Sorry, this story just slammed into me as I was writing the newest chapter of The Sky is Falling.
Cold Hands, Warm Soul
"Hello, Dr. Xavier. I'm surprised to see you here."
Charles smiled up at the older man, "I don't get to many conferences due to my heavy work schedule."
The man, Dr. Hespire smiled, "I understand. Well, I'm due at another dinner in twenty minutes but we really must talk more at your lecture. I'm eager to discuss your work."
Charles graciously nodded, "And I yours, Doctor."
They shook hands and Charles turned to leave. Suddenly he spotted a young man standing to the side alone with a drink.
'It couldn't be.'
The man turned and Charles could clearly see his red eyes. He disappeared before Charles could wheel himself over there.
'What the devil is Gambit doing at a genetics conference in Peoria?' He lightly scanned the hotel but found no sign of him, which wasn't really surprising. The man could become a ghost when he wanted to.
Charles spent a good half-hour trying to find him, even asking at the front desk, with no luck. Finally he sighed and went up to his room.
Wouldn't you know who was leaning against the door to his hotel room.
"Gambit, I've been looking all over for you. What are you doing at a genetics conference?"
He shrugged, "Just crashing."
Charles unlocked the door to his room, "And in Peoria?"
Another shrug, "Dunno. Why not Peoria?"
Charles gestured for him to enter and moved over to get them a drink. He looked over at Gambit who was wandering aimlessly around the room. He was wearing a nice suit, which wasn't that strange if he was crashing a banquet. He looked a bit pale and haggard, Charles immediately flashed to the Antarctica debacle. Scott had said that he didn't seem to be recuperating too quickly from his abandonment in the frozen wasteland. He mentioned this theory to Gambit.
"I guess I haven't recovered too well. It's not something you bounce back from too easy, neh?"
Charles indicated for him to sit, "Indeed. You have no idea how horrified I was when I heard what Rogue had done." He looked pointedly at Gambit, "I have always believed in second chances, Remy. In my eyes, in the eyes of the Dream, you are always an X-man, no matter your past."
Remy smiled sadly, "T'ank you, Professor. I know it wouldn't have happened if you had been there. You're a good man and your Dream is a Dream wort' having."
Charles' eyebrows dipped together in puzzlement, "You never seemed to have any strong feelings either way about my Dream."
Remy looked into his eyes and the hairs on the back of Charles' neck rose. He quickly scanned the hotel again for something that may be setting off his sixth sense.
Remy in the meantime had started speaking, "You're dream was a chance f'r penance f'r me. A chance to redeem myself in the face of all the bad t'ings I've done. Your Dream gives as much to us as it does t' the people y're trying t' help."
Charles smiled, "And, do you believe that you've redeemed yourself?"
Remy laughed, "I have a pretty strong feeling that I have." He glance at the clock, 11:55, and stood up. "It's late, I had better go."
Charles nodded, "Will you be staying in town tonight?"
Remy shook his head, still smiling, "No, I have to continue on my journey."
Charles raised an eyebrow, but let it pass. His X-Men were famous for their walkabouts. He reached out and they shook hands.
"My God, Remy, you're freezing!" He looked close at Remy and saw he was even sicklier looking up close. Sallow face, purplish lips. He waved it off.
"It's just a little bug, I'll be fine."
"Very well, it was good to talk to you, although I'm not sure I'm worthy of all your praise."
Remy looked at him seriously, "You are and then some. It may get overgrown at times, but y'r path is true and pure."
Charles stared at him quizzically but Remy simply smiled, "Goodnight, Professor, sleep well."
As it turned out, he slept very well that night.
Charles smiled at the phone, "Hello, Scott."
"Hello, Professor. How is the conference?"
Scott sounded preoccupied, "Fine, Scott. Do you know what Gambit is doing in Peoria?"
Silence. "What did you say?"
"Remy. I saw him last night and we had an...interesting conversation."
Scott dropped the phone and scrambled to pick it up.
"Scott, what is it? What's wrong?"
"Sir, Gambit died of pneumonia two days ago. Didn't you get my message?"