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"Growing Up"

Growing Up

Chaper One: Despair
Chapter Two: Regret
Chapter Three: Guilt
Chapter Four: Fear
Chapter Five: Shame
Chapter Six: Love
Chapter Seven: Bliss

Growing Up

Chapter 3: Guilt

'There are chapters in every life which
are seldom read and certainly not out loud.'
- Carol Shields, The Stone Diaries

"Wake up my friend. You are going to be fine."

Remy tried to move but pain lanced through his entire body. He tried to speak, but his jaw wouldn't move. Finally he was able to squint his eyes open. They must be pretty swollen he thought. Through a glass-like shield, a pale man with black hair and a red diamond in his forehead smiled pointed teeth at him.

"Who are you?" he wanted to ask, but it wouldn't come from his wired-shut jaw. However the question suddenly echoed in the room. Remy's bruised eyes managed to widen.

"It's the psionic shield." the man stated. "While it protects you from all emotional energies outside of it until you can return your shields to their normal levels, it also allows your psionic power to express your speaking thoughts."

Remy digested that information. No wonder he was thinking clearly again.

"De woman?"

"Alive, I believe. I put an anonymous call in to the authorities, and they took her away. She was alive then .... So, how are you feeling?"

"Been better."

The man laughed.

"I would hope so. You are lucky that I came to your aid, M'Sieu LeBeau. I doubt even your stubborn will could have held out much longer against the vast number of emotions assaulting it."

"Merci beaucoup. However, seems I be at de disadvantage. Ya know my name, but I don' be knowin yours."

"The name is Sinister. Mr. Sinister. And I know a great deal more about you than just your name. It seems an old acquaintance of yours is an associate of mine." Something in Remy's gut told him not to trust this man, and who he saw next convinced him.


"Now that didn't sound very nice, LeBeau. An' after I just helped save your sorry cajun hide."

Wonderful. Don' get all mushy, Remy. You know he only did it on orders. Ain't like you got to like him now. Ain't like you really owe him.

At least that didn't echo in the room around him so he did have some privacy, he guessed. They could be reading his unblocked mind, of course. Didn't really seem to make much difference one way or the other. It was hard to have much privacy or choice about things while he was wearing an near complete body cast as tubes ran in and out of his body. What was important was he was alive. They'd saved his life. He would never have made it out of that theater intact without help. He owed Sinister, and Remy LeBeau paid his debts. Of course, the cynic in him knew better than to believe that his good fortune was only a random act of kindness. He knew there was a reason they saved him, a specific price for his life. That didn't matter either. Being alive and sane was what mattered. That was the last time he'd ever put anyone else's welfare above his own. Look what it had got him. Look what it always got him. From now on, he only cared for himself.

He was a thief, not a good Samaritan. And most of his 'friends' had always been the less than savory types, anyway. This was the world he understood. It was the life he knew. He could always charm his way through. All the while, a tiny voice in the back of his head kept telling him the price he would be made to pay would cost him things much more precious than his life.

"Rest, my friend." Sinister smiled at him, and Remy got a creepy feeling. "It will take awhile for you to recover from the wounds those genetic inferiors inflicted on you. You are lucky we discovered you in time. Complete rest and some of my healing devices should make you like new. Hardly a scar. Once recovered we can discuss your future. After all, superior beings such as ourselves should stick together."

Little alarms went off in Remy's head, but he pushed them down into the quiet darkness.

Sinister treated him like his very best friend, a beloved son, all through the recovery. Remy'd spent his whole life lying, being lied to, and wasn't fooled. The man wanted something. But it was the first time someone had cared about him for any reason in a long time. At least he wasn't alone. Sinister told him that their kind had to stick together above the rest, look out for themselves. That they were the genetic kings destined to save the world. His work was advancing that along, and he needed a man like Remy. A master thief to acquire him information he had been unable to gain on his own. Things supposedly impossible to obtain. A point man with skills and powers his organization needed. An information specialist and his right hand. Remy would be highly rewarded. Despite his reservations concerning Sinister's philosophy, Remy was intrigued. A chance to do what he did best and repay his debt, no questions asked. Someplace to fit in. Challenges and risks to overcome. Sounded perfectly fine for a while.

He was a thief, not a philosopher. What difference did it make to him what Sinister wanted with the information as long as he got his a cut? After all, he was watching out for himself first from now on.

Once well, he agreed to joining the Marauders as it's point man, promising to help Sinister out, pay him back. He stole numerous papers, information and documents for the man. Sinister was very pleased with the results, praising his skills and paying him well for the services. Over time, Remy met or worked with many of the other Marauders including Sabertooth. The man was still about a likable as a splinter, but Remy put up with it. It helped to know Creed continually complained to Sinister about having to work with him. He didn't trust Remy. There was a laugh. Essex finally told Creed to shut up or maybe he'd find a better use for him. Maybe working in the labs. Remy thought that pretty hysterical, but having never seen the labs, maybe Sabertooth could sweep the floors. Most of the rest of the Marauders impressed him less than Sabertooth. They were muscle, enforcers. Little brains and no style. They hardly spoke to him.

Except Arclight, who had a few interpersonal skills she was more than happy to show him. Truthfully, they didn't really speak that much either. But laissez les bon temps rouler, they didn't really need to. It was just fun. She wasn't looking for ties just explosive heat, and from what she'd seen and heard, she bet he could help her with her quest. Never let it be said he'd let down a damsel in distress.

Of course, this only made him more persona non grata with the rest of the Marauders. How was he to know Arclight and Riptide had a thing once. Wasn't his fault she decided Riptide wasn't fulling his part of the arrangement.. That was before he even showed up. Problem was, Arclight loved rubbing salt into old wounds.

"How's the teacher's pet?"

"Jealous Riptide?"

"You think I'd be jealous of that cajun casanova just because he's knocking boot with you, Arc?"

Arclight smiled. Why had she ever thought this dork was worthy of her time? Oh, she remembered now. He was good at killing people. Beyond that he could hardly keep up a decent conversation. Loser. He'd never amount to anything. Now, she wanted to hurt him for the fun of it. Besides, Sinister said to keep him pissed off for missions. And he'd walked right into this like a moth to a flame.

"Actually no, you're not that smart. But if you had brains, you would be since he's way better than you ever were ... or will ever be."

"You little bitch!"

"Come on, loser."

Creed grinned breaking it up. Arc was doing her job well keeping Riptide wound up. Frails'll do it to you every time. Not to worry. LeBeau would eventually decide to move on giving her a taste o' her own medicine. Probably just about the time she started realizing she was falling for the cajun charmer. Serve her right.

It was the only thing Sabertooth liked about LeBeau. The kid was a natural born heartbreaker. He could do it without even trying. It was the thing Creed hated about the cajun too. If the kid had the killer instinct instead of being a hopeless romantic, he could be devastating instead of just dangerous. Boy was soft. He just hid it well. Sinister was missing that. And that's why he didn't trust LeBeau . If he had the kid's charm, he'd being enjoying it. Rending a person's heart was just as painful, gory, and satisfying as rending their flesh. Sometimes more. Sometimes much more.

Sinister entered the room as Sabertooth was pulling Riptide away. He smirked momentarily. Another thing Gambit was good for, keeping everybody charged up, usually without even trying. Then he looked serious.

"That is enough. Save it for when you'll need it. And you are going to need it soon."

"Yeah?" Creed grinned. "Bout time. I was getting restless. Time for the hunt. Who's the prey?"

"A colony of genetically inferior mutants living somewhere in New York. And that is the first problem. I must find them. Where they live. All of them. Then you can hunt them in their den and eradicate them."

"I could track them."

"On the streets of New York? I think the X-Men would eventually notice a presence such as yours and mess things up. You do tend to cause a scene sometimes. No. I think this calls for subtly first. And subtle and sneaky is Gambit's department. I'll send him in first to find out about the targets, and then you can finish the job. He'll lead you right to these 'Morlocks", and I want everyone ready when the time comes. Is that understood?"

The eagerness in their eyes told him they did.

Sinister had said this was important. He needed to find these people. They were a previously unknown group of mutants he wanted to track, study, along with all the rest. His gut kept telling him there was something wrong about this, but he ignored the feeling. He knew Essex only looked out for his own interests, his quest for genetic material and knowledge, but Remy told himself he owed the man, and he didn't know these people. So what if Sinister wanted to keep tabs on them? He needed to look out for himself. No one was going to do it for him with out a reason he realized. Humans hated him just because of an accident of birth, and no one else was going to really be there for him. He wasn't good enough to justify the effort. Agreeing to work for Sinister guaranteed he was helped in getting well after Seattle, and the pinches had been pretty interesting and profitable. Sinister watched out for him because he needed him. They were using each other. That he understood, and in the end, that's what he'd learned. The strong survive. The weak perish. Look out for number one.

It took a few days and breaking into a very nice mansion out in Westchester to get the information needed to know where to start. Pretty damn good security, but not good enough. Get in, get the stuff you want, get out . Quick, quiet, efficient. Staying too long, getting too greedy, that's what got you caught.

But knowing where the tunnels were and knowing your way around them were two different things. He hung around subway stations watching them come and go to get food. Waiting for the right circumstances, he 'accidentally met one of the members who frequently came out to scavenge. He knew the feeling of living day to day, and felt a pang of sympathy.

Number one, Remy.

Her name was Starbright because she glowed in the dark. She was young, naive, trusting, and friendly. And even pretty in a unique sort of way. He saved her from some gang members, and she didn't stand a chance against his charm. She invited him down and showed him around. Much to initial dismay of Callisto, but he charmed her too.

"No threat me. I'm just an outcast mutant like de rest of you."

After a week or so, he could have walked every cavern blindfolded. Starbright was a very good guide. She really was a sweet kid, and he kept telling himself Sinister watching them was no big deal. Sinister tracked mutants all over the world as he identified them. It was part of his research into mutant genetics. So why did this seem so wrong?

"Dis is it. It's an obscure entrance attached to de back caverns. Never hardly used. Sinister can easily use it ta keep tabs on dem." Remy lit a cigarette. "Didn't know you did surveillance work, Creed."

"Don' get smart, cajun. Lead us in so we can see how close we can get. We'll know how to set the equipment properly."

"Could have set it myself."

"Sinister wants us all to know how to get in here to do anything that needs to be done."

They walked in and out without a hitch.

"This is perfect." Creed growled slapping his hand on Gambit's shoulder. "No problems encountered. Nice work gumbo."

Remy raised an eyebrow at the praise.

"Told you he's good." Arclight smirked at Riptide.

He knew something was wrong. All his defenses told him something was up and to be careful, but when he got to the destination Sinister sent him to, he suddenly knew the eerie feeling wasn't about his welfare. The pinch was a piece of cake. Much too simple to have sent him halfway across the country for. That feeling of dread was back in full force.

Sinister gave the orders and sent the muscle out. They meant nothing to him save being good goons and killers. He was keeping their genetic codes on hand in case he needed that kind of army in the future. LeBeau, on the other hand, had proved to be an invaluable asset. When Creed told him that he'd met the boy before, Essex was pleased to be able to learn some things about LeBeau's mutant powers prior to him awakening. The charging ability although impressive surprised him some. Why use mostly that when the empathic ability was so strong? Didn't matter. He'd help the boy expand his powers in time. Once he owned him. Amoral by virtue of his upbringing and nature, LeBeau was more ideal for his purposes that he could have imagined. His thieving skills were outstanding, and he was able to acquire documents Sinister had been trying to get at for awhile. Not to mention, the boy had excellent underground information contacts even he didn't have. He needed LeBeau out doing this work for him. This reason would have been enough not to send Remy in with the other Marauders, but he had a number of other reasons for Gambit being out of the picture. LeBeau was a thief by nature not an assassin. Mass murder was not his forte like it was with the others. LeBeau really wasn't out to kill people. Oh, he'd killed before in self-defense and was a top notch fighter, better at hand to hand than most of the marauders. And his aim, charging ability and unorthodox methods were impressive in battle, but it wasn't his style. Still, Sinister was sure once the battle insued, Gambit would protect himself. That was always Remy's number one concern. So Sinister doubted the Morlocks could take Gambit unless by accident. But it wasn't the Morlocks he was worried about. Arclight has done her job too well. Riptide might well take the opportunity to vent his jealousy at Gambit by betraying him during the battle and pretending Gambit just got unlucky. Sinister definitely couldn't risk that. LeBeau was indeed a useful ally, but even more important, he was an exceptional source of genetic material and potential.

Essex nearly fell on the floor in shock when he finally determined Gambit's paternity, and genealogical potential. He had to double check the tests. Gambit came from a very powerful genetic line he'd been tracking for well over two generations. And he thought the man had never strayed from his wife and children. But of course, he couldn't watch someone morning, noon, and night over a lifetime. Despite the impression he gave off, his vast knowledge on the subject, and his tracking techniques, Essex didn't know every mutant born nor every potential line for mutation. It was absurd to believe any one, even Apocalypse, could keep up with all the infinite possibilities. But as individual mutants, especially powerful ones, were tracked down, he collected data on them and their families. Checked genetic factors and theorized possibilities while back tracking along those family lines. He tried to identify other potential mutations along that family tree. He also kept genetic material on outstanding normal humans to add to the mix as well.

Sinister had been tracking specific families like the Summers since he'd first meet Scott Summers and Jean Grey. His files were as complete as anyone's could be considering the amount of time involved. But bastards like LeBeau proved most annoying since it usually took them manifesting their powers for him to find them. And Gambit's charging ability had not originally intrigued him enough for him to find the boy, and he'd hidden his empathy well. Not to mention, Candra's messing around in New Orleans always interfered with his equipment. He was glad that Gambit had lost control of his empathic abilities, or he would have never known how powerful the cajun was or spent the extensive effort and time the blood tests usually took to determine Gambit's lineage. Especially if he had never run across that line before, it would be impossible to determine anything. However what he found made it all worth the trouble. It couldn't have worked out more perfectly. Suddenly that experiment he'd conducted all those years ago just to see if it would work was way more useful than he had ever imagined. And despite verifying a theory, he'd thought that experiment had been practically useless. It didn't result in exactly what he expected. Of course the problems with that experiment would definitely prove a hindrance to the results he wanted. He supposed everyone needed a challenge.

It had seemed like any other day when it started. Pleasant, slightly cool. But for him it would be the one day of his life that would remain etched in his brain forever. The day he realized he'd sold his soul for self preservation. He would then and forever be like Lady McBeth, looking at his hands and always seeing blood.

Remy didn't return straight from the pinch. He couldn't. Halfway across the country, he felt screams of death. The number of them increasing their affect on the astral plane. He knew then but tried to deny it. It drew him to the Morlock tunnels. It was long over by then. Dead bloody bodies littered the caverns. This was genocide, Auschwitz, Buchenwald. And he had been the train engineer that delivered them. Men, women, children. He picked up the body of a small girl and wept.

I never meant he thought, cried.

But a voice in his mind mocked him back.

No, you never cared. You didn't want to know. Ignorance is no excuse. Just following orders no defense ... Look out for number one, Remy ... Thief. Cheat. Liar. Murderer. Do you really deserve to be alive in place of this innocent?

Innocent ... Starbright.

He had to know. He ran deeper into the tunnels, climbing over bodies, nearly swimming in blood. He opened his empathic shields and searched for her. Nothing. She was gone. Fourteen. Sweet. Innocent. Dead. All because she trusted him. He sat down in despair. How many tombstones could have the same epitaph? More than he'd want to admit.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."


The huge Morlock was barely alive and screamed in rage as he leapt at Remy. Remy instinctively jumped easily out of the way. If the guy grabbed him, he'd probably kill him. He deserved it. But the Morlock was bordering on death himself.

"I don' want ta hurt ya, mon ami. Let me help."

But the Morlock only attacked again, and again, he dodged. A growl came from a side tunnel and Sabertooth leaped. The two mutants rolled over and over. Sabertooth had made a mistake. This Morlock was more than a match for him in strength.


He picked Creed up and slowly started choking him. Sabertooth couldn't break loose but started clawing viciously. Both would be dead in minutes.

"No! Stop! No more killing!"

Remy threw a card that separated the two and tried to get between them.


Creed's right hand flashed out and ripped his chest throwing him against a wall. His and the now fallen Morlock's blood trickled across the rocks as he blacked out.

He woke up back at Sinister's with 37 stitches in his chest. So much for helping Creed. Sabertooth sneered at him.

"If Sinister didn't want you alive, I'd have left you there, traitor. You're part of the Marauders. You're suppose to be on our side."

"You killed dem! You killed dem all! Why?!?"

"They were inferior."

Remy sat up clutching his chest to look at Sinister approaching him with some of the other Marauders. Arclight was missing. That was ok. He couldn't look at her after what she'd done.

"You wouldn't have wanted to die with them, now would you?"

Sinister regarded him steadily as the Marauders eyed him. Remy squared his jaw.

Stupid to die for nothing now.

"Non." He got up and watched the group.

"But we're square, Essex. I be getting ya what ya wanted. An I don' like bein kept in de dark. I'm out."

He painfully moved toward the door expecting to be attacked. He had two sets of cards charged and ready. Then he heard the laugh.

"You'll return Remy. You have nowhere to go. You are one of us ... Superior, a survivor, protecting only yourself. You know it."

Sinister laughed again as he opened the door. He turned to stare and felt a chill of fear run through him at how close to home that was. Then he kept going. Walking at first, then riding his bike as fast as it would go, trying to never look back, ... or remember. He'd been running from himself ever since.


Continued in Chapter Four.


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