Longing, Loss and Lies

Disclaimer: Characters and Premise are borrowed from the Marvel, I'm not making any money.

The air outside was bitter. Fall gracelessly giving way to winter, an ugly time of year. Gold and red leaves gone, trodden into the mud. The beautiful, if inhospitable, cloak of snow and ice yet to be donned. But the damp, unforgiving cold had already set in with a vengeance.

Still whatever the climate outside, the club was warm. The sweaty, living heat of too many bodies, too little space and the driving need to move. Multi-colored lights splayed across the crowd, illuminating without revealing. The pulsing beat of the music was a tangible thing; Remy could feel it vibrating in his chest, begging his heart to join its rhythm. He wished he could comply, the need to belong, to submerse himself in a greater whole was all consuming tonight.

He slipped off his long trench coat, letting it join the carelessly discarded jackets and bags piled along the walls.

A woman leaning against the wall, taking a break from dancing paused to admire him. Black jeans and a fitted maroon tee shirt showed off a rangy, well-muscled frame topped by thick, russet hair, pulled back into a ponytail and overly long bangs that obscured his eyes.

He pushed the bangs back out of his face with an unconscious gesture and the woman started, she hadn't expected to see the colors of his clothes echoed in his eyes. He noticed her staring and smiled flirtatiously. With that smile his angular features transcended handsome.

She smiled back, deciding his unusual eyes suited him. And if he was a demon... well, he was one she wouldn't mind getting to know better.

Her eyes followed him as he slipped smoothly into the crowd on the dance floor. As more bodies crossed between them she lost track of him, with a slight sigh she turned back toward where she'd left her friends.

The dance floor was well filled, but not so crowded that the clusters of people who came together couldn't be distinguished.

Remy moved toward the center of the floor, gracefully winding between the other dancers. With every step he fell further into the music, loosing himself to it. His movements were fluid, sinuous, body and mind perfectly in tune and one hundred percent in the moment. He could have been a professional dancer, a gymnast or a martial arts expert... or a thief.

The clusters of dancers around him opened up, welcoming him in. His eyes warmed, shining with new life, a true extrovert, gaining energy from being a part of the group.

As the night deepened the crowds thickened, bodies brushed and jostled one another. The rhythm of the floor shifted, becoming more intense, more intimate.

A slight blonde pressed close to him. Swaying together she leaned close. "Remy, I thought you couldn't come?" she yelled over the music.

" 'M playin' hooky chere," he responded grinning wickedly.

"Claire, not Cher," she corrected with an amused smile, pulling him toward a group of friends. "Look who decided to grace us with his presence."

Welcoming smiles. Familiar faces. Easy for him to return the friendly greetings. Hard to hear one another over the music. Conversation was quickly forgotten in favor of dance.

The crowd peaked and began to thin as the night waned. The dancers spread out and pairs began to form. The lights were raised slightly. The music softened and became more eccentric as the remaining dancers scowered the DJ's collection for waltzes, swings, salsas and the like. Tables were pulled away from the walls, giving people the option of looking or chatting, in addition to dancing.

The couples on the floor broke and shifted and reformed almost as often as the songs changed. A glance, a smile, a hand offered. It was easy, practiced, little fear of rejection here.

Remy's partner of the moment sighed heavily, her dark curly hair swaying with the weight of it. He spun them around in time to see a slender red-head swung around her partner's shoulders to land lightly, barely needing the steadying hand he caught her with.

"Rob an' Mindy be show-offs, neh?" Remy asked.

Large dark eyes stared up at him, making their owner look younger than her years and another wistful sigh answered him.

"Remy always enjoyed showin' off hisself," he commented. "Want to do dat petite?"

He lifted Vanessa easily, tossing her into the air then caught her and flipped her head over heals before setting her lightly back on her feet.

A few more measures and the song ended. Remy escorted Vanessa from the floor as she gushed, "That was so 'Strictly Ballroom'! God, Remy where'd you learn that?"

His mind's eye flashed to countless battles; the concussive force of explosions, the deadly ballet of combat. Knowing the physics of catching a falling body, of propelling a teammate into the fray or being on the other side of the equation, like the back of his hand, because mistakes there could cost lives. "Mebbe we watch de same movie chere," He said. "We dance 'gain in another few rounds, oui?"

"Any time." He left her smiling, totally besotted and completely distracted. It was habit, diverting them from even the most innocent of personal inquires. He never quite lied, at least not with his words.

The first time they invited him to join them during the latter part of the night, Rob had asked, "What do you do? Besides making the rest of us guys look bad?"

"I be a thief," he had answered, his expression and tone making certain that none of them suspected that his reply had been the unvarnished truth.

They'd laughed, smiled, obliquely gave him permission to tell other amusing lies. He basked in the warmth of their easy acceptance; they didn't need to know him to like him, to let him in their circle. They let him keep his secrets, but then they didn't depend on him for anything either.

None of them gave much beyond an evening of company. A lovely shallow pool, sun warmed to it's bed, no depths in which treasures or terrors might be hidden, likely to go dry under the heat of passion. No replacement for what he had lost, maybe forever, but close enough to blunt the craving.

"Thief of Hearts I'll grant," Claire had replied. "Vanessa hasn't stopped drooling since the first time she saw you at the club."

He grinned at the thought of sardonic, little Claire. She was nearly as secretive as he was. Only she did it without his deliberate aura of mystery and no one really noticed. And there she was, standing at the edge of the floor, scanning it for prospective partners. He waited for her eyes to meet his. Then as the music started he offered her a slow, seductive smile.

Her mouth quirked in exasperated fondness as she rolled her eyes heavenward, but she also hurried to take his hand.

The beat steadied into a sultry Rumba, the lovers' dance, the easiest for him to play at. She matched him step for step, hips swaying sensually, eyes locked even when he spun her away, as if they where the only two in the world, and she came back into his arms as if it hurt them to be apart.

And then the song ended. "Thanks for the dance," Claire said casually. They stepped around Rob and Mindy, still lost in each other and Remy felt a twinge of jealousy, even the most casual acquaintance could see they were in love and when the night ended they would go home together.

The floor emptied, many couples departing for their homes and beds. The tables filled with people yawning, smiling and chatting with friends. Remy moved from group to group, chatting a little, or just listening, always returning to the dance floor and it's charade of closeness after a song or two. Tonight he wanted openness, wanted someone who truly knew him to smile and welcome him like these all-but strangers did.

Eventually even the die-hard dancers drifted to edges of the floor and the DJ began packing his equipment. One last waltz came on, old, Irish, plaintive. Remy winced. Claire took his arm with an apologetic smile.

"I hate this song too," she said.

"Can't sit out de las' dance," Remy said, letting her slip into his arms.

Little white lies on a ballroom floor Will you stay and dance tonight? Little white lies, do you believe them all? Or should you just say good night? You know your heart ain't really there It's somewhere back in time But you stay some more and listen to white lies.

The tempo was slow and hesitant, the key minor. Unconsciously they drew closer together. Claire's eyes closed and she leaned into his shoulder. Remy made no mention of the tears that gathered in the corners of her eyes, but his hand inscribed gentle, comforting circles on her back. They glided slowly across the floor, letting the quiet rise and fall of the music take them where they wanted to be.

So long ago the memory's faint Her heart still feels a little pain. Like China dolls they Waltz in time Inside a music box The dance it cleared The night got cold His love she had lost

They twirled them slowly about the floor, ignoring the other dancers, barely even aware of each other. Remy's thoughts fixated on a battered queen of hearts. A worthless little square of faded cardboard that had been invested with so much meaning then thrown away with such distain. He pulled Claire closer, concentrating on her warm living presence in his arms, wishing she were just a few inches taller to complete the illusion.

It hides between the pages left unread. His photograph, yellow now with age. Sometimes she'll take a look at it, And dream she's in his arms. With tears, Her eyes they look, And she's staring at the stars.

Claire sighed softly, her body moving to the lead of ghost. Remy complied, letting her memories direct them. The distant look of pain in her eyes drew him in a way none of the others could. There was a connection in misery, in loss, in hopelessness. He didn't know how she'd come to be left alone and hurting, whether it had been by chance or her own stupidity, whether the barriers between her and the one she longed for had been created by fate or design, and he didn't care. He could see the pain was the same and that was enough.

She's back there every Friday night it seems. In strange but willing arms she'll dance and dream. Sometimes she hopes that one will say, Please, can I take you home? And the answer she knows will be yes, She's tired of being alone.

"Can I take y' home?" Remy echoed in a soft whisper.

Claire shook her head, tears tracking across her cheeks. "Ask me again next week," she said.

"Den it'll be my turn to say no," he admitted, still holding her close.

Claire's laughter was watery, ending in a soft hiccup. "Safer that way," she said. "We're only pretending."

"What's wrong wid a little pretending?" Remy asked.

Claire pushed them apart, by several inches. "I'd hate you in the morning," she said.

"An' I wouldn't argue wid dat sediment," Remy sighed. "Guess it be time to go home, neh?"

"After the dance," Claire said. "A few more lies won't hurt."

Little white lies on a ballroom floor Will you stay and dance tonight? Little white lies, do you believe them all? Or should you just stay good night? You know your heart ain't really there It's somewhere back in time But you stay some more and listen to white lies.

Cyclops was waiting at the boathouse when Remy got back. He ignored the glowering X-Man, dropped his coat by the door then slunk over to the stereo and hit play on the CD player. As the first strains of music shattered the accusatory silence he collapsed on the couch.

Scowling Cyclops moved to stand over him. "I made sure you were aware that there was a team practice last night," he said. "You chose to come back, I assumed that meant you wanted to be a part of this team."

Remy laughed bitterly, flashing back to his most recent fight with Rogue; her angry, suspicious questions making it clear, once again, that her love for him was had more strings than a puppet. Knowing with his dept to New Son, his dept to ghostly green entity... Debts he'd incurred because of her, he'd never be able to live by the conditions she set and that it would only be a matter of time until she didn't love him anymore. He remembered Bobby and other teammates' barely suppressed amusement at his hopeless attempt to placate her and their approval of her interrogating him, again. The cold silences that seemed to follow him around the mansion... "What I want ain't de only issue."

"No one made you skip out on practice. If I can't count on you..."

"Y' know dis boy be from de bayou Cyke. I get de need to go somewhere warm. De chill round here's killin' me," Remy said quietly, hoping for understanding

Cyclops drew a breath to continue his lecture then paused, looking at Remy, slumped sullenly on the couch, waiting, body subtly braced as if expecting a blow.

Scott sighed. "This is hard on everyone you know. There's no way to forget what happened in the tunnels. You're an easy scapegoat," he said. "I know it's not fair, that you didn't know what you'd gotten into, that Sinister used you, but keep trying, it will get better, with time. Not blowing off practices might be a good place to start."

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