Long time, long wait, no update. I hope the wait for this chapter was worth it- I'm so SORRY!!!! (I'm a broke record, I'm sure). I admit, I had to force out the last 3rd of this, as I had written it long before writer's block got a hold of me so hopefully, it is an adequate bridge to the next chapter. For a preview of a 'comic cover' of the next chapter, look in my profile!!!
Thanks for the reviews!
Edahj, Kendrat199, LadyLuck, AJfernanda
nanaccardoso, Lurker, Sigma1, LongingforLlangarlia- you all are the best keeping up with this and gently nagging me
And Lurker- the X-men will exist, but not how we know them ;)
"Have you ever loved someone you knew nothing of
Except you'd seen the light inside their eyes
Have you ever loved someone just because
Nothing felt so easy or so right
And I think of you like the others do
Wondering if you think of me
And if you do, if you really do
Who is it that you see
Have you ever loved
Whether right or wrong
Have you ever loved someone
-In the Name of Love by Mary Chapin Carpenter
It had been a rough day on the road for Remy. They had spent the night in another motel, sharing the same bed, still the same story: a few laughs over pillow talk and no touching; the never ending slumber party. There still remained an invisible tension that Remy was positive he only felt in his head. It wasn't a terse tension, or awkward… it was magnetic and it was killing him.
He forced himself to concentrate on the fact they were almost to New Orleans. Truth be told, he was disappointed the trip were coming to an end because then it meant having to face the fact she might go.
Although neither had uttered a word over it, his mind was still clearly cemented in last night. He found it striking he couldn't even remember her nude body when he tried… it was all about the kiss.
Remy watched Ororo intently as she entered the department store to buy a pair of shoes. She gave one glance back and waved before going in. He dropped several quarters into the pay phone and dialed the number he was familiar with. At least some of his routine was intact. That thought actually felt restrictive; his routine. He was almost a slave to it until recently…
"Hello?" The ancient voice answered on the line.
"Y' know damn well who. I'm callin' from Bunkie, past Alexandria. I should be dere in about t'ree hours t' give ya de Josephine."
"Dat's no good, Remy. I need ya t' drop her off in New York."
Remy's eyes narrowed as he lit up a cigarette, did it really take Traigo that long to discover he couldn't move the tiara? "Dat's yo' job. I ain't a delivery boy."
"Ya are fo' dis. I got my hands tied and dere's no way I can move it so it's fallin' t' you."
"Traigo, I'm sick o' all dese mess ups! First, de girl in my trunk, den everyone switchin' sides and motives, an' now y' tellin' me after 2 days time I have t' change direction to New York? Dat's effin' ballsy of ya. I'm a goddamned t'ief! Y' got it?! A t'ief, not a kidnapper, a delivery boy, or God know what else ya might ask o' me next!"
"Y' still got de femme, don't ya?" the raspy voice asked, unconcerned with Remy's irritation.
Remy stared at the golden ring on his finger, twisting it around with his thumb before answering, "Oui."
"I'm surprised, considerin' how de Josephine stint ended up. And since ya killed dat man, dat other crazy dame is out fo' y' blood now. Remy, y' a dead man wit' dat one weighin' ya down."
"Ask me if I care." Remy exhaled smoke, anger in his voice. The old man had no idea what he was talking about when it came to Ororo, then again, as far as Traigo was concerned, she was just another bubble-headed girl along for the ride, and Remy was getting tired of the broken record tirade against her. Then it remembered his phone call from the other night. He never explained the Josephine fiasco to Traigo, only told him he'd had minor trouble but he secured it... no mention of Ororo even being present at the botched heist. How did he know about Tessa or the death of Parvenue?
Traigo lowered his voice, a frantic tone creeping in, "Dis ain't like you, takin' a shine t' a random femme. She's almost become ya little tag-along pet. Let her go."
"I ain't holding her against her will."
"Dat's rich. Pull ya head out o' yo ass and see reality, boy. Ya got de hounds o hell after ya over dis woman and ya have de choice to get rid o' her… and you won't?!"
"Sums it up."
A crooked grin formed as in a split second, Remy's mind mulled over all the reasons he had since having first seen her in that lilac dress in downtown Denver… her smooth cocoa skin and milky white hair, poise under pressure, her sharp wit and unshakeable determination to not be controlled, the fierce victorious gleam in her blue eyes when he was staring down the barrel of that Desert Eagle and she guided his aim, defiantly daring him to shoot her… yet underneath the hurricane façade, she was still calm and gentle… But one thing stood out in his mind most vividly since last night:
"She tastes like a peach."
There was a small chuckle on the end of the line that erupted into near maniacal laughter and then became a fit of coughs. It was a solid minute before the old man could catch his breath, and Remy was more than happy Traigo relented his zealous campaign against Ororo once he did. "James wanted me t' tell you your favorite movie is back on de reel at his place. Last night t' see it."
"No shit. T'anks fo' de memo but it looks like I'll be missin' out t' go way up north." Remy said sarcastically.
"Wise ass. Dere's no hurry, boy. Go watch y' movie den head on out. It's only 20 minutes away and I t'ink time'll allow on dat."
"Traigo… no more funny shit. After tonight, I'm done wit' ya if y' blindside me again, got it?"
He sighed, "Yeah, I got it. Unknot y' britches- I've been hit blind as much as you wit dis. Enjoy dat movie." The line abruptly clicked.
"Yeah." Remy said quietly as he hung up the phone. There was a nagging annoyance in his mind Traigo knew more about the Josephine job's difficulties than he should've.
Ororo exited the department store with a bag on her arm, now clad in Miss Gardner's dress, but past the mile of legs, bright white socks and sage green suede sneakers adorned her feet. "How much longer to New Orleans?" she asked, shielding her eyes from the setting sun.
"Longer dan it should be. I'm headin' t' New York now."
"Ugh. Good thing I bought more clothes."
"I t'ought I only gave you money for shoes…"
"You said fifty should cover it. The shoes were half off and as much as you've been treating me like eye candy in this, I am not wearing it all blasted week! Is there a place I can change? There was a line but I think they thought I might steal something." She laughed at her own joke and he returned the sentiment.
"Merde, I'm starving. I got a night planned fo' us. Food, movies, more road tripping…"
"Lovely." She smirked.
"Complainers ride in the trunk."
They sat in the car, under the shadow of a pine tree, each silent with their own thoughts as they ate their dinner in the fading glow of the sunset. The windows were down allowing a gentle breeze to course through the car and the calming rhythm of locust rattling filled the air.
Ororo shifted in her seat, pulling the hem of her new green and yellow sundress down and faced him. "It keeps riding up on the leather seat." She explained and he nodded slightly, as if he hadn't noticed, just like he "hadn't noticed" that if she moved her leg 1 inch to the left he would be able to see her underwear. He couldn't decide if she was truly oblivious or a tease. His mind settled on tease when she tossed her hair over her shoulder and and eyed him conspiculously..
"Goddess, I can't stand this silence. What is it you want out of life?" She asked before taking a bite of her sandwich.
"Always curious. Can ya narrow de spectrum a bit?"
"Of course. After all is said and done, on this job. What does the future hold for Mr. Lebeau?"
"Retirement, I suppose."
She laughed, "Retirement? Oh, really?"
He stared at her, stonefaced and her tone turned to shock.
"Goddess, you can not be serious… are you?"
"Is dat so hard t' believe?"
"You are not old enough to retire for one."
"It's not about age, but about means and more importantly, lack of interest. 'Sides, I'm ancient in dis field. Thirty-one and y' know how long I've been doin' dis on de big scale? 16 years. I t'ink it's time."
"I agree but you factored out ability and familiarity. After this week is said and done, you would just give it up cold turkey? I do not think you will."
"When I first met you, back in the desert, you were an intriguing mix. Your words were harsh but your action spoke volumes. I was impressed, against my will, but you came across as a truly cold, condescending jackass."
Remy cocked an eyebrow, nearly choking on his coffee.
"Allow me to finish, you are not completely irredeemable. You have this confident air, dangerous wit, and even more lethal poise- how you anticipate your opponents is uncanny. As time has gone by, all 5 days, I've come to see your other qualities emerge- a strong resolve, sense of humor, compassion, and despite your profession, a sense of morals and justice."
"Now ya gon' make me blush." He smiled, flattered yet unaccustomed to the doting.
"Well, I suppose all those skills can only have been acquired from 'too many years' in the business. But it is remarkable. I am envious." She tilted her head sideways, resting her chin on the palm of her hand as she picked at her green beans on her tray with a plastic fork. "We have to work on your kissing, though."
"I'll pretend I didn't hear dat."
"Hear what? Long story short, my reasoning that you are not ready for retirement is purely selfish. I like you."
"I'm touched." He mused softly.
"You do not seem to understand. I do not want to like you, every fiber in my being is puzzled. But it does not make it go away." Ororo gauged his reaction, noting the initial shock he hid too late. "There aren't too many people like us, Remy. When we find each other, it is good to stick together. We make a wonderful team, I could be a great asset to you."
Why did she need to bring this up now? Why? He knew exactly how she felt, he couldn't explain it away but as long as it were not acknowledged, it could be dismissed. He did the only thing he knew how anymore, push it away. "It's just the timing is all wrong, chère. Caught up in de romance of de circumstance. Nothing more." It was all the arrogance he could muster, and the words only came across dull and heavy. He couldn't even bring himself to look at her as he said them.
Ororo sighed and hung her head, becoming frustrated and wondering how the conversation went downhill so fast, "I am not asking for your hand in marriage, Remy," she paused, glancing at the gold band on her finger, "Why am I even still wearing this?" He cringed as she ripped it off her finger and sat it the dashboard.
"Why have you allowed me to ride along this whole time? I have my powers back, by all rights I should be on my own but you did not kick me out. I stayed because I thought I was wanted." Her voice began to waver as she struggled to keep her volume down, withhold the anger brewing at the surface. She had laid her feelings on the table and he rejected them so easily.
"You confuse me, gentleman one moment and abominable the next, but I think one thing is pretty clear here. As much as you deny it, you will not allow yourself to forget I was a job. Anything to keep me from being human, to actually warrant your attention, huh?"
He twiddled the ring between his fingers, realizing how small it really was, again fighting against himself. "Y' got my attention chère. I don' need a partner s'all. Partner's require trust and de way I see it, we don' have much o' dat right now." The words were acid on his tongue. He knew the damage they would cause and at the same time, told himself he shouldn't care. But he did. He cared enough about her to push her away. And they hurt him just as deeply to hear them come out of his mouth.
Her eyes closed, the sky grayed and she took a deep breath, willing the clouds to normal. "It is no surprise a man that lies to himself has trust issues." Ororo gathered up her purse and shoved her food in the carry out bag, stepping out of the car, never breaking her crystalline gaze from his, "Good luck with retirement, Remy." She slammed the door.
"Ororo, wait…" he leapt out of the car. His mind screamed at him to let her go, let her keep walking and he could stop worrying. Remy grabbed her arm and she shook it off.
"I have no more words for you."
"Den y' can shut up and listen!" he placed a firm hand on her shoulder, whipping her around and held her in place. "Ororo, we only know each other less dan a week an' to just up an' hear you say what I'm t'inken, it's scary. Before dat day in de desert, my life was just how I thought I wanted. And den I opened dat trunk. You in my life, ya like an effin' hurricane, tearin' up everyt'ing I built aroun' myself, stuck y' neck out fo' me more dan once, y' unpredictable, – and I… find myself liking it. Y' remind me o' a simpler time in my life, a piece o' me I've missed but… I don't want to like you out o' nostalgia, dat's not fair to you." He released his grip on her shoulders and she eased back.
"If you want me to stay, say it. I do not want intrude where I am not welcome."
Remy sighed, rubbing the back of his head and staring at the sky. Damn, she had him by the balls on this. Women were crazy, when would he ever grasp that concept? He was a masochist, pure and simple. Had to be for the next words coming out of his mouth. "I want you to stay."
"You. Not a partner, not a friend, just… you. We'll let the details work themselves out later." He extended the ring to her which she eyed hesitantly before taking it back and slipping it on her finger, the strange symbol of whatever in the goddess name they were.
A smile graced her lips as she shielded her eyes from the sun to look at him, "I can live with that."
FYI: -italics- means lyrics being sung in the background.
Under the velvet night sky, Ororo and Remy sat sprawled on the hood of the BMW, her arms hugging her knees to her, his folded across his chest, both eyes fixed on the 3 story movie screen before them at the Drive-in. The fight of the evening was nearly forgotten already, blended into the odd mess of events that was becoming their history together.
Relieved she had stayed, he decided to take Traigo's advice, after all, they were just a few hours from freeway split to head north. They were making good enough time and the theatre were showing his old favorite.
The air was cool and calm, a weak breeze allowing the speakers sound from the other cars to drift back to their position, parked in seclusion of a thicket. Remy had discovered the dirt road parallel to the Drive-in theatre on accident as a teenager and used it every visit since, preferring the privacy it provided from the other attendants.
The movie on screen was "Love Me Tonight" a movie that Remy had seen at least 16 times, 5 times at this very drive-in, but he never tired of it. In the chaos of his life, he found there to be an almost comforting classic simplicity where everything is perfect on vintage celluloid. The flawless logic that endless love could be ignited from a single glance between strangers, evolving into an elusive cat and mouse chase before both realized they were mad for each other, and lived happily ever after.
"And never tried to kill each other," he thought bitterly.
The credits began to roll and Ororo smiled to herself as she stretched her legs, "I have never in my life imagined a movie so simple… yet… perfect."
"What's y' favorite part?"
"The part that made me want to cry: when the princess was shocked to find he was nothing but a tailor, and he reminded her of her vow, 'whoever you are, whatever you are, wherever you are, I love you!'" Remy couldn't help smirking at the perfect imitation in her voice of the princess' original plea, and she continued, "The desperation in Maurice's voice, the tender way he held her, and the quiver in his lip as he saw his dream of true love crumbling away before him… Bright Lady, I'm about to tear up again." She grimaced, wiping the corner of her eye and batting her lashes dramatically.
"S'alright chère, all was good in de end. Classic work o' Maurice Chevallier."
"You Frenchmen are devious little scoundrels. I cannot count how many sexual innuendos were in there, not counting the blatant discussion of Nymphomaniacs… but the ending was nothing but pure romance."
"You can not be a tailor's wife!" He baited.
"I could and I will!" she answered, both chuckling then sighing at the same time, inciting more laughter until once more, they both stared at the screen in silence.
The credits ended, and a reel of bonus footage began, an orchestra on screen striking up the intro of the title song of the film, the lilting waltz tempo of "Love Me Tonight" filling the wilderness around them. Ororo touched Remy's shoulder, shaking him slightly to pull him from his thoughts. "This is our song."
"We have a song?"
"We do now." She jumped off the hood of the car and dusted the back of her dress off, tilting her head to the side and raising one snowy eyebrow.
"See, if we had a song, I would t'ink it would be Refugee from dat first night…"
"As much as I love Tom Petty, Refugee is not a good song for dancing. Now hurry up before it ends." She shook her hand at him and he complied, standing across from her in waltzing stance.
Ororo wrapped one arm around his waist and placed the other on his shoulder, causing Remy to interrupt, the confidence of the devil in his smile. "Now don't tell me y' don't know how t' dance, Stormy?"
"Do not call me that. I was never taught."
"Can't say dat after tonight. Ok, hold still, let me see if I remember dis correctly…" The grin he wore spread even wider as he deliberately traveled his fingers slowly down her right shoulder to her wrist before gently leading her hand to his left shoulder.
"Perfect. I get to learn from the man who can't remember the steps."
"Non, dere's different kinds o' waltzes and dere's no way in hell you're learning the Creole way first- it's practically a Tango and inappropriate for dis pace." Remy rested his right hand against Ororo's waist and a she jumped slightly. "Ticklish, I see." He grasped her left hand with his right, leading it to rest in the air at their side, palms touching and elbows slightly bent. "Now, just follow de opposite o' my steps. I'm leadin' which means y' take your cues from me. My right foot forward first, you're steppin' back wit y' left."
Ororo complied, at first concentrating intensely as they circled in rhythm with the song before realizing, with the repetitious steps, if she concentrated on the music, and allowed her body to take direction from his hand on her waist, she fared better. She lifted her head and allowed herself to finally look him fully in the eyes, and noticed his lips were silently moving along with the words of the song as he stared up at the screen.
-Your heart and my heart were made to meet. Don't make them wait-
Remy looked down and caught her gaze, not stopping, and she couldn't help smiling as it was Jeanette MacDonald's airy soprano that appeared to be flying from his lips, "What a lovely voice you have, Monsieur Lebeau."
"Merci beaucoup, Stormy. What nimble dancing feet y' have."
His arm on her waist snaked behind her to the small of her back, dipping her backwards, his hand traveling the length of her waist on her side, and he leaned in so close she felt his warm breath on her neck. Her eyelids fluttered, a gust of wind rushing by. "Is this the part where you kiss me?" She asked coyly, shivering slightly from anticipation.
"Shush." He whispered, timing the moment as if it were scripted.
-Why should our lips be afraid to meet?-
Remy leaned in for the kill, kissing her gently, not wanting to take more than she would give and at the same time, completely satisfied with just the soft feeling of her lips against his, the softness almost brutal in its delicate state.
-Dear, I'm here with a heart that sings, Love me tonight!-
Her hand left his shoulder and he began to pull away but she brought it behind his head, pulling him roughly against her and he stumbled forward, pitching them both across the hood of the car with a deafening and forceful crunch as the wind returned more forceful, raking leaves from the trees around them.
Her eyes widened. "I think we dented—"
"I don't care." He covered her mouth again with his and she wrapped her body around him, trembling as he trailed kisses along her throat and collarbone. Ororo's body took on a mind of its own, fumbling with the zipper on her dress and he muffled a laugh as he once again had to help her with it while she went to work on his belt.
The drive-in long forgotten, Remy slid the thin green straps of her dress down her shoulders while she locked her fingers around the belt loops of his black slacks and fervently wrenched him against her, a shy smile forming from the realization of the intimate position. It was just as his hand traveled the inside her thigh, tracing the outside edge of her panties, a bolt of lightning cut across the sky with a thunderous clap…
A light shown directly on them and they both froze. "Damn teenagers. Get the hell outta here and get a room before I call the cops on ya!"
Remy squinted in the darkness, "James?" he asked breathlessly, Ororo still pinned beneath him.
"Remy?! That you?" the flash light beam fell on Remy's face, blinding him once again.
"Turn de damn light out!" Remy hissed, eyes scrunched shut but feeling the sting of the brightness as green and white dots danced before his vision. Talk about piss-poor timing… he grumbled inwardly while adjusting himself. He was, without question, in for an agonizing hour now. It was temping to ask James to come back in 10 minutes but looking at the mortified Ororo, he knew it was out of the question. Yet another one he owed the man upstairs. One o' dese days, mon Dieu, jus' you wait…
"Sorry, man. Didn't know it was you or I would've left ya alone." James laughed nervously, "Miss," tipping his ball cap to Ororo who had managed to pull the straps of her dress up in record time.
Her heart thundered in her chest, mixed emotions over the intrusion, disappointment and relief as she quelled the electrical storm that had formed over the drive-in. She smiled weakly at the old man at the edge of the thicket, embarrassed for her unrestrained behavior. I am insane…
Remy nonchalantly zipped his pants and refastened his belt, nodding towards the old man, "Ororo, dis is James. He's known me since I was…"
"'Bout knee high. Cute kid. What happened?"
"Y' say dat every time." Remy grinned, leaning against the hood of his car, hands in his pockets and sneaking a glance at Ororo's slender legs peeking out of her hitched skirt. She noticed and quickly pulled the fabric down.
Ororo wondered how he could be so aloof, so quickly. The man had no shame. No… he was just in battle mode, she realized, envious of his confidence.
"Nice t' meet ya miss, and I'm truly sorry." He tipped his hat to her once again and she studied his face. He was slightly shorter than her, his skin a rich brown like coffee, tell tale crows feet in the corners of his eyes and age lines across his brow. Gray stubble covered his cheeks and chin, the result of a long day. He had to be at least 60.
"Likewise." She extended a hand and he reached to shake it, noticing the wedding ring, and then looked at Remy's hand, an appraising gleam in his eye.
"Aw no…" he teased. "Remy… yo' boss is gonna have a fit after what happened last time!"
Ororo went to deny the claim but Remy egged him on. "Ah, ya know nothin' bout last time, mon ami. T'ings are different now."
James just shook his head, a laugh showing slightly crooked teeth, "Boy, yo' gonna be the death of him."
"So he's told me. He can drown in de effin' Mississippi fo' all I care right now."
"Ya don't mean that."
Remy nodded, "Oui, I do. Dere's some'thin up with him lately, James. This whole deal's been one tumble after another- no one's dealin' straight."
James paused, mulling over what Remy said. "She ain't in the collections business too is she?"
"Collections?" Ororo asked, puzzled.
"She knows enough, and dat's all I'm willin' t' say on de subject." Remy answered, pulling out a cigarette.
"Boy, don't you dare light that on my property. I will not hesitate to give yo' grown ass a thrashing in front of yo' wife." James glared, a steely glint in his brown eyes, "And you kiss a lovely lady like this with the stink of death on your breath? A shame, real shame."
Remy rolled his eyes and placed the cigarette behind his ear. He'd heard this speech before, maybe not the same wording, but always the same criticism. James would never forgive him for picking up the habit. "Relax. She ain't my wife. I was teasin'."
This brought upon a thunderous fit of anger from the elderly man, "What?! Whose wife is she then?"
"No ones! De rings were fo' a cover."
"And I take it neckin' at the drive in was part of it to, huh?" he winked.
Remy shrugged. "I plead de fifth. But listen, we gotta get out o' here soon. I got a call sayin' I need t' be in New York in 2 days to drop somet'ing off."
"But I thought you didn't do that."
"I don't. Tell dat t' de boss. Told ya t'ings weren't right."
"You know… that's damn eerie. I talked to him just the other day, thought ya'd want t' know "Love me Tonight" was back on the reel and all. He said in a few days he was going up t' New York for some important personal matters, real distraught over it, voice shakin' more than usual." He paused in thought, and snapped his fingers, "Hey, I got somethin' for ya from him." He smacked his forehead, "This old age, I tell ya. Let me go get it."
Ororo and Remy watched as the older man shuffled his way over to the nearby theatre office, an old concrete building with peeling blue paint and worn wooden shutters. The screen door to the facility banged shut and they breathed easier.
"Oh my goddess, I am mortified beyond comprehension." Ororo groaned, falling backwards over the hood of the car, staring up at the star laden sky. She wanted nothing more than to be up there, anything to avoid the gravity of the situation around her.
Remy chuckled, "Probably fo' de best. I noticed dat storm ya were whippin' up."
She propped herself up, leaning back on her elbows, white hair glowing in the moonlight, "That was nothing."
"What, ya aimin' t' try fo' a hurricane?" he grinned, keeping an eye out for James before lighting his cigarette. She waved a hand and a small rain cloud doused the tobacco, killing any chance of it catching light. "Not funny," he scowled, tossing it in the bushes.
She ignored him, continuing her frustrated tirade, "You don't seem to understand that I could have hurt or killed people if we continued…"
"Stormy, y' givin' me way too much credit," he teased once more with a wink before pulling her forward, resting himself between her legs again while she dangled them over the edge of the car, leaning her head on his shoulder. "But, it's ok. No harm, no foul. We live t' see another day, life goes on, so on an' so forth," he paused, grimacing slightly and shifted his weight.
"Are you ok?" she asked.
"Yeah, I'm fantastic." Sacre le bleu… Feels like my nuts are in an effin' vice!
The screen door to the building slammed again and whimsically, Ororo mussed up Remy's hair as he turned around to stand beside her, receiving a bra-snap in revenge.
James rustled through the bushes, holding the white envelope above his head. "Found it. He said it's mighty important, but ya could open it up anywhere between here n' New York. He wanted to go separate, wouldn't say why. That was Tuesday… he'd be on his way up there... well shoot, probably left this afternoon'. This darn memory."
Ororo noticed the stiffness in Remy's back and the slight twitch of his fingers resting at his side. Too his credit, he remained composed past that, actually forming a smile as he hugged the old man. "T'anks, James. Take care o' y'self old man."
"You be careful boy. Get on out of here now. Nice to meet you, Miss." James tipped his hat to her again as she climbed into the passenger seat and waved. "Crazy kids."
On the road again…
"Dat goddamned son of a bitch… effin'… shit eatin'… shit faced…" Remy spat in anger once they were back on the road. "Shit! Shit! Shit!"
"Are you done shitting yet?" Ororo asked, trying not to laugh at his horrid verbiage while she ripped open the top of the envelope James had given them.
Remy glared at her, forcing himself to calm down. "You have no idea what dis means, chère. Dat double crossin' bastard. 16 years. 16 damned years! And dis whole time, he's been tellin' me to get rid o' ya and y' ain't no good t' me and I bet, if any'ting, he's plannin' on lettin' t'ose bastards know where we're headed."
"Calm down, and think of what you are saying- your logic is flawed! We are dealing with a mutant that can control minds… but Traigo sent you to the Drive-in. James knew you always parked there, correct? If anything, he wanted you to be there and to talk to James. Don't forget, he's covered the mess in Denver. He's not betrayed you." Her eyes scanned over the paper she had pulled out of the envelope. It was a hand written letter written in an angular antique print from a practiced hand. It was short, concise, but as she read further, she knew she had been right.
"I'm gonna wrap my hands around dat turkey neck o' his and…"
"He has cancer."
"Gimme dat." He snatched the letter greedily from her hands, turning on the overhead dome light and stealing glances at the letter as he drove.
How do you begin a letter like this? Even at 72 I do not know how to start. Well look at that, hard part's taken care of itself!
I've taken your 'baby' up to New York with me, I know you've got a right to be mighty angry at me for this, but I'll take care of her. I just wanted one last trip, a chance to feel the sun on the top of my head while the wind rushes past me, nothing but the open road around me and no worries. I don't have many pleasures afforded to me nowadays and I think that's what I want before I die.
The doctor told me I have cancer. It's in my stomach and it's spreading fast. Sent me up to New York to see if there's anything they can do, though at my age, why bother trying? I've had a good run…"
Remy tossed the paper back at Ororo, sniffling slightly and rubbing his eyes, refusing to cry. "C'n you read the rest out loud, please, 'Ro? I need t' keep my eyes on the road. I left off after 'had a good run.'" He requested softly.
She nodded, scanning to find her place, "I've had a good run and sometimes, as your father always put it, it's just best to take what the good Lord gives you. I would like to meet up with you once you are in New York.
"Since you refuse to carry a cell phone, I'll have to assume James will get this to you alright and you can meet me Sunday night at 9 at Arthur's Tavern on Grove and 7th. I'll be there with or without you, but don't keep an old man waiting if you can help it- we got a lot to discuss. Sincerely, Reynard Laurent Rousseau.
"PS If you still have her along, I'd like to meet this girl you're hung up on and see what's so special. I hope she'll keep an eye out for you." She clicked off the dome light, folded the paper and replaced it in the envelope, saying nothing as Remy's hands clenched the steering wheel tightly.
"Do you want to pull over? We can talk about this…"
"Non. I'll keep drivin'." He answered, turning the radio on so she couldn't press him further.
It was nearly 9 hours later, just as dawn was beginning to peek over the Smoky Mountains that they arrived in Knoxville. Ororo stared at the road, glassy eyed, having refused once again to sleep if Remy wasn't going to. She also figured she'd rather be awake if the car ran off the road.
"Wait here, I'll go check us in." She insisted, unbuckling her seatbelt and heading for the motel entrance. She had always had horrible impressions of motels, but after all this, she looked forward to the next one they stayed at. Funny how perspective changed things.
The clerk was a rather plump woman, chestnut hair pulled back in a tight bun with some frazzly gray strands sticking out on the sides, but very warm and pleasant with a plucky southern accent. After signing the paperwork on behalf of her 'husband' Ororo grabbed the keys to room 17 and strolled out the door, squinting against the bright sun.
When she emerged from the shower, she noticed he wasn't sleeping but sat perched on the edge of the bed, reading Traigo's letter, staring at it, almost staring through it. Something wasn't quite adding up in his mind.
"What am I gonna do, Stormy?" he hung his head, brain rushing over his callous treatment of the man over the past few days, as usual, Remy had only been able to think of himself and his wants and needs. Like a goddamned enfant. "I never t'ought dis would ever happen, s'all. Wishful t'inken."
"There is nothing I can say to make the hurt go away… but when we get to New York, talk to him, listen to him. I think that is the only thing you can do." She kissed the top of his head and kneeled down behind him, knees sinking into the mattress before finally sitting down, wrapping her legs around his waist and hugged him. Ear pressed against his back, listening to the steady heartbeat that pounded from his ribs, the rise and fall of his chest as he breathed, Ororo suddenly felt very relaxed and her lids became heavy; this would work out.
Remy sighed, one hand resting on her leg, the other reaching back to pull her against him, just sitting there as the minutes marched by, reflecting on the complication in his life that was Ororo again. He decided it was time to stop thinking about it. Dwelling on the past was keeping him from moving forward, and had been for too long… no… he couldn't. Just couldn't… I'm still the delivery boy…
Visions danced before his eyes as he processed the past week, trying to garner any type of clue as to what really could be going on with Traigo. The phone calls… and despite the heart felt admission in the letter… the signature bothered him. Traigo never put his real name on paper, no matter who he wrote to, even James, it was signed Traigo. He pulled away, pacing the room, and she slumped down curled up against a pillow, eyes closed. This whole thing reeked of a set up, it was too dangerous. "Stormy?"
"Y' ain't goin' t' New York."
"Like hell I'm not." She murmured.
Remy shook his head, "Stubborn as a mule." He knew it was useless to argue, especially with her being half conscious. He contemplated leaving her early, while she was asleep but knew there would be hell to pay for it.
He stepped outside to smoke, staring at the starless sky. Tomorrow was coming whether he needed it to or not. Ororo was coming along whether he wanted her to or not. He was pretty much resolved he would die, whether he wanted to or not. Fatalism, Determinalism no matter what it was controlling and orchestrating his life, he was determined to not give them the satisfaction of seeing him have one pulled over so easily.
Raven, Creed, Shadow King, Traigo, Shaw… no matter who the hell was waiting in New York, they weren't prepared for him and he would make sure they wouldn't have time to be. He hadn't survived so long in this industry because arrogant punks could get the best of him. Remy had always walked that fine line of right and wrong, constantly justifying his actions in his head but after tonight, he realized, he just could not care enough anymore to restrain himself.