The Lost Boys
By Rebop


 The next morning, they breakfasted on the inevitable papaya and bananas, which caused Hank to recite his imminent obituary: “Noted scientist, Dr. Henry McCoy, PhD, tragically expired from a horrific case of Green Apple Two Step whilst lost in the Amazon jungle.” This got a big laugh from Remy, who had awoken in a rather buoyant mood. Hank knew this was partly due to Remy feeling better. He examined the injured limb again, and was immensely pleased to see that the awful swelling had gone down considerably.

 Despite his relief over Remy’s condition and the light jokes, Hank himself was still deeply troubled. The kiss from Remy had thrown the scientist for a loop; he couldn’t stop fretting over it. He kept covertly glancing at the Cajun to see if he could read some sort of motive on that handsome, sly face, but there was nothing to be had. Remy was, unfortunately, a born poker player.

 They resumed their journey, heading northward, where Hank was sure that they would eventually run into some kind of civilization. As they walked, Gambit drew Henry into conversation. At first, the doctor didn’t really feel like talking. But if Henry McCoy had a weakness, it was for stimulating dialogue, and he soon found himself happily expounding in a number of topics. He forgot his worries and regained more of his old enthusiasm with every mile.

 The conversation was pure Hank, too, touching on a wild array of subjects all somehow oddly interconnected. They discussed Mayan pyramids, which went to Steven Hawking’s latest theories, the dismal progress of Remy’s New Orleans Saints vs. Hank’s beloved Buffalo Bills, poison dart frogs, the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud, Zoroastrianism, cuneiform writing and film noir. During a pause in a rather heated debate on Impressionist art, Hank suddenly realized he was actually having a good time. And he owed quite a bit to of it to Gambit. While Remy wasn’t as well versed in some of the subjects as he was, he always acted interested, asked good questions and always, always listened. Hank found himself smiling and stopped walking for a moment.

 “Changing the subject drastically for a second here, Remy, I would like to say just how much I have always enjoyed talking to you.”

 Remy smiled wide, and it was a smile that told Hank that he had pleased the Cajun. “Well, Henry, de same goes for me. I love shooting de shit with you too.”

 Hank laughed. “And I don’t mind saying that you are one of the few people I can have such conversations with. Or, as dear Mr. Worthington would say, you put up with my endless pontificating admirably.”

 ” Aw Henri, y’ don’t pontificate. “ A warm chuckle. “Much.”

 They started to walk again, and Hank was possessed with the urge to pose a question. One he’d always been dying to ask. It was treading on delicate territory though, and he knew he had to proceed with great caution.

 “Remy, may I ask you something rather personal? And I pray that I don’t offend you. But I have always been terribly curious about something. Why do you pretend to be something that you are not?”

 Gambit stopped dead in his tracks, and his expression was at first so guarded Hank was afraid that he had indeed rocked the boat. But Remy did answer after a long pause.

 “Y’ mean, why do I pretend to be a Cajun dumbass from Bumfuck, Louisiana?”


 Remy spoke slowly and very cautiously. “ Part of it’s my thieves training. My Poppa hammered it into me that y’ never, never let people see y’ whole hand. Y’ always keep ‘em guessin’ about what y’ know, what y’ t’inkin’. “ Remy took a deep breath and his heavy accent suddenly vanished. “ If they believe that you are some goombah from the swamps, then you will always have surprise on your side.” A slight laugh. “ Bobby was amazed once that I actually knew how to run a computer. It works that well.”

 Remy actually fidgeted for a second, very uncomfortable. But he continued talking. “It goes deeper then the Guild, though. I can’t blame it all on them. I always have been afraid to trust people, Henry. Let them see who I really am. I hate to say it, because it’s so stereotypical, but I guess it’s, well, my fucked up childhood.”

Hank wasn’t exactly surprised by this revelation, but he was amazed and a little pleased that Remy was actually opening up to him.

 “Remy, I would not presume to imagine what your early life must have been like. From the little I do know, though, I am deeply honored that you trust me as much as you do. Those old wounds must be so hard to heal. I only hope that someday you will feel that you do not have to hide. I have come to like the real Remy LeBeau very much.”

 Remy nodded slowly, a soft expression in his eyes. “Merci, Hank, merci.” Then he said in a low voice. “Now I’m gonna ask y’ de same question. Why do you pretend to be something that y’ not?”

 Hank felt like someone had just dumped a bucket of ice water over his head. “ What exactly do you mean, Remy?” he stammered.

 “I t’ink y’ know what I’m talking about, Henry.” Remy wore his poker face again, not giving anything away. Hank swallowed hard, panic running through him like wildfire. Gambit knew. But was that why he kissed him? No matter how hard he tried, Hank couldn’t imagine that the feelings could be mutual. Could they? Or was Remy just playing with him?

 There was a long, very uncomfortable silence as Henry tried desperately to rope in his stampeding thoughts. But the supreme commander of six syllable words couldn’t think of a thing to say. All he felt was horribly claustrophobic, like the walls were caving in.

 He was shocked out of this hysteria by a touch on his arm. “Oh, Hank, je suis desole. “ Gambit’s eyes were gentle, and somehow, infinitely sad. “I didn’t mean to freak y’ out, mon ami. Forget I asked.”

 Hank was able to draw in oxygen again. And the expression on Remy’s face told him that the Cajun wasn’t playing a game. Hank finally summoned his voice. “No Remy, that’s hardly fair. I asked you a very personal question, there is no reason that my life should be off-limits.” He let out a long sigh, and ran a hand through his hair. “It’s just that I, uh, well…drat! Why is this so bloody hard?” Hank cleared his throat, and tried one more time. “Okay. I suppose that I should tell you that I-”

 Whatever else Hank was going to say was cut short by a bone-rattling explosion of thunder. Both he and Remy started and glanced up, just in time to see another crackling blue bolt of lightning sear across the sky. They had been so absorbed in their conversation; neither had noticed the oncoming storm.

 In another second, rain poured from the sky in buckets, sheets of water everywhere. Under normal circumstances, this would have been a cue to run for cover, but in the Amazon, this was a tremendous relief from the terrible heat. Hank grinned skyward as the cool rain soaked his dirty fur, and he could not resist making his old Tarzan yell. Remy laughed at this and responded with a big whoop of his own. They danced around, splashing up water like children playing in a mud puddle.

 “Damn! Does this ever feel good!” Gambit yelled over another loud blast of thunder.

 “This is sheer, unadulterated heaven, my dear Acadian. I only wish we had some soap-” Hank paused, slack-jawed as he suddenly saw what Remy was doing. “on a rope…” he finished weakly.

 Gambit had apparently decided to take full advantage of the rain; he was rapidly stripping off his clothes. First the clinging spandex shirt, then the boots, and finally the pants, all deftly tossed into a nearby bush. Hank found himself muttering a truly heartfelt prayer that the young man would at least retain his jock strap, but he had no such luck. Only about a foot away from him, Remy Lebeau was as naked as the day he was born.

 Hank really tried not to gawk, but it was like he was an iron filing drawn to a magnet. All his desire for Remy burst forth, and he shook with its force. He clenched his big fists and fought it, repeated over and over again that this was No Big Deal. He had seen Remy nude countless times before, in the men’s shower, during physical exams. He was a doctor for God’s sake!

And yet, this was somehow very different. Out in the open, against the wildness, Remy looked like an untamed creature himself. Seemingly unconscious of how this was affecting Hank, everything he did was loaded with a dangerous sensuality. To his great embarrassment, Henry felt a hot, aching throb in his groin. But he couldn’t stop looking.

 Pale ivory skin slicked with a wet sheen, auburn hair washed away from that sharp, excruciatingly handsome face. Hard muscles etched in fine detail, all impossibly graceful and perfect. The long sweep of his back, the narrow waist, the slender legs that never seemed to end, no artist could possibly capture such unworldly beauty. Hank was swept up with a terrible, mad longing, wondering what it would be like to taste the rain on that supple skin, run his lips over that strong chest, touch a small pink nipple with a bite and a kiss. Would Remy groan, clutch at his fur, look at Hank with desire in those burning eyes?

 Hank’s penis raged at this forbidden fantasy, straining against the fabric of his trunks. He had never been so aroused or embarrassed in all his life. He knew if Remy looked over at him at this moment he would die. He frantically tried to put the brakes on is out of control libido by reciting the periodic table of elements backwards, an old trick. Luckily it worked, and along with the cold rainwater; Hank managed to master himself.

 And almost as suddenly as it started, the storm ceased. Hank pretended to be interested in a small flock of toucans in a nearby tree as Remy wrung the water out of his hair. Why did every move the Cajun made have to be as erotic as hell, Hank thought in frustration.

 “Man, dat was great!” Remy commented. “Nice to get de stink off, neh?”

 “Uh, yes, most assuredly.” Hank shook the raindrops off his glasses. He kept them off while Remy got mercifully dressed again. For once in his life, Hank was grateful that he was so nearsighted.

 They continued on their journey, Henry bracing himself for the conversation that had been halted by the rain. But Gambit said nothing and they walked in relative silence. As they wound their way through the dense vegetation, Hank tortured himself, hating his confusion and cowardice. Why was he so hesitant and afraid?

 Remy was also very preoccupied. His expression was withdrawn, and he hummed quietly to himself. Hank didn’t recognize the tune, but it sounded like a Cajun song, full of longing and sadness. It didn’t help Hank’s spirits.

 After another slow mile, Hank came to a decision. When they made camp for the night, he’d spill his guts; tell Remy everything. He’d look Gambit right in the eyes and announce; “Remy, I have been attracted to you for quite some time.” Hank was of course, capable of much more flowery sentiments, but in this circumstance, simple was best. He just hoped he wouldn’t fall over in a quivering faint.

 As he was mulling this over, Hank broke through a tight weave of vines and found himself standing on a riverbank. The water was still, dark green and not terribly deep. It was not the mighty Amazon itself, but a small tributary.

 “Was wonderin’ when we’d finally come across de damn river.” Remy commented wryly.

 Hank’s bad mood was instantly lifted. “Ah! This is a marvelous bit of luck! I believe if we go upstream, we will eventually connect to the Amazon itself. “ His quick brain clicked rapidly along like an express train.“ Perhaps we should construct a raft of some sort? Travel by water would be much preferable to slogging through the forest.”

 “Brilliant idea, Huckleberry.” Remy smiled and patted Hank’s shoulder. “We certainly got more den enough wood around, and we can use vines to-”

 Whatever else Gambit was going to say was stopped by the sound of splashing. They both looked in the direction of the noise and saw several largish somethings gliding rapidly under the water.

 “What de hell is dat?” Remy’s query was answered a moment later when one of the creatures popped to the surface, its dorsal fin gleaming in the light. The Cajun’s face took on an expression of pure astonishment. “Henri- is dat what I t’ink it is? But dat can’t be!”

 Hank was utterly delighted, his innate scientific curiosity bubbling like a coffee percolator. “You are not imagining things, my Cajun comrade. We are both very fortunate to see a few of the very rare Amazon River dolphins. They are endangered creatures, sadly, and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Drat! If only I had a camera!”

 “Well, slap me naked and sell my clothes!” Remy said a wide, childlike smile of wonder covering his face. “Dolphins in de Amazon. Never heard of such a t’ing. What y’ t’ink dey are up to?”

 “Hmm…” Hank mused. “It looks as if they are-”

 There was a pause, as Hank and Remy stared at each other. “Fishing!” they yelled in unison.

 Both Gambit and Hank were immediately captivated by the same thought. They rushed downstream, grinning crazily, both raft and dolphins completely forgotten. When they found a likely spot, Hank grabbed a young sapling, snapping it like a stick of celery.

 “As a youngster, I came to be quite adept at using a rod and reel, tutored by my dear paternal Grandpa. Together we bagged many a small mouthed bass and crappie in the depths of Lake Wocohiscan.” Hank rapidly stripped the small tree of its branches and leaves. “But in this particular scenario, lacking the obvious equipment, I shall endeavor to practice the most ancient art of spear fishing.”


 “I just need to sharpen the tip of this sapling with our knife, then voila! We are, as they say, in business.”


 Hank tested the heft of the pole experimentally. “Now, I don’t have any experience in this sort of thing, mind you. But I imagine stealth and patience would be the key to success.”

 “Dr. McCoy!”

 “My, there certainly nothing like fresh fish, is there? Just thinking about it makes my taste buds tingle. And there are so many interesting species in this ecosystem; I am very curious to see what we will encounter.”

 Hank finally heard an exasperated sigh from Remy. He paused and turned just in time to see Gambit launch a kinetically charged rock into the river. There was a dull explosion, like a small depth charge, and then a shower of water and about a dozen gasping fish pelted them both. Hank stood in open-mouthed astonishment, surveying the handsome catch with wide eyes. He dropped his would-be spear into the sand.

 Remy grinned sheepishly. “Sorry, Henri. Know y’ was all excited about playing Neolithic hunter and stuff, but shit, I’m hungry! It’s sort of overkill I know, but what we don’t eat now we can save for later. Didn’t mean to spoil y’ fun though.”

 Hank, by this time, had recovered. He let out a loud, bellowing whoop of delight and ran to Gambit, picking him up. He embraced the young man tightly, pulling the lanky Cajun right off the ground. Remy laughed a deep, Louisiana laugh.

 “Oh, Remy LeBeau, I absolutely adore you!” Hank cried out.

 Henry’s words caused the Cajun to look him right in the eyes, the laughter gone suddenly. “Do y’, Hank?” he whispered, ever so softly.

 And with that, the world stopped. Hank continued to hold Remy, and Gambit’s face was so close to his own. Hank drank in the sharp, foxy features he had become to hold so dear. And with a combination of panic and a reckless, wild joy, Hank finally answered Remy’s question.

 “Yes, Remy. I do.”

 “T’ought so.” With exquisite slowness, Gambit pressed a long fingered hand to Hank’s cheek, and gave it the gentlest caress. “Y’ ever going to do anyt’ing about it, mon ami?”

 “Yes, my dear, I will.” Then Hank committed one of the bravest acts he ever had in his life. He brushed the longish hair away from Remy’s face and kissed him.

Continued in Part 4

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