the ring on his finger unsettledly. "-- But everyone has their little secrets, right? "
Frost found herself unable to disprove it. Maybe no one can even say no to him.
So she changed her approach: "So, what are they? "
With little hesitation, the young Frenchman bowed his head slightly and returned her another smile in silence. Frost guessed that meant "cher, don’t even think about it".
A few seconds after the rejection, Remy leaded the conversation into another direction: "Another question, you know, doc, when I first met him, I thought he was extraordinary. You know, a stranger, drowning in the faint light of the bar, with those complicated deep eyes of his -- but the more time I spent with him, the more I realized he was just some normal guy. And even though I still love him and want to spend the rest of my life with him, it’s ... like a steak, without salt. Maybe this is just time, Huh?"
Time, yes. You can’t take it back or fix it. It just keeps on flowing.
"It probably feels like you’re the only people going through this. But I’ll tell you something. There are millions of couples that are experiencing the same problems. "
"Oh, mon cher, " Remy smiled, he seemed mysterious and inscrutable. "You have no idea. "
Chapter 5: The Past
When Remy said "You have no idea" to the therapist, he meant it.
There are millions of couples that share a river of indifference, that he might agree. But not every normal guy, fortunately or not, got married to the leader of the Thieves' Guild.
There were a few times, Gambit has managed to get away from a dangerous mission with fresh wounds, bandaging himself in some safe house where he called 'office'. Then his phone, which he tossed aside, lighted up and Remy could see his husband sent him a text, asking about dinner.
These were the moments when Remy would smile. Even with cold sweat on his forehead, bandages moistened between his teeth, he treated the wound expertly with an alcohol tampon in one hand, and replied the text in the other, arguing with the person on the other side, about which restaurant to order takeout from or which kind of pizza would taste better.
"No, Turkish food sucks. "
His husband might say that, and pick up their meal while back from work.
When these moments came - moments when Remy extricated from his roles as Gambit, the head of the Thieves' Guild or an international wanted man, he became an ordinary photographer and husband of James Howlett. It made him feel relaxed and happy. Because there’s a sweet big guy will go back to their home – their home, not a house or a safe house or anything else - and he does it just because that's where Remy is going. Then they’d share a simple dinner, sitting side by side on the couch, open the takeout box and some conversation. Remy has a silver tone and James always hits the nail on the head, they could always find a way to turn dinner time into a family talk show, until Remy burst into laughter uncontrollably, the tastes of beer shift from one lip onto another with a casual kiss, and Lucifer somehow emerged from under the table, stole their bacon.
Ordinary life is incomparably comfortable because of his husband. There are always some moments for Remy to hate Gambit and his desire for danger.
Remy can hardly remember when things began to change, but they did change. By the time Remy found out, the change was nearly complete, and there was nothing he could do about it.
That night, a little later than planned, Remy dragged his broken shin back to the safe house. That was an accident, result from balancing a successful escape and trying not to snap someone’s neck. Fence shouted and wrangled, rifled for the medical kit, as if he could repair Gambit with his skill of a mechanic. But Gambit clearly has no choice. James texted him as usual. Remy only paid attention to it only after Fence had fixed his shin, and he didn’t even bother to actually read it. Whatever you want, mon cher. He replied.
Two hours later, feeling he had recovered a little from the accident, he went home.
Being late was inevitable, just keeping from limping was tough enough to exhaust Remy -- he regretted for last night, when he thought the mission was an easy piece. When it came to missions, he should have told James that he was going on business trip, not that he was in his office to deal with some nonexistent pictures -- but he didn't do it this time. James and him barely spoke to each other the day before.
When he entered the living room, James was smoking. Remy went over to him, took the cigarette and put it in his own mouth. James chuckled, picked up the take-out box, walked to the kitchen without waiting for Remy to speak, and leaving Remy no time to answer him.
"dinner's getting cold, Cajun, " he said, drew out the nickname. "I'll heat it. "
Couldn't be better. Remy thought. The pain sobered him up and the painkillers made him drowsy. The couch so soft that it was like a cloud. He didn't want to get up at all.
He couldn’t even taste what the dinner was, and James didn't seem in the mood to keep their little talk show going neither. They shared a moment of silence. The communication was limited to "any more beer? " "Here" and ``uh-huh" -- just like the day before.
That night, a few minutes after lights out, James leaned over, lifted Remy's nighty, put his hot palm on his stomach, and explored his way up.
The effects of the painkillers had worn off long ago. James would have felt cold sweat on his palm if only he goes a few inches higher, and Remy was with the unexplainable bandage on his shin, not to mention he wasn't in the mood to do anything. He grabbed the hand of James.
"No, James, " he said, "not today, okay? "
Quietly, James withdrew from under his palm as if nothing had happened.
They didn't even say good night.
Remy, feeling a little guilty and surprised, had time to think about the change. But before he could go back and remember when it all began, the waves of pain swept over him.
Logan felt like he came across a problem, and neither the art of fighting, nor the art of fighting without fighting, were of any use on it. At the end of the day, Wolverine always wins his battles, but it's not a battle, it's a long torment.
After decades of adventure, combat, emotional entanglements and heroism, he marveled at his ability to still love, and looked forward to this marriage. But he was always away on “business”. He told Remy that he went back to Canada. But the truth is, wherever he was, he was on another tough mission for the X-Men, with the codename as Wolverine and his whole uniform.
And Remy travelled almost as much as he did. Usually he went to South Africa or Middle East, somewhere coup or terrorism is always active. he went out with a camera, he came back with photographs, sometimes with a few extra bruises. Wolverine would be anxious about it. He could stay in Charles's vigilante unit forever, just to make the world a little better, but he couldn't protect his husband. He couldn’t even do a single thing about the growing distance between them. He walked so far that the fog behind him was thick enough to overwhelm his roof tiles. He lied, so he could only be silenced and alienated, and all the effort to make up for it was negligible.
He washed off the smell of blood, got home as early as he could, texted Remy before dinner, ordered takeout, and grabbed another dozen of beers at the store.
But Remy's late, Logan couldn't hold a conversation or anything else all alone.
Remy turned him down. And he was well aware that he lacked the courage to try again.
"I can steal it for you, Zane, " the voice said. " The question is, can you afford me? "
now the main story. it is adapt from Wolverine and the X-men S01E05.
Sybil Zane believes in money. Money brings power.
As at this moment, she was standing on the territory of the Thieves Guild, and without euphemism, she taunted a large number of so-called thieves who didn't dare to strike at the target. But they wouldn't leave her to it, because a few seconds later, another voice hitched. A young voice, coming from behind the crowd, which parted like a tide of the sea in obedient silence, and at the end revealed their Moses.
"I can steal it for you, Zane, " the voice said.
Then Zane saw Gambit, the current owner of the Thieves Guild leaning over the couch with his one-handed cardistry, not forgetting to give her the canny smile that you’d give to the rest of the world if you were in his place. Then he got right to the point: " The question is, can you afford me? "
Of course she can. In fact, he was exactly what she wanted.
Rule number one of the Thieves’ Guild: always know your customers. Sybil Zane is beautiful, but she's just the errand boy, and the Thieves’ Guild followed this hot beauty’s hot car right into Senator Kelly's office. Senator Kelly is a conservative, perhaps too conservative -- he opposes the existence of any extrajudicial organization. The adjective here is all black and gray, enough to include private agencies such as the X-MEN and underground criminal organizations such as the United Guild. Clearly, he felt that the former did not have the right to decide on their own to play such a role, while the latter, criminals, had no right to form associations at all.
Gambit scoffed at that. The Thieves' and Assassins' Guilds have always had a hard time with each other, and the fact that the members are able to unite is a step above all the politicians in the two-party system - yes, that's you, Senator.
And who says criminals have no right to associate? After all, the senator apparently tried to clean up the grey areas first, rather than the vast black realm underground. To do so, he had to call in the Guild. And Gambit might not agree with his political views, but he would gladly accept his fee.
That evening, Gambit returned home and spoke to his husband about a business trip the next day. They were already in bed when he said this, and Remy casually brought it up at the last second before he closed his eyes, in the tone of someone who was only going out to see a movie for two hours, as if the content wasn't about a battlefield in the Middle East. He didn't need James to worry about him, and James actually seemed to be doing just that -- he had his back to him, half his face buried in the pillow, gave him a long grunt and a muffled "stay safe, babe " and was almost asleep.
At the beginning of their relationship, James would still worry about Remy's work. His eyebrows would screw up, and a look of apprehension was like cold ice sinking into the brownish-green depths of the eyes. But Remy always seemed to come back safely, and gradually, James didn't care that much amymore. Come on, what do you expect, Remy? He's only human, who doesn’t really know who you are. Remy tasted a last round of self-mockery in his mind, closed his eyes.
By the time Remy waked up the next morning, his husband was gone, giving him a chance to do his preparations at leisure, without worrying about someone wandering around the house and bumping into his husband playing with a gun at any moment
Remy, topless with a cup of coffee in hand, paced into his studio full of photographs, stacks of drawings and samples, flicking his fingers as if playing a piano and pressing buttons on the printer. The machine let out a buzz of getting to work, dismantling itself from the printer into a layer of dark cabinets to reveal part of the Gambit's handy collection. He bent down and took out a short stick from the lowest level, casually swung it about to test its retractility, turned it around his wrist, and dropped it on the table. They were then joined by daggers, small explosive devices and even smaller electronic jamming devices. Infiltration missions generally don't require a gun, but Remy still picked one to carry around his waist.
That's all Gambit needs for a mission, even if it's the X-Men's lab he's going to invade, he does not have to worry too much, Gambit has always been able to be anywhere like it’s no men's land. Now, all he had to do is making a trip to the safe house, take another look at the schematics of X-Men’s mansion (disguised as an institute, good for them), and change into his old uniform, and wait for night to fall.
And the night will always fall.