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The Cabin

by P L Nunn


The Cabin


The towering northern pine flashed by like soldiers on parade, all straight boled and unbending even under what might have been a perpetual burden of snow.

Remy Lebeau had no idea. No slightest notion whether it ever thawed here. He hadn't bothered to ask such a mundane thing on the drive up. It looked like it snowed year round, but there had to be a break in the winter sometime. Didn't there?

The snow underfoot was almost knee deep where it was loose enough to break through the layer of crusted ice that lay on top. Most of the time, he skidded on the surface of that hard, slippery layer, not heavy enough to break through to the softer stuff underneath. It was hell for running, it made grace an impossible achievement and grace might have gained him something in this desperate flight. Might have made it a little less of a hunt and given him a little more of an edge. He stumbled on a skeletal black limb protruding from the snow and went down, rolling to keep from taking the impact on his hands, breaking through the hard crust of snow and finding himself chest deep in the softer stuff underneath. The sweater soaked it up, chilling his skin to the bone. The silver cross on its chain beneath became a frozen brand against his flesh. He pushed himself up and swore, cast a wary look behind him into the stark shadows of tree boles and snow drifts - - and saw nothing. Heard nothing.

He took a shaky breath and pulled the damp sweater away from his chest. Shivered and rubbed chapped, numb hands. Cold enough to turn a body into one miserable shivering mass - - he'd been colder, though. There were places more desolate than this.

There was a logging road somewhere abouts. He remembered that -- had been trying to head towards that and the possible lure of civilization - - but somewhere along the way, he must have gotten turned about. Or been herded away from that inviting direction.

Something made his heart thump faster in his chest. Nothing heard or seen or scented - - more like intuition that made him spin and let him catch the flash of movement that came at him out of the trees like death on two legs. Death carrying a grudge and eager to carry it out with a feral savagery that fit all to perfectly with this rugged terrain.

He leapt backwards, and the leverage he might have gained to somersault away was lost as the ice crust gave way beneath his Timberlands. It ended up an inept tumble and claws raked his side, shredding the thick weave of the sweater and slicing into the skin beneath. He hissed and even as his back hit the ground his fingers were clawing for the bits of crumbled snow and ice around him -- it was more reflex than concentration that tapped into the reserve of kinetic energy that dwelled within him. One heartbeat - - two and he flung two fistfuls of charged ice into the face of the monster descending upon him. Explosion that rocked him back into the furrow he'd made in the snow. A shrill roar of pain/outrage/shock from the hunter. The feel of it like the whispery caress of something static and coarse across his skin. The coppery smell of blood in the cold air.

"You fuck. You fucking little shit - - fucking little cunt - -" Fouler things said as the man beast staggered away, clutching his face, blood dripping out from between thick, long nailed fingers, blood soaking the coarse, wavy golden hair, streaking down the left side of a massive chest where coat and shirt had been blown away, along with a good deal of flesh.

"I'll fucking kill you, Lebeau - -"

As if that intent hadn't been crystal clear to begin with. As if Remy hadn't figured that out the moment Sabortooth had started this nasty little game.

"You ain't man enough, knee-biting bastard." He hissed that, some small bit of faith restored in his own abilities.

Creed roared, ripped his hands away from his face and snatched a leg sized limb sticking up from the snow and swung it at Remy. Remy darted out of the way, dancing backwards. One stride. Another. And the ground gave way under his feet. Just disappeared and it was all he could do those first few seconds to windmill his arms and try and twist to see what bottomless cliff he'd blundered over.

No cliff at all, but a steep, tree dotted slope that he hit the face of shoulder first and toppled pell nell down the rest of the way. No control. Not even the vaguest whiff of grace and dexterity. What the snow didn't rob from him, the trees did. The first one he glanced off of stole his breath. The second one practically brained him. The third one he didn't quite feel, still reeling from the second, but he thought he'd heard the sickening pop of ball sliding out of socket and the pain that flared in his shoulder when he finally did come to a sprawling rest at the bottom only strengthened the suspicion of a dislocated shoulder.

Who'd have thought to put a practically vertical slope just there, where there had been very little of hills before that? Godforsaken place to have one, with the snow and the pines hiding it from casual observance.

He was a city boy at heart. He'd never argued the fact. Never had much use for the wilderness and all the natural glories it offered. Jungle, forest or desert - - hot, cold or luke warm - - he'd still opt for the concrete wilds each and every time. How he'd been talked into this was still a mystery - -

"Dis ain't 'xactly what I was thinkin', when I said I wanted to get away." Remy stared morosely out the grime streaked window at the tops of swiftly passing trees just seen over the piles of snow plowed off to create cliffs along the side of the road. He hadn't said anything, actually, about wanting to go anywhere -- just been tossing it around in his head, miserable and restless stuck where he was -- feeling that all too predictable itch that crept up on him sometimes - - that was more pronounced now that the delectable allure of Rogue seemed - - just beyond his reach.

It was exhaustive -- wanting her, fighting with her - - making up and then starting it all over again. She'd call it quits. He would. Then the draw of one or the other of them would create those niggling little second thoughts. Those uncontrollable little wants and needs. She'd slept with other men -- through one miracle or another. So he'd done her one better and slept with every warm body he could coerce into bed. Not a hard task for him, what with the face god had gifted him and the charm that had most decidedly been a boon from the devil. He had folks falling over themselves to get into his bed. There'd been a while there that it had almost been an addiction. Not so much the sex, though that was generally good -- it was more the fix of being wanted. Of seeing and feeling and sensing that somebody else, some other human soul was for at least the moment fixated solely and completely on him. If he couldn't get the emotional love, he could most certainly get the physical.

He could have just as well taken a gun to his head, what with all the chances he took. More dangerous to sleep with the scum of the earth than to fight them. Maybe that was even part of the draw. The danger of it. The thrill of letting himself be swept away with it. He slept with the women because he loved the feel of a woman's body, of her scent, of the sound of her soft moans. He slept with men when he wanted the control and the responsibility taken out of his hands. When he wanted a little pain along with his pleasure.

Last time he'd seen her - - it had been hard. As hard pretending that he didn't want to go and start something he'd regret -- that the both of them would regret - - as it had been seeing her smiling at somebody else. Tilting her head in towards somebody else to exchange some intimate secret.

Life sucked. And escaping to some crowded city -- to the depths of its seamy underworld where he was only one in a thousand -- in tens of thousands suffering souls -- that was what he'd been quietly contemplating. Go and sleep with a dozen nameless bodies and drive away the memory of the one that meant something. Didn't matter who when he was in such a mood. Didn't matter how wicked - - they would feed something in him - - and he'd get his fix and maybe keep his sanity for a while until the next time the darkness called.

Only this time, Logan scented out the closing shadows and sauntered up to him one afternoon, with a duffel over his broad shoulder and a half smoked cigar nestled between his lips.

"Pack your stuff, Gumbo, we're goin' up north."

Remy blinked. "Actually, I was thinkin' downstate. What you headin' north for?"

"Old friend wrote - - Haven't seen her in a couple o' years. Its a long ride and I figured you'd be as good a company as any."

"What? I look like I'm in a cheery mood, or something?" Remy snorted and turned his attention back to his bike.

"No, you look like you're about to bolt and it ain't ever gonna do you any good."

"How you know what good it do Remy? How you know anythin' 'bout what I do?"

"Last time you took off, you came back smelling of ten dollar whores and a mountain of cheap booze. You're gonna catch something nasty one of these days."

Remy grinned and wiped the rag over the crome of a fender one last time. "Remy got the luck o' the angels. Been around de block so many times it make your head spin, ol' man an ain't never picked up no creepy crawlies."

"There's a first time for everything, kid."

"What's up north that I'd want to see, Logan?"

"Peace." Logan said simply. "And no people. A little solitude can go a long way."

"Yeah, but I like people. People de spice o' life, my friend."

Logan's face never twitched. Not a muscle or a line changed in that unshaven, craggy demeanor, but the eyes bore into Remy with all the knowledge of the ages. The eyes said that Logan wasn't buying that line -- that Logan knew more than Logan would ever waste the breath saying. Old eyes. Not always wise as the saying went -- but mon duei - - you knew when he was staring you down, that Wolverine had been around a lot longer than he ever let on.

Stupid to let himself be swayed into it. But Logan in his own abrupt way, was persuasive. Logan didn't offer such things often or lightly. Surprising that he did now. Shocking, really that he thought enough about Remy Lebeau at all to notice the black mood. More so that he offered to do something about it. To ignore that offer of camaraderie - - gruff as it was - - was beyond Remy's capacity.

It hurt so bad, he had to grit his teeth to stop the cry that surged up his throat. When he stood up, the world swam and he haunched, one hand clawing at the throbbing shoulder, trying to regain equilibrium and sanity. He heard Creed this time, crashing down the slope in his wake. Creed wasn't making any efforts at silence. Creed had given up playing and was simply out for the kill.

Remy darted through the trees, holding the one dead arm close to his body, using the other to fend off whipping branches - - to catch at the occasional tree trunk when balance was threatened by either treacherous footing or the infuriating betrayal of his own body. His head hurt. There was wetness running down his temple next to his eye. A little bit of warmth in the midst of all this cold. He figured he'd cut his scalp when he'd hit that one tree head first. Figured it wasn't that bad since he was up and moving and not leaking his brains all over the pristine white of the forest floor.

This time when Creed caught him, he didn't have the time to turn and meet the attack full on. This time claws raked down his back, ripping though the sweater and scoring the flesh beneath. Remy gasped and went down with Creed's weight on his legs and Creed's clawed hands scratching furrows down his ribs.

"Son of a bitch - - " he hissed, reaching for ice and snow to charge with his good hand. He half turned to fling it and Creed's fist hit his wrist; a smashing, roundhouse blow that sent the half charged ice scattering. It discharged itself against the base of a nearby pine and pineneedles and snow rained down from the explosion. Even as they were pelted with debris Creed's big hand caught Remy's hand and with a savage wrench and a sickening sound, snapped the fragile bones of his wrist.

"Throw somethin' at me now, you little fuck." Creed leaned close, a blood streaked warmth over Remy's back, still holding his throbbing wrist captive. "Fuck you - - bastard."

"When I rip you open and pull out your guts, Lebeau - - man, its gonna make my day -- hell, it'll make my year."

The claws of one hand trailed down Remy's side where the shredded sweater bared his skin. Creed's knee pressed into the small of his back, driving him deeper into the churned snow. He bucked, trying to twist out of the grip, but the pain in his trapped wrist was considerable and his other arm was numb from the dislocation. All he did was piss Creed off. The big man growled and slammed his free hand down onto the back of Remy's neck, pressing his face deep into the snow, smothering him with the flesh numbing coldness, suffocating him with snow smashed into his nose and mouth.

"Gonna yank out your intestines and eat 'em like they're link sausages - - god, you smell so good - - spicy - - hot - - "

It was then that something in his attacker's demeanor shifted. Maybe not physically, the weight didn't change, the pressure on his back and his wrist remained the same - - but that unpredictable empathic sense of his pricked at the change and murdering rage, turned into something else altogether. Oh, the rage and the violence was still there, but now there was a tinge of something more frightening mixed in.


"You call dis a town?" Remy lifted one elegant brow at the single road that cut through Fargone township. The scruffy collection of buildings that flanked the dirty, mud spattered central thoroughfare, the single road sign that read "Main Street." The half dozen jeeps and pick-up trucks that sat parked alongside the one very large, very high stacked lumber truck outside the town tavern.

"Dis is not a town. Dis ain't a spit in a bucket."

"Watch yer tongue, Gumbo." Logan took a last drag off the nub of his cigar and stumped the end of it out in the ashtray. "I spent a lot of years comin' and going from this spit in the bucket. Got good friends hereabouts."

"Where dey live, in de woods?" Remy peered through the grimy windshield looking for houses and saw none. There was nothing but trees and wilderness surrounding the little town that had popped up like unexpected roadkill off the desolation of the main road.

"Yeah. A good deal of 'em." Logan agreed. "A lot of 'em work in the lumber camps up in the hills. Some of 'em just don't take much to civilization and like it out in the wilds with nobody tellin' what to do."

"Ah, your sort o' folk, den." Remy surmised and Logan gave him a feral grin.

"My sort o' folk."

Logan pulled up in front of what might have been a general store of sorts. A supply outpost at the very least. There was a huge set of antlers over the outer door and various pelts tacked onto the wall. Rustic, was the word that came to mind. A day and a half of driving and Remy was more than grateful to get out of the jeep and stretch his muscles, even if it was in a backwater Canadian hole in the wall. His back popped and his bones creaked. He stretching his arms over his head and arched his back, wincing at sore muscles. He ran two gloved hands through his hair, looking down the street and wondering if there was anything worth seeing in the local bar.

"Don't even think it." Logan grunted at him, stomping up the steps to the supply store. "We ain't here for no party."

"You ain't here for no party, monsieur servel." Remy clarified.

"Women up here'd eat you alive." Logan advised. "They like a little meat on their men."

Remy lifted his brow. The side of his mouth quirked up in amusement.

"Oh, I like de sound of that. Kinky, huh?"

"Shaddup and come help me with the supplies."

"Why we need supplies?" Remy obediently followed his shorter, heavier companion up the plank steps and into the store.

"Cause I ain't been up to the cabin in close to five -- six years and you ain't the sort, it strikes me, that'd be much good livin' off the land. Specially not with winter coming on."

The old man behind the counter perked up when he saw them, he narrowed his old eyes and stared at Logan a long moment before his face creased into a delighted grin.

"Why if it ain't Logan come up to see us after all this time."

"Hey, Jaques, you randy ol' bastard. Good to see you still kickin'."

The old man laughed and hobbled out to clasp Logan's hand. "You up to do some hunting?"

"Maybe. Mostly come to see Doreen Mucullah."

"Ah, Ranger Dorey. She's got the highland post. That's a right long hike up the mountain."

"Yep." Logan agreed.

The old man gave Remy, with his dark shades and long hair, a dubious once over. "You taking this one up the mountain with you?"

"Nah, gonna let him stay at the cabin while I'm gone. We'll need supplies."

Logan picked out the supplies, Remy helped him cart them back to the jeep. A grizzled man with all the earmarks of a tried and true professional truck-driver greeted Logan on the street.

"Everybody round here know you, homme."

Logan shrugged. "Did some work up here a while back. Ain't so many folks go through these parts that the local's forget faces."

"Yeah, I don't imagine so. So where's dis cabin you're plannin' on stranding me at?"

Logan lifted an arm and pointed northward, where the main road slowly climbed towards higher land. There were mountains in the not to far distance. Snow covered slopes crowded with pine and fur.

Twenty miles off the main road Logan veered off onto a rugged little service road that delved into the heart of the woodland. Might as well have been the heart of nowhere. Almost two hours ride, up a road no wider than the jeep and sometimes not even that, at the snail's pace the snow forced them to take. They had to stop twice and move downed trees or large limbs from the track and once to dig out the jeep when even 4-wheel drive would not budge it from the drift it had been trapped in.

It was cold, but it wasn't bitingly so. A warm spell, Logan said, had caused a good deal of thaw, but the low temperatures of night froze everything solid again by morning, causing a thick layer of ice to crust the trees and the top layer of snow.

The cabin, when they finally reached it, was like something off a Christmas card. A rustic, log number, with snow blanketing the room, and piled in drifts against the sides and the door. There were several unidentifiable lumps to the side. Maybe a shed, maybe a supply of fire wood. One could only prey one wasn't an outhouse.

"Tell dis place got indoor plumbing?" Remy cast Logan a pleading look. A grin twitched at the corner of the older man's mouth. "Its indoors. Can't say there's plumbing."

"Oh, lovely. Jus' lovely. Dis is soundin' more and more like a bad idea."

"Live with it, kid." Was Logan's advice, as he cut the engine and stomped out into the unblemished snow to crack the ice crusted shell of the cabin.

He'd had a spot of business in the north country. A few old business associates that had dealt him a sour hand and needed reprimand. The feel of their steaming intestines in his hands had been recompense enough. It had been in a sleazy roadside bar that he'd overheard a lumber truck driver mention a familiar name. Course, it could have been any number of Logan's this guy was mentioning, but the hair that stood up on the back of his thick arms told another story. Victor Creed always had relied heavily on that sixth animal sense. It had served him well enough in the past. So he'd ambled over and pried the details he wanted out of the man. A description that was beyond doubt. A place. The blood on his hands already this week would be as nothing compared to the feel of Logan's life slipping through his fingers.

So with a cheerful demeanor he'd headed south, towards Fargone. Reached that armpit of a town half a day later and found an ample source of information in a gimp legged old shopkeeper.

Another friend of Logan's, huh? Yeah, he's got a cabin up in foothills. Directions? Yeah, I can give you directions. He'll be real surprised to see you, huh.

Be like old times.

Only Logan wasn't there. Wasn't a sign of him. Not even the whiff of a scent. Oh, there was smoke from the chimney of the cabin and the smell of something cooking from inside. But no Logan. Old man at Fargone had said he'd brought a buddy up. It was just a matter of seeing who. Logan had some friends that Creed would just as well not tangle with - - unless he had to.

He skirted the edges of the cabin, surreptitiously scouting for some sign of Logan. Found finally, what looked like day - - maybe two day old tracks leading north towards the high country. He contemplated following, but the curiosity of who Logan had brought up here with him and left, prompted him to linger. Logan would be back eventually.

It was afternoon before the cabin door opened and a figure emerged. Tall and lean and about as out of place up here as anyone Creed could imagine. He almost laughed at the incongruity. Almost laughed at his good fortune. Logan might be the main course, but - - oh, Lebeau would make a fine, fine dessert. Lebeau had miles and miles of payback coming to him.

At heart, Creed was a predator. And for the most part, he had the patience of one. He could lie in wait for hours if need be, for a satisfying kill. Lebeau might be a greenhorn up here in the cold Canadian wilderness, but he was still dangerous. He still had the instincts of a thief. So Creed waited until the first sign of dark to take out the jeep. He slashed all four tires with the razor sharp claws that passed as his fingernails. He waited even longer, out in the shadows of the trees, with the moon obscured by thickening clouds, for the light to go out under the crack of the single shuttered window. Another hour, sitting crouched in the snow, hardly feeling the cold through the layer of jacket and flannel shirt, so weathered to harsh conditions was he. Long past midnight and into the prehours of dawn, he crept towards the cabin. There was no lock on the door. Why bother, way up here. It creaked a little when he pulled it open, and it was like a blaring jambalee to his hypersensitive ears. For a moment he froze, listening for the sound of disturbed sleep. He heard none. Heard instead the even timber of soft breathing. Smelled the familiar scent of Lebeau. Full of spices and tobacco and the underlying flavor of the whisky that he'd probably had a shot or two of that evening. He smelled good. Had always had a scent that made Creed's fingers curl, like he either wanted to rip into Lebeau's guts and bath in his blood, to consume his flesh - - - or maybe just fuck him. Weren't many guys that made that thought cross Victor Creed's mind. He didn't have a problem with cornholing a man, it was a damn good way to get a point across, to break a man's sense of dignity and spirit -- he just didn't get off on it as much as he did with women. He liked his fucks to be pretty. He liked a nice set of luscious lips wrapped around his cock. Men, for the most part didn't have mouths like women. For the most part men weren't pretty. Well, not grown men. Lebeau was pretty. Lebeau had a face that made you look twice. Lebeau had a wide, sensuous mouth, he had thick, shining hair worn just past his shoulders at the moment, he had a way of moving that made even malicious eyes take note and appreciate. A pretty, pretty kid wrapped up in an attitude that just wouldn't quit. Always thinking he was just a little bit quicker and a little bit smoother than the rest of the world. Creed had reason enough to hate him. Had reason enough for the attitude to always overpower the rest of the package. Might be a pretty boy with a scent that made his fingers curl and his cock twitch a little in his pants, but he still wanted to rip his guts out and bathe in his blood.

His eyes were already well adjusted to the dark. Easy to make out the interior of the cabin. Kitchenette on the one wall, a hearth against another with a fire that had burned down to embers. A few pieces of hand built furniture on the other side, maybe things that Logan had hammered together himself. A bunk, low to the ground with a few chests stuffed under it. Another big chest at its foot. A figure on the bunk lying on his side, the shallow dip between hip and waist, the jut of shoulder, creating gentle curves under the blanket.

Creed licked his lips, baring his sharp teeth and leaned closer.

"Hey, baby -- daddy's come home."

And rather suddenly the blankets flared up, both legs jack knifed out and caught Creed squarely in the gut, staggering him backwards and a very awake, very pissed off Arcadian thief glared out of the darkness at him, twin cards sandwiched between long fingers.

"Hey baby, dis." He hissed and flung the cards. Creed saw the glow of kinetic energy hurled at him and dodged, crashing into Logan's hand made amoire.

"You little, shit, I'll make you eat those cards." Creed figured close quarters better than playing moving target to Lebeau's unerringly good aim with his cards. He hurled himself towards the bunk, reaching out for Lebeau's legs to take him down with him. Lebeau was having none of that. He launched himself up and over, somersaulting over Creed's back to land gracefully on the floor behind him. Predictable. Slippery as an eel, this Cajun cutpurse.

"Creed." Lebeau snarled, but there was the distinct note of confusion in his tone. Off balance mentally from this late night surprise. He'd be reeling from more than that in a moment.

Pain wasn't a thing Creed let hinder his movements. He'd lost limbs and never flinched from an attack. The kid could deal him damage, but he'd take him down during the dealing or afterwards. Creed would heal and quickly, Lebeau wouldn't. He didn't stop when he hit the bunk, just used it as a launching pad and surged backwards, barreling into the slimmer man and sending the both of them crashing across the floor, coming up short against the kitchen side of the cabin.

Lebeau slammed the heel of his palm into his throat, jacked a knee up and caught him in the gut, just shy of his groin and eeled his way out of the hold Creed had upon him. Not undamaged though. Blood running down from behind his ear where the back of his head had connected with the edge of the sink. Staggering a little. Probably seeing a star or two.

"What's a matter, Remy. Hurtin'?"

"Fuck you. What you want, Creed?"

He didn't answer. Just bared his sharp teeth in a humorless grin.

Lebeau let a hiss of air escape through his teeth, angry but not stupid enough to lunge in close to Creed's long arms and sharp nails. He didn't have another card up his sleeve, though there were countless things within his reach that could be snatched and charged and flung.

"You know you ain't good in such close quarters, Remy." Creed purred. "You know I'll rip you to shreds, cooped up in this little space."

"You think?" Lebeau glared, those red eyes of his almost glowing in the scant light.

"Get yer boots on, boy and lets take it outside. Make it a bit more even, huh?" Which was a base lie. Out in the snow and the woods, Creed was at his best. It was his element. Even Logan wasn't as at home in snow covered wilderness as Sabortooth.

It wouldn't be a battle, it would be a hunt.

He'd known. He'd felt it in his gut, that it was a bad move, following Creed's advice and moving the drama to a larger arena, but he'd ignored it in favor of reason. Creed had been right. Close quarters did not always work to his advantage, especially not with a stronger, larger opponent with razor sharp claws at the end of dangerously long arms. Out in the open, where he could use his agility to his advantage, he'd have better odds.

So he'd warily backed to the bunk and pulled on his boots and palmed the deck of cards he went nowhere without, while Creed leaned against the kitchen sink with his thick arms crossed over his thick chest. Damned smug look on his face. But, then Creed always looked that way. Either that or animal mad. Either way, Remy wanted to smear that hateful face into a pulp of bone and flesh and blood.

He hadn't counted on the unforgiving snow. Or the woods where a body couldn't tell one direction from another. Or the pre-dawn cold that made his fingers numb and his eyes water. He knew Sabortooth's sheer savagery. He was prepared to face that. Knew that under the right circumstances, he could out-maneuver it, or out-think it, or glean just enough luck to overcome it. In the wrong circumstances - - well, he was in trouble.

He scored a few hits, gained a few bonus points before the land got the better of him. Before Creed drove him into the maze of close grown pine and ghosted through the snow and the evergreen foliage like a malevolent ghost. More of Creed's blood stained the snow than his did, at the outset, after he'd caught him unawares and sent a charged card straight into his face. Creed had gone down, half buried in the snow and Remy hadn't been inclined to check on his condition. Just to hightail it back to the cabin and the jeep and get the hell out of this wilderness and to someplace with a phone and heat and indoor plumbing. Only the tires were flat to the icy ground he and Logan had cleared around the vehicle. Pretty plain who had done it. Pretty clear that the hit that had taken Creed down hadn't been a permanent one when the big man melted out of the wood while Remy was staring in dismay at the crippled jeep. Caught him distracted and unawares, and did enough damage to make him bleed. Claws along the back, side of the head slammed against the side panel of the jeep when he slipped and went down and it was all he could do to keep from being gutted then and there, in the gully of cleared snow next to the jeep that might have been the path to escape.

He got away from it though. Managed somehow to stagger back into the wood until he got his balance back. Thought afterwards that Creed had let him do it. Thought while he was lost and turned about in the forest that it was all some great game to Sabortooth.

He'd taken enough damage to feel sick from the hurt. When he tumbled down that hill, it was all he could do not to just lay there at the bottom in misery and let Creed wash over him. Ingrained survival instincts too powerful to overcome made him stagger up.

It wasn't until he heard the distinct snap of his wrist snap under Creed's brutal strength and felt himself start to suffocate from face pressed into deep snow that the real, bone-deep panic began to set in. Then Creed's weight shifted on his back and he felt the change in motive. Felt the pressure let up off his neck as the big man moved to get a knee between his legs and ran a sharp nailed hand down the line of his spine.

"Goddamned, boy, you smell so good." A hissed sweet nothing after the bloody promises that had left Creed's mouth a few moment's before.

"Mon Dieu - -" it was barely a whisper, he was so horrified by the implications of Creed's hand in the small of his back, keeping him down and the feel of Creed's very obvious, very large erection pressing through the layers of both their pants against his thigh.

"No!" he cried, voice cracking embarassingly in his panic as Creed's fingers tangled in the waistband of his pants. He scrambled for freedom, inept at it with one fractured wrist and an arm numb from dislocation. Caught at bits of snow and dirt with that hand, regardless of the pain. Creed caught his hand, covered his fist with his larger one and snarled down.

"Go ahead. Charge it and let it blow. Take off both our hands. Betcha mine grows back."

Remy stared up in horror. Creed smiled and slammed his head down, cracking Remy on the forehead with his own hard skull. His head snapped back, hit the insulation of the snow with a muffled thump and a swirling of vision. The pain was distant for a few moments. His limbs numb and weightless. He hardly even felt the cold for a while there - - but not for long. Not for long.

The kid went down under the head butt, all glassy eyed and dazed. Creed didn't even feel the pain of it himself, so overcome with the fever that burned in his pants. The sex-drive overwhelmed everything. Tainted everything with its persistence. The only thing that mattered was the bitch under him who radiated fear/sex, blood/sex, pain/sex, who's pale, cold skin was perfect and smooth once you got past the blood and the scratches. Who's small, compact ass was firm, with two perfectly formed globes of soft flesh once he'd torn the jeans off. Narrow little waist, fucking erotic curve to the valley of his lower back, well-shaped shoulders over a sinewy, lean-muscled back. Hair like rust colored blood falling over white shoulders and neck, long and straight and silky. Goddamned beautiful package, but he'd bet it felt better from the inside.

Creed tore off the remnants of his sweater and coat, reveling in the biting cold against his bare skin. Unzipped his trousers and yanked them down to free the raging hardon that had been trapped uncomfortably within. All throbbing heat and power that made him smile and sigh when he rubbed his hand along the length of it. Made him sigh even more when he laid it across Lebeau's white ass and felt the kid start under him, jerked out of his daze by the sudden heat against the coldness of his skin. Took the kid a moment to realize he was mostly naked, save for what was left of the sweater Creed had shredded. Couldn't do much about it, with Creed's considerable weight on his thighs and two fucked up arms. An inarticulate little whimper escaped him, a sound of fear/pain that almost made Creed come without ever tasting the kid's tender insides.

He couldn't wait any longer. He jammed a hand under Lebeau's stomach and dragged his hips up, ran the other hand down his back and fastened it to the back of his neck when the kid started to squirm. Not a whole hell of a lot of fight left to him, what with the cold and the injures and the way his head must have been reeling if the dilated pupils were any indication.

He shoved himself through those tight cheeks and felt the kid clenching in resistance. Ah, nothing like a hard fought battle. Nothing that a little brute strength wouldn't cure. He grunted and forced his way in, no smooth passage until the blood began to flow. Lebeau screamed, the sound muffled by the snow; tried to crawl forward and away and Creed increased his hold, ground his hips forward with one savage stroke that opened the kid entirely. How he could be so cold on the outside and so blazingly warm within was miraculous. So tight it brought tears to Creed's eyes. The heat lapped at his cock like a living flame. Hot and wonderful and addictive. Made him want to draw it out and have the cold eat at his cock again, then shove it back inside to bask in the warmth. He did. Repeatedly, grunting with pure animalistic glee as the ride became smoother, as Lebeau's own blood paved the passage, as Lebeau's body rocked helplessly under and around his. As the sounds coming from Lebeau's mouth became less and less resistant and more the involuntary noises a body made when it was past its endurance and failing fast.

Creed moved his hand to feel the kid's cold, shriveled little prick. Balls and cock all drawn up close to his body, as if trying to cringe away from the cold. He bent low over the body under him, dragging his tongue over the slowly congealing blood on shoulders and upper back. He almost orgasmed at the coppery taste of it. Dug his nails in and made shallow little furrows that sprouted new blood along the kid's ribs. No resistance. The kid was only on his knees now thanks to Creed's support. Maybe out for the count. Cold as a corpse on the outside, but still welcomingly hot within. He pistoned his hips awhile longer, his pleasure in no wise dependent on a conscious receptacle for his lust. Finally let himself go with a sigh of contentment. Felt the heat drain from his balls, felt it all squishy and warm inside Lebeau's bowels where the tip of Creed's erection was firmly planted. When he'd emptied all of his ejaculate inside, he pulled out, reached around behind him and grabbed the kid's discarded underwear to wipe the various bodily fluids from his cock, then flung them away. Pulled up his pants and knelt there between Lebeau's spread thighs, debating what to do. The blood lust had been sated. Not in the way he'd originally planned - - but he'd found, to his surprise, that this had been more satisfying. He'd like to do it again. And again. But he'd rather the kid be conscious throughout it. Rather have the fear and the pain that he could just taste radiating off Lebeau, present throughout the whole thing. Rather have Lebeau's body writhing under his in response to each brutal invasion.

He made a decision. Rose and dragged the kid's limp, cold body over one shoulder and headed back through the woods in the direction of Logan's cabin. He had planned on leaving Logan a present. Might as well enjoy it until the runt came back down from the highlands.

Remy came out of it by degrees. Like a slow, painful thaw into awareness. Pain was more a concept than a word. He felt it to the core of him before he became coherent enough to realize the individual hurts. Hand, shoulder, head, the fiery burn of scratches both deep and shallow - - the worse ache between his legs, as if his rectum had been torn to shreds.

He was alive. Being dead wouldn't hurt so much. He lay - - not too cold - - on a relatively soft surface - - and thought about opening his eyes. Thought about shifting to get his bearings and cringed at the notion of the pain that would cause. Better to lie still and let it pass. It would, eventually. Well, maybe not the broken bones, they'd need to be set -- but the other that pain that was dull now in comparison to the agony it had caused him while Creed was doing it - - that would go away. Wasn't an entirely unfamiliar feeling -- but it he hadn't endured it in a long time. No. No. Veer his thoughts away from dredging up those memories, what with this one fresh on his mind. No use to drown in the misery.

He pried open his eyes and stared up a the rustic beams of the ceiling. At the knotty pine walls. At the familiar surroundings he'd fallen asleep to - - was it last night. Sunlight streamed through the shutters now. A fire crackled in the hearth, warming the room. Hair slipped into his face when he turned his head to look and he blew at it in irritation; tried to lift the unbroken hand to brush it back and found that arm immobile. Found the other one in much the same predicament and panic began to churn in his gut. He craned his neck to look down over the quilt that covered most of his body to his left arm. It was strapped from knuckles to just below his elbow to the frame of the bed with what looked to be torn strips of sheet. Even if the fingers hadn't been useless from the fractured wrist, he wouldn't have been able to move them in order to work at the bonds. The other arm was similarly trapped. His ankles were strapped with less care to corners at the end of the bed. Didn't matter much if he couldn't reach them.

In a panic, he twisted his neck to look for Creed. Didn't see him right away, but there was the soft sound of water from the little bathroom.

Un Dieu. Un Dieu. He needed out of here. He needed Logan back down the damned mountain to lend a hand in this most desperate of situations. He needed his hands free -- because to be helpless - - to be helpless brought back to many repressed memories of terror and shame and uselessness. His heart pounded with it. His head throbbed. He tested the bonds and pain shot up his arm.

He murmured a curse. The bathroom door opened and he blinked, eyes snapping that way, focusing on Victor Creed, who strolled out, damp haired and bare chested, a sly smirk on his broad mouth.

"Miss me, Remy?"

He said nothing. He couldn't at the moment get the swirling panic out of his head. Survival instinct said shut the hell up and not piss Creed off. It said lay there and take it and hope that whatever it was that Creed wanted would give him satisfaction and he'd go away. And leave Remy alive. Bruised and bloody, but alive.

He turned his head to the wall, shading his eyes with lowered lashes. Creed's hand darted out and caught a fistful of his hair, twisted it in his big fingers and forced Remy's face back. "Don't look away from me boy. I asked you a question."

"Yeah," Remy spat, ignoring the voice of good sense inside his own head. "I missed de sight of your stinkin' corpse."

Creed laughed. "Ah, and here I thought we'd grown so close, Remy. Here I thought, you and me'd come to an understanding."

"What understanding is dat?" He hissed, trying unsuccessfully to jerk his hair out of Creed's grasp.

"Why, the understanding of my cock in your tight little fuckhole. You like my big tool, boy? You like havin' a real man rock your world?" He pulled the quilt off, nice and slow and Remy's flesh shivered at the rush of luke warm air. The muscles of his stomach flinched involuntarily as Creed's hand spread out over his skin, stroking, lightly following the trail of hair that started below his navel and led down to his groin.

"It still throb down here." Creed leaned in close, his breath a sour gust of hot air against Remy's cheek, even as his thick fingers slid below Remy's balls and pressed against the swollen, torn flesh around his anus. Circular motions, hard enough to send jolts of pain up his spine. The tip of the finger forced its way in, the nail grazing the soft flesh of the interior wall without Creed even meaning it too. A little blood flowed as Creed worked the digit in to the knuckle, cutting him now and then inside. He tried to go limp. Tried not to close his bound legs. Tried not to twist away in efforts at escape. Just shut his eyes and thought miserably that it would almost be better if Creed just fucked him than cut him up inside with those damned sharp nails of his, which unlike Logan's claws, were not retractable.

Creed pulled the finger out and brought it up to his face, inhaled the scent of blood and shit, then stuck it in his mouth and sucked it clean, which made bile rise in Remy's throat, but didn't much surprise him, considering Sabortooth's more animalistic side.

There was warm blood trickling out from his rectum. Creed's nose wrinkled, scenting it. He licked his lips, then shifted over to the foot of the bunk, lying across Remy's left leg, pressing his hand against the right one, forcing his thigh to the side to give him the room he needed to scrape his tongue across Remy's ass, lapping up all the fresh blood and pressing against the puckered entrance for more. Fingers dug into the soft flesh, spreading it so that Creed could flatten his face against Remy's crotch. So that he could thrust his wet, warm tongue up into the channel that his finger had just finished lacerating.

Remy lay there and shivered, biting his lip to keep from sobbing, curling his toes from the utter humiliation - - the utter shame that came with the fluttering in his stomach and the tightening in his balls that almost found the sensation pleasurable. That almost enjoyed that murderous bastard's tongue up his ass, moving around inside him like a warm, slimy snake. Hateful, hateful betrayal of his body. But didn't it always betray him when he least expected it?

He squeezed his eyes shut, and wetness gathered in his lashes, pooled at the corners of his eyes. Creed pulled back, with sharp, labored breathing and Remy knew well enough what would come next. He didn't even open his eyes, just heard the sound of Creed unzipping, of him reaching around behind him and releasing Remy's ankles and hauling his legs up and over his shoulders, as the heated tip of his erection unerringly found the saliva and blood moistened entrance to his bowels. It squeezed in without the resistance encountered the first time. Didn't mean the hurt was less. Torn flesh stung when it was stretched almost as much as it had the first time around. Of course, he hadn't been quite as aware of it the first time as he was now. Hadn't quite had the sense to realize just how large Creed was and just how stretched his body must have been to accommodate him. Under the best of circumstances this would have hurt like hell. Under the best of circumstances he wouldn't have willingly taken the length of the thing inside him. He felt it literally bruising things inside him that shouldn't have taken such abuse. It felt like somebody was shoving a wine bottle in and out of him, only a wine bottle would have been more forgiving. Creed wasn't. Creed fucked like he fought, without mercy and without rules. He rose when he couldn't get the force he wanted behind his thrusts, placing one foot on the floor and his hands on Remy's ankles, lifting his body almost entirely off the bunk. The pain in the one shoulder, pinned to the bed by the bonds was excruciating. He couldn't help the cry that escaped his lips. Couldn't help the involuntary moans that followed as Creed found the angle he needed to batter Remy's insides. The blood trickled down his back, warm and wet, and when Creed finished with him, he carelessly let him fall back to the bunk, then spewed one last spurt of ejaculate across Remy's belly.

He sobbed, legs throbbing, insides spasming in pain, anus a stretched, gaping wound that leaked Creed's seed and his blood. Creed crouched next to him, casually smearing the cooling cum across Remy's stomach, working it into his pubes, big fingers idly pinching the loose skin of Remy's cock.

"When's Logan coming back?" Creed whispered.

The fingers pinched harder when Remy didn't answer. Nails bit into the sensitive flesh at the head and Remy knew, he just knew that skin was pierced.

"Je ne sais pas - - I don' know." He gasped.

"You don' know?" Creed mimicked his accent, and the nails let up and the stroking began again. "What? He just take off and leave you here? He didn't tell you nothing? I can't believe that. Can't believe you didn't ask, boy. You did ask, didn't you, Remy?" the big hand cupped his balls, rolled them around in his fingers, a little pressure, then soft and gentle again.

"A week." Remy sobbed, before the real pain could be inflicted.

"A week? He's been gone, what - - two days now? That mean I got five more to play with you till he gets back? Ain't that gonna be fun?"

Remy tried to breath without shaking. Tried to focus enough to come up with some sort of lie that might get him out of this. That might convince Creed that it wasn't worth hanging around here. But his brain wasn't functioning at full speed at the moment. He couldn't get past the hurt and the notion of five days full of the same.

"You givin' any of this to Logan?" Creed purred, slipping his hand around to cup Remy's ass.

"Shut up." Remy whispered hoarsely.

"What? That piss you off, boy, me knowin' what you and the runt are up to? You think I'd believe he'd haul you all the way out here and not fuck you? He ain't stupid. He's got eyes and you walkin' around with 'fuck me and fuck me hard' written all over you. Goddamn, Lebeau, I always knew you were a whore for hire, just never thought to take you up on it before. My mistake, huh?"

He refused response. Rising to the bait would get him nowhere. He just stared past Creed's head at the rough pine logs that made up the ceiling. Tried to drown out Creed's malicious voice and escape to that nowhere place in his mind that had been a haven more than once way back when, on the streets before he'd charmed his way into the protection of the Guild -- when he hadn't had the strength to protect himself from the predators that he couldn't outsmart. A few times since then - - Sinister's face came to mind and he hastily shoved that image away - - scant others that were powerful enough and sick enough to prefer things from him other than mere death. He could be submissive if need be, in order to wriggle out of a situation - - but he had the feeling that Creed didn't want his cooperation. Creed wanted to grind him into the dirt and stomp on his remains. Creed got off on the pain and the blood more than he did the sex, so submission wasn't a factor that necessarily worked for or against Remy. It wouldn't make Creed any more humane in his treatment. The only out he could see, injured and weak as he was - - was Logan getting his ass back here and throwing his own unique point of view into the situation.

By the second night Lebeau had a fever raging through his body that made his skin hot to the touch and his insides a burning furnace when Creed chose to fuck him. Could have been any number of the injuries that caused it, Creed hardly cared. If the kid died, he wouldn't' shed any tears, he just hoped he'd last until Logan got back, causing sitting up here without a nice warm body to torment would liken to kill him from the boredom. He didn't much care for corpses. Oh, they were fine those first few minutes when the body was still warm and the flesh still pliable - - but he didn't like his meat cold, for eating or fucking.

He took him outside in the wee hours of the morning, just for kicks and grins. Cut him loose from the bed and hauled the long lithe body up against him, all hot skin and strengthless limbs and a head that tumbled against his shoulder as if the kid had no control over his muscles. Maybe he didn't after two days tied to the bed.

When he hurled him to the ground, he sprawled, naked limbs barely darker than the snow. "You gotta piss, do it outside like the dog you are." Creed grinned and watched the kid try to prop himself up with his right arm. The shoulder was all out of whack and it must have hurt like hell, because pain tears sprang up in Lebeau's eyes that Creed caught a glimpse of before the kid's head dropped down and the hair slid forward to hide his face entirely.

There was no way he was making his feet. He was shaking so hard from the cold he looked like some sort of epileptic. Creed watched for a bit, amused, before he got tired of the game and stalked over to pull the kid up with an arm about his narrow waist.

"You wanna make a run for it?" he asked. "I'll let you go right now, if you want. What do you say?"

Lebeau said nothing. Merely sagged against him, cringing backwards into the warmth Creed's body offered.

"Then take your fucking piss, cause if you wet the bed like a little baby, you'll be lying in it for the next few days."

He did, with Creed's big hand on his cock and then Creed hauled him back inside under all the glistening icicles that decorated the edge of the cabin's roof. He tossed the kid on the bunk, not bothering at the moment with retying the bonds, he didn't think Lebeau capable of any mischief and he felt the need for a bit of variety of position in his morning fuck.

He went back outside, staring up at the gray sky. Overcast. He smelled bad weather coming. Smelled snow in the air. The warm spell was over and on its heels would be a taste of real winter. Turned back around and looked at all the beautiful icicles, reached up and broke off an arm length one, thicker than his wrist at the base, all sharp and pointy at the narrow end. His lips stretched in an malignant grin.

He carried it in carefully. Stood over the bunk and Lebeau's curled body upon it.

"You hot, boy. Need something to quench that fever?"

Lebeau's red eyes opened, flickered up his body and focused on the ice spear he held in his two hands. The thick lashes lowered, a false sign of resignation, a split second before the kid kicked out, still agile as hell, but not quite as quick as he was in full health. Creed pulled his makeshift phallus out of range, but Lebeau's foot caught the tip of it, snapping off the narrow pointy end, which fell to the floor and shattered.

"You little bitch!" Creed roared and smashed the kid across the face with the back of his hand. He went down onto the tangled blankets then, blood on his face, dazed into immobility. A muscle in Creed's jaw twitched, still feeding on the impromptu rage.

"You want the thick end? That's fine with me." He carefully laid his toy down, then snatched a hand out and grasped Lebeau's injured wrist, caught the other one when the kid let out a stifled scream and tried to pry his fingers off. Roped the both of them together at the head of the bed, then settled down a the foot, pulling the kid's legs over his thighs, planting that sweet little ass in his lap. He ran the icicle down the line of Lebeau's back, then between his tightly clenched cheeks.

"Non. Non." Soft begging in that mongrel French the kid spoke. His arms had to be killing him, stretched out like they were. The hurt in the wrist had to be incredible. He'd give him something to take his mind off it. He placed the blunt end of the ice against the puckered entrance to the kid's ass. The kid's whole body jumped, shivering. He rotated it, forcing it in, worked it back and forth, getting off on Lebeau's increasingly desperate sounds as the blunt tip of ice ground its way into his body. Once that was in the rest of it was easy. The rest of it slid in like a knife through soft flesh, the wide part of it stretching the pink lips of Lebeau's asshole wide and taught. He worked it a little, but it was hard to grip, slippery and icy wet as it was. As long as his forearm and he got most of it inside. Thought about pounding the last few inches in, but figured rupturing the kid's innards would be too quick of a path to death and he had days yet to go. He fastened it in place with a few strips of torn sheet, then slapped one round ass cheek as he slid out from under Lebeau's legs.

"That'll cool you down. You can thank me later."

He went to fix himself breakfast while it melted, absently rubbing the unsatisfied stiffness between his legs.

By that night, he was bored with it. Bored with Lebeau's capitulation, though he knew most of that was from weakness. The kid was hardly coherent after one last spark of resistance that had set Creed into a rampage of violence. He hadn't figured Lebeau had the nerve or the strength left to make a play against him, but somehow the kid had pulled himself together enough to snatch something - - he didn't know what - - and charge it enough to make a dent in Creed's outer layer. He'd bled like a fucking stuck pig from the injury, and just clamped a hand over the wetness pumping out of his neck and pounced on Gambit, all snarly teeth and claws, till he gained enough semblance of sanity to simply pound the kid into oblivion with fists and elbows and boots.

Funny how frail he was once you knocked the spring out of him. Funny how malleable his flesh and fragile his bones, and how he just curled there on the floor in a pool of his own blood mixed with Creed's and took the punishment. Then after a while, he didn't even defend himself, not even a reflexive shielding of his face or his private parts. Creed got tired of the beating then and with a snarl had gone off to lick his own slowly closing wounds. He thawed a bucket of snow by the hearth after he'd pulled himself together and tossed the frigid water onto the kid. It didn't so much rouse him as make his limbs sort of twitch and evict a miserable little groan from his bruised lips. The bottom one was swelling, still leaking a little trail of blood. Erotic as hell, the smell of it and the sight of the dark red under bruised flesh. Creed rubbed himself to stiffness under his jeans, then hauled the kid up by the hair, jammed his thumbs into the hinge of his jaw and rammed his cock down his torn mouth. He deep throated him into the wall, slamming the back of his skull into the pine with each infiltration, enjoying the involuntary scrape of teeth along the sensitive skin of his erection. Lebeau didn't try to fight it. Just dangled there, supported by Creed's fingers gripping his hair and make choking, gagging sounds as his mouth and throat were filled past capacity. Passed out entirely from suffocation when Creed ground his pubic hair into the kids nose and face, buried to the hilt and enjoying the small, spastic movements of the body below him slowly dying from lack of oxygen. He shot his load and pulled out, letting Lebeau crumple, kicking him once more in the side before shuffling off to brood by the fire.

He tormented his victim off and on throughout the afternoon, growing crueler in his games in order to get the response he craved. The weaker Lebeau got, the more pain it took to force a reaction.

He heard the deer outside the cabin after dark had fallen. His heartbeat picked up at the thought of prey with a little bit of fight in it. Of chasing down a fleet animal and sinking teeth and claws into hot flesh - - of tearing out a still beating heart and gorging on it before the last thump had ceased. He cast a look at his captive, unbound, but Lebeau was beyond out. Not that he could go anywhere if he weren't. Not that he had a choice but to stay in the cabin or die of exposure out in the snow.

Creed didn't have a problem taking off without a backward glance. He slunk out into the snow like the predator he was. Quiet and stealthy. Smelled the approaching storm in the air. Felt the first flakes of snow in the darkness. A starless night. The clouds had come in from the north and the temperature had dropped with them. He saw the dark shapes of the deer at the edge of the clearing, three of them, looking spooked at something, probably driven downcountry by the threat of the storm. Probably looking for something green to forage. The two does he discarded, focusing his attention on the young buck. He crept around the cabin and into the woods, circled around and followed at a distance as they worked their timid way through the trees, nuzzling at the snow, looking for the tender life underneath the layer of ice.

One of the does head came up, startled at something that escaped even Creed's hearing. The three of them stood poised, ready for flight and he sprang. He caught the buck along the hind quarters raking deep furrows in the flank. It slipped away from him, soundlessly, white rimmed eyes rolling, bunching its muscles and bounding into the snow. Creed grinned and leapt after, into the trees, as agile as the creatures he pursued.

Rather unexpectedly something flashed out of the darkness at him. Something compact and heavy that caught him about the middle with an impact that sent him flying and a sharp, piercing pain that penetrated his side.

He roared in outrage, and twisted to distance himself, berating himself for letting the deer scent overpower the subtler one that filled his nostrils now. He felt the sting in his chest, the weak whistle of a deflated lung and figured it was his due for letting his guard down.

"Bout time you showed up." He hissed, circling warily, keeping a distance between him and the gleaming claws of his attacker. Unlike the kid back in the cabin, Wolverine was no one to take lightly in close combat.

"You sonuvabitch." Logan's growl came out of the darkness. "What in hell have you done?"

Creed's lips pulled back in a sly grin. He had to figure that the runt could scent the kid's smell on him. The kid's blood, the kid's unique flavor -- the fragrance of sex that still clung to him.

"Just been waiting for you, Logan. The little thief's been showing me the time o' my life while I was here."


He'd come down from the highlands early. Cut his sojourn short with a woman he'd had a damned serious fling with some twenty years past. They'd ended it friends instead of lovers and both of them better off because of it. She'd had a level head on her shoulders then and she still had it now. Wear and tear had only made her tougher and wiser and when the storm alert came in over the radio she'd chased his ass down the mountain side with the stern warning not to dally if he didn't want to end up a piece of frozen meat that wouldn't thaw until the spring. He might have stayed up in the cozy highland ranger outpost if he hadn't had responsibility down in the valley. If he hadn't dragged Gambit out here, it might have been entertaining seeing what twenty years of friendship with a handsome woman could turn into, trapped in a ranger station until the storm passed.

So down the mountain Logan came, barely keeping ahead of the swirling mass of cold weather that came swooping down from the northeast. The snow began falling half a day from his cabin, but it was light enough not to impeded his travel. By tomorrow it would be too thick to see in and certainly too thick to drive down the track to the main road. They'd have to be out of there by nightfall or they'd be there for the duration.

Almost there and the hairs on the backs of his arm stood up under his jacket. There was nothing in the air to cause worry, other than the approaching bad weather. Nothing that his sensitive hearing was able to discern, but still - - that warning sense - - as empathic as an animal's, had never let him down before. He slowed his pace, wary now, scanning the gray darkness uneasily, picking out the snow plastered boles of trees, the undulating shapes of foliage under the blanket of white. Listening for anything in the muffled silence. Not a whole helluva lot to hear. The world had gone fast to sleep, all its inhabitants tucked in for a long winter's night. Still, there was something out of sync. Something integral wrong with that small bit of world he tromped through.

He dropped his backpack not quite within sight of the cabin, wrinkling his nose, trying to pick up a scent that the snow and the cold didn't smother. Heard the quiet rustle of deer through the underbrush. Saw the flash of doeskin and went still.

Predator's instincts.

And the deer, prey that they were, lifted their heads in uneasy empathy of his presence. They began a slow migration away, ears twitching, trying to pick up a solid clue to his existence and failing. He slipped close to the cabin, saw the dull brown of it through the trees. Smoke trailed up from the cabin's chimney in loose, thin curls. He saw the jeep with snow piled on hood and roof, and white halfway up its rims.

No. Not half up the rims. It only looked that way sitting as it was with the rubber lying flat on the ground and the deflated edge of it obscured by snow. Four flat tires were too much of a coincidence not to make his lips draw back in a silent snarl.

Through the trees then, as silent as the falling snow, circling the cabin warily, looking for a sign or a trace of danger. Wondering where in hell Remy had been while the jeep's tires were being slashed. More importantly where the kid was now that the deed was done.

There. The quiet flash of bunched muscle as the deer began to scatter. The quieter launch of something springing after them through the trees. He didn't get a good look. Just saw the movement and a splash of red plaid shirt that indicated man. Caught the sudden scent of fresh blood, the tearing of flesh and the grunt of satisfaction mixed with the subtle sound of terrified deer. Another scent after that that made the muscles in his cheek jump and his blood start to pound madly behind his temples. He triggered his claws with hardly a thought and that faint 'click' was hidden in the rush of bodies as the predator through the trees lunged after frightened prey.

No need for subtly. No patience for it with Creed prowling outside his cabin, wearing what damn well looked like one of his own shirts and smelling of blood that wasn't deer. He launched himself out of the shadows claws first. Felt the impact of body against body even as the claws of his right hand slid effortlessly into flesh and bone and muscle. A cry of anger echoed in his ears as the larger man twisted, shoving himself away, not quite staggering even though Logan had scored a damn good hit. Distance between them, with Creed crouching, his own hands curled into claws that were somewhat less impressive than Logan's, but one had to admit, a good sight more natural.

""Bout time you showed up." Creed growled, a little short of breath, a little trickle of blood showing up at the corner of his mouth. Logan hoped the bastard choked on it. It was his shirt. He scented himself on it and stronger still Remy's smell. It was all over Creed, like he'd been bathing in the kid's blood. That and sex.

"You sonuvabitch. What in hell have you done?"

Creed grinned and answered. A sly insinuation of foul deeds done and Logan growled, a haze of red stealing across his vision. Tore into the fight like a wild thing, all sharp claws, powerful compact muscle and a stamina that refused to flag. Creed might talk big, but he'd hurt him with that first strike. The little things might heal quick, but a pierced lung took longer. Hours maybe to repair itself. Which meant hit him hard enough now to stagger him. Hard enough to take him down and slice his fucking throat out once and for all and do the world a major favor.

Should have been easy enough since he'd come into this with the upper hand - - but of course it was Creed he was dealing with. Nothing was ever easy with Sabortooth.

Remy came awake with a start -- a jolt of bone deep pain that made his vision swim. Disorientation. Confusion. He was having trouble piecing together the reasoning behind his present state. Having problems recalling where this place was and what he was doing in it. He was hot, yet his skin pimpled with chill bumps. An odd contradiction that he found strangely humorous. It hurt to lift his arm and rub at the rough protuberance of goosepimples.

He was thirsty. A parchment-dry throat screamed demands at him. There was a sink across the room. Not so far to go for a taste of cool water. He rolled off the side of the bed, trying to get his leg under him and catch himself before his knee hit the floor. He misjudged the distance or his strength and his knee hit anyway. Reflexively, he reached out a hand to catch his balance and the moment his palm touched the floor fiery stingers of agony screeched along his arm and outward through every nerve in his body. He cried out, losing all interest in righting himself; curling upon a hard, cold floor, cradling the complaining hand.

The pain cleared his head of the fever fog. The pain brought back with it the memory of how it had been inflicted. And by who.

Fuck. Fuck! He had to escape this place now - - while he was alone. While he had a chance in hell of making it. There was no chance when Creed came back. There was death there and soon. Creed was tiring of the game already and nothing Remy said or did would keep the sick bastard from ripping his guts out once he ceased to be entertaining. Only problem was - - moving seemed easier mused over than done. He hurt. There were broken things inside his skin. The pain wasn't half so prohibitive as the lethargy of the fever. The pain he could deal with and overcome. The fever sapped his energy and made his thoughts chaotic - - his reasoning disconnected. He couldn't make himself move from the floor. The cold ate at his skin from without while the fire in his blood burned at him from inside.

He rolled his head in misery on the hard wood floor. Caught sight of a splash of red under the bed. A playing card caught in the crack between floor boards. One of his, no doubt, lost when he'd been so rudely awakened. Not so far away to reach, but it seemed a million miles when his shoulder screamed incessantly at him for shifting and creeping his unbroken hand towards it. One card in a deck of 52. He supposed the rest had been lost or used up during his flight through the woods. Not much of a weapon when the others hadn't done much good. Not much of a weapon when his opponent's body healed of most wounds like something out of the good book. Ha! Like something the devil had thought up more like. He clutched the card close to his chest, crunching it in his fingers as a wave of nausea/pain/cold racked his body. He'd charge it with the last strength he had and shove it down Creed's throat if he got the chance. Let the bastard rut between legs one more time and use it when he was distracted by the fervor of sex. Just don't lose it in the meanwhile. Just keep enough hold on consciousness to keep it tight in his hand.

Ah, but that was a battle in and of itself. Even with all the pains of his body, the hard floor, the cold air on his bare skin - - even then, the exhaustion pulled at him with insistent clawed fingers. Urging him none to gently back into oblivion. Oblivion wasn't a bad place, really. It was an escape from the hurt and maybe - - just maybe he'd be aware enough to hear the cabin door open. Maybe, as cold and miserable as he was, he'd keep the hand clutching the card fast and close to his body. Maybe he'd win the lottery - - -

He shut his eyes and let fever stained darkness rush over him.

Logan pulled the blood soaked remnants of his shirt from his shoulders, hardly feeling the gaping furrows that ran from collar bone to navel. They leaked blood sporadically now, the flesh knitting with every breath he took, with every thumping beat of his heart. His claws dripped red with his enemies blood. Creed had gotten a good shot in at him, he'd gotten a similar one on Creed. The snow was spattered with crimson, a dwindling trail that gave away Creed's avenue of retreat. The snow was beginning to obscure it all anyway. Thick and fast it fell, coating the sides of the trees, making everything white.

He'd gotten the better of this fight, he knew he had, and Creed had gone to skulking about waiting for a chance at his back. He didn't like Creed out there, hidden in the storm. You get Sabortooth on the defensive and he got nasty and sneaky. Logan started worrying about what was back at that cabin. Started thinking that it would make a good place for Creed to get his back up against. A better place if he had living bargaining chip. That was an uncertain thing - - what with Creed reeking of the kid's blood. What with the things Creed had said. His fault for dragging him out here when all Remy had wanted to do was skulk into the depths of the city in a binge of sex and booze and whatever other illicit things he liked to partake of when he was in one of those moods of his. Safer with the scum of the earth in the city than here, it turned out.

Who'd have figured? Last person he'd expected to see out here was Victor Creed. God only knew how he'd tracked Logan up here.

Logan shifted his path and began to work his way back towards the cabin. If anybody was going to use it as shelter against attacks, whether natural or mortal, it wasn't going to be Creed.

There. The white spattered brown of the little dwelling, all but obscured now in the driving snow. No blood in the snow, but then again, Creed might not be bleeding anymore. He kept his claws out, and his senses strained. Nothing. Just the faint smell of woodsmoke from the weakly sputtering chimney.

No lock on the door. There never had been. He urged it open with his boot, crept in listening for the slightest sound of movement. Hard not to scent Creed here. His smell permeated everything all mixed in with Remy's. Blood, sweat, sickness - - sex. Fuck.

No Creed, but there was a loose limbed pile of white flesh on the floor by the bunk. No movement there save for the shallow rise and fall of breath. Alive then. For the moment that was all the attention Logan could spare in his search for reassurance that his enemy hadn't beat him here. A quick run through of the cabin. Into the little bathroom and the storage room and finding nothing more dangerous than too much dust. Back into the main room where he barred the door from within, then turned his attention to the unconscious man on the floor.

Went down to one knee and reached a hand out to touch the pale flesh of one shoulder.

"Hey, Gumbo, you in there?" he asked softly, even as he frowned at the heat radiating from the kid's skin. Who knew how long he'd had been lying here, buck naked on the none to warm cabin floor. There was plenty of evidence of Creed's hands on him. Scratches all over of varying ages. Bruises. Some yellow, some bluish - - some freshly made pink. Creed had been here days then. Maybe arrived the day he left if Remy's injuries were any indication.

He cursed, angry at Creed, angry at himself for walking up that mountain and leaving the kid to deal with this. And it looked as if he hadn't dealt well. It looked as if Creed had gotten the upper hand from the get go and kept it ruthlessly. But then, this wasn't Gambit's element and it was Sabortooth's. It was Logan's and he fucking should have sensed that something was up.

He went to get an arm under Remy's shoulders to get him upright and off the floor, and the kid suddenly jerked into life, those red eyes of his dilated and wild. Logan felt the build up of energy and flung himself backwards even as the charged card flicked out towards his chest. Just missed him, thanks more to Gambit's lack of present control than his quick reflexes - - and exploded against the chest of drawers, blowing the door off its hinges and scattering the contents.

No reason to give him a second chance to demolish the cabin. Logan lunged forward and caught the hovering, trembling hand, yanked the kid close enough to prevent further damage and held him there, trying to get through the panic and find reason.

"Gambit - - Remy, its me. Calm down - - I ain't gonna hurt you. Ain't nobody gonna hurt you no more. He ain't here - -" More reckless reassurances until the weak struggling stopped and Remy just lay there against him, radiating fever, face pressed into Logan's shoulder.

"'Bout time you got back." So soft a whisper that Logan hardly picked it up. He sighed and loosened his hold, stroked a calming hand down the kid's hair, like he would an animal that was badly used and trembling with exhaustion.

"Yeah, well, I didn't know you was entertaining visitors."

Remy didn't respond, his head lolled on Logan's chest, hair sliding down to hide his face. Out again. Logan felt it in the utter slackness of limbs, in the way the breathing changed.

No struggle this time when he got an arm under the kid's knees and got him up off the floor and back onto the bed. His lips pulled back in an involuntary snarl at the stains on the sheets. Blood, sweat - - semen. He yanked the rumpled top sheet off with a hiss. Flung it to the floor behind him and dragged the quilt up and over Remy before he stalked to the small storage room looking for the chest that held his extra linen. Creed had been in here, going through his stuff none to neatly. Things were scattered carelessly. He found what he needed though. Clean bed sheets, a basin and clean rags, a dusty med-kit that he'd never had the need for. Back into the main room then. First things first, built up the fire that was dwindling with wood that Creed had probably brought in from the stack outside. Put water to heating over it before turning to deal with the damage that Creed had done.

He popped the shoulder back into place while the kid was out. He still got an inarticulate scream from that dubious mercy. Had to hold Remy down while he thrashed in delirium less he hurt himself even more than Creed had already done. He tried to set the wrist as best he could, binding it with strips of wood and torn sheet until it was as immobile as he could manage. Remy came awake halfway through that and just lay there with his lips pressed tight together and involuntary wetness at the corners of his eyes as Logan shifted bone as gently as he could to get things back into some semblance of alignment. It would have to be reset once they were out of here, the bones of the wrist being the fragile things that they were, but at least now it was bound and as stationary as Logan could get it. Remy had drifted off after that and Logan had let him go, preferring somehow that he were not a witness to all the insidious and the not so insidious damage he uncovered one inch of flesh at a time. Creed had been thorough. Creed knew how to hurt a body. He knew how to hurt a man. There were broken ribs but he'd just as well not bind them, they weren't shattered and ribs healed better unbound. Besides which, the kid wasn't going anywhere soon, what with the storm raging outside and the snow blocking any easy egress. Even if the jeep hadn't had its tires slashed, they were stuck. The storm had no forgiveness for anyone's disability, but that didn't bother him so much as wondering where Creed was out in it. Wondering when to expect him to come a knockin' in the dead of some night. He'd strung cans on the windows and door as some semblance of an early alarm, just in case he were asleep and an unwelcome visitor tried the sanctuary of the cabin.

He cleaned Remy of the blood and the semen, bandaged the worst of the scratches, put ointment on the lot of the damage. Was immensely glad of the kid's unconsciousness when he spread his thighs and assessed the hurt down there. Brutal as it was, there was nothing that wouldn't heal. The wrist was more of a concern - - and the fever.

The fever threw the kid in and out of delirium, reduced him to sweat sodden, restless unconsciousness then alternately into body racking chills. There was nothing to do for the former, but bathe his forehead and face with cool, water soaked rags and for the later to stoke the fire as high as possible and during the worst of it, in the dead cold of the night, to just wrap Remy in his own thick arms and share body heat. The kid was all long limbs and lean, sinewy muscle, and a body didn't truly appreciate it until after the worst of the shakes were over and morning had brought calm redolence with it. Until true sleep overcame him and Remy pressed, all languid and warm up against the length of Logan's body.

The kid felt nice and it annoyed him to no ends that the thought came unbidden to his mind. Goddamned bad timing for one thing - - what with all the indignities Remy had suffered at Creed's hands. He sure as hell didn't need Logan contemplating how nice his ass felt pressed up tight against his crotch. And Logan sure as hell didn't need to be thinking about some other guy's body - - no matter that the kid always had looked good enough to draw any eye of any sexual persuasion - - no matter that it was early enough in the morning and his own mind still fogged enough with the cobwebs of sleep not to be at its most rational.

He shifted away a bit at the urging of moral conscientiousness and Remy moaned a little in the flight of warmth and pressed backwards seeking the comfort he'd had for most of the night. Logan might be protected by a shield of clothing, but Remy was bare ass naked and the relatively thin layer of Logan's long johns did nothing to disguise the feel of firm young buttocks from a morning sensitive erection.

"Fuck." Logan muttered and retreated in full force, slipping out from under the covers and tucking them in back around Remy, who promptly rolled into the warm spot Logan had vacated.

He took his morning leak and pulled on pants and boots, opening the door just enough to let in a gale of fresh snow. It was still snowing strong. The accumulation was half way up the door. He shoveled a temporary path to the wood stack and brought in enough to fill the bin by the hearth. The hard work got him back into the proper frame of mind. Got his priorities straight. He stood for a while out in the storm, staring into the snow obscured woodline, looking for sign of Creed. A waste of his time, he knew. If Creed were about, he wouldn't know it until too damned late, but it made him feel better scrutinizing the landscape. If he hadn't of had the kid in the cabin - - an easy target - - he'd have gone out hunting himself.

Back inside and he brewed up tea and opened a can of condensed soup to try and get down Remy's throat. Got him awake long enough to prop on his arm and take a good portion of the tea, but he balked at the soup, just turning away from it blankly and staring at the rough knotty pine of the wall. Not much for appetite. Maybe it was the fever, maybe it was something more. Either way, Logan let it slide for now, figuring he'd force the issue tonight if he had to just to get something on Remy's stomach.

It kept up snowing all afternoon and Logan went out intermittently to clear the area around the door. It gave him something to do, since Gambit was damned poor company, sleeping the day away. Chills came upon him around late afternoon and Logan wrapped him up snug in the quilt and hauled him over to the big rocking chair by the hearth where it was warm. Put a few more logs on the fire and sat on the hearth smoking on the end of a old cigar while Remy huddled in the chair, clutching the blanket to his throat, staring into the fire with fever glazed eyes.

After a while, when Logan thought he had fallen into a fitful doze, he broke the silence with a hoarse question.


Logan shrugged, stretching his legs out, wishing he had a better answer other than the stark truth. "No. Out there somewhere, probably. He ain't one to give up easily."

"Oh." Remy blinked, as if trying to clear obstructed vision. "When'd you get here?"

"Can't remember?"

A frown, a surreptitious look about the cabin, a wary one. "I'm tired." He murmured and made a concerted effort to push himself up from the chair. Couldn't quite make it on his own and Logan stood up to offer his help. Remy flinched from his hand, then looked guilty for the involuntary movement.

"M'sorry." He muttered, letting his head drop, hiding his expression under a fall of hair. It didn't seem as if he had the strength to lift it back up again, he sat there so long, slouched in the chair.

"Nothing to be sorry for." Logan said. "You need my help, you ask, okay?"

"'kay." Remy agreed after a bit, then hesitantly. "Salle de bains?"

Embarrassed as hell to ask for assistance to the john and not having much of a choice but to. Logan got him up, over to the little bathroom, helped him do what he had to do and half carried his flagging self back to the bunk. He curled with his back to the room then, shoulders shaking a little and Logan thought it was the chills come back to plague him, but when he touched his skin he was warm.

"Cold?" he asked.

A miserable shake of the head and a silent refusal to answer. Logan thought it was something else then, something more integral now that the fever had slacked a little bit and left the kid with something close to rational thought.

"You wanna talk - - Well, I'm not going anywhere." He offered uncomfortably. He couldn't fathom speaking of such a thing if it had happened to him. Couldn't fathom the concept of rape connected with himself at all. Getting his ass kicked royally was one thing - - having it violated was - - inconceivable. But then again, he wasn't sex on two legs, he'd never lay down and spread his legs for any living creature and he had the notion that Remy had - - knew that he'd had male lovers as well as female. Knew that he attracted sex like a flame summoning moths. Kid couldn't help it, really, with that charm that was as much a part of him as his skin and blood and bone. With that face and that sleek body and that whisky low voice of his. Didn't make it any more justifiable - - the notion of forcing the issue with him - - but he could understand it. He didn't like it, that cognition. Made him feel cold and callous and he'd never thought of himself that way. Made him want to go and splash cold water on his face to wash away the biased thoughts.

"You okay, Remy?" He had to ask to fill up the void he'd created.

A little catch of breath, a tensing of the shoulders as some hurdle was cleared and Remy rolled towards him, suddenly clutching at the rough material of his jeans, pressing his face hard into Logan's thigh, shuddering violently enough that it made Logan's muscles began to tick in sympathy. A babble of rapid mongrel French. Self-accusatory maybe. Self-depreciating that he'd allowed it to happen. Too fast for Logan to catch all of it.

"S'okay. S'okay. It's not your fault. It's mine if its anybodies. I talked you into this and he come up here lookin' for me. Ain't your fault he knows the woods bettern' most animals that live in it." He patted Remy's shoulder, rubbed between his shoulder blades trying to quiet him down. Damn silky hair after how many days of going without a wash. He pulled him up, getting him between his legs with his back braced against the wall and wrapped his arms about him blanket and all, while the kid vented what small bit of the trauma he was able, the broken wrist curled up against Logan's chest the other one clutching at his back. When he was back in his right mind, he'd probably be embarrassed as hell over this. Probably have some right smart comments at hand to make light of it. But right now, all the usual cockiness had been beaten out of him and there wasn't much left but need and desperation. It was all a front anyway. Armor against a world that constantly tried to beat him down. Better to face it with middle finger extended than bow head and let it crush you. Logan had the same philosophy to a degree. Difference was, he didn't bruise inside everytime the world lived up to its promise and kicked him in the teeth. He'd learned to let it wash over him and be mostly unaffected. Remy took it personally each and every time. Oh, he never showed it. Never let that slick facade of his crack, not that anyone that wasn't a master of reading the signs could see, but inside he was hurting. Desperate and lonely and needy. Fragile, Logan thought, hand idly stroking the soft hair at Remy's temple. Easily breakable despite the hard outer shell. That girl had hurt him more than she'd ever know. The rest of them had and never done much to make it up, and Logan felt bad about that. Real bad.

He sat there until it had gone all dark outside and the low burning fire was the only light in the cabin. Finally he shifted Remy aside and went to put new wood onto the coals. Made himself coffee and sat by the fire wondering how long the storm was going to last. Wondering how in hell he was going to get the kid the rest of the way down the mountain even if it did let up, without benefit of the jeep. Damned if he would leave him here, even if Creed hadn't been an issue. That path had already led to disaster once and Wolverine was never one to make the same mistake twice.

Logan slept light. A bare shielding of his eyes from the ambient light of the fire, so close to awareness that he never came close to dreaming. He could get his rest that way and still stay on guard. Not that anything had tried his defenses these last few days. The storm still raged and nothing living ventured out carelessly into her grasp. He didn't think Creed an exception to that rule. Creed was smart enough not to blunder out into that mess. He was holed up somewhere - - if he hadn't taken off completely - - waiting out the blizzard. Just like Logan.

An intrusive sound disturbed his rest. A quiet scuffing of feet on hardwood floor. He tensed and slitted his eyes, pupils adjusting almost immediately to the light of a low burning fire. Everything else was dark. Wasn't an enemy though, just the kid shuffling across the floor - - a little unsteady, a little perplexed looking, still flushed with enough fever to make his eyes seem a little doped.

"Hey, where you going, gumbo?" Logan got up without Remy's noticing, laid a hand on his bare arm and got a startled look. Shocked at his presence, as if the kid had forgotten he was there. The skin under Logan's callused fingers was all goose pimply, cold as hell despite the fever, with nothing on but a pair of Logan's boxers that hung low on slim hips. Creed had been thorough in his pilferage. Had burned Remy's clothes and most of Logan's - - a good enough method to keep him stationary in the cabin. Logan had what he'd taken up with him to the ranger station and there wasn't a lot of that to spare, another serious obstacle in getting the both of them down to civilization.

"Have to wash." Remy said, distracted, running his good hand through his hair, pushing dangling strands away from his face, cringing a little at the touch.

"You're okay." Logan assured him. "And there ain't no water heater. Pipes're probably frozen anyway."

That distressed the kid. He pulled at his hair again, a little obsessively, glancing furtively at the tiny bathroom as if he were contemplating bolting past Logan and barricading himself inside. "I need - - to get it out of my hair. I can smell it - - "

Him. Logan thought. He could smell him. Logan could too. The scent of Creed was all over the cabin. He doubted Remy was scenting what he thought he was. He doubted Remy was particularly lucid at the moment - - but he had to admit, the notion of that raping bastard's spluge in his hair was disconcerting. He'd cleaned up the kid's skin - - hadn't gotten to his hair.

"Okay." He nodded. "I'll warm some water. Ain't no reason for you to catch more of a chill than you already have, pouring cold water over your head. Go sit down. Wrap up here by the fire and I'll go get some snow from outside to melt."

He didn't exactly wait for compliance. He forcefully marched Remy over to the chair by the fire and tucked a blanket around him. He got the water warmed, filled the sink with it and led the kid over, thinking wryly that was the last thing he'd have imagined himself doing when he'd planned of coming up here - - washing some other guy's hair in luke warm water and dish detergent. But it felt nice, that hair, soft as silk even wet, slick and pleasurable to bunch in his fingers. Everytime his thumbs grazed the flesh at the hairline he felt a little tingle of - - what? Indulgence? Gratification? Disturbance, more likely. Remy leaned there while he was about it, elbows on the rim of the skin, bare shoulders shaking a little from the effort. He was wasted afterwards. Just done for the night. Barely got back to the bed without Logan's arm about his waist. Logan got the blankets back over him and sat there for a while towel drying most of the wetness out of his hair. Went and built up the fire afterwards to warm up the cabin and repositioned himself in his chair by it - - a little uneasy. A little wary of how nice it felt to have his hands on skin and hair that wasn't a woman's and wasn't - - in anyway he felt justifiable - - fair game.

Remy's fever dropped down to a low grade warmth by the next afternoon. Kid just woke up and was lucid and clear headed and surly. Touchy as hell and angry at the world and not much for talking about it. Not responsive to Logan's offered assistance, so Logan stopped offering, stopped trying at bits and pieces of conversation and let the kid sulk on his own. There were most likely things going on inside his head that didn't need anybody else's opinion on. At least not yet. He was sore as hell, and stiff and graceless - - weaker than he'd admit and pissed at that along with everything else. Logan let him stagger to the bathroom on his own. Let him get his own water from the jug full Logan had melted and left on the sink. There wasn't a whole lot Creed had left them in the way of stores that a body coming down off the spiral Remy had been on, might easily tolerate. Cubes of bullion for broth. Dried herbs and spices. Creed had ripped through most of the supplies and Logan had already put a big dent in what was left. Not much left to do but go out and see if he could bring in a bit of fresh meat. The snow had let up that morning; was barely a light sprinkling now and an inquisitive animal or two might be poking its head out of its den to see what it could forage.

"I'm going out for a bit. See if I can't find some fresh meat to add to the stew." Logan announced.

Remy glanced up at him, startled enough at the statement for it to show in his eyes. He hid it quickly enough. Lowered his head for a moment and when he lifted it back up those red and black eyes of his were cool and careless.

"Sure. You do 'dat." He shrugged, propped in the corner of the bed, as if it didn't matter to him what Logan did. His acting abilities, usually so clever, were at a lull. Logan could sense the wariness - - the uncertainty over the prospect of being left here alone and badly out of fighting shape. Maybe even a little fear, which was out of character for a young man that gleefully put his life on the line on rather frequent occasion.

Logan hid a grin, not amused by the disconcertion, but rather by the attempt to conceal it. "I ain't going far." He said. "Just past the woodline to see what's creeping about. See if they're any tracks since the snow let up of anything bigger than a rabbit out of its hidey hole."

"C'est très bien." A smile to hide the nerves, a tilt of his head and a cocky suggestion. "Bring back something better to eat than water and chicken cubes, oui."

Logan nodded and swept out into a world blanketed with white.


Logan left and Remy shivered. Pulled the blankets closer and clamped his jaw tight to keep his teeth from chattering. Tried to convince himself it was the gust of wind and snowflakes that Logan had let in at his leaving and not - - apprehension at the leave-taking itself. There hadn't ever been a time in his life that he'd willingly relied on the protection of another being - - and he had no plans to start now. He kept telling himself that - - kept mouthing the words silently to concrete the fact in his own mind and still his gut clenched, his heartbeat raced and a sweat he hadn't broken out in since the fever retreated itched at his palms. Hard to be cocky and nonchalant when it hurt to move. When the simple operation of sitting up in bed made his body rail at him. When breathing itself was agony, if he didn't concentrate and take small, careful sips of air.

Didn't want to think about how. Didn't want to think about who - - but it was hard not too when against his most strident wishes, his mind kept circling back to the fear that Creed would come back while Logan out hunting in the snow.

Fuck. All it took was a thought and unwanted sights/sounds/sensations came rolling up like cold, inescapable floodwaters. Flashes of images and mocking words, hot breath on his face and cruel hands on his body - -

"Arrêtez-le." Stop it. Stop it!! He hissed, pressing his head back into the wood paneling, squeezing his eyes shut and trying to force the images away. Hard to forget when he still bore the bruises. When he still hurt in intimate places.

He wished Logan hadn't gone. But the practical side of him knew it was inevitable. From what Logan had told him - - when he'd been open enough to listen - - they were stuck here. Trapped by the snow and Remy's weakness. Another thing to hate about himself. That weakness. He was annoyed that Logan didn't voice his disgust out loud. It would have been better than the dour thought's Remy imagined. His imagination was always so much crueler than reality - - but then, it was safer that way. Better to be pleasantly disappointed when his expectations weren't always lived up to.

Don't think at all. Thinking too much when he was in these moods never led to pleasant things. Just made him sink deeper into whatever pit of depression was currently yawning at his feet. It had been better when he'd been too consumed by fever to have any rational thought at all. Hard not to muse upon - - things. Boredom led him to it. If he'd had a deck of cards he could have distracted himself. He'd used them all up on Creed. Wasted them.

He swallowed and shifted, rotating the shoulder he'd popped out of joint and that Logan had popped back in. Still sore. The arm was stiff, but usable. The other one vacillated between throbbing pain and numbness. He had to consciously stop himself from trying to use the hand. He feared permanent damage. Logan promised they could fix it good as new back at the mansion. He fervently hoped so. Desperately hoped so. He wouldn't last long with his dexterity so critically impaired.

His skin was still warm. No chills anymore, they had passed in the night. The fire Logan had fed before he'd left made the little cabin swelter. Or maybe it was the hind end of the fever. His head still felt stuffed with rough wool. He swung his legs over the edge of the bunk and his knees complained of the effort. Stood there, unsteady and vaguely nauseous until he got his center. Walked to the sink and sloppily poured himself a glass of water. Stood there with his hands braced on the counter for a bit, a draft from the door working to banish the warmth, the dirty tint of the small window over the sink letting in just a touch of afternoon light. Everything outside it was white. For a moment he thought the panes might be completely coated with snow, until he saw the gray outline of a tree trunk here, the valiantly upthrust point of a downed limb there.

A little claustrophobia hit him. Ran up his spine like a clawed finger. He shivered and spun, staring into the corners of the cabin, seeking the source of the discomfort in the shadows. His imagination. Overactive and tainted by recent fever and present injury.

You bein' stupid, Remy. He told himself, and forced calm. Forced himself to pour one more sip of water. He went to the chair by the fire and wrapped himself in the throw over its back. Sat there and stared into Logan's fire, listening to the crackling hiss of flames eating wood.

Something thumped outside. Hit the roof with a dull impact and rolled down the slant to the ground. He caught his breath, stilling the rocking of the chair in an instant, straining his ears to hear, cursing himself that his senses weren't as good as Logan's - - or Creed's.

A low creaking of wood, maybe the weight of the snow making the ceiling complain. Maybe something more. Maybe something on the roof. Something silent and soft in its tread.

Mondeuimondeuimondeui - - he was shaking before he put together the rational thought to call himself a fool. It had been a damned long time since any bump in the night had set Remy Lebeau to shaking so hard his teeth chattered. Nothing but the snow. He told himself, flinching as the wood of the ceiling creaked again.

Nothing but the snow. But he picked up a few chunks of pine bark from the hearth regardless - - -

A body forgot how fast the sun went down this time of year, this far into the mountains, with as much cloud cover as obscured the features of the sky from any eyes. A body forgot how good it felt to exert itself - - to breath in the cold air - - to chase down prey and prove himself the faster, the wilier, the smarter. For a man to catch a winter hare with nothing but his bare hands - - that took skill. It took patience.

Logan had both. He hadn't wondered far. Never far enough not to scent the faint smoke from the chimney of the cabin. Never far enough not to hear a ruckus if something came up. He trusted the kid to at least be able to raise a racket if Creed decided to drop by while Logan was out. That was why it had taken him longer than he'd hoped. He'd had a limited area of hunt. Had to wait for the prey to come to him, instead of tracking it down himself. He had four plump hares strung over his shoulder to show for his patience. He'd had to trudge through snow up to his thighs to get them. It wasn't an easy trek back now, but he knew the way of it and it was no particular hardship. The darkness was no hindrance.

He swung open the cabin door and it was dim and shadowy inside as well. The smell of woodsmoke and sweat - - and fear was strong. Almost it overpowered the blood smell that he carried about his person, from the carcasses he'd gutted.

There was a hair raising tingle of - - something. A glow from the corner between the bunk and the far wall. All buried in shadow, just as he must have been coming in from the darkness outside into the faint light within. Shit.

"Remy? It's me. Just me."

"Damn." A soft curse. A flick of the wrist and something flared against the stone of the hearth, sending out a spray of sparks and dust and stone fragments.

Logan stood there without flinching, squinting his eyes a bit against the sudden, brief flare of light. The kid had flung the charge at the only safe place in the cabin where it wouldn't shatter wood and wreak more damage than they could afford.

"Get a little jumpy while I was gone?" Logan said lightly and thought mistake as soon as Remy cursed under his breath, and scrambled awkwardly up, flushed embarrassment rushing in to fill the void where fear had been. Oh and the kid had been scared. He could scent it as clear as he'd scented the fear of those winter hare's he'd stalked and killed. So scared his hands were shaking - - or maybe that was the flash of anger that had come with the chagrin.

"Anything happen while I was out?" Logan asked, wary of what had gotten the kid into such a state.

"No." Sharp, angry answer. Remy stalked past, with no place to escape to but the little bathroom. Unsettled enough to need privacy to pull himself back together.

Logan watched the door shut with a thud. Stood there for a moment with snow dripping off the ends of his hair, weighing the situation. He'd been gone past dusk. He hadn't meant to. Had assumed reflexively that Remy could deal with a little solitude and that anything he couldn't deal with Logan would've heard from his not to far distance. He hadn't counted on what imagination and anxiety could do to a body. The kid wasn't a coward. He'd just been beaten bad and was due a little consideration. Due a little leeway in certain things. Logan had been a fool to stay out so long.

No help for it now, though. Nothing to do but start cleaning the hare for supper and let the kid come out of it on his own.

He had the stewpot over the fire by the time Remy came back out, straight faced and uncommunicative, walking a little stiff from too long a time spent sitting on the hard lid of the commode. The price of wounded pride, Logan figured and his mouth quirked a bit at the corner.

"Feel better now?" He had to ask it. There was too much of the antagonist inside him not to. Remy glared, knotted his fists in the blanket of the bunk where he'd settled and declined to answer.

"Don't blame ya, for being spooked. I didn't plan on being gone to long."

"I wasn't spooked." Sullen denial.

Logan lit a smoke and stared. Remy looked elsewhere, sullen eyed and resentful with all his protective doors sealed closed. Logan shrugged.

After a while, Remy murmured. "De cabin - - was making all sort of noises - - de wood creaking like somethin' was on de roof - - or maybe it was my imagination - -I don' know."

"She does that sometimes." Logan agreed. "'Specially with a roof full o'snow to weight her down. Sometimes the wind'll blow a clump of snow or ice from the trees and it'll hit with a god awful racket. Scare a body out o' a decent sleep."

"Oui. Maybe. Its just - - I'm not used to - - jumping at noises." Baffled. Embarrassed at the admission.

Logan sighed. "Ain't no shame in it, Remy. Happens to the best of us. You got reasons enough. But I ain't lettin' the bastard back here to do any more harm and you can trust me on that. And I ain't gonna look at you with any less respect 'cause o' what he done or that you're spooked as hell from it."

Remy shuddered, not liking it wrapped up in such a tidy little ball of words. Backed away from that subject quick, by retreating into silence. But after a while Logan felt his eyes on him. Could hardly tell from all the hair falling over his face and the shadows, but Logan knew the feel of observation.

The kid ate a little, but his appetite was still sparse. Still weak as a kitten, body still wracked by reoccurring bouts of fever, but nothing so bad as those first few days. Not a word passed between them until late into the night, when in a bout of restlessness, Logan got up to stare out the frosted panes of the window over the skin. Nothing out there that even his keen night vision could see. Nothing but snow and snow quilted forest. At least the storm had passed. In a week or so, when Remy was stronger, maybe he'd try to get them down that logging road and onto the highway leading to town. There were sure to be plows out and heavy logging trucks that even snowy roads wouldn't deter. He clenched his fists on the counter, cursing Creed for causing this. Damned psychopath. Damned murdering, raping psychopath. Too much to hope that the storm had bested him and that his frozen carcass was lying out there under the ice and snow waiting for the spring thaw.

There was a roll of bandages on the countertop and a half used tube of antibiotic ointment. It occurred to him that he hadn't changed the bandages over the worst of Remy's wounds. Infection was the last thing they needed on top of everything else. With a purpose to divert his frustration over the impotency of the situation, he swept up the supplies and strode over to the bunk. Woke the kid up out of an uneasy drowse and curtly told him to sit up, so he could to his back. Remy did, silently, sitting with his elbows on his knees while Logan peeled off the old bandages, swiped the crusted gouges with clean water and applied a new layer of ointment. Most of the scratches were on their way to healing nicely. A few of the deeper ones were warm to the touch and pink around the edges, oozing a bit of yellowish puss when Logan applied pressure. He should have been paying more attention. Shouldn't have been fooled into thinking the kid was self-sufficient just because that was the facade he was so good at putting forward. Some of those infected gouges were probably the reason the fever kept coming and going.

"Should have said something, you damn idiot." Logan grumbled, soaking away the crust over the wounds and pressing out the infection. Remy winced and clenched his fists, bent low over his knees now as if he were dizzy or nauseous. "Hell, more my fault than yours." He said that to himself, annoyed as he finished up.

"You okay, Gumbo?" he laid a big hand on one shoulder. Felt the very slight tremor of quaking muscles.

"Oui." Remy didn't attempt to push himself up.

"I'm done. Lay back down."

"Not your fault, Logan." Remy whispered from beneath all that hair. He shifted then, pushed himself up using Logan's knee as leverage and leaned in half supporting himself with a shoulder against Logan's chest. "You been there for me, mon ami. Not many other folk I can name who'd have done the same."

"No big thing." Logan muttered, edgy at the closeness, edgy at the kid's hand on his leg, at the smell of his hair. "You got more friends than you think."

"You believe dat?" Those red and black eyes fixed on his, a little feverish, a little - - intense. "Ain't nobody proved it yet." The fingers slid up his knee to his thigh, a light, fluttering movement that still made his muscles jump and his heart beat a little faster. What in hell was the kid thinking?

"I'm in your debt for that, no?"

"No." Logan stated firmly and caught the kid's wrist before those dexterous fingers could slid any higher. "No debt. And this ain't happening. You ain't thinking straight.."

Remy laughed and slumped against Logan's chest, his hair sliding against Logan's skin like living silk, cool and slippery and thick. Logan's arm came around him out of instinct, careful of the injuries he'd just tended. The splinted hand curled between them and the other one, released momentarily of Logan's grip rested with seeming innocence on that hard expanse of muscle between Logan's navel and his groin.

"Remy ain't thinking straight." He repeated Logan's assessment with a breathy laugh. "You so tactful, mon ami."

Logan scowled. "Didn't mean it like that."

"How you know, until you try?" Remy was fucking single minded in his delirium - - which Logan was convinced he'd fallen into to try this.

"Remy's real good at paying back his debts. Ain't nothing you'd regret."

The hand slid back down, unerringly finding the heat between his legs, unerringly surrounding it with firm, warm fingers. Logan drew a breath in shock, almost tossed the kid bodily off him if he hadn't been afraid of splitting open wounds that were already hard pressed to heal.

"I - - said - -" the pressure, warmth, sensation of it made the blood pound in his ears, made him momentarily at a loss to finish his sentence as Remy's palm pressed flat against the stiffening length of him through the material of his longjohns. "- -we - - ain't doin' - - this."

But his hand hovered, hesitating over catching the kid's wrist again and yanking him away. Hesitating just long enough for the kid's sly fingers to find the slit in his long johns and slide inside and then warm flesh was touching warm flesh and Logan's head hit the wall behind him in his sudden jerking reaction to that cataclysmic union.

Holy fuck. Fuckfuckfuck - - but the kid had skilled fingers. Thief's fingers. Agile and sly, slightly callused which made the friction all the more mind-blowing. And the kid's hair smelled exhilarating, his skin did. Enough to make Logan's head swim as he inhaled it. Everything reasonable inside him screamed at him to stop it now. He certainly had it in his power to do so. Could dump the kid onto the floor with a shift of his body. Ought to do it, even if it did hurt him, because it was the right thing to do - - not only for Logan's peace of mind, but because Remy's thinking was skewered and this whole notion of obligations owed was ridiculous and ought to be nipped in the bud.

"C'est tou'exact." Remy whispered in that guttural French of his. It's all right. It wasn't all right. It was as fucked up as anything Logan had ever let happen, and here he was slumped with his back against the wall, letting the kid pull the rigid length of him out from the fly of the longjohns, twitching all over as Remy's head slid down his chest, trailing long strands of hair that looked like blood stained silk. And god - - god, if he'd thought the hand had felt good - - the kid's mouth was like some twisted, evil version of heaven on earth. A warm, moist flicker of tongue. The enveloping hot wetness of his lips, of the inside of his mouth as he swallowed Logan whole. Just took him in up to the root in one fell swoop that had both of Logan's hands twined in the kid's hair of their own accord. He didn't want to look down, didn't want to see that auburn head rhythmically working his erection - - but like a tragic accident, he couldn't quite keep his eyes away.

No stopping it now. Not if he wanted to - - and he wasn't so certain that he did - - at least at the moment. There was something beyond the mere physical pleasure that made the blood pound in animalistic satisfaction. Something in the way the kid's lean, battered body curled along the side of the bunk, knees folded under him, the curve of his lower back, the one hand helpless against Logan's hip while the other worked in unison with his mouth to rock Logan's world. Something vaguely - - he hesitated at the term 'submissive' since the kid had initiated this and taken things firmly in hand against Logan's express wish. But maybe it was that hint of submissiveness that got the alpha male part of him in an uproar. That made his fingers tighten in Remy's hair and press his mouth further down around his cock - - that made him hold him there for a moment with the tip of his erection nestled down the back of the kid's throat while his eyes rolled back in his head and he shot his load hard and true down that same moist channel.

He shut his eyes, breathing ragged and harsh. Released his hold on Remy's hair when the kid tried to push himself up. The kid leaned there on one elbow and wiped the back of his good hand across his mouth. Logan's eyes focused on those lips, swollen and dark from sex. Moist. Curving slightly in a Cheshire cat smile. No ejaculation on his chin though. He'd swallowed that, each and every drop.

"See, not so bad - -" the kid started and Logan snarled and drew back a hand in sudden, outraged indignation. The smile faded and the kid flinched, ducking his head, in no position to easily avoid a blow. Logan averted it last moment, his knuckles a mere fraction away from a face that already had too many fading bruises. He caught a handful of hair instead and jerked Remy up and backwards, slamming him onto his back and looming over.

"You little - - fuck. Goddamn you - - what'd you do!!"

Remy glared up, anger fighting with apprehension in his eyes. "You know what I did. You enjoyed it and don't say otherwise."

"I didn't want you to - -" he couldn't say it. He couldn't lie and say it hadn't felt good. Hadn't felt like the best damned oral sex he'd had in more years than Remy had been alive. "Yeah, it felt good." He leaned down to hiss. "How many guys you have to go down on to get that talented at giving head, huh boy?" He imagined it was a good number. He imagined if he hadn't of highjacked the kid into coming up here instead of fleeing to the city he'd have probably added a few more to the list.

Remy's eyes narrowed. "Enough." He said, but it was bereft of anger. "Even got some practice in on your friend Sabortooth, before you came back."

Logan drew in a quick breath, felt like he'd been gut punched at that bleak statement. Drew back of a sudden and half knelt there at the side of the bunk, feeling the anger fade and wondering if the rage wasn't all embarrassment fed anyway. He ran a hand through his hair. His fingers were shaking. He laughed at the irony. He could go through a war and never get the shakes and here he was plagued by them as a result of one little blowjob.

"You didn't have to do that. You damned well didn't have to do that."

"I wanted to." Simple, quiet statement that made Logan glance up sharply. "An you wanted me a little, non? So it was equable."

"I didn't." It was a reflexive denial.

Remy lifted one finely arched, sardonic brow. "Whatever you say, mon ami."

Logan felt like a cad. Felt like damned lowlife scum for letting the kid seduce his way into his pants. No matter that it had felt like it had. No matter that for a while there he'd been lost in it. In the sheer rush of sex and libido that had filled his veins and his brain and most certainly his cock. None of that mattered when it was done out of some sense of debts owed and penance's paid. He hadn't asked for it. He hadn't expected it and he damned sure didn't like that he'd enjoyed it. Surprising that Remy even considered it, after what Creed had put him though. But then, he supposed that the kid had been forced into a lot of things in his life that he didn't enjoy and didn't want to do. He wondered if this one was one of them. But, he seemed to recall Remy saying that he'd wanted to. He wanted to, for crying out loud! Now wasn't that a statement to make a man uncomfortable. To make a man feel a little itch in his pants all the way across the room from the problem in question.

It was the charm that had done it, he thought. It had just snuck up on him, working overtime just like the rest of the kid's physiology in trying to kick the infection out of his body. Damned charm that came into play when Remy was scared or threatened or wanted something bad enough or was just standing there looking like he did, with that cocky tilt to his head and that lean, graceful way he held his body. A man could ignore it most of the time. Save being cooped up in a one room cabin with the damned kid when he was on a quest for misplaced absolution.

"Damnit." Logan said softly and flicked the butt of his cigarette into the fire. Damnit, but if he didn't feel like scum.


"If anybody made de mistake, it was me." Remy stood there, shivering at the door with the blanket clenched around his shoulders, glaring at Logan who'd escaped outside to unearth the wood pile. Logan hadn't spoken to him since last night. Logan was mighty unnerved and not liking it. Remy was floundering in the notion that he'd made a disastrous mistake. It hadn't seemed that way at the time. At the time, it had seemed - - right. At the time, he'd been picking up something from Logan - - something gentle and concerned while he'd been patching up his wounds - - that had just appealed to him. That had just made him go appreciative and quivery with longing because he hadn't felt that from anybody since before he and Rogue had had their parting. That somebody felt concern for him - - real honest concern - - and laid gentle hands on him at the same time - - he couldn't have been that far off the mark. And Logan had liked it. Logan hadn't stopped him until it was done and only then had he gotten all indignant and scandalized.

"Don' mean you have to pretend I'm not here." He took a few steps out into the trampled snow and curled his toes at the ice beneath bare skin.

Logan tossed him an agitated glare. "Get back inside, you freakin' idiot."

Well, at least he'd gotten a bit of conversation.

"Je suis désolé - - I'm sorry." He said it with heartfelt honesty and all he got for his efforts was a growl from Logan, who threw down his ax in irritation and stalked through the snow towards Remy like he was about to do him serious damage. Remy took one step backwards, feet almost numb from the cold, before Logan snagged his arm and forcibly relocated him inside the cabin.

"Stay the hell inside." Was the command before he turned about and stalked outside, slamming the door in his wake.

Remy muttered something foul under his breath. In short order there was the sound of wood being decimated. He sat down in the chair before the fire and glumly wondered if this was fixable. Wondered if he ought to even try. So he'd fucked this up like he fucked up almost every other thing in his life. Big surprise. He hadn't meant to. Maybe Logan was right. Maybe his head had been seriously messed up.

Maybe. Ha! What in hell had he been thinking to try something like that on a teammate? Stupid. Stupid. Stupid! He'd already messed things up with Rogue. No matter how hard they tried, there wasn't any comfortable way to work together. Sex - - or the allusion of sex - - always got in the way. And despite certain presidential declarations to the contrary- - having somebody's dick in your mouth was sex, sex and nothing but sex.

His options here were limited since Logan refused to talk and teetered on the edge of violence when Remy pushed. Shut his mouth and hope it went away on its own. Right. Or run as soon as he was able and avoid the issue that way. The latter was more his style. He was good at running.

Logan stomped in with an armful of wood. Went about arranging it in the bin by the hearth with silent efficiency. Remy glowered into the fire, biting his lip to keep from blurting out something Logan probably didn't want to hear.

"Don't look like we're gonna get any more snow soon." Logan said, without looking at him. "By the end of the week, if you're up to it, we might try to hike down to the main road. Gotta fix you up something to wear - -"

"Why don't you just go now?" Remy snapped, churlish and sullen.

Logan slanted him a look. "You want me to leave you here alone?"

That bit of logic hadn't occurred to him when he'd recommended an out for Logan. But the little fingers of fear were not nearly so strong as the raging torrent of embarrassment he'd created.

"Oui. Why not? Won't take you but a day, by yourself. You come right back with something with wheels and den we be right on our way home."

"No." Logan went back to stacking his wood. Got up and went outside for another armful and continued as if he'd hardly paused, when he got back in. "I ain't leaving you here by yourself. Not with the likely-hood of him still being out there waitin'."

"He ain't out there. He's gotten bored and headed for warmer climates. No reason for you to stay." He wasn't sure he believed that. Logan didn't bother to argue. Finished with his wood and stood, dusting his hands off on his pants. It looked as if he wanted to say something, but he changed his mind, going over to the sink instead to light a smoke.

"You got one of those for me?" Remy asked softly. Logan looked in his pack. One lonely little stick left. He shrugged and offered it to Remy. Handed him his own cigarette to light it with, then went back to the sink to stare out the window.

"Didn't mean anything - -" the nicotine gave him a modicum of courage. "Not really. Not if you don't want it to. Just something that happened."

"What?" Logan didn't turn. "Just a casual fuck between buddies, huh?"

"It wasn't a fuck."

Logan turned then, a hard glint in his eyes. Something dangerous in the line of his mouth. He padded over, like a predator on the prowl, put both his hand on the arms of the chair and stared Remy in the eye. "You be willing to spread your legs for me, boy? Be willing to get on your knees and make it official? Or was the head the only coin you were willing to pay your debt with?"

He blinked, taken aback. Not expecting this attack from Logan. Not expecting this sort of wordplay and unprepared. It took him a moment to get his balance and reply. "If that's what you want. Oui."

Logan gauged him. Must have seen the seriousness in his face. Reached out and caught a few locks of Remy's hair and rubbed it between thick fingers. "Because you owe me?"

Again, he couldn't formulate an immediate answer. Logan didn't play with words often. When he did, he was uncanny. Remy didn't know what answer he wanted. Didn't know what he was fishing for. Being glib, at the moment, was beyond him. "Yes." He said, because debt was the only safe excuse he could come up with.

"Then that would make you a whore, wouldn't it. And pretty as you are - - and you do catch the eye - - I don't pay for my fucks."

Nothing came to mind to say to that. Logan remained there a moment, a big dog daring a smaller one to meet its challenge. Remy looked away, breaking that eye contact, feeling somewhat sick at the pit of his stomach. Wrong answer of course. Figured.

He'd shut the kid up, which was what he'd wanted. Trouble was, he felt a little bad about it. There'd been that look in Remy's eyes - - before he'd collected himself enough to cover it - - of real pain. Trouble was, he was in a damned difficult situation, caught between the rational side of his mind, the side that held all his values and morals and beliefs about himself and the world - - and the devil-may-care portion of his mentality that liked to live on the wild-side and liked to drag tradition in the mud and damned sure had found the vision of Remy on his hands and knees with that tight little ass in the air before him an attractive one. And that in itself didn't bother him half so much, now that he thought about it, as the danger of it becoming addictive. He needed time to sort things out, to do some figuring, and the kid kept yapping at him, looking for redemption or forgiveness or invitation - - who the hell knew? He just needed quiet and the time to think and he could do that back at the mansion, where he didn't have to deal with the whether and a possible enemy out there waiting for him to let his guard down.

Another week stuck in the cabin with Remy and he'd either break down and strangle the kid - - or bed him. It was debatable which would be the bigger mistake.

As fate would have it, he didn't have too. For once, she smiled down on him in the form of a faint thawping sound that was too consistent to be the wind knocking about limbs. The kid didn't hear it until it was close enough to churn the snow around the cabin and Logan had already long since identified it, pulled on his boots and rushed outside to squint up into the pale gray sky of afternoon at the hovering machine that had made a maelstrom of their frontyard. It was a search and rescue chopper from the markings, and a helmeted form leaned over the edge and blared through a loudspeaker for him to step back and give them room to set down in the cleared area between trees and cabin.

The bird sank heavily into the snow. The propellers still swirling with enough force to keep the snow in the yard stirred up.

"What in hell are you doing up here?" Logan yelled, fighting his way through the snow to the open side door of the chopper.

"Ranger Mucullah alerted us that you might need some help when she didn't hear from you. Thought you might have gotten caught in the storm."

Logan laughed. God bless practical women. "Yeah, got a man injured in there. Was wondering how the hell I was gonna get him down the mountain."


He put in a call to the mansion over the chopper radio, asking for somebody to fly down to Fargone to pick Remy up, take him home and fix him as best they were able. He wasn't up for that ride back. For any number of reasons. Not the least of which was there was an enemy out here that needed dealing with. Scores needed to be settled. Course the kid thought otherwise, He didn't say anything. Just bundled up in the extra jumpsuit they had on board the chopper and climbed on board with a hand from one of the air rangers.

"You sure you want to stay up here?" the chopper pilot yelled over the sound of the blades.

"Yeah. Got some hunting to do." He waved them off, backed away against the wall of the cabin while the bird heaved itself out of the snow and up into the air. A nice temporary escape from a problem that he couldn't be solved with six deadly claws. He'd have to deal with it eventually. But right now, with the snow dusting his face and hair and the chopper becoming a speck in the distance, he turned his attention towards dealing with the problem that he could tackle with the sharp edge of admantium.

It was time to take his pound of bloody flesh.



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