Mindful of Each Ghost

by Alicia McKenzie

DISCLAIMER: The characters belong to Marvel, and are used without permission for entertainment purposes only.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Set sometime after Uncanny X-Men #383, that business with the former-Neo slaver in Russia, and liable to be inaccurate about a number of details, given that we haven't even see the X-Men's living arrangments post-Revolution, yet. This story is a projection, you might say, and an exploration into some of what I think might be going on off-panel. Feedback, as always, is welcome. :)

To be perfectly honest, Remy LeBeau had never seen himself in this role, not in all the time he'd spent with the X-Men. It wasn't that he didn't think he was capable. He trusted his own judgement. He'd never been against changing the plan to fit the situation - *s'pose Scott would've called dat 'flexible tactical thinking' or somet'hing,* Remy thought with a sigh - or taking any other sort of initiative that hit him as being appropriate at any given moment.

Still, just because he thought he was up for it didn't mean that he didn't still have some adjusting to do. When he looked at himself in the mirror and thought 'dere's de man who's leadin' half de X-Men dese days', part of his brain still just--choked on the fact.

He still wasn't sure it was going to be anything more than temporary. He hadn't had anything permanent in mind, when he'd gone to the others for help fulfilling his obligation to Vazhin. But they hadn't had much of a chance to stop and deal with the matter since then, not that anyone seemed inclined to bring it up. Ororo and Jean both seemed happy with things as they were, if also perfectly prepared to exercise their own 'initiative' whenever they saw fit. *Which is a good t'ing, LeBeau,* he reminded himself with a smirk. Sketch was too grateful to be free to register much of an opinion about anything. Henry was a little wary at times, and Remy knew perfectly well that the Beast was watching him carefully, but he hadn't said anything outright.

And the last member of their team? Remy wasn't sure, but from all appearances, Cable didn't give a damn.

Then again, Cable was notorious for being unclear--*merde, LeBeau, jus' call it de way it is and say 'secretive'* - about things. What he was feeling, what he was planning, what he was actually doing in this time, who his relatives were--so many of those kind of things that he made Remy himself look like an open book in comparison. Made the man several different varieties of hell to deal with, and lately--

Lately, that was putting it mildly. Remy let his eyes roam the club as he made his way through the crowd. Any other night, he would've said this was his sort of place. The music was loud, the lights - except on the dance floor - were dim, and there were attractive women everywhere he looked.

"Hey, gorgeous, you here alone?" a leather-clad blonde purred, pushing herself against him as she stared up at him with deep blue, heavily-outlined eyes. "I'd call that a crime, I really would--"

Remy forgot why he was there for long enough to give her his best roguish grin. "An' I s'pose you got de handcuffs t'arrest me for it, non?" he murmured, making an educated guess on her tastes, based on her outfit.

"Ooh, clever, too," she breathed wickedly, and had twined her arms around his neck and kissed him before he could react.

*Okay, so some of de fringe benefits of dis whole gig might not be so bad,* Remy thought with an inward laugh as he detached her, gently but firmly. "Apologies, chere," he said, putting a little wistfulness in his voice as he slipped into the crowd. "Maybe another time."

There was a wildness here, he reflected as he moved through the club, searching it table by table, booth by both. Didn't feel right, to him. Sure, it was Friday night, and people were blowing off the week's accumulated steam, but there was a dark little ripple amid the normal hedonism. *Oui, and three guesses as to who's causin' dat.* On second thought, he only needed one.

Mon Dieu, but he was getting tired of this. His jaw clenched angrily. He wasn't sure what irritated him more--that this was necessary in the first place, or that he was the one doing it. He'd been so tempted to track down Jean, wherever she and 'Ro had taken off for the night, and tell her to deal with it.

Oh, he could just see it now. *Bonjour, Red. Your son, he needs a good kick in de head. Don' suppose youcould take care of dat for me?* Right. She'd probably either laugh in his face or slug him--Jean's temper had been chancy lately, not that he blamed her. Losing your husband tended to do strange things to a person.

No, he couldn't pass this off to Jean, although he wouldn't lay money that she didn't know about the way Cable had been behaving. He had to at least make a token attempt at doing the leader-thing--

#Over here, LeBeau.#

His attention was drawn over to a corner booth, so smoothly that someone not expecting this sort of thing might not have noticed that they weren't looking in that particular direction of their own accord. His eyebrows headed for his hairline as he noticed, with some surprise, that Cable wasn't alone.

He strode over to the booth, plastering a completely insincere smile on his face as he slid onto the bench opposite Cable and the absolutely gorgeous dark-haired woman who was sitting on his lap and making a reasonably determined attempt to get herself arrested for public lewdness.

*Mon Dieu.* He could have dealt with a drunken Cable with a certain amount of aplomb, but he certainly hadn't expected this.

"Bonjour, Nate," Remy said, keeping the smile on by sheer force of will as Cable eyed him briefly, and then pulled the woman back towards him, kissing her. "Who's your friend?" he continued, just as amiably, when the two seemed to have forgotten he was there. *Oui, definitely glad I didn' call Red.*

The woman broke away from the kiss first, glancing over her shoulder at Remy, the look in her smoky eyes unmistakably threatening. "Rachel," she said in a deep, throaty voice, and then turned back to Cable. "Now go away." She made a small, frustrated noise as Cable took her wrists, holding her out at arm's length as he looked back at Remy.

"Rachel," Cable said with a cold twisted smile. He seemed entirely unaware of the way the woman was struggling to get closer to him, as if it was the only thing in the world she wanted. "Isn't that a coincidence, LeBeau? I was just telling her I had a sister named Rachel."

Remy's stomach churned as he watched the woman. This was more than he'd thought--and worse. "Sharing your life story, mon ami?"

"Not really," Cable said just as impassively. She was whimpering, now, a quiet, desperate sound, all but writhing on his lap, her hands grasping, trying to reach him. He held her back with as much ease as he might have held a struggling kitten by the scruff of the neck. "Rachel here's not much on talking."

Remy set his jaw, staring right into Cable's eyes. "I don' know what you're doing," he said, very quietly. "But stop, right de hell now."

Rachel suddenly froze, blinking into Cable's eyes. A tremor crossed her face, marring the mask for just a moment, and suddenly she was sliding off his lap, out of the booth. "Asshole," she said dully.

Remy stiffened, not liking the strangely dead look in those eyes that had been so vibrant only a moment before. Cable merely shrugged, his gaze raking over her for a moment.

"Probably. You might want to do up your shirt before you go back to your friends."

"Fuck you," she muttered, that blank expression trembling again, just a bit, as she turned, hands fumbling at her shirt as she tottered off.

Remy glared at Cable, struggling for words that just wouldn't come. He felt sick to his stomach, wondering about how far things would have gone if he hadn't showed up when he did.

Cable raised an eyebrow. "What?" he asked harshly. Remy stared into his eyes, willing there to be some defensiveness, some shred of shame at his behaviour there, and finding none of the above. "You think I crossed the line, Cajun?"

"You're de mind-reader," Remy almost growled. "You tell me what I'm t'inking." He was going to have to tell Jean about this, he realized. No getting around that.

"You want to leave," Cable muttered, eyes drifting elsewhere. "Want me to leave--"

"Oui," Remy grated.

"I don't want to leave. I like it here." Cable looked back at him, a strangely reckless smile spreading slowly across his features. "So much to see and do. What else could you ask for a Friday night?" He hesitated, his eyes unfocusing and a shiver running through him as his head turned slowly towards another corner of the club.


"Interesting," Cable murmured. "So that's what it feels like."

Remy was almost positive he didn't want to know. "Are you coming?" he asked harshly, getting up.

"What if I say no?" Cable asked, his voice still distant.

Remy laid both hands on the table, leaning closer to Cable, who looked around at him almost lazily, as if he had all the time in the worth. He looked drugged, Remy thought, his expression tightening.

"Dat's your choice, homme," he snapped in a low voice. "But if you don' come now, you're coming later, and I t'ink you'd prefer now." He deliberately formed a mental image of Jean walking into the club, and all but threw it at Cable.

Cable flushed, and rose so swiftly that Remy was hard-pressed not to take a step back, on instinct. "You're not much of a leader if you have to use the 'behave or I'll tell your mother' tactic to back up your authority," Cable said, a nasty edge to his voice.

Remy shrugged and started to turn away. "Coming?"

"Flonq you, Cajun."

But he came.

Remy felt an almost physical relief as they exited the heat and noise of the club for the relative peace of the parking lot. He couldn't let go of all of his uneasiness, though, not with Cable was walking beside him, apparently steady on his feet but moving with enough obvious care to belie appearances. It wasn't just what had been going on back in the club. Out here, in the quiet, he was overwhelming aware of the coldness around Cable, as if he'd somehow sucked all the warmth out of the air directly around him. It wasn't real, at least not physical - the air was as warm there as it was everywhere else tonight - but it was there.

"How'd you get here?" Remy asked warily. He'd gotten a call from a friend of his, a bartender at another place across town, but by the time he'd gotten there, Cable had been gone.

Cable shrugged. "Don't remember."

"How much have you had t'drink?"

"Not enough."

"You do anyt'ing elsewhere tonight dat I need t'know about?" Remy asked, more sharply. Cable opened his mouth, and Remy stopped, giving him a hard look before he continued. "Try an' see if you can manage more dan a two-word answer dis time?"

Cable laughed hollowly. "Oh, trust me, LeBeau, you don't want to know everything I've been up to tonight--"

"Let me be de judge of what I want and don' want," Remy snapped, obscurely nettled.

The hangdog, slightly self-pitying edge faded from Cable's expression, and he gave Remy another one of those disturbing smiles. The shift in his mood was so swift that it was alarming. "Ever heard the word incubus?" Cable asked, almost cheerfully. He looked upwards at the cloudy night sky, still smiling. "I like that word," he announced. "It's one of those--layered words. Incubus. So many possibilities."

Remy couldn't help shuddering. "Oui," he said a little feebly. "Whatever."

"I mean, everyone thinks it just means some demonic spirit that has sex with women in their sleep. You know, the male version of a succubus." Cable looked right at Remy, and the smile never wavered for a moment. "But that's not all it is. It can be a nightmare, too. Or just a burden." He looked thoughtful, suddenly. "I wonder if it can mean all three at the same time," he murmured, his voice much more quiet.

"So you like playing wit' words as much as people, I see," Remy said acidly, looking over to where he'd parked the Jeep. "Not dat I'm a hardliner when it comes t'ethics--"

"Well, I'm glad we're avoiding blatant hypocrisy, at least--"

"But wit' powers like yours, you need t'have SOME." Remy strode over to the Jeep and opened the driver's door. "'Less you want to end up like dat clone of yours," he added.

Cable glared at him, then stalked over to the Jeep and got in. "I don't want to talk about Stryfe," he said, very clearly. The passenger-side door swung shut firmly, seemingly of its own accord. "Actually, I don't want to talk."

"Put your seatbelt on," Remy said harshly, getting in and waiting until Cable complied to put the key in the ignition. "I don' care if you want t'talk or not, homme," he continued, backing up carefully and then driving out of the parking lot. "What you do on your off-time isn't any o'my business--"

"Glad you realize that," Cable growled.

"'Less you MAKE it my business," Remy snarled, stopping for a red light. He took the opportunity to glare at Cable, who was sitting there slouched in the seat, looking bored. "What de hell is wrong wit' you dese days?" It was mostly a rhetorical question, given that he had a pretty good idea already. He could start with Scott's death and work his way from there, but he wanted to hear what Cable said. Cable didn't so much as look at him, and Remy swore under his breath as he turned his attention back to the road. "You're not makin' dis easy."

"Why should I?" Cable's voice was very soft. "Give me one good reason."

Remy tried very hard to stop grinding his teeth. "We can't afford t'have you screwing up in a combat situation, mon ami," he said sarcastically. "You should know dat better dan any of us."

"Appealing to my practicality. How trite."

Remy forced himself to stop clenching the steering wheel quite so tightly. "You don' like me," he grated, reflecting ironically that he'd nearly missed the turn-off. "If de truth be told, I don' much like you, either."

"Honesty." Cable stared out the window, the boredom in his expression fading into something much more ambiguous as they moved gradually out of town, into the darkness of the country. "How refreshing."

"But dat doesn' matter," Remy persisted stubbornly. "You're an X-Man, now, an' we take care of our own."

"It amazes me that you can say that with a straight face," Cable murmured.

The blood in Remy's veins seemed to turn to ice at the memory, and he swallowed, telling himself to concentrate on the road. *He's baiting you,* he reminded himself bleakly. *Looking t'push some buttons--*

"Oh, of course I am," Cable continued, his voice louder, but still perfectly level. "So, tell me. How is it that you can say something like that, after Antarctica? Selective memory? I hope it's that, because if you honestly believe it--"

"Drop de subject."

"Oath, you were the one who wanted me to talk, remember?" Cable slouched further in his seat, with another laugh. "Make up your mind, LeBeau."

Remy grabbed his self-control with both hands and held on tight. "How 'bout dis," he said, very carefully. "I've screwed up a few too many times in my life t'balk real hard at giving other people a second chance."

Cable's head whipped around to face him. "What makes you think I need or want a second chance?" he snarled.

Remy managed a thin smile. *Touchy, dere.* "It's not what I think, Nathan," he said, just as deliberately. Before Cable could bristle, he went on. "But really, I was talkin' 'bout de X-Men and Antarctica."

It didn't seem possible, but Cable actually managed to slouch further, without landing on the floor. "Oh," he muttered hoarsely, as if he knew just how much he'd given away with his retort.

"Oh," Remy mimicked him amiably. "But never mind dat. For once, I'm not de one getting drunk and--teasing pretty women." It sort of stuck in his throat to put such an innocuous name to it, but confrontation wouldn't work here. "It's a little out o' character for you, so it's you we were talking about. Not me. So don't try changing de subject."

"Flonq yourself," Cable muttered darkly.

"Never had de need," Remy said cheerfully, keeping his eyes on the road, although he could feel Cable's gaze burning into him. "But in de metaphorical sense, you're doin' a pretty good job o' dat to yourself."

"What would you rather I do?" Cable asked sullenly. "Sit on the roof?"

"You could try dat," Remy said, slowing down to take the next turn-off. "Doesn't work too well, most times, but you could try. Watch out for de loose shingle, though--"

"Stop the car," Cable said faintly.

Remy pulled over, and winced as Cable scrambled out, nearly as soon as they stopped. "Nathan? You okay?" He grimaced at the retching noise that was the only answer to his question, and undid his seatbelt, getting out.

By the time he'd walked around to the other side of the Jeep, Cable was already straightening, wiping his mouth. "Psychosomatic hangover," he said with another of those hollow laughs. "Wonderful."

Gambit leaned back against the Jeep, studying the other man closely. "Hope you're not expecting sympathy from me," he said mildly.

"Sympathy?" Cable looked around at him, his eye glowing fiercely. "You think I want sympathy?" He took a step towards Remy, hands balled into fists at his sides.

Remy stood his ground, watching him impassively. "I don' think you know what you want," he said quietly, and Cable hesitated. "I t'ink dat's part of de problem."

"Oh, you think, do you?" Cable almost hissed. He was trembling slightly, as if he were holding in some sort of explosion, and Remy straightened into a defensive posture, just in case. "I do not give a flying flonq about what you think, LeBeau!"

"Or what anyone else t'inks?" Remy asked, smiling faintly. "Dat's painfully obvious, mon ami." He raised an eyebrow as Cable backed off, swaying slightly, and walked a few steps to the left, staring blankly out at the field they'd stopped beside.

"You don't get it, do you?" he asked, his voice little more than a dull rasp. "It doesn't matter."

"Why?" Remy said challengingly, following him but keeping a bit of a distance. "Let me guess--'not'ing matters'," he continued mockingly. "'My life is shot t'hell, I'm a failure, I might as well curl up in de corner and die'. Is dat it? Because if it is, homme, don' let me stop you! But don' expect de rest of us to carry your dead weight around!"

"Easy enough for you to say that. You don't understand." Cable's voice was still rough, lifeless, but he spoke as if he was delivering gospel truth or something, and for some reason, it pushed Remy over the edge from seething rage into fury.

"Fais-toi!" he spat. Cable's head snapped around, and Remy let every bit of the contempt he was feeling fill the air between them. "You t'ink you're so hard done by, Cable? Dere are people around who've had it every bit as hard as you, and I don' see dem whining about it!"

"Was I whining?" The casual coldness was back in Cable's voice again, and his expression was unreadable. "Well. Suppose you should think for a minute the next time you want me to open up, Cajun." He took one step towards Remy and then stopped, his eye blazing gold, brighter than the headlights of the Jeep, bright as the sun that wouldn't rise for hours. "You ever noticed that? Someone tells you to open up, that they want to know what you're feeling, all your secrets, and then they despise you for it?"

Remy clenched his jaw, his next exhalation escaping with a hiss. "Stop tryin' t'turn this into something about me." The words wrenched themselves out from behind gritted teeth.

Cable smiled mockingly. "But you give me so many openings, Remy. How's a drunken old soldier supposed to resist?"

"You're not as drunk as I t'ought you were," Remy said, trying for the same cold tone and reaching a close approximation. "I almost wish dat you were." And he did, with a sort of heartsick rage he didn't entirely understand.

Cable's expression went flat and impenetrable again. "What do you want?" The question came out icy, razor-edged in half a dozen different directions. "From me, I mean. I do the job--"

"Does it have t'be only about de job?" Remy's hands clenched into fists at his sides, so tightly he could feel the muscles cramping.

Cable's mouth curled in something that wasn't a smile. "What else is there?"

"De team," Remy said as steadily as he could. "It's not de 'job', Cable. De mission isn't de same t'ing as de team. One's not as important as de other."

Cable stared at him for a moment, and then started to laugh wildly. He laughed so hard he wound up on his knees on the hard-packed gravel of the shoulder of the road, nearly doubled over by laughs that sounded much more like sobs, at this point.

"Oh, that's--cute," he gasped out finally. "I've got to remember that. Write it somewhere where I can go back and read it when I need inspiration--"

Remy shook his head slowly. "You t'ink that ANY of us can trust you when you're like dis?" he asked in a strained voice.

Cable just kept laughing. "Inspirational--calendar fodder, definitely," he managed, gasping for air. "Hallmark should pay you royalties, LeBeau, they really should--"

He was at a loss, Remy admitted to himself. He had absolutely no idea what to say, what to do here. Asking him if he was 'done' would probably do no good at all; Cable didn't seem to be in the right mood for a little well-placed contempt to make any difference. Charging something and throwing it at him, however tempting it might be, was out, for other - if no less compelling - reasons.

*I wish t'hell I knew what Scott would do in dis situation,* he thought with an inward sigh. Then again, if Scott had been here, chances were that--

Cable was suddenly on his feet, turning as he rose, so quickly that Remy had only started to dodge by the time the sizeable metal fist caught him on the jaw. If he hadn't been moving all ready, it probably would have knocked him out at the least, maybe broken his jaw. As it was, the glancing blow sent him reeling, and he barely managed to keep his balance, one hand darting into his pocket and coming out with a card.

"Back off, mon ami," he said warningly, charging up the card.

Cable wasn't making any more aggressive moves, but his eye was blazing again, and the naked fury on his face, twisting his features into a mask of rage, took Remy aback. "I heard you," Cable snarled, that odd accent of his that was stronger sometimes than others thick enough to cut with a knife. "I heard you, thinking about him--"

"Nathan--" Remy stared, rubbing at his jaw with his free hand.

"No!" Cable almost shouted. "You're not him, LeBeau! You can never be him! If he knew you were leading the X-Men, he'd be rolling in his flonqing grave!" A tremor crossed his face, the anger shattered in his wake, and one more, strangled laugh escaped him. "If he had a grave," Cable choked out, turning away, shaking so hard that his knees looked like they were trying to give out on him. "Which he doesn't. I wonder if it's hard to rest in peace when a monster's running around wearing your body. What's your opinion on that, Gambit?"

Remy let the charge drain away and lowered his hand to his side. "Cable," he said, slowly, uncertainly, as Cable turned his back to him, folding his arms across his chest as if he were hugging himself, trying not to double over. "I--I didn' mean any offense."

Those broad shoulders shook violently. "Shut up," Cable whispered feverishly. "You want to know the truth, Gambit? I wish I were more drunk than I am. But it takes a whole flonqing lot of alcohol to--let me forget. Too much. I won't do that to Jean."

"So you do dis instead?" Remy asked carefully.

"You think she doesn't know?" Cable's eyes were wild as he turned back to him. "You really think she doesn't know?"

Remy swallowed. "I can't see her approving."

"Of course she doesn't approve!" Cable said restlessly. He took a deep, shaky breath, and then another, and another, as if he were trying to calm himself down. "I suppose I haven't done anything she can't--let slide, yet. Maybe that's why part of me wanted to go out, tonight," he said, his voice flat again. Eerie. "To find a line to cross. I almost did, with Rachel." He gave a tiny cracked laugh. "Rachel. I couldn't believe it when she told me her name."

"Odd coincidence, no?" Remy said, very softly. "Lovely woman, dat one. Dark-haired, pale--reminded me o' someone else you know."

Cable stared at him for a moment and then staggered off a few steps, falling to his knees and throwing up what little was left in his stomach. Remy didn't move. His throat was tight, for some reason, his eyes burning suspiciously as he watched Cable fight for control.

"It doesn't have t'be dis way," he said finally, still in that same quiet voice as Cable dragged himself back to his feet, trembling from head to toe. "You came pretty close t'night, I t'ink, but you haven't crossed de line yet. You haven't done anyt'ing you can't put behind you."

Cable shook his head jerkily. "I crossed that line months ago," he said in a rusty voice. "You don't know what I think about, LeBeau. What I dream about." He ran a shaking hand through his hair, as if he wanted to tear it out by the roots, and his eyes darted back and forth for a minute before they settled on the ground. "Do you know how many times in my dreams that I've turned around, that day at Akkaba, and stabbed Jean through the heart with my psimitar before she could stop me from killing Apocalypse?"

Remy swallowed. "Non," he said weakly.

"She does. I don't know how she can look at me."

"But she does," Remy pointed out awkwardly. "Dat means she understands--"

"And Logan--I can barely stand to be in the same room with Logan. All I see is Death. I remember seeing him standing there with his sword at Caliban's throat, Apocalypse telling me to surrender--" Cable covered his face with his hands as if he could block out the image. His hands flexed slightly, as if he wanted to claw out his eyes. "I did," he continued, his voice muffled. "I did, and I shouldn't have, but I did anyway. You know why?" He lowered his hands slowly, staring at Remy as if he could see right down to the depths of his soul. "I knew I'd lost," he whispered. "I knew I'd lost--I KNEW it--and I couldn't watch Logan kill Cal."

There just wasn't anything to say to that. Remy opened his mouth to try, but Cable continued before he could say a word. "I gave up." The words were savage, anguished, like they'd been ripped right from his heart. "I should have kept fighting, but I was weak, and I gave up. I picked the coward's way out. Me, the motherflonqing Chosen One--the first one to fall."

Remy didn't break eye contact. "You saved a life, picking de 'coward's way out'," he said, very steadily. "If you'd kept fighting, both of you would've died, maybe."

Cable looked over Remy's shoulder, down the long, dark highway, breathing like he'd just run a marathon. "And if I'd died," he said, sounding as if he was forcing each word out past some sort of block, "if I'd died, there, none of the rest of it would have happened. It couldn't have happened. There'd have been no point to gathering the other eleven--" He blinked rapidly. "I should have made him kill me," he whispered raggedly. "I never thought of that. All this time, going over it in my head, and I never thought of that--"

"So what, den?" Remy asked, just as calmly, trying to ignore the cold, cold knot in his chest. "You'd have traded in yours and Cal's lives f'r Scott's?"

Cable's features twisted in pain. "Mine," he whispered painfully. "I would have--my life--I was supposed to be the one who died."

"An' Caliban?" Remy goaded. "I know damned well you don't t'ink yours is worth much of anyt'ing, but what about Caliban?"


"You don' want t'play judge when it comes down to dat?" Remy moved towards him, backing Cable up against the Jeep. "Dat makes it a little more complicated, doesn' it? Not as easy t'play de martyr with someone else's life in de balance, is it?" He met Cable's eyes unflinchingly, weighing what he saw there--and then took a step back, glancing around for a moment before he looked back at Cable. "Get in de car," he said softly. "No point in standing here arguing at de side of de road."

Cable stared at him for a long, silent moment. "I'm tired of mirrors," he muttered, turning slowly and opening the passenger door. "Every time I meet someone's eyes--just mirrors."

Remy walked back around the corner and slid behind the wheel, waiting until Cable put his seatbelt on before starting the car again. They drove the rest of the way back to the mansion in silence that got deeper and bleaker with each minute that passed.

It was almost a relief, to get back. Remy pulled the keys out of the ignition and sat there for a moment, wondering why. It didn't solve the problem, didn't change anything, but he couldn't shake a nagging sense of relief. *'Cause you can pass it off t'someone else now?* his conscience asked him nastily.

No. He might not be able to solve this on his own, but that didn't mean he was passing off the responsibility. Scott hadn't. Remy's eyes flickered almost defiantly to Cable, waiting for a reaction and getting none.

"I don' want t'catch you playin' 'let's be my evil twin for de night' again."

Cable straightened in his seat, undoing the seatbelt. "You won't," he said coldly, and got out, hesitating for a minute and giving Remy another twisted smile. "Catch me, I mean," he tossed back over his shoulder as he turned towards the house.

Remy grimaced and followed, but was several steps behind him already as they headed for the front door. Logan was sitting there on the steps, smoking a cigar and watching them approach speculatively.

Cable paused for a moment, looking down at him. Something passed between them - Remy could almost see it - but Cable stalked up the steps a moment later, as if he hadn't noticed Logan there at all.

"You have to fish him out of somewhere again?" Logan asked in a voice that sounded more gravelly than usual as Remy came over, more slowly.

Remy sighed and sat down on the other side of the steps, shaking his head. "What gave you dat impression, mon ami?" he asked a little sarcastically. "De smart-assed comment he made over dere at de car - which I know you heard - or de 'fuck-you' look he was undoubtedly wearin' when he walked by?"

"Both, maybe. Well, that and just the fact that you two showed up together. Can't see you and Nate being out on the town for the night or anything like that." Logan grimaced faintly and smoked in silence for a few moments. "Look, Cajun," he started finally, clearly reluctant. "Maybe you should--"

"Merde, here it comes--"

"Will you shut up for a second?" Logan asked irritably, glaring at him. "Don't get me wrong, it's good you're taking the whole team leader thing seriously--"

His hand twitched involuntarily towards his cards, but he stepped on the instinct and plastered an insincere smile on his face. "Oh, well, t'ank you for your approval--or was dat condescension? Not so good at distinguishin' de two when dey're coming from you, homme."

Logan ignored the comment entiRemy. "If you want my advice, which I'm going to give you anyway," he continued brusquely, "quit pushing him. He'll either sort things out on his own or he won't."

Remy raised an eyebrow. "You didn' see what he was 'up to' down in town t'night," he said bluntly. "Dat's not de sort of t'ing any of us should be letting slide."

"So he's acting like a jackass," Logan growled. "Nothing new about that." His gaze went oddly distant for a moment. "He's got Red and Scott's worst traits, too," he muttered, his eyes sharpening again as he looked back at Remy. "Just give him some time, let him hash things out in his own head."

"It's been six months, Logan," Remy pointed out. Part of him agreed heartily with Logan, he couldn't ignore that--but this wasn't just Cable's problem, like he'd thrown in Cable's face earlier. This was the team's problem. He couldn't just let it go. "You t'ink I want t'be on his case like dis?" He laughed briefly. "Dat's just too ironic for words, y'know." Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a pack of cigarettes, turning it over and over in his hands but not taking one out. "Scott'd be laughin' his head off if he could see me now."

"Laughing his head off," Logan murmured softly. "Or something like that." He stared off into the distance for a moment longer, then rose to his feet with a sigh. "I'm going for a walk," he announced. "Catch you later, Gambit."

"Sure, mon ami," Remy said, watching him go. Most conversations tended to end awkwardly around here lately, he reflected. It was almost getting to be routine. Awkward conversations, and the silences were worse. He didn't think he was idealizing the old days, but he did remember a time when you'd been able to look around at the breakfast table and see smiles, rather than shadows lurking everywhere.

So many ghosts, these days. He shoved the cigarette pack back in his pocket and got up with a heavy sigh. Something told him he'd done all the talking he was meant to do with Cable tonight. *S'pose I don' need t'wait up for Jean--I'll talk t'her in de mornin'.*

He could call it a night, he supposed. Go to bed, dream of all the things that needed doing. It never left you, he'd found out quickly--the knowledge of your responsibility, that was. *Non, it jus' hangs 'round your neck, trying t'see if it c'n bring you down or not--*

"Every time I meet someone's eyes," Remy repeated Cable's words to himself slowly. "Jus' mirrors." He understood that, unbelievably enough. He'd been facing his share of mirrors lately, too, in the eyes of the people he was leading.

But he was going to be able to meet his own reflection, to be proud of what he saw in the mirror, or he was going to die trying.