Disclaimer: Not mine, nothing is. I have no original ideas. Marvel comics is god and owner of all.

[Signifies author's translation: French 101. Lack of a translation means that it's already repeated in English.]


Ch.1 - Home


Gradually, Remy became aware that something was not quite right - something besides the obvious, which was that the supposed love of his life had abandoned him to Antarctica's endless stretches of ice. After a brief debate with himself over whether he should simply lay on the ice until he died, he had picked himself up and, at a total loss at how to proceed, had attempted to assess the situation. That was when he became aware of a subtle, but growing change. It took him several confused moments before he realized, with some panic, what was happening. His walls were falling.

Instinctively, he calmed himself, even before his mind came up for reasons why the collapse of his walls was not the great calamity that he knew it was... well, that he knew it would have been under normal circumstances. But these were not normal circumstances. Presumably, there was not another living thing for hundreds of miles, at least. In such a situation, the absence of walls could bring little harm to himself or others.

And though nothing like this had ever happened before, Remy knew what had happened. He had realized some time ago, though contact with various telepaths, that his mental walls, if not mental abilities, were unique. Every telepath (and even non-telepaths who had been trained to be able to erect walls) he had ever come in contact with possessed walls supported by the strength of the individual who had erected. Remy's, on the other hand, rested on the strength of the minds surrounding him. Normally, this made his walls far stronger than those of others - strong enough to throw Psyloche out of his mind (once erected, for she only managed to slip in because he had temporarily lowered his walls) and strong enough to prevent any of the telepaths from suspecting much at all about anything.

For all the good it had done. And now, with no minds surrounding him, his walls collapsed. It took about as long, he guessed, as it took the Black Bird to speed out of the range of his own mind. It had taken years to build those walls, and only minutes to evaporate them completely.

Remy forced himself to walk and to think about survival, though he already knew it was hopeless. He was alone, abandoned on the ice planes of the South Pole. He was badly bruised, had no food, and was not dressed to withstand this type of environment, especially now that early dusk was hinting at even colder nights. Perhaps if his wrists did not bare Eric the Red's shackles, he could have charged something (charge quoi? de ice?) and created some heat, but as things were, that was not even an option.

He fought the tears that threatened to escape his eyes. He had not cried for many years and he was not about to start now. But he didn't want to die, not like this. Not despised by the only friends he'd ever had and not at the hands of woman he loved. Still, he could see the strange justness in dying a criminal's death, and it comforted him, in some twisted way. Any other death simply would not have been. well, him.

He had always been terrified of shackles, and, right before the trial, he had had to summon every ounce of self-control to maintain his composure as they had forced the bands around his wrists, preventing him from using his kinetic abilities. But now, they were almost comforting. There were a tangible sign that there was a reason that he would soon die on the frozen continent; for though Remy had been close to death innumerable times before, he could feel that there was something more significant about this time. For what he considered the first time in his life, he decided to give up and accept his fate.

He sunk to his knees and hung his head. And he prayed... after a fashion. He didn't really believe in any god, but it was a ritual he had developed, and engaged in somewhat frequently as a young child (while still with the Antiquary) because he had found it comforting to pretend that someone listened. He had not prayed for many years, not since before the Massacre, but he would pray now, one final time, if simply to give himself the comfort of narrating his own end.

With closed eyes and silent words: Oh, Remy, what a grande merde [big shit] you 'ave gotten yourself in. Alors, je crois que [I think that] dis must be le fin. Je suis presque heureux [I'm almost happy]. Am so tired, so fuckin' fatigué, it's not so bad to dormir, to sleep forever. At least de sufferin' will stop. Don't know 'ow much more of cette merde Remy could take. La morte ne peut pas être [Death can't be] as bad a cette merde vie [this crap life]. Remy really tried. Vraiment [Truly]. C'est seulement que je suis [It's only that I'm]. such a fuckup. Evert'ing 'as spun out of control, years 'appened trop vite [too fast], wit'out dere ever bein' any choices to make. Òu [where] could Remy 'ave gotten off dis chemin [ path]?

Remy continue to think like this for many minutes more, carefully avoiding any concrete memories (the vast majority of which the more memorable were decidedly unpleasant), before opening his eyes to the near absolute blackness of night. It was only a matter of time (and not even a matter of very much time) before the cold killed him - he knew this and didn't even want to fight it. He laid down on the ice and stared up at the stars, which were absolutely amazing from the pole. He had never seen stars so bright (yet strangely unrecognizable to those natives, like him, of the Northern Hemisphere), though this was not saying a great deal. He had never really seen a proper night sky until he had been twelve, having never left the bright city of New Orleans until that year of age.

He lay there for what seemed like a long time, feeling his body heat slowly drop. Long, frozen stands of hair dug reassuringly into his scalp as the painful cold in his fingers and toes passed to numbness. His mind relaxed and expanded to a degree never possible even in the remote presence of others, and he felt as if he stretched the entire expanse of Antarctica. Drowsiness crept into his consciousness and his eyes fluttered shut at short intervals. The last thing he saw before he slipped into blessed unconsciousness was a bizarre green light floating in his narrow field of vision, barely evoking even mild curiosity from his hazy mind.

New York:

Remy woke up to nothing less than madness. He didn't know how it happened, or what element came to him first, jarring him from what he presumed was sleep, but he suddenly felt as if he'd been turned into a living TV - with cable. He was receiving countless different emotions from countless different individuals, and they were bombarding him to such an extent that he cried out and grabbed his head, not that that would help. If he had been standing he would have collapsed. As it was, he rolled off the park bench, landing clumsily on the concrete. He could feel a mother's love, he could feel some teenager's self-hate, he could feel a murderous rage and some druggies' emotional high. There were many, many other feelings belonging to other people, but he tried to push them out.

It was hard. He had never been in such a state - his empathy retained the sensitivity that Remy had worked hard to achieve, and yet he had no walls whatsoever with which to protect himself. He struggled desperately, knowing there was no way he could maintain his current state for very longer without actually and permanently going insane. With much effort he was able to erect some makeshift barriers, blocking out the onslaught with little more than determination and exertion. It was only then that he noticed an intense, all-prevailing ache in his body.

He tried to calm his nerves, as well as his panic, but he knew that his makeshift barriers wouldn't last. He needed to get away from all these people before they gave out. And on that thought, it occurred to him that he hadn't a clue where he was. He stood on shaky legs and looked around him. He was a bit surprised, but he recognized where he was - he was in Central Park. He knew New York well and under different circumstances he would probably be both thrilled and amused to suddenly wake up to a bright morning in the Gande Pomme with no recollection of how he got there. But as the events of the previous. well, as the last remembered events of, he assumed, the immediate past (after all, his stubble was only thick enough to suggest that he'd been out for about five days) flooded his mind, it made his blood run cold and he sat down hard.

Cradling his head in his hands, he tried to collect his thoughts. He had to get out of New York, but where could he go? The desires of his subconscious couldn't help but throw up the same suggestion it always proposed in response to that question, regardless of any realities - New Orleans. As always, he passed over that suggestion without even giving it thought. The more serious alternative was to go into hiding. He knew several locations not too far from New York where he could disappear and protect himself from the bombardment of emotions. They were excellent transfer points for goods being smuggled out of New York.

This option was very tempting and all the panic in his mind called for this solution; but it was the impassive, rational voice of his mind that knew that this was not a permanent solution. He needed, above all, to rebuild his walls, and he needed minds to build them on. Memory, that bitch, suggested Sinister, but Remy didn't even consider it. to which Memory retorted: Westchester.

He was filled with self-loathing at a wave of desire indicated that he wanted nothing more than to flee to the protection and respite that he associated with the Mansion; but he doubted that those things would still be on offer for him there.

But he really wanted to go back. Back to his room, back to the place, back to the people, and it didn't even matter if they hated him, they were the only family he had left. He wanted to go back so much that he could accept their hatred, he even thought he deserved it. The bigger issue was whether or not they would accept him back - but he thought they would. The Professor would let him stay, he was sure, despite any objections of the rest. So he would go back because he hadn't been exiled. He'd been sentenced to death, but no one had ever said he couldn't come back to the Mansion if he managed to come back from Antarctica.

There was no doubt in his mind that this was a completely irrational decision, but he didn't care. He was too tired and no longer had the will power to make a more rational decision. He stood and, with a superficial, self-imposed determination, he headed down the path out of park. Once on the street, it was a small matter to break into a car (a Mercedes) - smaller indeed, than driving would prove to do, as the latter was less engrained.

Driving was hellish. When the traffic moved, it was bearable, but when it slowed to a still, the frustration of the drivers around would beat down on him with increasingly overpowering intensity. There were a few near misses, as he executed perhaps the worst driving of his life, but he did eventually make it out of New York; and, by keeping to the most obscure roads possible, the drive to Westchester was almost pleasant, if long, exhausting, and plagued with bouts of getting lost.


As Remy approached Westchester, he was in no mood to temper his behavior, though the emotional bombardment had lessened and though he knew he would have to. There was nothing he wanted more than to just drive up to the Mansion, walk in, walk up the stairs, and hide in his bed for as long as was necessary. However, he suspected that any attempt to execute that plan (with no deviation) would be met with resistance. First, he had to dump the car; then he had to deal with at least some of the X-men; then, maybe, he could crawl into bed.

As he neared the limits of Westchester, he pulled off the road into the woods. He hadn't the mental or physical stamina to go through the effort of hiding the car perfectly, but he thought that he probably did a good enough job. He could come back later and blow it up, once his shackles were cut off (assuming dey will take dem off. dey are, after all, de ones who put dem on).

He neared the gait on still shaky legs, eying the camera and wondering if anyone was currently paying attention to that particular monitor. If there wasn't, as he hoped, then there may not be a welcoming party waiting for him at the Mansion (waiting to kill 'im or kick 'im out). But there would have to be a confrontation with someone, as sneaking into the Mansion was probably not the best way to get back into the good graces of his ex- teammates.

Merde, merde, merde. He hated himself for it, but the second his rational voice rejected the idea of sneaking in, he knew that that was exactly what he was going to do. It was like his decision to go to Westchester (and, indeed, like his decision, years ago, to go to Sinister), he was simply worn too thin to do anything else. He felt certain that he would break down into hysterics and lose all control of himself if he was forced to confront someone now; and so he purposely avoided the camera's field of vision.

It was a small matter of getting past the perimeter fence. Getting into the actual Mansion was somewhat more challenging, but certainly not beyond Remy's expertise, even in his shaken state. He entered via a supposedly impenetrable window on the second floor (in the corridor - a window more accessible to someone scaling the wall), suspecting that most of the X-men would not be in there, it being the afternoon and all. He cautiously confirmed this suspicion by verifying the absence of emotion emanating from that story, though doing so only re-emphasized the weakness of his shields. They'd been crumpling the entire way from New York and it wouldn't be long now before he was once again left with no protection. Still, that would be more bearable now. A handful of minds wouldn't be enough bombardment to make him lose his grip on his sanity.

The last few meters to his room (he gave silent thanks that his room, along with Logan's, were the closest to the window) seemed like the longest of the entire journey, but finally his fingers wrapped around the doorknob, as his other moved up to the key pad and entered his code. A powerful, soothing wave of relief overcame him as he stepped into his room, it looking exactly as he had left it (well, I 'ave only been gone a few days). He couldn't help but feel safer and he allowed an inner voice to assure him that everything would be alright now. He would sleep now - hopefully, a long, dreamless sleep like the kind that blessed the dead - and deal with everyone later. He ought to be safe and unnoticed until he made his presence known. The telepaths wouldn't know he was here unless they specifically scanned his room, and they would be provided with no reason to do so. Long years spent restraining his own thoughts and emotions had granted him the near-perfect control over empathic projections. These days, even the terror of his nightmares would be hard pressed to inadvertently flee his mind.

Several hours later, Logan was storming down the corridor, a duffel bag slung over his shoulder, towards his room opposite Remy's. He had just returned from Japan a few hours earlier and had somehow managed to repress the rage he felt at hearing what had happened to the Cajun in his absence. But his anger seethed underneath and he knew that it would not be restrained for long and that he pitied the unfortunates who would bare witness to its release. He also knew that he had enough self-control to wait until fucking Worthington and Rogue returned from scouting out Sinister's latest misdeeds to unleash his rage. What was more questionable was whether he had the self-control to not kill those worthless excuses for human beings when they did return.

Logan was a man who only trusted himself, who knew only what he himself knew. For example, he knew Remy as the man (indeed, for the most part, the only man) who would drink with him, smoke with him, race his bike against him, and cajole him into playing poker. Remy was not afraid of him - they were birds of a feather - and he knew, from vague hints accidentally dropped over the years, that Remy's past was likely as dark as his own, but he could not take the accusations leveled at Remy at face value. He would make his own judgements and the facts that he had, the facts that he knew he could trust, refused to let him believe that Remy had orchestrated and led a massacre.

He stopped outside of his door, about to punch in his entry code, when he noticed something that made him stop. There was a sent in the air - very faint, but the fact that it could be smelled at all meant that it had to be recent. It was Remy's smell, unmistakably; Logan could recognize that unique combination of spice and smoke and, well, Remy. There is no way that charismatic bastard managed to survive what those fucks did to him... is there? Antarctica, for Christ's sake. He'd seen Remy pull off some pretty incredible feats during their two years of friendship. Frowning, he silently moved across the hall to listen at the door. He didn't hear anything, though Remy's sent was somewhat stronger, so he placed his ear to the door and concentrated. A faint smile graced his lips as he heard breathing as faint, yet unmistakable as the sent.

Remy's reflexes yanked him from sleep at the sound of a handful of loud knocks at the door and he quickly bolted out of bed. Merde, merde, merde. How had they found him out so quickly? Forcing his speeding pulse to slow, his mind gently reached out to identify who was outside of his door. Logan.

"Come on Gumbo, I know you're in there." The voice was firm, but not too loud, and definitely belonged to Logan. For the first time since before the trial, Remy let a small smile grace his face. He wasn't fool enough to think that Logan would still want to be his friend after surely having been told the reasons for having been left in Antarctica, but perhaps he didn't sound enraged and simply the fact that he was speaking meant that he wasn't feral. He didn't dare hope for sympathy, but he perhaps he would be offered a milder, less dangerous hate than had been offered by the other X-men.

He cautiously cracked the door and made eye contact with Logan. "Oui?"

"Can I come in?" Remy heard no hostility in his voice, and after taking a long moment to verify that it was indeed concern he felt the older man projecting, he nodded and stepped away from the door, never taking his eyes off his visitor.

Logan advanced into the room, and though it was dark, his acute sense of sight took several seconds to appraise Remy's condition. He looked awful. He had maybe a week's worth of stubble growth and he looked (and smelled) really dirty. Exhaustion was etched all over his face and body; indeed, he looked like he could barely stand as he obviously exerted a great deal of effort trying to still his shaking. But more those symptoms, he looked like a different person, not the Remy he knew. He posture was slumped and missing from face was that trademark grin, that aura of a smooth operator. He looked like a man who'd finally realized that he could win every battle and still lose the war; who'd realized (again) that there was only so much that could be accomplished through force of will. Had their actions done this to him or had they simply revealed what always lie beneath the bravado? Logan wasn't sure he even wanted to know.

"Are you okay?," Logan whispered, trying to sound sympathetic, not an effect he'd ever mastered particularly well, but the sentiment came across anyway. The next words, however, came out underscored with a growl. "I heard what happened. How'd you..."

Remy was shaking his bowed head, as he leaned against the wall. His voice, always so deep and powerful, was just tired now. "Je ne sais pas [I don't know]. Et... I don't really care. Dat's not de problem right now. I 'ave tomorrow to worry 'bout. Dunno what to do... Talk to le Professeur I guess, mebbe he'll let me stay."

"Of course you're gonna stay." Logan was clearly angry now and he could feel his rage boiling up. Keep control, keep control... "Those bastards that left you are gonna be pay. Jean and Cyke are not too happy about what went down either."

And Remy was shaking his head again. "Je ne veux pas... I, I don't want to cause more problems and I don't t'ink dat staying here is un bon idée. I just want to be able to stay here for a bit, until... Je suis plus forte, until... I am strong enough to leave again."

Logan's concern sharpened. Was had Remy's ordeal done to him? Of course, it is unlikely that he'd come away from the experience unscathed, but he didn't look like he was sporting any permanent damage. Was he? Again he growled. "They had no right. This is your home too."

"Non. I 'ave no 'ome. S'il vous plaît, don't argue wit me." He sounded so despondent that Logan didn't have the heart to argue with him. In fact, he was mildly annoyed with himself that his anger always seemed to dominate his every reaction; he really wished he still had the emotional arsenal to be able to offer the comfort that would obviously benefit Remy more than anger. Too many years of being kept alive by rage and hate had left Logan ill-equipped to reach out to others, though there had once been a time when he'd been a different person...

When he finally spoke, he was almost proud of being able to infuse his words with a certain degree of concern, though he was also painfully aware of how inadequate it really was. "Is there anything I can do for you? Anything you need?"

Logan was rewarded for his effort by a faint smile. Remy could feel Logan's concern buried under a mountain of rage - the intensity of the rage, however, threatened to make him ill, even if Logan's behavior indicated that it wasn't directed at him. He stood up straighter and offered up his shackled wrists. "Could you cut these off please?"

Rage flared up again; Logan couldn't even remember the last time he'd had to repress his anger so many times in one night. "Christ. Of course." Logan's Accompanied by the sound of a soft metallic scrape, two sets of metal claws burst from the spaces between his knuckles. Somewhat awkwardly, he used them as scissors to cut the thick (and, damn, strong) shackles; as he accomplished this, he mumbled a string of derogatory comments directed, in turn, at Eric the Red, Warren, Bobby, Hank, Storm, and Rogue. At the mention of Rogue, Remy's hands began trembling, prompting Logan, once he snapped off the shackles, to peer into the Cajun's alien eyes for a long moment. He wanted so badly to ask what had happened, but Remy had never been one to share his secrets, and right now he didn't look like he had the strength to even if he had wanted. In fact, with the mention of Rogue, he looked like he might cry. So Logan put off the question and settled for whispering, "Are you alright?"

Remy slowly shook his head, but kept his eyes down so that Logan could not the pleading expression that, though masked well by his face, still resided in those so-aptly-labeled windows to the soul. "Non. But it is not'ing I can deal wit now. Maintenant je doit dormir [Now I must sleep]."

Logan nodded - two years with a Cajun drinking companion will do wonders for one's understanding of the French language, especially in its bastardized manifestation. He passed through Remy's door. "Good night Remy. Let me know if there's anything I can do for you. I really don't want to see those bastards get away with this."

"Bon nuit, Logan," came the murmured reply. "Oh, et Logan, please don't tell anyone I am here. I will talk to dem in de morning."

It was one of those horribly bright mornings that make one wonder what right the sun has to be so brilliant at any time before noon. Remy woke, feeling only moderately less exhausted than the night before, though his aching, bruised body had recovered somewhat. His sleep had been restless, and his dreams disturbing, mixing horrible memories with strange projections that infiltrated his mind from the dreams of his teammates. But Remy had a knack for running on empty, so quickly showered, shaved, and made himself presentable - more than presentable, in fact, as quick look in his full length mirror confirmed. If only he didn't possess the Devil's eyes.

He lowered his makeshift walls and located all the people in the house. Scott, Storm, and Bobby were in the danger room, Logan was still asleep across the hall (Remy spared him a small smile, recalling his absolute refusal to get up before noon unless a real fight was scheduled), Hank and Jean were in the lab, and the Professor was in his study. He was both relieved and disappointed that he couldn't locate Rogue anywhere on the grounds. Warren wasn't around either.

Given that he knew where everyone in the Mansion was and that they were all in rooms easy to avoid, Remy had no difficulty arriving at the Professor's study undetected. But before he even had the chance to knock, the Professor's telepathic voice spoke to him. Come in Remy.

Remy was a little surprised, though in retrospect, he figured he probably shouldn't have been. He took a small moment to tighten his mental barriers, then entered apprehensively.

Professor X sat, as always, in his wheelchair, parked behind his large, old, and expensive oak desk. Remy could sense. well, kindness emanating from him, and this time he wasn't surprised. He'd always known that the Professor was good man. "When did you.," Remy trailed off inexplicably, but Xavier understood the question.

"Take a seat Remy." Upon doing so, the Professor continued. "It was late last night. I always personally scan the premises before I go to sleep and again when I wake, just to assure myself that everything is as it should be."

"Oh, Professeur. Et, last night, was everyt'ing as it should be?" Remy hated himself for it, but he could feel the tears threatening to spill. He'd managed to avoid crying so far, despite a number of close calls, and he wasn't about to start now. He wouldn't cry, he wouldn't show his weakness, for not only empaths must shelter their feelings from the world. He was, however, doing a substantially better job a maintaining his poker face in front of the Professor than he had last night in front of Logan.

Xavier sighed, a deep sigh that could only escape the lips of a man who'd spent the better part of his life trying to save humanity from itself. "Remy, of course you are welcome here, no matter what mistakes your past harbors. As long as they are, in fact, recognized as mistakes, and grave errors in judgment. I am actually quite relieved that you have showed up here, for I had feared you dead."

"I almost was, monsieur." Don't cry, Remy LeBeau, you piece of merde!

The Professeur nodded. "I have heard several different accounts of what happened, not all entirely honest, I thought. Would you tell what happened, Remy?"

Remy laughed, short and bitterly, and it was the Professor's turn to be surprised; but Remy spoke anyway - at length, in fact. He spoke of how Eric the Red had orchestrated the trial. Of Warren's defense of him until he had learned of the Mauraders and the Massacre. He spoke too of Rogue, of how he loved her and had kissed her. Of how she was filled with hatred and disgust upon seeing the Massacre through his eyes and how she had flown him away, over the icy steppes of Antarctica, after the trial.

She had asked him, her voice and eyes and face entirely devoid of emotion, what he thought was a just punishment for his heinous crimes. Remy, on the verge of completely falling apart, had responded that that was her right to decide, that he deserved the harshest punishment conceivable, for atrocities that were his responsibility. She had agreed, and promptly dropped him and left him, without even a look back.

". and so much for l'amour [love]. I always know it was merde anyway," Remy concluded.

Professor X leaned back and considered the young man. He sensed that he was telling the truth, though he'd omitted two essential points - mainly, what had actually gone down in the Morlock tunnels and how he had managed to survive and escape Antarctica. And now that he considered it, there was something else too. Xavier had never been able to get a good reading on Remy before, but now that he'd returned, he was both able to identify the Cajun's mental signature (as he had both last night and this morning) and able to confirm the Cajun's belief in the truth of his own words. His walls must've weakened. But why, how?

The young mutant looked exhausted though, and Xavier didn't want to push him too hard. He clearly didn't want to speak of the Massacre and had purposely skirted around the subject; and he had never revealed to anyone why he had had such strong mental walls - walls that, even now, were stronger than those of most non-telepaths. Xavier figured that the only question that really needed answering now, was that how he had managed to return for Antarctica.

But Remy shook his head. He had been thinking about this mystery, but had been more preoccupied with how he would emotionally and physically survive his nest encounter with Rogue. "Je ne sais pas. Vraiment. I don't know, I was dying. I was laying in the snow, slipping into unconsciousness. I saw a small green light, et puis [then], I woke up in Central Park."

Xavier frowned, though again, he sensed Remy's honesty. It was his restlessness, seen in tapping fingers and heals, however, that revealed Remy's desire to flee his presence. Xavier took pity on the poor young man and relented. He himself did not wish to dig too deeply into the messy affair. A wave of his own fatigue and disappointment washed over him and he suddenly felt his own age. "Okay then. Why don't you go get some rest? I'll let the others know that everyone's just going to have to learn to get along. There don't seem to be any innocent parties in this odious business and I haven't the heart to assign culpability, if it were even possible. I can only hope guilty consciences will succeed where I have failed. Rogue, though, I will need to speak to."

Remy stood and nodded, sadly taking in the Professor's suddenly haggard features. It seemed to him that he sucked the life out of everyone he came into contact with. He himself did not know where blame was deserved. He knew he deserved it, but he found it difficult to hold others' actions against them - he was simply too guilty and not enough of a hypocrite to point a finger at anyone but himself.

"Merci, Professeur," he whispered, and slunk out of the room, leaving Xavier to his thoughts.

Remy picked up some food on the way back to his room and spent the rest of the day in bed, alternating between sleep and concentrating on the hostility and negativity that permeated the Mansion. And it was not all directed at him either; there was plenty of general disgust and hate to go around. He did not know why he focused to intensely on the feelings of this (ex?) teammates. To his surprise and relief, his mental walls were already beginning to rebuild themselves, though he figured it would still be several months before he was able to get them up to their former strength; the combined force of his makeshift barriers and fetal walls was strong enough to deflect such undirected emotion, but he felt perversely drawn to it. It was the evidence of life, of humanity, evidence that it wasn't just him, alone in this endless mansion, afraid and cold. Sleep came poorly, fading into consciousness, blurring the lines between the freezing isolation of his dreams (nightmares?) and distressing, general. presence, of his waking moments.

When not just absorbing the common negativity, he found comfort in focusing on Jean's emotions, which provided a breathtaking and relieving contrast. Her emotions were calm as she exuded sympathy and concern for Remy, and a constant background love for Scott. The others were more unsettling. Logan was consumed with anger and frustration, and the only comfort Remy could derive from his rage was in the fact that it was not directed at him. Cyke too was angry, and profoundly annoyed, and neither excluded Remy as a target - though at least he was not the sole target, as all those present at the trial seemed to infuriate him. Storm was hurt, deeply so. She felt betrayed and angry, and was mourning the death of the Morlocks all over again; and Remy hated himself for hurting her. Bobby and Hank were both hostile towards him, Bobby far more so than Hank, at the same time as feeling a degree of guilt (Remy postulated that the latter was probably due to the compliance in what could have resulted in his murder). But what was by far the worst was the absolute hatred that radiated off Warren and Rogue, who returned to the Mansion shortly after midday.

Remy had felt it. They had returned to the Mansion quite pleased with themselves, there must have been a degree of success in their search for sinister locations (Hehe. Mon Dieu, I must be très desperate si je peux rire à ça [My God, I must be very desperate is I can laugh at that].) He felt the exact moment that Bobby had told them of his return. Rage had filled them both, but it was Rogue's unchecked vehemence and loathing that had finally caused him to consciously reinforce his walls and turn his attention from the maelstrom of negative emotions that infected the Mansion. Her rage was different than that of the others. Indeed, her entire emotional makeup was different from that of others; that had even been part of the attraction at one time - her passion, her impulsiveness, her fervor. He'd once thought of it as symptomatic of life, but now he feared it was more symptomatic of insanity. He feared her now, as perhaps unconsciously, he always had.

With a shudder he turned his mind away from the negativity and once again fell into a restless sleep.

Jean stopped by mid-afternoon in a vain attempt to offer comfort, or something. It was an awkward exchange, but, blessedly, short-lived, consisting primarily (on Remy's part) of staring expressionlessly, blinking owlishly on occasion, and mechanically claiming to desire solitude. It was, however, an interaction that required enough brain activity to bring him out of his empathic, sleep-like haze. But wakefulness, while a state free from nightmares, had its disadvantages, especially as he refused to leave his room. He was absolutely certain that he would be unable to face Rogue or Warren without displaying weakness; and he wasn't sure about the others either. And it wasn't just the frailty of his walls, he was feeling emotionally vulnerable too (though admittedly, this probably was partially related to the weakness of his walls), and he needed just a bit more time to resurrect his shattered bravado.

He'd never had much pride or self-love to speak of, but somewhere along the way, he'd acquired something much better, in a manner. He had the ability to act confidently, and even arrogantly when the situation called for it. From a practical perspective, the only perspective that meant much to Remy, this ability was better than actually being confident, because it spared him the ignorance born of arrogance and granted him the perceptiveness born of doubt.

He gazed around his room, attempting to find something that would hold his attention. As soon as his eyes fell on his guitar, he smiled (perhaps his first real smile since Antarctica), knowing that, if only for a short period of time, he'd found his diversion.

He hadn't played in ages - maybe not in over a year, and he briefly felt guilty at neglecting the musical talent that Jean Luc had spent so many years diligently stoking. He plucked a few notes, meticulously tuned each string, then began in earnest. It was a set of chords he'd learned many years ago, and he never tired of them, as they seemed fantastically adaptable to any mood of frame of mind. After a few moments, he began improvising some lyrics, and his accent faded a little.

"Hear now, ain't no sympathy for the devil... Not when your grave was dug by your own shovel. Oh future foreseen and past forgotten... I beg you to spare me the trouble of my mistakes misbegotten. And though the streets are dark with danger, I know I can't stay here, in this home where I'm a stranger and all I touch goes rotten with hate and fear."

He stopped, then berated himself. This was the kind of merde that prevented him from being stronger, that indulged his weaknesses, and he was not someone who could afford to be any less strong than as strong as he could be. But he wasn't able to rest on these thoughts for more than a couple of seconds before being interrupted by a firm knocking on the door. "Remy?"

Logan. He almost smiled again at the pang of loneliness that made itself known, letting him know that he should invite Logan in. Dieu, he was incorrigible. No matter how many times he got trampled on, he just couldn't seem to learn. Why couldn't he just be content to become a hermit and never expose himself to all the pain of humanity ever again? No, instead he kept coming back for more. Like Oliver Twist, timidly walking up with a bowl in his hands, asking in shaky voice for more pain please.

Remy's thoughts took up enough time that Logan knocked again. "Remy? I now you're in there. No fooling me, I can smell you. Not to mention the fact that you haven't left your room all day."

Remy sighed. "Come in den."

Logan entered cautiously, poking his head in first. He emerged through the cracked door with a large plate of food. "I figured that you probably haven't eaten since you got back."

"'aven't eaten since before Antarctica." Remy made a distinct effort to block out Logan's emotions (though he could tell just from Logan's expression that his words had provoked another surge of anger). He was growing weary enough of all the anger and negativity from everyone, whether directed at him or not, that it was becoming increasingly easy to return to his stance of not violating others' emotional privacy.

"Well here then," Logan said, handing him the plate. The food didn't look terribly appetizing, but he was hungry and the food was definitely of the filling sort - an army French Fries, two hamburgers, coleslaw, something (more potatoes?) swimming in melted cheese, and a what he presumed was a large slice of apple pie. Remy began wolfing it down immediately.

Logan would have smiled if it wasn't for the fact that Remy was unhealthily then. It was little wonder he was snarfing the food like a starving man. He forced himself to stop staring at his friend, his eyes falling on the discarded guitar. "I heard you playing before I came in..." The Cajun stopped eating, his fork halfway to his moth. "You sounded really good. I haven't the patience for music."

The fork continued its journey to the Cajun's mouth. Remy nodded and, after swallowing, said, "Oui. It took me forever to learn how to play well. Eh, pas the guitar, mais my first instrument was de violin. Dat took forever. De guitar was plus facile [easier]."

Then there was silence again as Remy returned to the task of shoveling food into his mouth. Logan very much wanted to know if he was alright, but he was pretty certain that asking Remy wouldn't get him an honest answer. As the comfortable, companionable silence began growing a bit more uncomfortable, Logan decided there was nothing else he could do now. It occurred to him to ask the Cajun if he wanted to blow off some steam in the Danger Room, or if he wanted to go drinking, but he didn't look strong enough to be up for much of either. So with a genuine farewell, Logan took his leave, and Remy was once again alone. He was, however, in somewhat improved spirits, though he thought much of this was probably due to the strengthening of his spirits. His depression was shifting into pensiveness and his indefatigable determination had returned (Dieu, even he was sick and tired of his determination; why wouldn't it just let him rot?).

Fond thoughts of Logan drifted into his mind and comforted him. Wolverine had surprised him. He had not realized that he had had a true friend in the man, for he had thought (erroneously, as it would turn out) that Rogue was the only one mansion he had succeed in connecting with. On the other hand, maybe he hadn't. Maybe Logan was just behaving as he believed was right in the situation - friendship didn't have to have much to do with it. These thoughts sobered his fragile good mood, but unfortunately his determination was here to stay. He knew it didn't matter if Logan was a friend or not; he would continue on anyway, finding strength in himself as he always did.

And he would leave, he decided. He finally felt strong enough to consider the future and consider it he did. He figured his walls would be back to their earlier strength (or, at least, strong enough) in under two weeks. Then... then he would leave. He thought somewhere remote would be a good idea, to get as far away from his failed life. Not just his failed life in Westchester, but his failed life in North America. He mused on the fact that all of his major failures had been in North America. Oui, best to leave the continent all together. But where to go? He briefly considered returning to Japan, for it was far away, but rejected the idea because he would have been more conspicuous there then he generally preferred to be. The obvious jump from there was Paris, where he had blended in perfectly and had had a fantastic time years ago. But no, he knew too many people in Paris, and in France generally, and he what he really wanted to do was start over entirely. His mind wondered to Russia and his thief fingers positively itched at the prospect. He would love to go to Moscow... but then he shuddered at the prospect of such cold. NON! Abruptly he decided that he did want to go to the Old World. He wanted some place new and still young and energetic. Australia came to mind and just like that it was decided. It was a surprise even to himself that he had never taken the time to go, but he was able to make the decision so easily that it almost seemed fated.

Swirling thoughts of his new life in Australia gradually coaxed him into sleep.

The next few days were all rather similar and, indeed, almost seemed to blur together. Remy spent most of the day and night in his room, intently ignoring the hostility that sporadically crashed against his shields. An inordinate amount of time was spent on the computer, first with the purpose of putting his affairs in order, but later with the purpose of what he lovingly called 'mischief' (a term he used when referring to activities that indulged his Robin Hood complex). Microsoft was deprived of a several million dollars, as were CitiBank, Nike, McDonald's, Paramount, and Disney. A number of charities, on the other hand, received substantial donations. A little known charity working to help street children in Louisiana received a particularly large and unexpected sum of money.

Still, Remy had to venture out of his room occasionally, primarily to get food. Though he went out of his way to avoid Warren and Rogue, he used the others to test his walls, as well as his emotional strength. And he was quite pleased with himself. He could tell by their irritated faces (for he succeeded in blocking out their emotions) that he had managed to resurrect his cool, carefree mask. He knew they couldn't believe that he was still able to hold his head high and that his apparent lack of remorse, guilt, or humility only stoked their anger, but he refused to reveal any weakness. His guilt and self-hate were for private viewing and consumption only. So he would strut into the kitchen, gather his food as if no one else were there, and leave. He demeanor was almost as if Antarctica had never happened, except now he flashed no charming fake smiles and made no attempts at socializing. Logan stopped by his room from time to time, but their time together was strained. It was if Logan was looking for a way to get closer to him, but the wild man had no skills in this area and Remy presented him with no openings. Instead he counted down the days until he would leave.