Disclaimer: Premise and characters are the property of Marvel, I'm just borrowing them for a bit of non-profit fun.
Time passed in a dreamy unreality.
Remy had bartered a ride with the first pair of farmers that he and Logan had come across, leaving the other man behind without a word or a thought as to how difficult things were going to be on his own. Remy had been used to traveling freely since he'd been a child. He'd crossed the breathe of the United States in a matter of months running from a band of hardened, professional killers. For him stealing vehicles or the cash for fares was only a bit harder than breathing. But now he was blind, afraid of his own powers and more helpless than he'd ever been in his life. And he couldn't even really bring himself to care.
He felt worn thin, especially when it came to whatever gave him his powers. What had once been a comforting warmth in his veins, a domesticate fire he could summon at will to do his bidding was now a river of plasma, sun-stuff, running wild just below his skin and it took all the control he could muster to simply contain it.
Remy was so tired, emotionally, mentally and physically he just felt wrung out. New Orleans might as well have been Pluto the distant planet would be just as easy to reach. Not that he really minded. He'd ripped himself apart to give Belle and the others a chance to reach safety; if it hadn't been enough he didn't want to know. If they'd died he'd already extracted as much vengeance as he could stomach. In a strange way his helplessness was freeing. There was nothing he could do, nothing left to be done, it was a convenient excuse to let himself go numb. Even so he was restless.
The farmers had left him at an outpost of humanity so small it hadn't been worthy of a name. For three days he'd wandered aimlessly around the little settlement. When a family had taken pity on him and offered him a ride to the next village, he'd taken them up on it.
The trip had taken several days and Remy had done his best to make himself useful, mostly he'd ended up entertaining the children with his slight of hand tricks, the ones that didn't require his powers. They'd left him with relatives in the next village, who'd sent him on to friends of theirs who were traveling and so his meandering journey had continued, moving always closer to larger concentrations of people and occasionally to the north.
For the first few weeks he'd sensed Logan in the background, keeping an eye on him, it would have been so easy to go back to the older man, to let Logan take care of him, take him home. Even with his empathic abilities crippled by the backlash of having used his biokinetic charge on living beings and consequently opening his mind up to the moment of their deaths, he could still sense a person's general intentions. As angry as he was with Wolverine, he knew, deep down, that the older man meant him no harm, but in Remy's mind, to trust Logan now was to betray Scott's memory and so he pretended ignorance of the other's existence and eventually Logan satisfied himself that Remy truly didn't need him and he left.
As time passed without the return of normal sight, Remy became more adept in interpreting the energy patterns around him. The emotional signatures of other people were easy, they were the only truly distinct features to his current form of vision. More gradually he learned to distinguish between the frozen, densely packed potential of a solid and the relatively empty, free flowing potential in the air. It wasn't seeing, wasn't even close, the difference between a table and a table with stuff on it wasn't worth mentioning, and solids tended to have cushions of packed air around them that fooled him into thinking they were larger than they truly were, but he could walk without worrying about smacking into things and Remy felt a little less at the mercy of fate.
He started wandering off, disappearing and finding new rides on his own rather than waiting for his latest benefactor to hand him off to a friend or family member who was traveling in the right direction. Almost inevitably he eventually ended up taking a ride from the wrong person. It had been carelessness, he knew that, knew he should have recognized the wrongness in the man, but he hadn't been looking for it, had been too lost in his own head and too numb to care until a rough hand closed around his arm, and he'd been flooded with the man's hatred of foreigners and intention to leave him dead in the desert.
In close quarters, fighting blind wasn't so much of a disadvantage, and the man's shock when Remy's sunglasses were lost, revealing eyes that were pools of blackness with just a hint of demon fire slowly returning to them, was enough to give Remy the fight. Remy left him lying in the dirt. He found a gun and some water in the truck, then disabled the starter and began walking along the road, letting his feet tell the difference between it's packed dirt and the softer stuff along side it, assuming if he stuck to this path he'd eventually find more people. Two days later another traveler had picked him up and his journey continued, only the fight had woken him from the hazy drifting. It wasn't enough just to be moving and surrounded by minds that weren't broken, Remy started making an effort to travel back toward New Orleans because ignorance wasn't bliss anymore, in truth not knowing his friends' fates was torture.
About a week later Remy was laying in the back of a pickup truck and found himself blinking up at pale blue, marked with high, thin wisps of with, wondering what it was. Then Remy started laughing as he recognized a sky with clouds and realized he was seeing colors and reflected light rather than destructive potential once again.
Remy rode with them to the next town then slipped away, half an hour later he was on the back of an old beat-up motorcycle headed back toward the states as fast as he could push it.
****** ****** ******
Candra stomped into Essex's lab; subconsciously her telekinesis set her cape and hair rippling majestically around her. "I am no underling to be given orders by you Essex!" she thundered.
"Madam, I have long since lost interest in your theatrics," Essex said setting aside his work. "You have lost your last hold within the Guild, you are currently of less value to me than my Marauders. You would do well to remember and rectify that."
"I gave you immortality," Candra screeched. "You owe me your very existence!"
Essex gave a long-suffering sigh. "You came to me. Four hundred years ago you were already on the verge of loosing control of your people. You traded me their bloodlines for medicines to renew their worship of you. In that blood I found the seeds of your immortality and applied that knowledge to another puzzle I'd long been studying."
"It doesn't matter how, the fact remains, you are in my dept and forever will be. You promised me that they'd be mine, but I've lost them! It is you that owes me!"
"You lost control of the Guild through your own inadequacy. Do you believe I enjoy watching centuries worth of work going to seed?" Essex demanded.
"They were my children!" Candra exclaimed melodramatically.
"I know their genetics, you haven't bred with them in a thousand years," Essex said dismissively. "And if you meant that figuratively… I have seen you with them, my dear. They are nothing more than play things to you."
Candra seemed to crumple in on herself. "You gained immortality from the genetic legacy I bequeathed them, but it never breeds true. How many children could you bury before your heart grew cold. I've watched innumerable generations grow old and die leaving me behind. I want no more of love for transitory beings, but they are still mine and I will never give them up!"
"Then you will continue to fan the flames of resentment in them," Essex said. "You drive them further from you with every move you make. You are eternal woman; learn some patience. They will return, despite your bumbling. They need me to guide them. When their children begin to suffer for their ignorance they will either break or they will return. Until then you will make yourself useful, one way or another," Sinister said with a significant look at the containment cells lining the walls of his laboratory.
"You'll regret treating me like this," Candra declared backing down.
****** ****** ******
Remy glanced up and down the lonely Texas road then roundly cursed the broken-down motorcycle. It was scrub and sagebrush to the horizon in every direction and he would be in for one hell of a long, hot walk if he couldn't get the bike running again.
With a sigh the russet haired teen began poking tentatively at the bike, cursing when the hot metal burned him, wishing he knew more about engines than how to start them without keys. In the past that had always been more than enough, Remy had never owned a vehicle in his life, he didn't even have a driver's license, although he'd been driving for years and was closer to seventeen than sixteen.
He'd thought about going to the DMV and taking the test back while he'd been with the X-Men, but had decided it would raise too many questions when he couldn't produce any sort of ID, let alone a legal one. Remy smiled darkly at the image of himself referring them to Georgia's PD and the mug shots they'd taken when they picked him up for pick-pocketing for proof of his identity. Getting arrested had seemed like a good idea at the time and he'd enjoyed the look on Scalphunter's face as the police had driven him out of the Marauder's carefully constructed trap. Blowing out the back wall of the general holding cell where they'd dumped him had been entertaining as well.
Still it had seemed like more trouble than it was worth, then he met his family and ended up deciding that the best solution was to ask Henri to forge ID for him, just as soon as he managed to talk his older cousin around to the idea of improving his birth date a little. In a similar vein of thinking he'd never been interested in learning how to fix cars, not when it was easier just to steal a new one… "Jus' s' long as deir was 'nother one 'round to steal," Remy grumbled to himself taking a half-hearted kick at the recalcitrant bike.
His mood picked up at the rattle of an engine in the distance. Remy settled his sunglasses more firmly over his eyes then stepped to the edge of the road, waving his arms and trying to look young and harmless.
To his delight the beat up old truck slowed to a halt a few feet away from him. Remy smiled. "Maybe m' luck isn't as hellish as I t'ought," he thought. Then the vehicle's driver step out to confront him and Remy paled.
The man was only a few inches taller than Remy now, but where the teen was built lean; this man was heavily muscled and bulky. A thick shock of shaggy black hair crowned a hard, weathered face.
Remy backed away reaching for a weapon as he dropped into a defensive stance.
"Easy kid, I just want to help," Scalphunter said holding up his hands to show they were empty and Remy remembered that Xavier had brainwashed the man. He considered the possibility that Scalphunter's conditioning was holding better than Magneto's had.
Remy forced himself to appear more relaxed; he straightened from a fighters crouch but maintained his distance. "T'anks for stoppin'," he said.
"I could hardly have you stranded out here, you probably wouldn't have made it to town walking in this heat. You really shouldn't drive a clunker like that bike in a place like this. Besides, you looked familiar. Call me Crow by the way."
Remy shifted nervously as Crow took a closer look at the bike. "S' yo' stop for every homme who 'minds yo' of someone?" he asked.
"Lately? Yeah," Crow replied. "Damnedest thing, really. Here I am going about my life, happy as a clam then I meet this girl. We're dating, doing the whole getting to know each other dance and she asks me where I lived before moving there and hell if I can remember. Funny thing was I never gave it a second's thought till that moment. Afterwards it's all I can think about, cause it turns out I don't remember nothing of the past dozen years or so. Before long I'm going out of my skull trying to figure it out, can't concentrate on my work, my hobbies don't hold any interest, I'm driving off my friends, my whole life is just going to crap. So one night I just toss a bunch of cloths in my truck and start driving, letting my subconscious lead the way."
"S' how'd dat work out?" Remy asked cautiously.
"Well I found you, so have we met before?" Crow asked his tone caught between wry self-mockery and forlorn hope.
" 'M sorry mon ami, ain't nevah seen yo' 'fore today," Remy lied.
"Damn," Crow said. "I've got some tools in the truck, I think I can get your bike running again."
"Merci," Remy said his own curiosity rising as his fear abated. "S' what'd yo' do 'fore yo' started lookin' for yourself?"
"I was a mechanic, not the most exiting line of work but I was good at it," Crow said pulling out a toolbox and walking back to Remy's bike.
"Were yo' happy?" Remy asked trailing behind Crow, carefully maintaining the distance between them.
"I suppose, wasn't unhappy in any case," Crow said. "You're wondering why I left aren't you? Why I uprooted my whole existence to chase after something that's over and done."
"Oui. What if yo' don' like what yo' find? What if yo're bettah off not knowing?"
Crow set to work on the bike's engine. "Whether I remember it or not, it happened, I don't like leaving myself open to being blindsided," he said after a while. "Get me a three-quarter's wrench will ya?"
Remy dug out the requested tool then hesitated for a moment. Crow held out a hand expectantly. With a fatalistic shrug Remy edged close enough to hand the wrench to him.
"Take off your sunglasses," Crow ordered unexpectedly.
Remy jumped back clutching his glasses defensively. "Yo' crazy homme?" he demanded.
"You're so familiar. I know you, I know what you're hiding."
Remy snatched a gun from the hide out holster at the small of his back and leveled it at Crow. The big man's mouth dropped open in shock. "Stay de fuck 'way from me!" Remy snarled.
Crow couldn't take his eyes off the gun; he stared at it like he'd never seen one before or like he'd never expected to see one in Remy's hand. "Sorry kid, you ain't him," Crow finally said. "Sorry I scared you, sometimes I just need to know so bad, it makes me crazy."
Remy took another step back, taking a two-handed shooter's stance.
"Look, I'm going to just go back to working on the bike, you can relax okay kid. I ain't gonna hurt you, just relax," Crow said placating.
"Go 'head," Remy said not lowering the gun.
Crow turned his attention back to the bike, Remy watched him work suspiciously.
A long while later Crow stepped away from the bike, "Give her a try now," he suggested.
Remy waved the man further back, when a safe distance had been established the teen mounted the bike. Once the engine was purring smoothly he paused, one foot still on the ground ready to take off at a moment's notice. He met Gray Crow's eyes for a moment. "Go to Millstone, Arizona," he yelled over the roar of the engine. "Ask for Claire."
Then Remy took off in a spray of gravel, putting as much distance between them as he could before Gray Crow had the chance to respond.
****** ****** ******
Lapin stood on the balcony at the club watching the dancers grimly. Delores came and stood beside him, interlacing her fingers with his. "Give him 'nother week an' Pierre'll be out dere dancin' 'gain," she said.
Lapin's gaze fixed on Belle as her golden braids fanned around her when she spun. "Remy's dead an' it's like Belle don' care at all."
"She's hurtin' more dan any of us," Delores defended her friend. "She don' like to show it, mais trus' me on dat. Belle does care 'bout what happened."
A movement from the street below caught Lapin's attention. Street lamps gleamed off the russet hair of a man's down turned head. "Mon Dieu!" Lapin exclaimed in disbelief.
At the sound of his voice the figure below glanced up, red eyes glowed in the night.
"Remy?" Delores cried, hope filling her voice. Lapin was already clambering over the rail of the balcony.
"Hey Lapin," Remy said smiling tentatively. "How'd it work out?"
Lapin laughed, grabbing Remy in a rough hug. "A hell of a lot bettah dan I t'ought. Mon Dieu Rem, we t'ought yo' died."
"Yo' weren't de only one," Remy replied breathing easier. "S' we did it, we really did it… where's Belle?"
They turned toward a clatter of feet running down the stairs, a door opened, Belle stood frozen in the spill of light.
"Belle?" Remy asked taking a step toward her.
The spell broken, Belle ran to Remy, clinging tightly to him. Surprised by her uncharacteristic behavior Remy didn't respond for a moment then his arms closed around her. He rubbed her back soothingly as her shoulders shook with silent sobs.
Remy looked at Lapin. "Everyone make it?" he asked quietly.
"Oui, more or less. Pierre's healing bon. Dere weren' no other injuries," Lapin said. "Nathan's hangin' 'round, mais we don' know if it's 'cause of yo' or jus' dat he ain't t'ought of anywhere bettah to be."
Remy nodded in acknowledgement. "Tell Oncle Luc I ain't dead an' I'll be by in de mornin', 'kay?"
" 'Course," Lapin said as Remy escorted Belle into the night, one arm wrapped supportively around her waist.
When they came to the church Remy hesitated, looking up to their nitch uncertainly. Belle slipped out of his arm and nimbly climbed up, years of familiarity showing as she ascended the stone face of the building, reaching for each foot and handhold without pause for thought. Remy followed her up and they curled up together under the stone angel's sheltering wings.
"What's happened?" Remy asked.
Belle buried her face against his chest, shaking her head. Remy sighed; he kissed the top of her head and held her tightly while she cried herself to sleep.
The next morning Remy woke to find Belle rubbing away the tear stains on her cheeks, looking almost embarrassed. "Glad yo' made it back," She said noticing him watching her. "Yo' got anyt'ing planned nex' week? I got a location on some of the people fundin' dat lab, Singer and I were gonna pay dem a visit, yo' could come 'long."
"An' do what?" Remy asked confused. "I want rien more to do wit' dem."
"Kill dem," Belle replied as if it were the most obvious thing in the world."
"Non!" Remy exclaimed.
"Dey took our baby, dey all gotta die," Belle insisted eyes flashing.
"What happened?" Remy demanded.
Belle jumped down from their spot. "I tol' yo'," she said not looking at him. "We owe dem vengeance an' blood."
Remy went after her, catching her by the arm, worry filling his voice he said, "Yo' gotta tell me 'xactly what dey did."
Belle jerked away. "Leave it be Remy!" She snapped, storming away. "Yo' know all yo' need!"
Remy took two running steps after her, grabbing her shoulder and spinning her back to face him. "Chere…" he began only to have Belle turn the momentum he'd given her against him as she drove her fist into his solar plexus. The wind knocked out of him, Remy went to his knees gasping.
"It's deir fault!" she yelled. "Dat's all dat mattahs!"
" 'Nough Belle!" Remy yelled back as soon as he had breath. He used a hand as a pivot and kicked her legs out from under her, then pinned her. "Stop it an' listen!"
With an inarticulate shriek a knife slipped into Belle's hand and she plunged it into Remy's chest. Shock drove them apart. For a moment both teens just stared at the knife and the growing bloodstain around it. Slowly Remy reached up to touch the hilt as if he couldn't believe it was real. His fingers wrapped around it for a heartbeat then fell away.
"Remy!" Belle screamed catching him as his lost consciousness. " 'M sorry, 'm sorry!" she cried easing him to the ground. She wrapped her jacket around the knife applying pressure to stop the bleeding as she pled. "Don' die. I didn' mean it, please don' die."
****** ****** ******
Josette stared at the blond girl standing on the doorstep nervously playing with a braid. "Yo' got a death wish girl?" she asked.
"How's Remy?" Belle replied in a subdued voice.
"How yo' t'ink? Yo' put a blade wit'in an inch of his heart," Josette said.
"Henri said I couldn't come to de hospital," Belle said. "It's been a week, dey have to know somet'ing."
Josette sighed. "Jean-Luc called a couple of hours 'go. Remy's stable, he even woke up for a bit. He asked for yo' 'pparently, dat's what mon frere was crusin' 'bout anyways."
"Merci," Belle started back down the driveway then asked. "Yo' gonna go see him?"
"Why, we'd jus' fight," Josette said with an unhappy grimace.
****** ****** ******
Belle sat on the window ledge outside of Remy's hospital room. Normally both the Thieves and Assassins preferred Tante Mattie's care to a doctor's, but they didn't normally end up in the sort of fights that left one person bleeding on the front steps of a church and the other, torn between guilt and panic, screaming for help. The official story she'd given the police was a mugging turned ugly. She didn't know if they had believed her or not, but they knew better than to press the issue and that was what mattered.
When Belle was certain Remy was alone she jimmied the window open and crawled inside. Their eyes met across the darkened room. "Like day old coals, so different from normal" she thought wanting to flinch away from Remy's eyes for the first time.
"I didn't mean it," she said.
"I know," Remy replied quietly. "Can we talk now?"
Belle turned back to the window. "What do yo' want to hear?" she asked. "Dat it was m' fault? Dat I should've trusted yo' to rescue me? Dat I shouldn've been careless? Dat I shouldn've taken de damn job in de firs' place? I know all dat! I know I let it happen, dat it's m' fault. Mais it's deir fault too. 'M a'ready bein' punished, feels like m' heart's torn out of m' chest, dey should feel de same. 'M sorry Remy, 'm sorry, I kilt our baby."
"Belle!" Remy called, but the blond girl had already disappeared into the night. "Dat wasn' what I meant," he finished to himself. "Dat was * nevah * what I meant."
****** ****** ******
Singer grabbed the cell phone before it could wake its owner. Belle had climbed through her window face streaked with tears a half hour earlier, she'd stammered out a few nearly incoherent sentences about Remy and the baby then cried herself to sleep.
"Quoi?" Singer asked answering the phone.
"Singer? Why yo' got ma Belle's phone?" Remy asked his voice worried.
Singer took one last look at Belle then went into the bathroom and shut the door behind her. "Belle don' want to talk to yo'," she said.
"She didn' understand Singer," Remy protested. "I nevah thought it was her fault, nevah!"
"Den why yo' keep pressin' dis?" Singer demanded. "She don' want to talk 'bout it! Ain't yo' got de message yet?"
"I know de sort of people dat were holdin' her," Remy said. "She's got to tell me 'xactly what happened."
"Belle don' gotta do anyt'ing she don' want."
"Yo' don' understand, jus' cause dey took de baby don' mean its dead, yo' don' know de sort of t'ings dey can do," Remy said.
For a moment Singer was silent, wondering if it were worth getting Belle's hopes up. "We saw your powers cuttin' loose," she finally said. "How much of de place were still standin' when yo' got it under control?"
"Your point Singer?" Remy asked coldly.
"Even if dey didn' kill de chile, what are de chances yo' didn' by accident?" Singer asked. "Belle's m' bes' friend. I ain't goin' to let yo' put her t'rough dis 'gain."
Silence stretched across the line as Remy processed what she'd said, then Singer heard his phone clattering to the floor as it was unceremoniously dropped. A moment later she heard the sound of retching in the background.
Singer disconnected then erased Remy's call from the log and went to replace Belle's phone.
****** ****** ******
Josette woke to the sound of a hesitant knock on her bedroom door. She grabbed a dressing gown and opened the door to find herself confronting her son. "Yo're su'osed to be in de hospital," she said, startled.
Remy's eyes glowed sullenly in the dim light of the hallway, there was a faint catch in his breathing and his hand was pressed against his wound as if he were in pain. He didn't seem to register her words. "Yo' win," he said softly. "Yo're de bettah pa'nt. I lived didn' I? Yo' didn' kill me."
Josette felt a shiver of alarm creep up her spine. "Does Jean-Luc know yo're home?" she asked.
" 'M leaving," Remy said. "Dis is Belle's town, ain't causin' her any more pain."
"Remy, yo' listenin' to me t'all boy? Yo' gotta talk to Jean-Luc or Tante Mattie. Yo' can't jus' dump dis on me! I don' know what to say. Dey know how to handle t'ings, I don'."
For the first time Remy really looked at Josette. "A'ready talked to Oncle Luc," he lied. "Jus' wanted to tell yo', yo' weren' as bad a pa'nt as I t'ought. Mais bettah dan me at any rate, not dat dat's sayin' anyt'ing at all. Goodbye Josette, I ain't comin' back here no more."
"Remy yo' can't jus' leave. I can't believe Jean-Luc jus' lettin' yo' leave. Yo' shouldn' even be out of de hospital," Josette protested.
"He did, jus' go back to bed," Remy cried.
"Non, dis whole t'ing ain't…" Josette began only to be cut off abruptly as Remy punched her.
Hissing with pain as his stitches protested the movement, Remy caught Josette as she passed out. "Why'd yo' have to choose now to give a damn?" he demanded dragging her back inside her room. With a sigh he shut the door behind him and vanished into the night.Back Next Please send feeback