There'd always been something about rooftops that made Remy feel relaxed. Maybe he felt safer above the ground. Maybe it was because the streets where he lived were always so full of... of... well, just full. He never bothered to analyse it thoroughly; it was there and it didn't hurt him so he could live with it.
Almost from day he could move his shoulder without feeling as if it would fall off, Remy had staked out one portion of the Xaviers' roof as his own. The ones on the towers were too easily accessible and, as Remy discovered inadvertently one evening, the closest the students got to the mile-high club. Ix-nay on the western roof where Ororo Munroe had her suite although he'd been highly gratified to learn that the gorgeous African woman had a thing for watering her plants in the nude. As she had a veritable jungle up there, that was a good long time to spend dressed only in what God gave you. The eastern side was no good either; it faced the driveway and the basketball court; too noisy and too likely to get brained by the ball. The students had a tendency to improvise rules when using powers.
No, the best roof to relax on was the northern one. It was upwind from the stables but gave a great view of the acres of pasture and woodland. It collected warmth like you wouldn't believe, something that Remy appreciated much more than Munroe's nudist tendencies. Okay, maybe only slightly more. It wasn't as picturesque as the rest of the grounds and there were better lawns to play soccer or volleyball on so there were never that many people around during the day. At night, it was so isolated it sounded like the crickets used megaphones. Getting there required a gymnast's dexterity (check), the patience to weave around the creepy storage attic (check), and an expertise in lock picking (check).
Because of this, Remy was completely surprised to find an intruder in his haven. Midnight was just a few minutes ago and he was just about to settle into a nice long nap to ease the tension that always seemed to accumulate around his shoulders and the nape of his neck around this time of the night. His usual cure was two aspirins and/or a beer followed by stretching out on a warm, quiet incline eighty-five feet above the ground.
But not tonight. Tonight, there was only crap beer, ibuprofen, and a trespasser on his roof. The first made him gag, the second sent him into a bone-shaking fever, and the last of them... well, that was just too much.
"Hey, curfew was two hours ago," he said none too gently. "Get off my roof."
The intruder sniffled and looked up. To Remy's sensitive eyes, Rogue's white bangs shone like a spotlight.
"I didn't see a sign," she retorted with a small hiccup. "And senior curfew is midnight."
"Mais yeah, you seven minutes late." He braced his feet, his arms crossed. "Do I have t'count to three?"
Her hazel eyes wide with mockery, she said, "Wow! You can make it that far now?"
Remy didn't bother to stifle his impatient groan. "It's too late for this type o' shit."
"I'm not the one getting all possessive about a roof." She shuffled a few feet to the right. "There's got to be a hundred square feet up here; I'm sure you'll be able to find someplace to practice counting all the way to ten without worrying that you'll get girl cooties."
Remy really was too tired to argue. He made his way easily to the closest gable and spread out on it with a sigh. With luck, the crickets would be so loud tonight that when he closed his eyes, he'd be able to forget that his worst enemy was close by. It would have worked too if it wasn't for the sniffles.
Oh, she might have thought she was being discrete but to Remy, who'd lived and breathed by the quiet of this particular roof, each sniffle was tantamount to a gunshot. His eyebrows slammed down.
"Just blow it out into the snow. It can't possibly sound as annoying as you snorting every two seconds."
Oh, no... she wasn't... she couldn't possibly be
Remy lifted himself up by an elbow. Rogue was curled up into a little ball again, hugging the next gable over like it was a teddy bear, hiding her face in the corner. It certainly looked as if she was crying. Remy's bowels clenched. He'd never been able to stand the sound of crying from guys or girls.
"Ah said, fuck off!" She almost screamed the last word. "Ah'm not in the m-m-mood tah be y-yoah en-en-entertainment t'night, s-swamp rat!" She hiccuped again, then turned her head to sniff none too daintily.
Remy would have turned away, he really would have, but it sounded as if her crying was getting louder. And, whether he liked it or not, he was leaning on the side of the teachers nowadays.
"You want to talk about it?"
"Hah!" Like you'd (hic) be interested."
"I can pretend real well."
Something almost like a smothered giggle came from the next gable. "You w-wouldn't understand."
Rogue shook her head.
Shrugging, Remy went back to lying down. "Suit y'self." He crossed his hands behind his head and closed his eyes. Sweats were great for absorbing warmth from rooftops. Layers of sweats were better. The crickets were pretty loud tonight, celebrating the spring. He could almost doze off, almost forget that Rogue was close by crying her eyes out, could almost pretend he didn't give a shit.
"TV sucks!" Rogue suddenly burst out emphatically.
Remy bolted straight up. "Why?" he asked with a calmness he didn't feel.
She sat up properly, leaning up against the gable but still keeping her face away from him. "All those dumb high school shows where you're supposed to graduate with all your school problems solved, the cute guy takes you to the prom, and the blonde bitch who's been tormenting you gets thrown into the Port-O-Potty. It's all bullshit."
Remy nodded then, realising she couldn't see the movement, said, "Yeah?"
"Yeah." She dragged a sleeve across her nose. "It's all a load of... of steaming, putrid bullshit. Why do they have shows like that anyway? You grow up with them and they're all the same and you start thinking that maybe it's always going to work out that way. Maybe you aren't a big a loser as you think you are 'cause in the end, it's all gonna settle itself, right? Everyone always thinks they're the main character but in reality you're really just one of the extras. You walk back and forth the halls and no one talks to you and no one really cares and your problems couldn't be worth *shit* compared t-t-t--"
All throughout her tirade, Remy unconsciously moved closer. He was a bit surprised to see his hand reach out to pat her shoulder awkwardly. He was even more astonished when Rogue didn't pull away.
Mentally, Remy flipped through the rumours than Jubilee fed him on a twice-daily basis. "You an' Bobby have a fight?"
"No, we b-b-b..." Her breath hitched up, sounding like she was choking.
Remy's hand eased down from her shoulder to rub her back in big, gentle circles.
Her breathing eased and Rogue continued. "We b-broke up." She snorted derisively. "Actually, *he* broke up with *me;* he was just too nice to put it that w-w-way."
Remy inhaled through his teeth, shaking his head. His hand rubbed harder but slower as though he could massage her hurt away. "I'm sorry, chere."
"That m-makes two of us." She sniffed-- actually this time it was a loud, long snork. She'd gotten beyond caring now. "The stupid thing is *I* was going to break it up."
Remy's hand paused ever so briefly. "Hein?"
"Not 'cause I didn't like him," Rogue said. "I've never met anyone as nice as Bobby, y'know. Guys hate being called nice but he really is even though he does get all caught up with his pranks and stuff. And I..." She shrugged, looked down. "I was having this stupid martyr complex and wanting to sacrifice our relationship 'cause he'd never be able to touch me and he deserves better and... oh, I don't know why I fucking *care* so much!" She slammed her fist on the shingles. "This was my plan all along!"
"Still hurts all the same," said Remy.
Rogue sat quietly for a few minutes. "Yeah. Yeah, it does." She giggled then, sounding on the bad side of hysterical. "Wanna know the best part? He said everything I was going to say. Almost verbatim!"
More giggles. Remy briefly contemplated running down to get Rogue a pill in case she was starting to go over the edge but she caught herself in a few seconds.
"Should've known I was in trouble when he started talking about how beautiful I was. He never said that before." She took in a ragged breath, hiccuped, went on. "Then it was all 'you deserve someone better' and 'you're a special girl' and all that crap. Stupid, fuckin' crap! What he was really thinking was that he wanted to have a girlfriend that he could screw without dying."
"Easy, chere." Remy wasn't used to hearing such crude words from her. "You two been together for two years, right? He must've seen something pretty special to hold out that long."
She sniffed again but said nothing.
Remy let out a deep sigh. He hated swallowing his own words. "You are special--"
"Yeah, like the kids in Special Ed back home," she interrupted scornfully.
He ignored it. "You're smart; you pick up languages faster than anyone I ever met. You managed to hold all those personalities in your head without goin' insane an' without losin' yourself. You know what you want outta life an' you do your best t'make 'em come true. You think quick on your feet an' you're a hell lot more sensible than a lot of the girls 'round here. They make up so many problems for themselves, you think they tryin' t'do their own version of Dawson's Creek, hein?"
She tried not to chuckle but the statement was just too true.
"But you don't do that, not often, not without reason. An'... well, you're... you ain't... lots of people would call you beautiful."
Now, Rogue pulled away, hunching her shoulders as she said, "Bullshit."
"You are!" Remy protested.
She shook her head violently. "Tabitha's beautiful. Dani's beautiful. John's beautiful."
"They're pretty," Remy corrected. "They look good now but give 'em ten years or so an' it'll pass. They a fad, chere. You, you're gonna be a beautiful thirty year-old, a fantastic forty year-old, an' a damn sexy grammy."
The giggles came up again. "Gawd, you're so full of it. No wonder you've got all the girls around here eating out of your hand."
"It's a gift," Remy admitted with very thinly veiled arrogance. He buffed his fingernails on his sweater.
She let out a sound that Remy translated as scornful amusement directed at him. At least she didn't seem to be wallowing in self-pity any more. He stopped rubbing her back but kept his hand there, resting between her shoulder blades in silent support. She didn't protest, just kept staring out into the nearly barren pasture.
"You know I almost got married?" Remy said after more than ten minutes had passed.
Remarkably enough, she didn't say anything more than "Yeah?" and then not even in a contemptuous tone.
"Yeah. She'd just turned seventeen so I ain't sure how legal it woulda been." He took a deep breath. He hated talking about his past. "Well, Belle an' me, we practically grew up t'gether. It was... well, it was screwed up was what it was but the only way we thought we could get away from our lives was t'get hitched an' move away. Like those TV shows you talkin' about; thinkin' hormones was enough to solve everything." His throat seized. "Guess you're smarter than me, hein?"
"What happened?" she asked quietly.
"Well." Remy shifted his legs in discomfort. "We got as far as Baton Rouge before our... our guardian caught up with us. Not that I was sorry; by that time we'd been on our own for near two days an' drivin' each other crazy. I guess we were too busy doin' the bumpin' ugly to realise we had absolutely nothin' in common." He smirked. "I went my way, she went hers, an' I ain't seen her since."
Somewhere in the middle of his narration, Rogue had placed a hand on his shin and was stroking lightly. In fact, her touch was so light, he didn't feel it but it was... well, it was nice was what it was.
"One of the..." Oh, shit, his throat was gonna collapse on him again. Remy gritted his teeth and forged on. "She said that the only reason she stayed with me was 'cause she liked the respect she got for havin' the guts t'fuck le diable blanc." He shook his head violently as though he could shake away the memory of what the words felt like at the time. "We were both sayin'... both sayin' a whole lot of bullshit t'each other an' I said worse things about her--"
"It still hurts all the same," Rogue whispered.
Remy shrugged. He ran those circles on her back again, for no reason that he could come up with other than it took his mind off of the memories. Rogue's hand stayed on his shin just a little above his boot not really moving.
"Your hand's real warm," she said.
"Yeah? They always feel cold t'me nowadays."
"You'll get used to the weather here soon. You might even like it."
"Ha!" Remy's lips twisted into a grimace. "Not likely. That ski trip was enough to make me paranoid about snow. Last time I ever do Summers favour."
Rogue tried to cover up her laugh. She failed miserably. Nothing would ever wipe out the memory of Remy shooting over a hill, hanging on to his snowboard for dear life then landing on a snowbank with his limbs bent in ways that they really shouldn't be bent. It was amazing he didn't break anything.
"Well, do you want to come back inside? There's this Black Adder DVD that Mr. Summers borrowed that I haven't watched yet."
Grinning wide, Remy said, "So, Summers got you all hooked on Rowan Atkinson, too, hein?"
"Can't help it. It's a requirement for passing his classes."
Remy took one last look out into the woods. "Byen sho', cherie, let's go. Gotta warn you though, I get a little lost on the history sometimes."
Rogue smiled. "Just as long as you don't laugh like Kitty does."
"Why? What she sound like?"
"It's a toss up between a dying donkey and a seagull on speed."
"You gotta listen in one day. I guarantee you can't forget it. It's something so disturbing you think it's cute then change your mind again."
"Uh, I look forward to it?"
"No, you don't."
You know that point just after you wake up when you're not really sure if you're awake or asleep? I go through that almost every day until I get my first cup of coffee. When I stumbled on Remy and Rogue, I'd already gotten my first cup but it was little more than coloured water-- Ms. Munroe must've made it-- and so I really wasn't sure if what I saw was real.
They were arguing. Yes, typical, I know but get this: Rogue was leaning back on the armrest with her legs on Remy's lap. On Rogue's lap was a plateful of buffalo wings. Rather, the remains of them; the last two wings were being devoured by the erstwhile archenemies.
"Ella Fitzgerald all the way," Remy was saying. "She practically invented jazz."
"You're certifiable." Rogue countered. "Don't get me wrong; I love Ella Fitzgerald but Billie Holiday's voice is made for jazz. If she hadn't died so early, she'd've been better known. Hell, she died early and she's still world renowned."
Remy shook his chicken bone at her. "You need a bit more culturin'. Couldn't expect any less from a Mississippi river rat."
"Yeah, yeah, N'Awlins always tries to take credit for jazz and blues to cover up the stench of the rotting mudbugs on their houseboats."
With a roar, Remy upended the plate and Rogue over the couch. She let out a screech but fell properly and rolled back to her feet only to meet with a Cajun determined to tickle her until she peed her pants.
I looked at my coffee mug then back at them then at my mug again.
"This is what you get for reading one of those romance novels,
Katherine Pryde," I muttered to myself as I made my way back up
the stairs. "Maybe a long shower will wake me up."