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Standing On the Edge of Summer

Tomorrow I'll Be You

The frayed strands of Rogue's two-toned hair stood on end as Storm gathered all the static electricity in the air and focused it on the mutant with the propane tank attached to his back. It fizzled underneath the rain, causing him to gasp aloud with surprise. He threw the X-Men a nasty, disgruntled look while Storm smiled slightly.

"Good thing she has our back," Jean breathed thankfully from Rogue's side. The redhead glanced around as the rain tapered off, taking a mental count of the team she was leading. Kurt was across the lot, helping up Evan. I think we're all good, she thought with a sigh of relief. She turned to tell Rogue to stay put so they could regroup in case the pyromaniac decided to take another try at melting them. However, upon glancing to her right, Rogue was gone.

Jean whipped her head around, her golden red hair flailing behind her, and saw Rogue running towards the fray of crates about a hundred feet behind where they'd been attacked. "Rogue! Come back!" she called frantically.

Rogue stopped for a breath of a moment, glancing over her shoulder. 'Ah saw one of 'em go this way. You guys can handle Fireboy now that his pack is on the fritz. Ah'll be back!' She projected to the psychic before she took off again, losing herself amongst the maze of crates before Jean could send the others after her.

'Okay, be careful!' Jean's tone was full of worry, but Rogue knew how to take care of herself. Ah can handle this stuff on mah own, she thought with a scoff. She followed the twists and turns of the crates, sure that she'd seen one of Magneto's goons exit in this direction.

Rogue had only gotten a vague view of him as he had been standing behind the crazy pyro as he threw blazing playing cards at her team. The weapon was easy to underestimate – they were playing cards after all; that is, until they erupted into a violent explosion that promised scorched skin if you got too close. While everyone had dodged the flying cards, Rogue caught the slightest of smirks on his face before fire roared before her. She threw her hands up to protect her eyes as Jean pulled the two of them back with her telekinesis. Once she'd lowered her arms and squinted her eyes against the intense heat, she saw the guy slink back away from the Pyro, satisfied but also with an air of uncertainty in his steps. He had disappeared into the crates while his teammate sent forward another fire creature.

Oh, he's not gettin' away that easy, she'd thought with a snarl.

Looking ahead, she caught his silhouette against the fireworks of her teammates fighting the other bad guys. She grinned as his shadow ducked around the corner of the crate just in front of her. Thought he got away foh a second there.

She assumed the Pyro was back in some sort of commission or someone else had been creating a light show – maybe Storm again, thought Rogue, but she silently thanked them as she would've missed out on the mystery guy if they hadn't lit the way.

As she crept closer, she finally felt the first bead of foolishness drop into her pool of defiance. He had a very volatile power and she intended to face him alone. While none of his targets had hit any of the X-Men, Rogue was sure that hadn't been his intent. He was fighting alongside Magneto – he was there to hurt them, right? With that in mind, she slipped off one of her golden gloves and tucked it into her belt.

As she slunk against the cargo crate, she tried to keep the mindset that she was the predator hunting for her prey – even though she felt like a mouse about to be pounced on by a finicky alley cat. With her jaw set tight in determination, she told herself to not to let this guy get the best of her. Thanks to Wolverine, she and the others were highly skilled in several types of martial arts, not to mention all she needed to do was find an inch of skin and take him down that way. Then maybe she could find out what this entire fight was about, because none of the other X-Men seemed to know either.

She reached the end of the crate, her breath caught in her lungs. She pressed her back against the crate hard enough to merge with it, hoping to hear any sort of inclination that he was still waiting on the other side.

Lightning filled the sky as another firebird loomed in the air off in the distance. The sight forced a gasp from Rogue's lungs and she instantly cursed mentally for making a sound. Jus' put up flyers the next time ya plan ta sneak up on someone, Rogue. It'll be a lot easier, she scoffed at herself harshly. She breathed quickly, deciding now or never.

Without another moment's hesitation, she lunged out from behind the crate and came face to face with her so-called prey. She wanted to take the opportunity to size him up, to calculate if she'd be able to take him down physically, what weapons he might have had in addition to the cards, what skin was exposed and how long it would take for her to touch him. Unfortunately, once her eyes connected with his, all strategies fled from her mind and she froze.

Those eyes. Ah know those friggin' eyes.

Red irises in a pool of black.

She blinked for a moment, realizing that he was staring at her with the same gawking expression across his face. His grip on his bo staff tightened as his eyes squinted at her, recognition widening them again only a moment later. The white bangs, the impossible green eyes – he knew her. It may have been another life, but he knew her. His bo staff became loose as his fist relaxed. It fell to the ground, a loud clank ringing through the air. The sound fell on deaf ears, as neither of them reacted.

However, the world began to move again, but only in slow motion. Her lips moved, unable to form words. She took a step back after she realized how close they were, blinking her gray-green eyes erratically. He did the same, breathing in roughly.

And it seemed they found their voices simultaneously and Rogue spoke a name that she hadn't dared to utter aloud in over six years. "Remy…?"

At the same time, his smooth voice crawled across the air between them and he whispered, confused: "Anna?"

------

The sun rose over the Mississippi in the same fashion as it always did in the morning. The sticky air craved the warmth of the sun as light cascaded over the banks of the river. Instantly, the air warmed to the morning sun, promising yet another humid, hot summer day. Frogs sitting on rocks croaked in protest before they jumped into the comfortable depths of the murky water while other fish in the water flipped their tails arrogantly, gloating to the animals stuck on land. Other animals awoke to the blinding sun and prepared themselves for the oncoming scorcher.

Simultaneously, hours after the sun had awoken and risen in the sky, two bodies hid in dismay from the burning sunlight. The two bodies, along different parts of the Mississippi River groaned as their attempts to sleep were foiled a little too easily by the summer sun as it managed to peek into their windows in just the right spot.

How convenient.

"Ugh…" Anna Marie Hardwick groaned, rolling over in an effort to flee from the sun beams stretching across her room. "Ah'm not ready ta get up yet…"

"Merde…" Remy LeBeau muttered, his arm flinging itself across his light sensitive eyes. "Who left m' curtains open!" He moaned as he wrenched his pillow out from under his head and threw it over his face.

"Anna?" She groaned again at the sound of her name filtering in from the hallway. "Are you awake?"

"No," she murmured into her pillow, clutching onto it in futile hopes of catching sleep before it slipped away from her completely.

The door swung open, but he didn't move a muscle. "Remy Etienne LeBeau," he heard his tante Mattie grouse as she crossed the room. "Y' best get y'self out of dat bed. Right now." Her heavy footsteps traveled across the room to the window. Remy peeked out from under his pillow curiously, instantly regretting it as Tante yanked open the curtains further. Sunlight flooded the room and Remy took to the shelter of his pillow once again.

"It's getting late," Irene chided as she opened the door to her foster daughter's room.

"Cain't Ah just stay in bed jus' a li'l longer?" whined the eleven-year-old. "It is summer, ya know."

"It's almost noon!" Mattie shouted as she snatched the pillow off Remy's face. "C'mon, chil'. Up y' go."

"I won't let you spend the day in bed." Irene paced across the room cautiously. Anna heard the tap, tap of her guardian's walking stick against the wooden floor. The irritating sound produced another cry as Anna unceremoniously threw the blanket from her body.

"Fine. 'M up, 'm up." With his sheets in a kicked up bundle at the foot of his bed, he threw his legs over the side of the bed.

Her arms stretched over her head, working away the rest of her sleepiness with a yawn. She pushed herself to her feet, unwilling to move further just yet.

"Get movin', Remy," Tante said in a warning tone. "Y' père ain' too pleased wit' how y' wastin' y' summer already." Her dark hand found his arm and tugged him along with herself out of the room.

"We're taking a little trip, to New Orleans," Irene explained to Anna as she finally got the girl to move. "We can't do that if you stay in bed, sweetheart."

Remy wrenched his arm out of Tante's grasp, but kept pace behind her. He shrugged, knowing that Tante couldn't see him. "An' what's he want me t' do 'bout it?"

Anna suddenly perked up. "New Orleans? We've never gone there before!"

"He wants y' t' practice an' keep up wit' y' studies," Tante threw back. Remy could hear a smirk lacing her voice and matched it with one of his own.

"It's time you were able to explore more. I know you've been itching to go see what it's like as well, so when the opportunity present itself, I couldn't ignore it," Irene explained with a tender smile.

So much f' summer, the boy mock-complained mentally as he followed Tante downstairs. She'd no doubt prepared him an excellent late breakfast that made the rude awakening well worth it.

Now this is what Ah call summer! Anna excitedly thought as she closed the bathroom door to freshen up. It was rare for Irene to take her anywhere as her blindness was usually a determent. However, Anna knew the woman cared immensely for her and tried to keep her as happy as she could given the circumstances. She cleaned herself up quickly so she wouldn't keep Irene waiting.

------------

An hour or so later, a cab arrived in front of Irene's house in Caldecott County. "It's here, Reenie, it's here!" Anna cheered as she grabbed her bag and threw the strap over her shoulder.

"Go on out, dear. I'm right behind you," Irene called from the kitchen. Anna could hear Irene's tapping increase as she entered the living room. Knowing her guardian could make it out to the cab on her own, Anna fled the house with a bright grin on her face. Her loose dark auburn hair flailed behind her, mingling with her oddly white forelocks like a banner. She reached the cab in record time, her hair falling down her back in a wavy mess. She grinned eagerly at the driver, who found her smile contagious as he stepped out of the cab to assist Irene.

Anna all but jumped into the car, bouncing into the vinyl seat. She accepted Irene's walking stick as the driver helped her into the car gently. Once Irene was in her seat, Anna dropped the stick by their feet and squirmed next to her guardian, grasping her hand tightly. "Ah'm so happy we're doin' this!" She squealed. The cab driver smiled as he began driving, glancing back to the tiny family in the rearview mirror. His smirk grew as Anna began talking animatedly about the things she'd read about New Orleans and the places she wanted to see. Irene nodded patiently along with Anna's excited rambling, happy to hear her foster daughter so thrilled.

-----

Remy ate his breakfast at his regular pace – he usually began slow, savoring every bite of the spicy omelet Tante Mattie had made for him. As his plate emptied bite by bite, his pace increased and it wasn't long before every scrap of egg and sauce was cleaned off the platter in front of him. Mattie cleared his plate and utensils from him as soon as he started to wipe off his face with a napkin.

He picked up his glass and took a long gulp of his orange juice. After swallowing it all down, he turned to Mattie, who was busy rinsing off the dishes in the sink. "What's m' père up t' today?"

"He's got a few meetin's wit' de Council," she replied shortly, her attention not leaving the task in front of her.

"What 'bout Henri?"

"Mercy's draggin' him 'round town f'r de weddin' business."

Remy snorted and kicked the leg of the table. "Den why did I bot'er t' get out o' bed dis mornin'? No one's here t' make me do anyt'in'." Upon him saying that, Mattie turned around and glared. "'Cept f'r you, o' course…" He laughed nervously, grinning lopsidedly.

"Y' père jus' wanted y' up an' 'bout. Said somet'in' 'bout goin' in t' town wit' dat Lapin," she threw over her shoulder as she turned back to the sink.

"He's still mad at me 'bout t'rowin' his comics in de river," Remy said, chuckling. Yeah, his cousin was just slightly peeved at Remy after his rare copies of Spider-Man floated by them on the Mississippi a few afternoons before. What Lapin didn't know was that Remy had swiped the comics from him a week before, made color copies of the covers and pasted them onto a couple magazines, all while saving the actual comics underneath his mattress. Remy figured he'd let Lapin sweat it out for another week or so before sneaking the comics back into place, with Lapin none the wiser.

"Well, I s'gest y' find somet'in' t' keep y'self occupied. I 'magine Jean Luc won' be too t'rilled t' come home an' find y' here spendin' yet anot'er day in de house."

He pushed his chair away from the table and stood up. "Fine, fine. I'll get out of y' hair so y' don' have t' worry 'bout me," he mock pouted as he pushed his chair in behind him.

"Stay out of trouble," Tante Mattie called after him as he exited the kitchen.

He stopped in his tracks at her words and turned to peek his head into the kitchen. "Y' know me better'n dat," he smirked deviously.

-----

The duet arrived in the heart of New Orleans a few hours later. When they had reached the city limits, Anna had been taken over by astonishment, forgetting the previous hours of anticipation. She sat silently with her face and hands pressed up against the cab window, her gray-green eyes drinking in every sight.

"You remember my friend Valerie Cooper, don't you, Anna?" Irene asked idly.

The young girl peeled her face away from the glass just enough to nod. "She's the blonde lady, ain't she?"

"I wouldn't know, darling," Irene laughed. "I imagine so, though. She's going to be meeting us in the French Quarter and will be escorting us around."

"Isn't she from DC or somethin'?" Anna's face returned to its smushed position against the window. "What's she doin' down here?"

"She's down here on business for the rest of the summer. She has a few spare days this week so we decided to spend them together and also to show you the area," Irene explained, a patient smile on her face. She knew Anna's attention was waning as they traveled further and further into the city.

"Cool," Anna murmured as her eyes followed a trolley heading down the road. "Can we ride one of those? The trolleys, Ah mean."

"Certainly, dear."

-----

"'M callin' t' check in," Remy said into the pay phone's receiver, running his finger along the coiled cord.

"Good chil'," Tante Mattie replied. "Y' père called. He's wants y' home by dinner t' discuss what de Council decided."

"Decided 'bout what?"

"'Bout de deal wit' de Assassins."

Remy snorted into the phone, blowing a few stray strands of his coppery brown hair out of his face. "Dey don' need me f' dat."

Mattie fell silent on the other end of the phone for a moment. "Jus' make sure y' home, hein? Henri will be here too." she firmly said after a long silence.

"Fine. Bye, Tante." He didn't wait for a response before he hung up the phone angrily. In the seven years he'd spent with his adoptive family, Remy had learned to hate the Assassins. Nothing good ever came from dealing with the rival family of New Orleans, yet Remy's father Jean Luc persisted in negotiations with them. Remy didn't understand the formalities of the opposing family, but slowly everyone informed him of more and more. He had a strong feeling that his father was trying to get him more involved than he wanted to be.

He shoved his hands into his loose pockets as he began walking away from the payphone. Only one thing could brighten his mood after this. Planting a smirk on his face, he headed into the shopping district to see what he could do for fun.

-----

The taxi came to a stop in front of a small coffee shop with an outdoor patio and an adjacent ice cream store. As Anna hurried out of the cab, she saw Irene's friend walking up to meet them.

"Hello, Anna," the tall blonde greeted her warmly.

"Hi," Anna responded shortly, half out of shyness and the other half from disinterest. Her eyes scoped around the general area, taking in everything her mind could process. She also noted how Val hadn't bothered to dress down – the woman couldn't be seen in anything but business-casual attire.

Val smiled at the young girl, not put off by her actions at all. She walked around to the other side of the car where the driver was helping Irene out of the cab. "Thank you," Irene said gratefully to the driver, reaching for her purse.

"Nonsense, Irene," Val chided, putting her hand over her friend's for a moment before reaching into her own purse for the cab fare.

"Thank you," Irene repeated, this time to Val.

"Don't you say a word about it," Val said with a laugh. "I still don't know why you didn't let me drive up to Caldecott to pick you two up." She looped her arm through Irene's and guided her to where Anna had amazingly stayed put.

Irene would've thrown her friend a look if she hadn't been blind. "Why don't we get something to drink," she instead suggested as her hand reached for Anna's. After she had secured her daughter's hand, she added, "There's ice cream for Anna too, isn't there?"

"Ice cream?" Anna squealed.

-----

Remy glanced to a clock in the square, noting it was just past 4:30. He watched with a muted glee as people ran in and out of stores and restaurants, grabbing things in a post-work day summer haze that they needed and wanted before they headed home for the night.

"Dis'll be cake," he grinned as he began walking and looking for possible targets. It didn't take long until his red on black eyes spotted a group of teenage girls, no more than three years older than him, enjoying their summer afternoon. They paid no attention to the world around them, too engrossed in their gossip and giggles to catch anything out of the ordinary.

Remy pushed his sunglasses back on his nose. Perfect.

-----

"Don't wander far, dear. Val and I will just be right here," Irene called from the café's patio as Anna skipped along the edge of the grass in front of the property. She knew Irene and Val were just going to talk about grown-up things, so she was happy that Irene wasn't making her sit with them through it. She watched as more trolleys drove by, passengers getting on and off effortlessly.

"So this is New Orleans," she mused aloud happily, taking a thoughtful lick of her ice cream cone. The treat was melting quickly in the summer heat, so Anna's tongue darted over and around the cone continuously so she wouldn't miss a single drop. She sighed when a drop managed to fall on her shirt despite her best efforts. She rubbed it out with her long sleeve, hoping the vanilla wouldn't be too noticeable on her blue shirt.

She spared a glance back to the café, where Irene sat, talking intensely with Val. Anna could tell the other woman was keeping an eye on her while she spoke to Irene, assuring her that her foster daughter was in sight and fine.

The street buzzed with life in the late afternoon with people taking early dinners and shopping. Anna spotted a group of teenagers giggling as they walked along, no doubt spending their summer day outside and having fun. She sighed, wishing for the day she was old enough to go out on her own. Irene tended to be strict about her going out, even after school for ice cream and candy at the corner store with some classmates.

"It won't be too much longer," she whispered as her eyes followed the group of five girls. They paid no mind to a random boy with shoulder length hair who seemingly wasn't paying attention to them either as he brushed shoulders with one of the shorter girls.

The group halted and cast glares at the younger boy, who sheepishly grinned a quick apology before walking away. The girls snorted at the interruption of their perfect day, but continued walking a moment later.

Anna's eyes, however, stayed on the boy. After the girls had walked away, a smirk appeared on his face as his fist slid into his loose pocket on his cargo shorts. He spared a glance back to them before casually strolling away, adjusting his dark sunglasses on his nose.

Anna blinked at him, scrutinizing his every move. He took somethin', she thought instantly, her eyes going back to the group of girls. They were just about to enter a shoe store when the girl he'd brushed into looked to her wrist to check the time. Anna watched with cynical delight as the girl realized that her watch was missing. Now that was smooth, she internally smirked.

She quickly checked to make sure that Val wasn't watching her before she swiftly threw the rest of her ice cream into a trash can nearby and darted out of sight in the direction of the boy. She dashed up to him and saw that he was eyeing up what she could tell was his next target.

"Hey!" she yelled, catching him by surprise as she planted herself behind him. He shoved his hands into his pockets and twisted around, staring her down through his dark sunglasses.

"What y' want?" he snapped. He didn't need some little girl cramping his style. He looked down at her, annoyed as he scrutinized her appearance; long auburn hair with strange white forelocks, curious gray-green eyes. She looked harmless enough, he assessed.

"Ah saw what ya did," she beamed. "It was really cool." She stuck her hand out. "Ah'm Anna," she greeted officially. "What's yoah name?"

He paused for a moment, staring at her hand before taking it. "Remy," he responded while shaking her hand. "How did y' see what I did?" He sounded offended.

Anna took a step closer to him, a gleam in her big green eyes. "Well, ta be honest Ah didn't see ya do it, but-" She leaned in closer, trying to see through his glasses.

Remy caught her eyes wandering and took a step back, uncomfortable with how close she'd gotten. "Den what did y' see?"

"Ah saw the aftermath," she giggled. "How ya grinned with pride an' jammed whatever ya got off her in yoah pocket." She glanced down to the mentioned pocket. "What did ya get, anyway?"

He paused for a moment, wary of the thieves' code of conduct and how it was improper to boast of one's loot. One more look at her dancing green eyes reminded him that they were both just kids. Screw de rules. "De watch right off her wrist," he smirked as he pulled it out of his pocket.

Anna's eyes were wide with astonishment. "Ah thought so! That's so cool!" she squealed with delight. "How did ya do that?"

He shook his head. "Nu uh, fille. A t'ief doesn' share his tricks."

The smile instantly fell from her face and was replaced with a puffy lipped pout. "You're no fun," she huffed as she crossed her arms across her chest.

"Hey, dere are some t'ings dat I ain' 'llowed t' share. Took an oath," he insisted, smirking again.

"Oh, really? Figures," she snorted as she kicked a pebble on the ground. "So were you plannin' on doin' it again?"

"Oui. 'M out here practicin'," he said proudly. He nodded to a business man a fair distance away. "He's bound t' have somet'in' on him of value dat he'd miss."

Anna followed his gaze to a man standing by a trash can, reading a newspaper. "Ah really wanna know how ya do it," she murmured

"How's it feel t' want?" he asked, chuckling.

"You suck."

"Not m'fault dat I can' tell y'."

Anna dropped her arms to her sides. "Why do ya do it anyway? Don't ya feel bad foh stealin' things offa people?"

Remy shrugged, digging his hands into his pockets. "Jus' how I was brought up. It runs in de family."

"Yoah whole family steals?" Her eyes widened with intrigue again. It was as if her previous annoyance with Remy had disappeared instantly.

"Oui, but I didn' tell y' dat."

Anna grinned, placing one hand in the air and another one over her heart. "Cross mah heart and hope ta die, Ah won't."

Her grin was infectious and Remy found himself smiling with her. "So what are y' doin' here? Y' obviously not from N'awlins."

She shyly tucked a white forelock behind her ear. "How could ya tell?"

"De accent f' one. Y' sound like what mon frère would call a Miss'ippi river rat," he laughed. "He be always goin' on 'bout dat accent. Didn' know what one sounded like till now."

Anna snorted indignantly. "So what if Ah am? 'Least Ah don' have some stupid swamp rat accent like you do. Besides, Irene always says Ah sound like a Southern belle in the makin'," she added defensively.

"Y' be de one talkin' weird, fille. Y' in m' territory, non?"

"We'll jus' see how long ya last in Caldecott, mistuh," she muttered through pouted lips.

"…Where?"

"Caldecott County. That's where Ah live."

"Never heard of it. Not surprisin' dough," he laughed again, shaking his head. He felt his glasses shaking loose off his nose and took a moment to push them back on.

Anna saw the motion, but ignored it for the time being. "It's an itty bitty town on the river up past Baton Rouge."

"Wouldn' know anyt'in' 'bout 'itty bitty' towns, Anna," he smirked.

"There is a world outside this city, ya know," she snapped. Her arms crossed over her chest again.

"Dere ain' f' me, yet." Anna didn't catch the sigh at the end of his sentence. "'M tryin' t' enjoy it as much as I can."

"Jus' wait till ya get thrown inta somethin' ya can't handle. Ya think you're doin' mighty fine walkin' 'round here an' pickin' pockets, but jus' wait till somethin' bigger comes 'long."

His eyes narrowed behind his glasses. Her words were hitting a little too close to home. "Since when do y' care? I don' even know you," he reminded her with a hasty tone.

"Let's jus' say that ya shouldn't take life like this foh granted. Ah haven't been outta Caldecott ever an' the fact that Ah'm standin' here talkin' ta ya while Irene is sittin' so far away is the first bit of freedom Ah've ever had."

"So don' take it out on me," he retorted. "Jus' 'cause y' from some li'l back water town dat no one out of de area has heard of gives y' no reason t' get mad at me."

Anna gasped, taken aback by his tone of voice. Then, she sighed, realizing how worked up she'd gotten. It was true though – some days she felt like Irene would never let her see the world, let alone the neighborhood without answering to her foster mother. She always wondered if any one else had a difficult time growing up, or maybe it was just because Irene couldn't actually watch her. Her guardian would always have her friends coming down to visit, sometimes Val, other times it'd be Mallory Brickman or Ronnie Lake and they'd always seemed to take a particular interest in keeping an eye on the young girl, but Anna always assumed it was because Irene couldn't watch her herself. She always wondered why her actual mother had left her in the care of a blind woman, but Irene had explained to her before that she'd been the best of friends with her mother and it was her dying request that Anna be raised by Irene.

"Ah'm sorry," Anna finally muttered. "Guess Ah don't take kindly ta bein' called a river rat," she laughed shortly. "Ya did have a mean tone though."

"Dat's jus' how I am," he said, smirk gone. "Didn' mean t' offend y' dough." He stuck out his hand. "Truce?"

Anna stared at it for a moment, much like he had done when she'd done the same before. She smiled and took it, shaking it slightly. "Truce." She let go of his hand and ran her hand through her two-toned hair. "Ah have a question foh ya though."

"Quoi?"

"What's up with the sunglasses? They don't fit yoah face raht." She reached up to adjust them again for him, but he snapped out of her reach.

"What's up with y' hair? Aren' y' a li'l young t' be dyin' it?" he countered, hoping his smirk would diffuse the situation.

She shrugged, twirling a white forelock in her fingers. "Ah was born with it. Now stop avoidin' mah question."

"M' père gave me dese sunglasses," he said smoothly with a shrug, though Anna could tell he was lying.

"Sure. Ah've never seen someone so careful with keepin' a pair of glasses on his face, an' Ah live with a blind woman who doesn't like me seein' her blank eyes."

Remy glanced around cautiously. She obviously had a point and by her tone of voice, he could tell she wouldn't just let it drop. Merdefilles be annoyin'! "C'mere," he said, gently taking her wrist and walking her towards a bench underneath a tree. Anna noted that the crowds amongst the area had begun to thin out as the afternoon dragged on and people settled in restaurants and headed home for dinner. Remy sat down and she followed suit, curious. "What do dey look like? De blind person's eyes?"

"Irene? They're kinda… white, Ah guess. They're kinda creepy because they don't focus on anythin' but… they're almost comfortin' too, ya know, jus' because Ah know her. Ah know that she wears the glasses more foh mah and other people's benefits more than her own because she doesn't like makin' others uncomfortable." She peered at him cautiously. "Why are ya askin'?"

"I have no idea why I'm doin' dis," he muttered, more to himself than her. "M' eyes… dey're different," he explained shortly, trying to find the words.

"So what? So's mah hair. Trust me, Ah get plenty made fun of 'cause of it," she sighed, her shoulders slumping forward. "Couldn't have normal brown or blonde or red hair like everyone else. Nope, gotta be the Skunk Head," she snorted, flipping her hair off her shoulder, frustrated.

"Kids can be mean, fille."

"Tell me 'bout it."

"T'ink y' an' me could write a book on it," he murmured as his hand fluttered close to his glasses.

"What makes ya say that?"

He dipped the sunglasses down to the tip of his nose, giving Anna a full view of what hide behind them. Piercing red irises. She stared with complete intrigue as she realized that in addition to the red, his eyes were also black where they should've been white. Her mouth slowly opened to say something, but Remy pushed the glasses back up on his nose and hid his eyes once again. "See what I mean?" he whispered.

"Ah do." She said nothing else, unsure of how to react.

"Y' freaked out, ain' y'?" His voice held an apprehension that Anna hadn't heard from him yet. She barely knew him and yet he'd revealed such a personal part of himself. Knowing that she should've been scared because she knew that was just not natural for someone to have eyes of that color, she couldn't find it in herself to stand up and run away.

"Can Ah see them again?" she asked instead.

"Why?"

"They're interestin'," she replied, looking at him right through the sunglasses.

"Nice way of puttin' it," he muttered as he reluctantly pulled the glasses down again.

Anna peered at him curiously, a small smile forming on her face. "Ah like them," she decided. She could tell he was uncomfortable even though he'd been the one to show her initially. She knew she first brought it up but he could've walked away from her then and told her to have a nice stay in New Orleans. "Ah think they're pretty."

"Sure y' do," he drawled sarcastically.

"What, no one's ever said that befoh?"

"Wouldn' say dat… but dat's usually m' tante sayin' dat or mon frère's fiancée. Most people don' usually react dat way."

"Well," Anna started, her hand weaving through her hair anxiously. "Ah can see why people would be a li'l upset over 'em, but whatever." She shrugged. "Ah think they're cool. That's all that matters," she said smiling brightly. "Do you like 'em?"

"Sometimes," he said, slipping the glasses back on. "Dey're too sensitive t' de light f' my own good."

"So that's how you can get away with wearin' the glasses all the time… like a neat eye condition," she said, laughing. "Irene thinks Ah'm developin' some sort of skin condition, actually." She tugged at her long sleeves and skirt. "Ah think she's just crazy paranoid about me gettin' sunburned or somethin' because she says mah skin is really fair, but Ah just do what she says anyway."

"I was goin' t' ask y' if you were hot in dat," Remy admitted, noting that she looked comfortable for the most part in the thin cotton shirt and long khaki skirt.

Anna shrugged. "It's annoyin' sometimes but it's probably better this way. Ah'm used ta it."

"Guess y' could say I'm used t' wearin' de glasses an' de reactions I get."

She smiled. "Somethin' tells me you're not used ta the reaction Ah gave you."

He mirrored her smile. "Non, 'm not. It was a nice change, dough. I'll give y' dat."

"Anna?"

"Uh oh," she paled and turned around. Irene and Val were headed in the direction of Anna and Remy's bench.

"Y' maman?" Remy asked, glancing past her to the two women.

"Sorta. Mah adoptive momma died an' left me with Irene… so she's mah guardian now," Anna corrected. "The blind one anyway. The blonde one is a friend o'hers."

"I see. …Guess dis is goodbye den, fille," he said. Anna detected a hint of reluctance in his voice and only slightly felt better since she wasn't ready to leave either.

"Ah guess," she sighed, standing up. She nervously played with the hem of her shirt.

"Y' gon' be 'round here again?" He stood up with her, readjusting his sunglasses once more as he saw the women get closer.

She shrugged, flipping her hair off her shoulders. "Depends on what Irene wants ta do."

"Y' should."

"Why?"

"'Cause 'm tired of hangin' out wit' my stupid cousins. 'Sides," he smirked nervously, "y' pretty cool f'r a fille."

She giggled. "Thanks. Ah suppose Ah should say the same foh you, even though you can be mean," she teased.

Remy shrugged sheepishly, still smirking. He heard Irene calling out Anna's name. "Till we meet again, Anna," he said, bowing slightly at the waist.

Anna could feel her cheeks flush underneath the summer heat as she curtsied, following his playful lead. "Hopefully, Remy." She stood up fully, grinning from ear to ear. "Bye," she whispered as she turned and ran to Irene and Val. Remy watched her retreat to the two of them before slipping his hands into his pockets and walking away briskly.

Val eyed Remy's retreat as Anna ran up to them. "Who was that boy?"

Anna slid her hand into Irene's and began to walk away from where she and Remy had sat for so long. "Jus' some local boy. Ah saw him standin' alone an' wanted ta talk ta him," she explained, lying effortlessly.

"You should've said something of where you went," Val scolded, her voice turning too maternal for Anna's liking. "I didn't see you run off."

"She was fine, Val," Irene interjected, squeezing Anna's hand reassuringly. "Don't do that again though, dear. Val was worried once she realized she couldn't see you anymore."

"Ah know," Anna sighed apologetically. "Ah'm sorry. He was nice though!" she insisted. "Ah mean, foh a boy," she added hastily, turning her attention to her sandaled feet as they walked along the pavement.

Irene smiled knowingly, feeling Val's gaze on her. "I'm sure he was."

-----

"What are ya doin' here?" she hissed, a bolt of lightning bringing her back to the present. A more important question sparked in her mind, "What are ya doin' with him?"

"Anna, wait…"

"No!" She shook her head when she heard him say her birth name once again. "This doesn't make sense," she said as she took a step back from him, her gloved palm digging into her temple. Her mind was trying to assess the situation but her eyes just kept looking at Remy and regressing him to six years beforehand. Seeing him now, seeing him like this was completely blowing her mind – much more than her powers and their effects ever had.

He paused to run a hand through his hair, which Rogue noted was much shorter than she remembered. "We can' talk here," he muttered.

"No shit we can't!" she yelled. She couldn't help the tone of her voice. It was either submit to whatever emotion of confusion and nostalgia she might have been feeling, or the shock and anger that coursed through her veins when she looked at him and imagined 'Magneto's Lackey' tattooed across his particularly handsome forehead. Being Rogue, she opted for the latter.

"Y' know, de funny t'ing is dat I t'ought it was you wit' de others b'fore…" Remy's voice remained neutral and casual, and Rogue couldn't help but fall victim to its smoothness. In another life, they'd been friends – she couldn't just turn her back on him now without giving him a chance. She then realized why he'd retreated in the way he had – the satisfied smirk when he didn't hit her with the card, but the uncertainty of knowing whether or not it was truly her.

Armed with the new understanding, she replaced the step she'd taken back before, bringing herself closer to him. "Remy… we can't do this. Ah don't even know how you're keepin' calm raht now!" She opened her mouth to say more, but then heard Kurt teleport nearby. "Ah… Ah hafta go."

"Wait," he said again, his eyes boring into hers. He reached out for her hand to keep her close but she recoiled the bare hand from him as if he would burn her. He watched as she cradled it close to her chest.

"Ah'm sorry," she whispered, turning her head around the corner as she heard Kurt calling for her. She spared a glance to Remy, who looked as confused as she felt.

"We'll meet again, chérie," he murmured under a clap of thunder before giving her a slight bow as he picked up and retracted his bo staff. His eyes held a sadness that Rogue didn't want to acknowledge. Even in those few short moments of seeing him again, she wanted to know him like she had that summer, to know why he wasn't in New Orleans, why he looked so weathered beyond his nineteen years of life, why he was working for the likes of Magneto. She looked at him, hoping her eyes told him all of that. With a curt nod from him, she knew he understood. And in his sad smile, she could tell he sought the same information from her.

"Ah hope so," she replied wistfully, her voice losing itself in the distance between them. She tried to give him a farewell smile before he jogged away, but fell short with a look filled with more sadness than she could've imagined.

Rogue watched his retreat, sighing. Suddenly, Kurt appeared beside her in a haze of gray smoke.

"You okay?" He panted, the odor of sulfur and brimstone surrounding them. "Jean sent me to find you."

She coughed, waving her hand by her face to dissipate the smoke. "Fine," she muttered shortly, tearing her eyes away from where Remy had slipped from her sight. "We should get back to the others," she suggested, forcing herself to get back on task. She pulled her glove from her belt and tugged it back on her shaking hand. Her eyes became hard once again and she willed her body to get back in the game.

Kurt nodded, placing a hand on her shoulder. The next moment, they were gone.

---------------------------

Now here is where you come in, dear readers. I have an actual story to go along with this, but I figured I'd post it as such to see if you guys think it's worthy to continue. Otherwise, I'll just keep it as such for now and continue it later after Street Livin' is complete. Not sure how well that'll work out, because anyone reading this who writes themselves know how rabid those plot bunnies can be… (smiles)

So you know how this goes, review! I'd love to hear what you guys think about this one.

Also, a couple notes that I feel the need to clarify:

(1). This point is now outdated, but yeah. I originally had the Rippers instead of the Assassins for the sake of staying within Evolution canon… but yeah, this story has grown beyond my control so I've decided to screw Evo canon. Sorry for any confusion to those who read the story in its first posting.

(2). I actually sat down and tried to plot out exactly where one could place Caldecott County since it doesn't really exist. I considered putting it right across the Mississippi Sound on the Gulf so it would be closer to New Orleans, but I really wanted it directly on the actual river instead of the Mississippi Sound. So, it's on the most southern tip of the Mississippi/Louisiana border along the river. I guess it works out because when I Google-mapped it, the place looks pretty empty… and I always assumed Caldecott to be a pretty rural, small town.

(3). Once again, I'm trying to follow Evolution as much as possible. Rogue was adopted by Mystique at the age of four, as per "Self Possessed." The way I see it, if Rogue had been adopted by a person named Raven Darkholme, Rogue would've put one and one together awhile ago. Therefore, Mystique must have adopted her under another alias and then entrusted her to Irene. All the women mentioned (including Val Cooper) have been different aliases of Mystique's that I collected from (uncannyx-men dot net). Anna's last name, Hardwick, comes from Mystique's alias of Millicent Hardwick. The whole "death" of her is to explain why Rogue is initially in Irene's care and is left vague because Anna was too young to remember.

The next chapter of Street Livin' will be up shortly. Much love to all of you! (muah)

Courtney.

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