A/N: What? Where in the world did this come from? Lol, I was feeling inspired for some reason to finish this. So here it is mes amis! The conclusion. Would you believe I meant for this to be sadder than it was?
Part Two: Le Garçon
"Mama! Mama! Auntie! Look!"
The boy curled into a tighter ball, wishing the annoying voice would go away and let him sleep. He was cold, tired, and hungry. At least in the dreamworld, everything was alright.
Something touched him lightly then squealed as he grunted at it angrily. Little steps pitter-pattered away.
"Mama! Look! It's a bit ol' swamp rat!"
Alright, that was it. "'M not a swamp rat," he snapped at the giggling girl standing next to two women. "Go 'way! Ah wanna sleep!"
"Auntie!" the girl squealed again in delight, "th' big swamp rat jus' talked!"
"Ah told yeh Ah ain' no rat," he turned back around to glare at the noisy brat. When he did so, the boy found the girl had escaped her family's hands and scooted right up to him, crouching down his level. Their noses nearly touched as she stared at him with the wild curiosity of a child.
He was looking into the largest pair of emerald eyes he'd ever seen, unable to look away. They were very pretty eyes, much too pretty to be looking at him. To be seeing his ugliness. With a start he remembered himself, remembered what her pretty eyes would be looking at.
Shoving the girl away, he crouched into a corner, smoothing his shaggy auburn hair over his cursed eyes. "Don' look!" he shouted to her. He didn't want her to fear him either. The sound of small footsteps made him sag in relief and regret. Good, the girl was gone. He didn't have to hear her cries of fear.
Soft breath warmed his chilled skin. "Don' look at what?" the girl's voice was near him again. She was trying to look into his face, but the boy shoved the heels of his palms into his eyes so she would see nothing. The pain was terrible, but putting tears into another female's eyes would hurt worse.
"Mah eyes!" he told her. "Now go 'way."
"Wha's wrong wit' yo' eyes?" she asked innocently. He felt little gloved fingers tugging on his arms so she could see.
"Marie, please," one of the women said softly, hesitantly. "I think we should…"
"Dey ugly," he whimpered, unable to explain it any other way. He winced at the crack in his voice.
"They ain' ugly neithe'," the girl pouted, successfully wrestling his hands away. He was too weak to keep her away for long. Her eyes glittered stubbornly as she locked gazes with her young captive. "They pretty."
"Pretty?" There was a word he'd never heard when referring to his eyes. He hardly believed he was hearing it now. She nodded her head, white bangs bouncing merrily.
"They look like big red flowers," the young girl, Marie, went on. "Like…" she chewed on her lip in concentration, trying to come up with the word in her 5 ½ year old mind. Then her face lit up. "Roses! Yo' eyes look like roses!" She turned back to the woman who had followed her into the alley so as not to let her out of sight. "Don' yeh think so, mama?"
The taller woman of the pair, the one not wearing sunglasses and using a funny cane, knelt down to gather her errant daughter into her arms. The boy watched, half yearning for her to do the same to him, but expecting her terror at any moment. Waited, crouched by the trash can, for the pretty little girl to start crying. The beautiful woman looked into his eyes as well, an odd expression on her elegant face. But to his relief and amazement, there was no fear or anger in her either.
"Like roses you say, my little rogue?" 'Auntie' asked from her place a few feet away. She wasn't looking anywhere, never mind him. The boy wondered if her sunglasses were to hide scary eyes too.
"Uh-huh," Marie nodded, her little arms wrapping around her mother's neck. "Ain' they pretty, mama?"
He liked her insistence that his eyes were pretty and wanted to hear it over and over. For each time she did so, it felt like warm medicine soothing an aching pain in his chest. A pain he couldn't remember a time without.
Marie's mother nodded absently to her child's question. He thought he saw a flicker of gold her gaze, but it may have been his imagination, because when he looked again, they were a dark brown. "Irene," she called behind her. "This boy is hurt."
"Hurt? What's wrong with him, Raven?"
Couldn't she tell? Was she… then he remembered. Maman told him once that people with broken eyes wore sunglasses all the time and used canes to get around.
"The areas around his eyes are infected," Marie's mother reported, seeing his mother's scratch marks. "Irene… do you know him? You look…"
"I believe I do," Irene replied, smiling gently. The young mutant found this odd since he knew he'd never seen this lady before in his life. Then to him she said, "come, child. Don't be afraid of us. We're going to help you."
Before he could consider what this meant, Marie had wriggled her way out of her mother's arms and to his side. Grasping his hand, she pulled him to his feet. "Come on, Swamp Rat! Auntie Irene says yeh can come home wit' us!"
He glared at the bubbly pig-tailed girl. "Ah ain' no…"
"Come on!" She pulled him along as she led the way out of the alley. He had no choice but to follow the headstrong girl. What could it hurt? It wasn't as though going with Marie would be worse than starving to death on the streets.
As it turned out, little Marie's home wasn't too far away from his alley. It was a small, but warm house, certainly much warmer than sleeping in the trash. The winter was coming slowly but surely, and while it wasn't as cold as some of the Northern states, no boy in his condition would last very long.
For the small homeless mutant, Marie's coming to him was as divine as an angel's. For with her came warmth, acceptance, healing, and a fully belly. As her mother gently cleaned out the dangerous wounds around his eyes, the girl and her aunt prepared food from leftovers.
But the first thing his spitfire guardian angel brought him before she even started on dinner was a large red apple.
He held it for a moment, still trying to register all that had been happening lately. Marie put her hands on her hips, pouting. "Yeh eat it, silly. It's called an apple, yeh know."
"Marie," her mother admonished, but it had snapped him from his daze.
"Merci," he thanked her softly, nibbling at it carefully. He had to restrain himself from taking large bites. Maman always told him that it was rude to eat like an animal. He didn't want to make this little family think he was rude.
Marie cocked her head to the side, green eyes narrowed in puzzlement. "Whatever. Don' eat too much. Ah made a big big dinner!"
"We made a big big dinner, didn't we my little rogue?" laughed Irene.
The five-year old smiled indulgently. "Oh yeah, an' Auntie Irene helped."
After supper and a well-appreciated bath, both children settled down in the living room for their slumber party. Marie chattered away like an excited monkey, glad for another companion her own age. Her young guest learned that this was due to her overprotective mother and aunt. They didn't like her going out to play very often.
He was content to let her talk, finding a strange sense of peace in having a playmate as well. One who could look into his eyes and see only roses and apples.
"Mama says we have t' move soon," Marie was saying. "An' afte' we move she has a… a bizniss trip an' meh an' Auntie Irene won' see her fo' a while." Her emerald eyes dulled in sadness. "Ah'm sick o' movin' so much!"
He could sympathize with her. He too just wanted a place to call home. "Mais, yeh have yo' Tante Irene, non?" he offered, wanting to see only smiles from her.
"Well, yeah, but Ah wan' someone t' play wit'." Then her eyes lit up again and she sat upright in her sleeping bag to face him. "Can Ah keep yeh?"
"Huh?" What was she talking about?
"Yeh don' have a home. Stay wit' us an' we can play! When we move, yeh can come too!" She rambled on, excited at the idea of her young friend staying with her.
The boy wanted to be excited too. He'd like nothing better than to live with the pretty angel and her family. He could understand her loneliness, but he also knew he couldn't go with her when she left. She may like his eyes. Her family may even accept them. But he knew that it wouldn't take long for others to find out just who and what he was. And he knew just how accepting the general public was of rose-colored eyes. And he couldn't bring trouble to the pretty little girl who had been so kind to him.
"Ah can'," he shook his head regretfully. "'M sorry, Marie.
"Why not?" she demanded, emerald eyes blazing now. She had wished for a playmate for so long. Now that she finally had one, the five year old wasn't so ready to give him up. "Yeh don' have no mama. We can share mah mama."
"Ah have a maman," he shook his head. As wonderfully as Irene and Raven were to him, they weren't his beautiful maman.
Marie was unimpressed. "If yo' mama makes yeh sleep outside, she's a meanie."
"Maman isn' a meanie!" he defended her.
"She is too!" The little girl fought to hide her frustrated tears from her young friend. At the sight of this, he felt his resolve weakening. The last thing he ever wanted was to make his angel cry. "Mah mama said yo' mama hurt yeh. Mamas don' hurt their babies, Auntie Irene says so. Yo' mama is mean!"
"Stop it!" he cried. "Yeh don' know what it's like. It's mah fault."
"What's yo' fault?" Marie grumbled, wiping the tears away with a fist. She sniffled loudly.
"People don' like mah maman 'cause o' meh. Ah make her cry." The young boy snuggled into his sleeping bag like he used to with his baby blanket. Anything to hide him from the world.
"Yeh know why," he snapped, hating the conversation and the tears of a girl that were his fault once more.
"Is it yo' eyes?" she asked. "Yo' mama doesn' like yo' eyes? But they're so pretty. Ah think yo' lucky."
"Yo' eyes are normal," he shook his head. "No one is scared o' yeh." He wanted to keep being angry at her, let her be his outlet, but who could remain angry at an angel who loved his eyes?
"Uh-uh," she denied matter-of-factly. "Mama says mah skin is sick an' Ah can' touch nobody."
"Dat why yeh wear yo' gloves all de time?" Even in the dead of night, his rose-colored eyes could see that his friend covered up entirely.
"Yeah," she pouted grumpily. "Ah don' see why. Nothin' happens when Ah don' wear them." She angrily tore off the little white gloves and held her pale hands out. "See?"
He held out his own hand, cautiously taking hers. True to her word, nothing happened that would suggest she was sick. Marie had the softest hands he'd ever felt, having been covered for so long. Soft like feathers or his long lost baby blanket.
"Yo' skin ain' sick," he stated, reluctantly letting her go.
She nodded fervently. "O' course it ain'," she giggled. "Jus' like yo' eyes ain' ugly."
"…Oui," he had to agree with the logic in that.
Marie giggled again at his tone. "See? Grown-ups don' know nothin'." Then she reached up to touch his face. Her emerald eyes weren't able to see him like he could see her, so she had to use her fingers to seek out the newly cleaned nail wounds. They were cool against his skin, but the boy refused to relax under her gentle touch. She was lucky he was allowing her this much contact.
Her mouth frowned as she traced the scratches blindly. "But mah mama was right that no mama should hurt their baby." Then she looked straight into his eyes. "Can yeh see meh?"
"Oui," he nodded under her touch, grateful for the sudden change in subject. "Mais, how did yeh…"
"Cause yo' eyes glow in th' dark," she said. "They been glowin' eve' since mama shut th' lights. Ah wish mah eyes did that."
He didn't bother arguing with her again. In a few short hours, the young mutant had learned that she was as stubborn as a cold and twice as fierce. Debating with this child would only drive him to insanity.
Yawning loudly, Marie snuggled into her sleeping bag, hugging a stuffed cat to her chest. "Yeh didn' tell meh yo' name," she said sleepily. "What is it?"
He was silent for a moment. His maman hadn't used his name in so long that the sound of it was as unfamiliar as the name of a stranger. And what she did call him he didn't think a little girl needed to hear. "Ah don' have one," he answered quietly.
"Silly," Marie mumbled. "Ev'ryone has a name. Ah'll jus' call yeh Swamp Rat till yeh tell meh."
Sneaking away was easier than he'd expected. With near perfect night vision, plus being naturally light on his feet, the mutant boy had no problem making it to the front door.
It wasn't as though he wanted to sneak off in the dead of night. Especially when these people had been so kind to him. But he knew he couldn't stay any longer. Because come morning, he may not have the strength anymore to refuse Marie's plea to 'keep him.'
Just a few more feet and…
"Going somewhere, little one?"
It was Marie's tante, the blind lady called Irene. She came from the little hallway leading to her bedroom. The darkness obviously had no effect on her, and she made her way to his side with no difficulty.
He froze despite himself, even knowing that she could not see him either way and that his escape had already been blown. And he was usually so good at creeping by silently too. He'd had years of practice trying to escape his mother when she was really angry.
"I won't stop you," the blind woman went on softly. "I know why you're doing this. And while I do not agree with you, it is not my place to defy what fate has in store for you."
"Marie will cry if Ah stay," he tried to defend himself. He didn't know how else to word it.
"She will cry if you go," she returned, not unkindly. "Either way, you will make her cry. I will let you leave us on one condition."
"Huh?" A condition? Like a deal?
"When you grow up, promise me that you will only make her smile."
His crimson eyes narrowed at her. What was she talking about? She sounded so certain, like he would only be off on a vacation and would return before long. But as he reached for the doorknob, a delicate hand covered it first. "Please promise me, little one. Do that and I'll let you leave."
"Ah promise," the seven-year old agreed, growing more confused by the moment. This woman was creepy when she wasn't being so nice. And her comment before on how she knew him… she wasn't… she wasn't normal. Not right.
But she backed down after the young mutant promised to make her little niece smile when he grew up. "Then that is all I ask."
He was free.
Yet as he reached for the doorknob again, Irene stopped him again. "Just remember though, child, you can always change. You do not have to be the little boy you were with your mother. And when you do grow up, you are always free to make a choice between what you are and what you want to be."
"Ok, Ah'll remember."
"And you'll remember your promise?"
"Goodbye then. And good luck."
He needed no more prompting than that. Fleeing out the door and not stopping till he reached the end of the street, the boy ran as fast as his little legs would carry him. Anything to take him away from the creepy blind woman, aloof companion, and green-eyed angel.
Irene shut the door behind him as the pounding of his feet faded from her hearing. She didn't need eyes to know who had approached her.
"Was it wise to let the boy leave in the middle of the night?"
"He'll be fine."
"He's just a boy." Was that concern in her voice?
"Don't worry, Raven," Irene smiled. "He's in good hands."
The first snow hadn't even come and already the boy wished he hadn't left Marie's house. It was warm and full of life, even if it did have her strange tante spouting riddles. Perhaps if he had gotten a new pair of sunglasses it wouldn't have been so…
No, he did the right thing by leaving last night. He would just have to deal with the cold. There was no other choice. But the mutant did wish he had had enough sense to swipe a bit of leftovers from the fridge before his midnight-flight.
He had seen many other homeless boys over the weeks survive in the streets. They existed off the money of others, stealing it with incredible skill learned over the years. Maybe he could try the same thing. There would be no food from trash cans for him. Not with the tiny size he was. And he doubted any more angels would descend to help him. Not after he made one of them cry.
But his maman always said that stealing was wrong!
Irene's words floated through his mind. He didn't have to be that scared boy huddled in the corner anymore. He could be strong and defend himself. He could grow up to be a boy Marie would be proud of.
To do that he had to survive.
And to survive he needed money.
A pair of slow-moving people looked promising on that cold morning day. A man around the age of his papa. And a large dark-skinned woman considerably older than his maman, but not yet old enough to be a grandmother.
Sneaking up on them would never work. There were too many people on the street for that. So a hit and run it was. It shouldn't be too hard, the older boys did it all the time. All he needed was the courage to go through with it. There could be no half-hearted attempts, it had to be perfect. But the reward was more than worth it.
With a burst of energy, the boy raced straight for the pair, bracing himself just before impact. Small as he was, the force with which he hit, was enough to throw the man off-balance, though he didn't fall outright. The boy, however, bounced back on his butt as though he'd hit a pliant wall. He sat there dazed for a moment.
"Are yeh alright, chil'?" the woman asked, concern on her motherly features.
The boy jumped up to his feet, blushing in embarrassment. He kept his eyes hidden behind shaggy bangs and to the ground to hide them as much as possible. But the wallet now tucked neatly into his pocket assured him that he had done well. "Désole, monsieur, madam" he apologized profusely. "Ah wasn' watchin' where Ah was goin'."
"Dat's quite alright," the man smiled, and the young thief felt slightly guilty for taking his money.
The boy smiled back unsteadily and turned around to leave, once again apologizing for running into the man. However, a large hand clamped onto his shoulder before he could take a step. Fear jolted through his system at the contact. What was going on? Why wasn't the man letting him leave?
"Yeh can leave as soon as Ah get mah wallet back, petite," the victim requested, still smiling pleasantly. The black woman to his side just chuckled, sighing in mock-exasperation at her companion.
"Mah wallet. Ah t'ink it leapt t' yo' pocket when yeh ran int' meh."
The mutant was frozen to the spot, but he had enough sense to hand over the stolen property. The auburn-haired man shook his head and put the wallet back where it belonged. "Now yeh should know better den to steal from de King o' Thieves, hein petite?"
The… what? Did he mean the boy had just tried to… oh no. He was in trouble this time. Why oh why hadn't he just stayed snuggled up in his sleeping bag in Marie's living room?
"Now don' yeh frighten de poo' chil', Jean-Luc," the woman frowned, seeing the boy quiver. "Look at 'im, poo' t'ing…"
"Now, Mattie…" Jean-Luc warned. But his housekeeper paid his no mind, squatting down to face the little thief properly.
"Wha's yo' name?" she asked kindly. When he looked up at her from the ground, she gasped in surprise. There before her were the two most beautiful eyes she'd ever seen in her life. "Yo' eyes…"
He quickly averted his eyes again, waiting for the anger he knew would follow. To slow to run away, but too frightened to do anything else. Yet her anger never came.
"What about his eyes, Mattie?" Jean-Luc asked, curiosity piqued.
"Dey like de sunset, Jean. Come, chil', don' be scared. Let yo' Tante Mattie see. Dey gorgeous."
Gorgeous? Sunset? He dared not face her, afraid that he was dreaming again. Two people not seeing any devil when they saw him?
"Tante?" The King of Thieves asked. "Mattie, yo' not…"
"Hush, Jean. Wha's yo' name, little one?"
The boy mumbled something, shuffling his feet. He still stared the other way at the cars passing by in colored blurs.
"Ah didn' hear. Wha' was dat?"
"Diable? What kind o' name is dat t' give a boy?" the man asked, ignoring Mattie's look of disapproval.
"'S what mah maman called meh. Ah don' remember mah real name." He did remember, of course. But he was no longer that boy. All he had now was the title given to him by others.
"Cruel, stupid woman," Mattie cursed, spitting on the ground. Her large hand, callused but gentle, touched his shoulder lightly as she eyed over the scarring wounds left on his face. There was no doubt in her mind where they came from. He let her, feeling nothing but kindness from her, as though seeing her very aura. Even as she denounced his mother, as Marie and her family had done, he found himself with no anger or defense. He knew his maman wasn't a mean woman, but beautiful and kind, but he knew he could no more convince Mattie than Marie.
Then she looked up in question to Jean-Luc who too had knelt down. "Jean, we can' leave 'im. He ain' got no home."
His eyes were softer, kinder as he gazed upon the child. "Yeh don' have anywhere t' stay, d'yeh, petite? Dat why yeh took m'wallet?"
"Oui," the boy answered quietly. "'M sorry, really, mais…"
A finger lifted his chin to look into Jean-Luc's gentle steel-gray eyes and Mattie's chocolate brown. "D'yeh wan' a home? Yeh got potential t' be a half-way decent t'ief an' Ah can teach yeh. Yeh don' have t' live in de streets no mo'."
A home? A real home? With a family and warmth and a bed and…
The child nodded, breath hitching in his chest as tears filled his sunset and rose colored eyes. All he ever wanted was a home. Where he could have eyes that weren't the color of blood. Where he wasn't some bastard child of le Diable.
"Oh chil'," Mattie smiled. "'S alrigh' now, yo' Tante's here."
"Remy," Jean-Luc answered.
"What?" the woman asked as she tried to dry her new charge's cheeks. The boy too looked up in question.
"No mo' o' dis 'Diable' crap, non? Yo' name is Remy Etienne LeBeau o' de T'ieves Guild, an' yo' mah fils now, so yeh mind what y' told from now on, hein?"
Remy smiled as he gaped at his adopted father in disbelief. Two more angels had descended to see to him, and he would do all he could to please them. He would become the best thief there was if that was what they wanted him to be. "Oui. Remy…" he had a name now. A good name that tasted sweet on his lips. He wanted to say it over and over again, proclaiming to anyone who would hear that he now had a real name. "Remy. Mah name is Remy. Ah have a famille…"
"Henri will be so pleased when he finds out," Tante Mattie went on as they walked slowly down the sidewalk. Remy clutched a handful of her wool skirt as he followed at her side, afraid that she might disappear if he didn't.
"Henri?" he asked.
"Yo' frère plus âgé," his father answered. A big brother? He had a big brother? "He an' his cousins been askin' fo' a new playmate."
"Ah have cousins?" he asked excitedly. Jean-Luc chuckled at his enthusiasm.
"Mo' den yeh'll know what t' do wit', petite. De Guild is huge an' we all famille."
"Ah t'ink Remy will fit in jus' fine," Tante Mattie said, ruffling the boy's hair.
The child said nothing to this, savoring the motherly touch he had missed for so long. The boy he was had now died completely and this new one, this Remy, took his place. A completely new life for a new boy. "Remy," he whispered to himself as the grown-ups talked around him. He didn't think he'd ever get tired of hearing it, or saying it. "Remy has a père, an' a tante. He has a famille an' a name. Remy is a t'ief now. And dat's ok 'cause people can change int' what dey wan'. Tante Irene said it's ok t' change. Remy can change. He don' have t' hide no mo'."
My black backpack's stuffed with broken dreams
20 bucks should get me through the week
Never said a word of discontentment
Fought it a thousand times but now
I'm leaving home
Here in the shadows
I've nowhere else to go but
I cannot stay where I don't belong
Two months pass by and it's getting cold
I know I'm not lost
I am just alone
But I won't cry
I won't give up
I can't go back now
Waking up is knowing who you really are
Show me the shadow where true meaning lies
So much more is made in empty eyes
A/N: Once again, the song I wrote above belongs to Evanescence. I did try to wrap up loose ends, but I'm not sure how successful I was. Coming up with the origin for his 3rd person speech sounded better in my head, believe me. I tried to stay as faithful to the original version of events as possible, including the pick-pocket scene that leads to his adoption. Um, what else… yeah, this was a lot of fun to write. Chibi-Remy is a doll to work with : ) Originally I wasn't going to include Rogue at all, and then a little along with Bella, but then she ended up monopolizing the chapter and Bella got cut altogether. Go figure! Also, while the events in this story will be mentioned in my other story Dream of Guanyin, I still consider this a stand-alone. So don't worry if this is the only thing from me you read. I think it might actually be better than way ; )
Excuse My French!
Le garcon – the boy
Fils – son
frère plus âgé – older brother
famille – family
The answer to the previous question was: She and her father keep poor Mike and his bots hostage in the Satellite of Love and force them to watch terrible movies. Good times…
Nuwie: lol, doncha know it! I'm working on the other email you sent me. I hope you got the one you sent yesterday that I answered. I do love Remy, he's always been a very interesting character to read about, see, and therefore, write about. He has so many layers that make up who he is. Thanks for the feedback, I really appreciate it. Now off with you, you should be doing homework, young lady, not poking around on the internet!
Chibi Hime: I love your sn! Very kawaii. Thanks for the encouragement, I hope you enjoy this chapter too.