Fly Away Home
An X-Men: Evolution Fan Fiction by Seriana Ritani
Summary: Mystique has escaped from prison, disaster looms for the city of New Orleans, a dozen mysteries remain unsolved, and in the midst of it all Gambit and Rogue must struggle to reconcile their pasts with their lives in the X-Men and with one another. Conclusion of the Flight Trilogy.
"I think he's dead, Remy."
Remy heard these words, understood them. He knew what death meant. But somehow it didn't quite register. Dead was a made-up, nonsense word, something that people said but that didn't really mean anything, a fantasy, a joke, something that happened in the movies—anything but here, and now, and real.
"Remy? Did y'hear me? You okay?"
"I just touched him," said Remy, with the vague idea that explaining this would correct the problem. "Just for a second."
"It's been fifteen minutes," said another voice, out of breath from exertion. "We lost him. He's gone."
He's gone. For as long as Remy had been a part of these gray-green bayous, there had been Julian, his friend Bella's stupid older brother, an annoyance and a pain but as much a son of New Orleans as Remy himself. He'd never known New Orleans without Julian. Nobody had. The warm, muggy air tasted different inside Remy's mouth, tainted with an unfamiliar bitterness. This beautiful, shadowy, gray-green place, the cool mirror-smooth water, the solemn enveloping trees whose branches brushed the back of his head as the boat maneuvered through them . . . it wasn't his home anymore. Something in his gut told him so.
"We gotta tell de guildmaster," said someone else, speaking softly out of respect for the dead and fear of Marius Boudreaux.
The guildmaster. Both guildmasters were back at the house, celebrating the alliance of their two mighty organizations by making polite, subtle jabs at one another's characters. They'd been doing it for hours. Marius and Jean-Luc, the guildmasters. Robert and Julian, les dauphins. Remy and Belladonna, les alliés. There had been a harmony, a balance, to that pattern.
Julian Boudreaux is dead at the hand of Remy LeBeau.
Remy steadied himself against the gunwale of the boat and leaned toward Julian's body, half-believing he'd feel breath if he just waited long enough with his hand over his rival's face. Bobby grabbed him and pulled him back, a wrist in each hand. Unthinkingly, reflexively, Remy fought back, trying to wrest himself free. He couldn't fight against fate, couldn't fight against death, couldn't fight Julian Boudreaux whose drunken anger had just destroyed Remy's life as thoroughly as Remy had just destroyed his. But Bobby was something he could fight, something he could hit.
My life is over. Let go'a me. Let go.
"Snap out of it, Remy. Come on. We need you t'focus now."
"Let go'a me."
"Come on, Remy, wake up. Wake up. It's okay."
He'd had no idea Bobby was so strong. The grip felt more like shackles than human hands, their hold inexorable.
Reality hit him like a brick to the head. The bayou, the boat, the body, his brother, all disappeared as though they had never been. He was in his own bed in his own bedroom in, of all bizarre places, a private school for mutants in New York, and Rogue had him by the wrists.
As soon as he remembered where his lungs were, he inhaled, sucking in a deep breath of the cold, faintly woodsmoke-scented air. It cleared his head almost immediately. There was no way he could be breathing air like that if he were in Louisiana.
Rogue started breathing again, too. She was floating over his bed, in pajamas and long gloves, her hands carefully holding Remy's away from both of them. "Jeez, Remy! You scared me to death!" She released him and pulled away, watching him with concern. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah." Remy pushed himself up against the headboard, moving his legs so Rogue could land on the foot of his bed. He wiped the sheen of cold sweat off his face and shivered. "You come in t'rough de window again?"
"Ah closed it," Rogue insisted defensively. "Though Ah thought Ah'd have tuh dump yeh into the snow to wake you up this time."
Remy shivered again, this time in horror. "I don'do snow."
"Ah know. You been sayin' that since November." Rogue brought her knees up in front of her and rested her chin on them, wrapping her arms around her shins. "Same old, same old?" she asked gently.
"Yeah." He would never have admitted the events of his dream to anyone else, but Rogue was different. She'd known for a long time what he'd done to Julian, and had never held it against him. Well, never but once. But that was forgiven now. Nor did she hold him in contempt for the nightmares. She, too, knew about feeling death in her own hands.
"Y'know, the Professor might be able to make 'em stop," she offered. "If it gets to be too much. He can put up blocks around your memories."
"What, like he done t'you?" asked Gambit dryly.
"Yeah. It's weird, but yeh sleep better."
Gambit chuckled and scrutinized her, looking for some hint of self-deception. "It still freaks me out dat dat don't freak you out. Y'know dey's somethin' in y'head y'can't remember, an'y'just leave it lie."
"The Professor says it's okay."
"An y'trust him dat much?"
"If we couldn't trust the Professor, we'd probably all be dead. Psychic that powerful? He could kill us all before we knew what was happenin'."
"Yeah," Gambit grumbled. "I hate psychics."
Rogue snickered. "Y'ain't still mad at Jean, are yeh?"
"Stuck up Yankee je-sais-tout."
The snicker became an all-out giggle. "It was just a stupid turkey!"
"Non, it was a disaster."
"You're such a freak."
"You been livin' up north too long. Forgot what good food tastes like. Up here dey don't know a turkey from a microwave burrito."
"No, they don't. But you could have said something to her before you decided to go all crazy with the spices."
"Anybody wid' any sense woulda'been thankin' me."
"Oh, is that why she hasn't said a civil word to you since Christmas? Because she ain't got no sense? I was wonderin'." Rogue shook her head, her streaks dancing back and forth across
her face. "I wish somebody'd got that on tape. Last time anybody saw Jean that mad, she was breaking up with Duncan."
Remy snagged his coat from its usual spot on the bedpost by his head and tossed it to Rogue. "Wrap up. Y'make me cold just lookin' at you."
Though he knew she wasn't cold . . . it would take more than February in New York to sink through her impermeable skin . . . Rogue obediently wrapped the coat around herself like a blanket and flipped up the collar. "That better?"
"Ouais." Gambit leaned his head back against the board, trying to convince himself that he was warm, and safe, and that his dream was just a dream. "I need t'get a space heater or somet'in' in here or I ain't gettin' a good night's sleep until April."
"You think you're havin' more nightmares because it's cold?"
"Mebbe. Dey been gettin' worse wid de weather."
"It'll start warmin' up soon. Ah remember hatin' mah first winter in New York. Ah kept crankin' the heat up in our room, and Kitty kept crankin' it down. We were ready tuh kill each other by spring."
"You sure you don't wanna talk to the Professor? Ah know he might not be able to do anything, what with your powers, but he could at least try."
Gambit shook his head. "Non, chère. I couldn't."
He smiled and reached across the blanket to take her gloved hand, which she silently surrendered to him. "An' s'posin' I let him poke around inside my head, see what I been watchin' in my nightmares. How long d'you t'ink he'd let me stay? Dey's little kids in dis house . . . Jamie, Bobby, Amara. He gonna let dem be in de same household wid me, after what I done? I don'wanna risk what I got here. It's all I got."
Rogue's fingers closed around his, squeezing back. "He wouldn't throw you out. He knows about Mystique and the cliff . . . and how much Ah hurt Kurt . . . and he never even blinked. Just started talking me through it."
"Difference is, if anybody deserved t'get her butt pushed off a cliff, it's Mystique, an'de Professor knows it." Remy turned away, unable to look her in the face while he spoke. "Was different wid Julian."
"Ah know you're s'posed tuh respect the dead, but I had Julian in mah brain, and Ah can't say I'm all that broken up about never seein' him again."
"Yeah, he was plenty stupid an' plenty mean. But that don't make what I done any better."
"Maybe not. Not our call, Ah guess. Things that happened happened. Ah don't think the Professor'd think any less of you if he knew about Julian, but that's your business and not mine."
"Merci." He looked up at her again. "Sorry I keep wakin' y'up."
"S'okay." Rogue rearranged herself so she didn't have to sit up anymore, draping herself across his legs, stomach-down, and tucking her arms underneath her chest. "Ah was havin' a dumb dream anyway."
Remy squirmed into a more comfortable position; Rogue lifted herself up to let him move, then settled down again. "What about?"
"This kid I knew in junior high . . . his name was Andy, Andy Cleveland . . . had plane tickets to Morocco and wanted me t'go with him because he had to solve a mystery. Somethin' about the crown jewels being stolen. Then he got kidnapped an' Ah got on the wrong plane an' ended up in Hong Kong."
"You know what Hong Kong looks like?"
"Not really. Looked kinda like Disneyland. At least, Ah thought it did. Never been there, either."
"You're right. Weird dream."
"Don't make a very good story, either. Ah'll try t'have a more interesting dream t'morrow." She yawned, and her eyes sagged towards shutting.
Remy pulled one of the pillows out from behind his head and passed it to her. "You should go back to y'own room," he told her, but there was no enthusiasm in his voice, and he was tucking his coat around her as he spoke.
"Will in a minute," Rogue mumbled. "You warmed up yet?"
"Not quite. You gonna stay 'till I am?"
"Well, if Ah get up now, you'll be all cold again and won't be able tuh sleep."
"So you're stayin' 'till I'm asleep."
"Not at all. But I think you might fall asleep 'fore I do."
"Yeah, right," Rogue sighed.
Remy grinned, knowing that she was already three-quarters gone. If Logan found her here in the morning, he'd be annoyed with them both all day. Since Logan was in charge of morning workouts, having him annoyed was no meager threat, but right now Remy couldn't bring himself to care very much. The warmth of Rogue's body radiated through his blankets into his legs, stopping the shivering that had been building in his muscles since he woke up. He would have no more nightmares as long as she stayed there; he never did. It was calming and comforting to have her with him, part best friend and part hot water bottle.
He closed his eyes and relaxed, trying to settle back into the sleep he knew he needed. It didn't come at once. Something was bothering him, like an unresolved problem nagging at the back of his mind. He wanted to touch her.
To just lay his fingertips against her cheek, and feel her smile against them before he drifted off again . . . that would be perfect. He knew he couldn't, but that didn't make him want it any less.
He sighed, smiling wryly at himself. "Rogue?"
"Yeah . . ."
"Anyone ever tell you you're a pretty girl?"
She moaned and snuggled her face deeper into the pillow. "Forgot tuh mention it."
"Been meanin' t'tell you."
"Thanks for the info."
"Life'd be a whole lot easier 'round here if you was just a little uglier," he joked, reaching down to pull a lock of her hair the way he liked to do when he was teasing her.
She pulled her head away, smiling without opening her eyes. "Ah could stop showerin', if that'd make your life easier."
Remy waited until she was still again, then reached down and brushed his thumbnail across her bottom lip. He saw her twitch a little, either wincing away or smiling, but she kept still, knowing how risky a sudden movement could be with his hand so close. She let her lips part the tiniest fraction of an inch to breathe one word. "Careful."
"I'm careful," he assured her, brushing the corner of her mouth and proceeding across her upper lip, following the ridge of it. "Jus'wanted t'feel de shape." He withdrew his hand. "Sorry."
She dragged her eyes open, looking up reluctantly into his face. "You want me tuh leave?" she asked gently, pushing against the mattress to lift herself up.
"Non," he insisted. "Stay. I promise I'll be good." He folded his arms across his chest, tucking his hands securely into the bends of his elbows. "Just a little while longer. 'Till it warms up in here."
"Okay." She sighed and settled back down. Remy closed his eyes.
"Kitty! Rogue! Come on, guys, time to get up."
Kitty groaned and rolled over, tumbling out of bed and onto the floor, where she landed with has loud a thump as her petite frame would produce. "I'm up." She rolled again, this time phased out so she could escape her blankets, and sat up.
"Rogue?" Jean called from the hallway.
Kitty blinked a few times and made her eyes focus on Rogue's bed. It was empty.
"Oh, man," she groaned. "She's sleeping with Gambit again."
She heard Jean sigh. "Better go get her or Logan's going to be a nightmare."
"I'm on it." Kitty phased through the door and set off down the hallway, her bare feet making almost no noise on the carpeted floor as she left the girls' wing and headed down the boys'. Gambit's room was the last in the row, where Evan had once slept. Kitty tapped anxiously on the door, then stuck her head through it.
Gambit was sprawled across his bed, one hand behind his head and the other lying on the blanket. Rogue was curled up, half on her stomach and half on her side, lying across his legs with Gambit's coat over her. Both of them were sound asleep.
Kitty hesitated. She knew Logan would be upstairs in a few minutes, to bully any late-risers out of their beds, and he would be in a seriously bad mood if he caught Rogue in here. But they were so cute.
She slipped the rest of the way through the door and crossed the room to poke Rogue in the leg. "Rogue?"
Rogue moaned and stretched. "Huh?"
"Come on, get up."
Gambit dragged his eyes open, blinked, and grinned. "Mornin', Minou."
"Morning," said Kitty, smiling at how utterly unembarrassed he was to be caught with Rogue asleep on his bed. "Sleep well?"
"Like a baby."
"Well, you're going to be sleeping on your stomach for the rest of the week if Logan kicks your butt for letting Rogue in here again."
"He ever tried keepin' dis girl out of a room she wanted t'be in?"
Rogue lifted herself up, leaving the coat in a pile on top of the blanket. "C'mon, Kitty. We can take the back way."
"You take the back way. It's freezing out there. I'll take my chances in the hall."
Gambit grumbled and rolled over, pulling the blankets over his head. "If y'openin' de window, I'm stayin in here 'till it's shut again."
"Don't fall back asleep," Rogue warned him, pulling open the wide double windows.
He promptly did, but only for a couple of minutes. It was hard to sleep through Logan.
"Get your butt out of bed, Cajun!"
Gambit sat up, groaning. "It's out; I'm comin'."
He swung out of bed and got dressed, hurrying into uniform, boots, faceguard, coat and gloves before the chill from the opened-and-closed window could settle onto him. It was so cold in New York.
At least, he observed as he emerged into the hallway, he wasn't the only one having problems with the weather. Scott, who'd been first one downstairs every morning during the autumn, wasn't even out of his room yet. He blamed his tiredness on the reduced sunlight, which his body absorbed like a solar cell to power his eye beams. While this was a perfectly sensible
explanation, Gambit hadn't stopped giving him grief since the first time he'd beaten his field commander to morning training. Roberto, also a solar-charger, was having similar problems.
Then there was Bobby.
"Morning!" he hollered cheerfully, shooting past Gambit on an ice slide that ran the length of the hallway and swerved down the stairs. Icicles formed along the crown molding as he passed.
Gambit turned up his collar and tucked his hands into his armpits.
"I really hate that kid," grumbled Amara, emerging from the girls' wing. "Maybe spring will kill him."
"We kin hope," Gambit grumbled. "How long we got 'till spring, anyway?"
Gambit detoured to the kitchen, where he knew there was a calendar tacked to the wall. He'd intended to count the days left until the first day of spring, but he never got around to that. Because tomorrow's square had a line of lettering running along the bottom: Ash Wednesday.
"See dat?" he asked Amara, who'd stumbled in behind him. "Today's le Mardi Gras."
"Huh," said Amara. "Happy Mardi Gras."
"Are you guys coming, or what?" demanded Roberto. "I want to get this over with."
"Hold your horses. We're coming." Amara snarled.
French Lesson For the Day:
les dauphins: the crown princes.
les alliés: the allies.
je-sais-tout :I-know-everything; know-it-all.