At precisely 6:21 PM on the last Thursday of March, a hurricane ripped up the driveway on 1407 Greymalkin Lane and ran over Remy. His name was Logan. And he really did run over Remy but it wasn't on purpose.
Not the first time.
"How the hell does someone with supposedly hyperkeen senses miss a five-foot-eleven-inch man in a dark brown trenchcoat in front of a light grey building on a sunny afternoon, hein?"
Scott put down the sixth-eighths wrench for a three-quarter inch a few inches away from arm's reach. He caught a glimpse of Remy as he stretched: a smouldering cigarette balanced in the corner of his mouth, his hair looking like a rat's nest half out of it's queue, the blue collar of his green-pinstriped shirt sticking up out of his coat.
"Maybe he was distracted. Y'know, excited to be home." The three-quarter inch wrench had decided to dance away. Scott sat up to paw through his toolbox.
"Nuh-uh." Remy shook his head, worsening the condition of his hair. "That man wanted to kill me. But that's all right; the feelin's mutual."
Scott snorted. Ah, there was the damned wrench.
"He smells like the Bourbon Street dumpsters," Remy continued. "And what the hell is he doin' with one of your bikes?"
"How do you know it's one of mine?"
"I know your work. The cochon stole it, didn't he?"
Scott tried not to smile, he really did, but he'd never seen Remy this ruffled, not even that day in Seattle. There was a track of black scuff marks in the concrete floor of the garage from his boots. The sound of his compulsive card-deck shuffling was borderline annoying. In between his heated English rants, Scott managed to pull out a few French swear words that Ororo taught him when they were kids. He'd have to go to her later and ask about the rest; they sounded extremely creative.
"I let him steal it. He's already tainted the seat by sitting on it," Scott said, pretending to focus all his attention on the late model Honda SUV. He wanted to give it to Rogue for her birthday. Something nice, big, and bulky instead of the speedsteers she kept borrowing. The girl made off-road racers look like purple-haired grannies.
"The fils de putain probably pissed on it, too, instead o' just locking it. The cochon has no sense o' style, all brash an' growlin' like that's supposed to make him tougher." Remy slipped three cards between the fingers of his left hand and made a fist. "Look at me, I'm the Wolverine. I can beat your ass in five seconds flat 'cause I got steel for bones an' rocks for brains. I'm bigger an' badder an' for thirty-five dollars, you can see me get oiled up to whip The Rock's ass in my next cage-fight in Podunk, Canada."
"Remy, could you please stop pacing?"
"I ain't pacin'!" Remy shouted. "I never pace."
"Then can you stop speed-walking over an invisible two yard track?"
The younger man stopped in mid-stride, cat-like. "One o' these days, Summers, everyone else is gonna figure out that you psycho."
His smile widening, Scott replied, "Until then, you'll have to pinkie swear not to tell."
"Nom chein, Summers, I can't b'lieve you jokin' while dere be a lunatic in de house wit' alla dem chil'ren!"
Scott slid back out from under the SUV, his hands held palm out in a universal sign of peace. "Take it easy, Remy. Geez, you're almost unintelligible."
"Screw you, Summers." Remy took a deep drag of his cigarette, continuing to shuffle his cards in one hand.
Throwing the wrench into the toolbox, Scott grabbed a soiled rag and wiped his fingers. "Remy, you're over-reacting. I mean, Rogue was right beside you. He had eyes only for her."
"And that's the other t'ing." The cards snapped loudly from one hand to the other. "What's with Rogue an' the kids an' Cousin It, anyway? He don't show up for two years, drivin' Rogue crazy with worry but does he give a shit? No! He didn't give no letters, no phone calls, no nothing for two freakin' years! And when he finally takes the time out o' his undoubtedly busy bar-brawlin', cage-wrestlin' schedule to visit, they're all over him. What's with that?"
Understanding dawned on Scott Summer's face. "You're jealous."
In reply, Remy grimaced. "Of him? O' that bear-grease-smellin', sorry-assed excuse for a baldin' racoon?"
"Yeah, him." Scott nodded his head slowly. "You've been centre of attention since you came here and all of a sudden, Logan comes and all your groupies jump ship."
"First of all--" Remy lifted a finger. "--I ain't jealous. Secondly, I still got groupies, so you shut up, fearless leader." He flicked a card at Scott's face. The edge scored the base of his thumb.
"Ow." Scott rubbed the spot. "Watch it, bozo. I'm not Logan."
"Don't worry, mon ami. I'm as likely to mistake you for him as I am to jump naked in a vat o' viper-filled vomit."
With one last shake of his head, Scott picked up the wrench and set to work. Ah, yes, the fine art of Logan-bashing. He knew there was a reason why he liked Remy so much. But still, he was supposed to keep the peace so...
"I'm not asking you to be drinking buddies, Remy. Just don't be too much of an asshole around him. He's like a father to Rogue--"
"Dead beat dad," Remy interjected.
"--and if you're really her friend, you'll respect her feelings."
Remy's cigarette stub skipped close to Scott's head, radiating light and heat for a second before it exploded, leaving a ring of ash.
"I'm gonna go see Rogue," Remy called out to him as he left the garage.
Jean tried to hide her smile behind her hair as she cleared Logan's dishes. It took him half an hour longer than she remembered to finish his meal not because he wasn't hungry-- he polished off a good-sized submarine sandwich-- but because he spent most of the time complaining about Remy Lebeau. He'd been doing the same since he came back a couple days ago.
"Okay, maybe it's different here in upstate New York," Logan was saying, "but everywhere else in the world, when you see a motorcycle coming up to you at sixty clicks, you step out of the way."
"Only a real idiot would just stand there and let himself get run over." Logan bit down on his cigar, a frustrated substitute for smoking it. "What, is common sense not a part of the curriculum any more?"
"Logan," said Jean. "Rogue said she and Remy were having a very involved conversation. There's always some engine or another revving around the grounds so they ignored it. You could have stopped."
"I fuckin' tried, all right?" Logan snorted. "I take no responsibility for the kid's brainlessness though. You gotta be born like that; no accident on Earth can make up for being a redneck."
"What? It's true!" Briefly taking the cigar out of his mouth, Logan got up off the barstool to look out of the large kitchen windows. A bunch of kids were outside. Some of the older ones he recognised but the rest--
Jean stood behind him. "Things change quickly, huh?"
He nodded. His hand twitched as he resisted the urge to raise a hand up to the glass like some leading man in a cheap-ass romance movie. "Hell, when did she grow up to be so... grown up?"
"You were gone for two years, Logan." Crossing her arms, Jean said, "But even so, Rogue never forgot you."
Logan chomped back on the cigar. "Couldn't prove it by me. Every other sentence that comes out of her mouth is 'Remy did this' and 'Remy said that.' All he needs to do now is to walk on water and I just bet he'll be doing that later today in between flirting with Kitty and Sarah."
"Logan, they're friends." Wondering if an overdose of testosterone was scientifically proven to cause insanity and making a mental note to start a paper on it, Jean moved away to stand closer to the window. "He's good for her. He's not afraid to touch her or berate her--"
"He gets mad at her?" Jean could almost see the film of blood going over Logan's field of vision. She reached out to grab his arm.
"That's a good thing, Logan."
"Yeah," Jean retorted. "I hadn't realised how isolated we made her feel by treating her with kid gloves all this time. Remy treats her like normal person and that means the teasing as well as the flirting."
Logan blew out a stiff puff of air. "It's the flirting part that gets me the most. The kid's a walking hard-on."
"It's true! Hell, I get herpes from being in the same room as him. And look a his clothes; where does he shop, Colour-Blind Male GoGo Dancers R Us?"
Jean dropped her head in her hands. She wasn't going to laugh, she really wasn't.
"I pass by his room for a second and the sex-smell hits me like a friggin' tsunami. Either he jerks off every minute he's in there or he's stringing along a lot of girls. Rogue isn't going to be one of them." The cigar was close to breaking with the force of Logan's chewing.
"No, she isn't." Jean leaned back against the window. "First of all, Rogue's smarter than that. Secondly, Remy would never do something like that to her. I told you, they're friends."
"Jerks like him don't have friends, only people they can use."
Jean was about to throw out another defence on Remy's behalf but her pager went off. "That's the phone call I've been waiting for." Pinching Logan's whiskered chin with her right hand, she said, "You play nice. Okay? Remy's like a brother to Scott and I don't want him to kick your ass if anything else happens to him."
"Right. Like a commendation from Anal Boy is supposed to change my mind."
"Fine." Jean threw up her hands, wishing she could understand the enigma that was the male mentality. Even if she were more powerful than the professor in telepathy, she'd never make sense of them. "If not for Scott, then for Marie. Look at her, Logan." She gestured to the basketball court. "If you'd just get a hold of your jealousy for two seconds--"
"I am notjealous of some skinny man-slut."
"--you'll see that he's making her laugh. *Look* at her."
The older kids were playing three-on-three with Bobby, Johnny, and Rogue in one team and Dani, Remy, and Jubilee in the other. Rogue had just intercepted the ball from Remy's pass and was about to execute a perfect lay-up when it exploded in her hands. She let out a little scream as she was thrown back. Logan was half-way out the door, undoubtedly ready to catch Rogue in one hand and beat the living crap out of Remy with the other. Again, Jean stopped him with a touch.
Remy caught Rogue, keeping her bent over his arm as they yelled at each other. Rogue kept jabbing him with her fore- and middle fingers while Remy kept slapping it away, a grin playing on his lips. Finally, he let her fall on the ground. Rogue shot out off her butt to tackle Remy around the knees. In no time at all, all six of them had dog-piled on Remy, playfully yanking on his clothes. Rogue had her mouth open wide, helpless with laughter.
A few seconds later, there was another mood spin. They all got up, dusted themselves off, and headed for the house. Remy hooked an arm around Rogue's shoulders, leaning down to say something right in her ear. Rogue smiled and punched his stomach. Logan could hear her voice faintly. "You're so full of it, swamp rat."
"Full o' everything you know you want, mudpie."
"Oh, Lord." Rogue rolled her eyes even as she reached around behind his back to tuck her hand in his pocket. "You were dropped on your head, weren't you?"
"Naw, you mistaking your memories again, cherie. That was you that they purposefully dropped in the hospital."
By now, the small group reached the French doors into the kitchen.
"Hey, Ms. Grey." Bobby waved without breaking his stride towards the rec room. The other repeated the gesture. Rogue stopped for a moment to give Logan a hug.
She looked up at him. "You want to watch a movie with us?"
Logan wrapped his arms around her to tighten the embrace. He looked over her white-striped head to see Remy, arms crossed, lips curled into a sneer, and shades firmly in place.
"Sure thing, Marie."
She beamed. "Great!" Extricating herself from his embrace, Rogue skipped back to Remy's side. "You'll like it. Remy picked it out and he said it was pretty freaky."
Remy threw Logan a triumphant bird as they strolled to the rec room.
Jean watched it all, amused and annoyed at the same time. If Logan had a lump of coal in his fist, it would be a diamond right now.
"Remy picked it out," Logan mimicked, jerking his jacket off. "Sonovvabitch tries anything-- anything-- and he'll have stumps for arms, I swear to God should have finished the job when I first ran the bastard over but it would have ended too quickly and I want--"
He left still muttering.
Scott dropped into bed with a groan. Jean rolled over to sling her arm around his waist, kissing the first bit of flesh she could reach-- his freshly soaped bicep. She loved the minty-musky smell of him after a shower.
"I don't even know where to start. They're like two dogs fighting over a bone."
Jean began to giggle. "I'm not sure Rogue would be flattered by that analogy."
"No matter how apt?" He curled an arm under her neck. "I
had a scary glimpse of what having boys would be like. Let's just have