Here it is! Hopefully this is a little quicker than that last one, and *spoilers* I got another fight scene in. Ahh, the smell of violence in the late afternoon.
And I'm going to take the liberty of listing all the French phrases at the bottom of the chapter. Jeanniebird was kind enough to beta for me, and apparently Cajun French (or any French, really) doesn't make things easier to read. So they're there, if you need them, if not, well...yeah.
Anyway, happy reading, and toss me a review!
The rest of that day was almost dreamlike to James. Things around him seemed to be moving too quickly for him to absorb, but those he interacted with were too kind to him to match the swirling chaos that cluttered the rest of his surroundings. He was allowed to follow Kurt to his next three classes, then spent the afternoon with the German boy and Marie out in the woods. Later there was dinner and a movie in the theater but James ended up leaving early, not enjoying himself like the teachers probably thought he should. The theater was much too loud for his tastes and besides, nobody had seemed to mind when he'd stalked silently out the back. He'd spent the rest of the two hours the movie was playing wandering around the huge mansion that was now his home, enjoying the quiet and allowing his senses to stretch themselves to their limits. Despite the size of the school, the uppermost floors and most distant corridors were almost completely untouched. James had lost the scent of any other students within fifteen minutes of his venturing, and the aged odor that belonged to the Professor had died out not long after. Things were so still that far from the school's main area that the man's scent had lingered for a long time...James hadn't possessed his powers for long enough to make a good guess, but if he'd been older he probably would have guessed that several years had passed since the man had wandered this far from his office. James had eventually found himself on the roof, relaxed in the shadow of a high window while he looked out over the estate. The cultivated lawn surrounding the mansion was far removed from the wild Canadian forests he'd been wandering with Victor for the last few weeks, but strangely enough James found he felt more comfortable perched up here alone than surviving on next to nothing with his own brother.
He wasn't old enough to wonder what that meant, but in just a few years he'd be wondering how he could ever have called Victor a brother at all.
Later on he heard someone wandering around beneath him, a few laughs and voices accented in strange ways. He caught the scents not much later-he'd left the attic window open-and it calmed the young feral to know that it was just Marie and Lily down there. James didn't know them very well quite yet but Marie at least seemed nice, and neither of them were his brother. As they got closer he could discern their conversation as well, and he'd been left alone long enough for that not to bother him into leaving.
Eventually he heard them pause at the ladder to the roof.
"What're yah doin'?"
"I'll wait here."
"Why? C'mon, y'all talked at dinner."
"...I'll wait here, he likes you better anyway."
"Now that ain't true. C'mon!"
"I really just want to wait here."
"...Awlright, ah'll be right back."
Marie showed up on the roof a moment later, coming to stand just beyond where the ladder came up. She was quiet but clumsily so, and James knew exactly where she was once she'd stopped moving. He took one last breath of cool moonlit oxygen and then shifted to his feet, walking out of the shadows to follow Marie back down.
She didn't realize he'd heard her talking to Lily from three floors away, though, and she seemed shocked that he'd appeared at all.
"Hi," she said, smiling reflexively. "We were wundrin' where you'd gone off to."
He nodded. "I just like it quiet."
She nodded. "Lily found yah, she can do that. But she didn't wanna come up."
James blinked and padded over to the ladder. He could smell Lily's fear spike when he started to climb down, tangy on the piney breeze. "She's scared of heights," he told Marie candidly.
She blinked at him. "Really?"
"How can yah tell?"
"Smells like it." He looked uncomfortable talking about it, so Marie just smiled in response.
They climbed back down and the three of them went back downstairs, leaving for different sleeping wings when they got to the second floor. James came into his room to find Kurt settled comfortably on his bed in a pair of pale blue pajamas, flicking his tail back and forth contentedly while he prayed over a set of simple rosary beads. James watched him for awhile, then quietly set about getting ready for bed. James's grandfather had been Catholic and had told the young boy all about the religion's many virtues whenever he came to visit for the holidays, but James wasn't sure he wanted to be Christian at all. He'd been taught about all kinds of religions and he thought he liked Buddhism the most, how people were reborn when they died. He'd wondered whether he could be reborn as an animal if he was Buddhist, and had long ago decided he wanted to be a bird, a small one, so he could fly through the forest and explore all the hidden places he only ever got to see from the road. Or maybe he'd come back as a fish. He'd loved swimming in the lake near the estate but it was a nuisance to have to come up for air.
When he came out of the bathroom, Kurt was done praying. "'Allo, James, I was not sure you were here or not." There was a pause. "You did not liek ze show?"
James shook his head. "Too loud."
Kurt noticed that James had already lain down on his bed with his back to the teleporter. "You want I can turn off ze lights?" he asked.
"Yeah. Doesn't change much if you leave 'em on, though."
Kurt flicked his tail. "You see in ze dahrk?"
Kurt turned off his light and the room was engulfed in the darkness. "Me too."
The next morning, James awoke early and followed his nose to the kitchen, where a handful of someones were already fixing breakfast. The feral arrived and found the teachers gathered together around the table, chatting or reading or drinking their coffee as the food cooked. James first noticed the strong smell of hot drinks, followed by the savory scent of bacon and the slightly buttery aroma of eggs in the pan. There was toast and yogurt as well and it was all so familiar to home that James couldn't help but be a bit homesick. All at once he was thinking about his father again, and even as he automatically cringed away from the memories-a habit from living with Victor-he almost felt safe enough to mourn here.
The professor noticed the strong swell of emotions coming from the doorway and looked up from his paper, smiling at the boy standing there. James looked as though he wasn't sure whether he was coming or leaving and Xavier was quick to invite him to stay.
"James," he greeted pleasantly. "Good morning. Dr. McCoy is cooking breakfast, would you like him to make you some?"
The other teachers glanced over at the boy when his name was mentioned, smiling in their own time but carefully allowing the feral to make his own way inside. They'd all dealt with mutants somewhat like him before, each in their own capacity, and they knew quite well what not to do around the Howlett boys. The wild brothers would have to be given more time than most to adjust.
James was surprised to be noticed, but the invitation was so easily given that he immediately began glancing around for the food. He was startled when he saw the man at the stove-he was a great furry beast, wearing pajamas!-but the creature was clearly cooking, so he must have been the Professor's 'Hank'. James padded cautiously over to the man's side and watched him managing the food preparations for a few wary seconds.
"You're blue too," he said in greeting.
Hank glanced at the boy, startled, then raised his eyebrows. He was hardly offended; on the contrary, the boy's candid observation had him thoroughly amused.
"Too?" he asked.
"He's sharing a room with Kurt," Ororo supplied from behind them.
James nodded, then frowned, seeming to come to some sort of conclusion. "Are you his father?"
Jean smiled at that question as Hank shook his head. "No, mutations aren't passed along in that fashion. Children inherit their parents' ability to possess a mutation or not to possess one; the way the mutation manifests is entirely random."
James blinked. "What?"
"No, James, they're not related," Jean offered helpfully from behind them. To Hank, she added, "And if these brothers prove anything, it's that some mutations domanifest similarly on account of family genetics."
Hank flipped an omelet. "Yes, I have a theory about that. I think mutations which manifest similarly within one genetic line are older than mutations which differ strongly within the same line. But I hardly have plausible proof of that and I had intended to spare all of you the details." He glanced down at James, who had stopped listening a good minute ago. "What would you like to eat, young man?"
James glanced up from the pan for hardly a second.
The Professor smiled slightly at that, although he had no intentions of saying anything. No one at the mansion knew how long the two ferals had been living in the woods, not even him, but they certainly hadn't been eating eggs and buttered toast in the wild. And while Victor seemed to have been perfectly happy with the arrangement-he'd been bragging about it at dinner the night before-James seemed to prefer eating the things he was familiar with. Xavier certainly couldn't blame him for that. Raw squirrel and rabbit wouldn't be a treat for anyone, but especially not for a boy who had been thrown into his mutation so suddenly.
Based on the feral's past, Xavier wondered whether the boy would ever fully accept his abilities. He would be just as likely to reject them and the emotional pain they had already caused him. The Professor sincerely hoped the boy would learn that his mutation was hardly a curse; if he couldn't tolerate his own physiology, it could cause serious problems for him in the future.
Eventually the teachers finished eating and a few of the students started to trickle downstairs. Scott and Ororo went upstairs to awaken anyone who was trying to sleep late while the groundskeeper Hurst poked his head in and conjured up breakfast for the horde of young people now settled in the cafeteria. The man got free room and board and a monthly salary for keeping the Professor's estate in good condition, but he had to be the laziest person alive. He could shift reality to his liking and because he was hired to make sure things stayed ship-shape, reality was always perfect. It was lucky that all the man ever wanted to do was sleep, though, because he had enough power to keep fifty acres of forest and natural trails immaculate with hardly a snap of his fingers.
James sat through breakfast with his new friends because Marie had asked him to, and after that he and Kurt went back to their room to get their class things together. Their age group was young enough that all the kids were in class blocks instead of individual class periods; the blocks were staggered, so one group had each of its classes an hour before the other one did. James and Kurt had ended up together while Marie and Lily were in the later block, but things were arranged so that everyone got to have lunch together, so the group of friends could spend time together in their free hour. Another nice thing was that the older kids didn't have lunch at the same time as the younger ones...and James didn't have to see Victor. The younger boy was still dreading the confrontation he knew was coming. He didn't doubt that he'd run into the older boy eventually, but he didn't know when, and so far it seemed like he never even crossed paths with the older boy in the halls. Whatever the reason was for that, it was making him nervous...he didn't know when to expect a fight. Maybe the professor had arranged it.
The one 'class' James didn't share with any of his friends was detention. He went for the first time on the Monday of his second week, and he couldn't decide after that one day whether he liked the period or hated it. Or whether it even made a difference to him at all.
James had come in a little bit early; he hadn't brought anything because he'd been told not to. The only other kid there when he arrived was a girl with deep purple hair and when he'd curiously turned to stare at her she'd flipped him off.
The other kids had come in at random intervals after that. James had managed to get a seat in the back of the room so that only one person could sit next to him, but he hadn't been so lucky to avoid sitting next to anyone at all. The boy who'd taken the seat was a bit older, maybe a year younger than Victor, with devilish red-on-black eyes and the rattiest clothing James had ever seen. He smelled of alcohol and cigarette smoke and the feral felt himself recoil as soon as the kid slouched into the desk next to his.
The boy turned to him almost immediately, oozing an extroverted confidence that instantly made James wary. "Hey, you's dat Vickie's homme, non?" the stranger greeted. "I heard 'bout you from him, you gone send him half crazy f' blood, you have. He been lookin' fo' you all over dis place. Sauf, I'm talkin' wit' you an' he too couyon t'find you hisself, so mebbe he jus' a cowan grand, he."
James just frowned at him. "What?"
The boy smirked. "Ohh, no Cajun talk f'you den, huh?" Scott came in then, and the boy pulled out a deck of cards and started flipping them between his fingers, somewhere between casual and nervous with his energy. "J'suis Remy LeBeau," he added in an undertone, but before he could add more Scott turned to look at him sharply. Remy casually rearranged himself so that it looked like he'd been paying attention the whole time, a smirk tipping half of his mouth up to the side.
He kept flipping the cards though, and the steady whirr of the paper through his fingers was grinding on James's nerves. Normally the feral wouldn't have cared so much, but Remy was apparently one of Victor's friends and that was enough for James to start off with a mistrustful animosity towards him. Scott seemed to be ignoring the shuffling coming from the back of the room so the younger boy turned to glare at the troublemaker, ready to take things into his own hands. "Stop that."
Remy turned to him and gave him a shit-eating grin. "What, dis?"
He flipped the cards again.
James growled low in his throat and pulled his lips back just enough to show a few of his teeth.
"Y'know, Vicky do de same t'ing when je pars avec ma grande bouche (I go off with my big mouth). Never do nothing 'bout it, though." He flipped the cards at the younger boy, taking his time.
James watched Remy shuffle a bit more, then reached out with an unerringly quick hand and snatched the cards before the boy could flip them again. The feral ignored the Cajun's snickering as the older kid pulled out a smoke and started twirling it in his fingers. But that wasn't so bad; at least it was quieter. James left him alone until Scott had finished telling them what they were going to be doing-making file folders for the office-and then got started hole-punching papers.
Once the supplies had been handed out, Remy lit his smoke and turned to face James, propping his feet up on the feral's desk. The feral had put the pile of finished paper on there, and the work he'd done was effectively ruined by Remy's dirty boots.
"You use dem claws fo' dis instead, homme?" the Cajun drawled, pulling out another pack of cards. James had no idea what he'd said-he'd spit it out so fast, James had barely gotten a chance to adjust to his accent-but he was now getting fed up with him, and he didn't like the scent of the smoke.
"Move or I'll make you," he growled.
Remy raised his eyebrows and chuckled, swinging his feet off the desk and leaning forward towards the other boy. "Coo, you're gonna do dat now, is you?" He blew smoke in James's face and grabbed his other set of cards off the younger boy's desk where the feral had set them, pocketing the second set of cards he'd pulled out with his cigarette. "How you gonna go about dat, homme? You punch a hole 'n my head an' throw my dead carcass in d'rivuh?"
James could feel a wild anger churning in his stomach, could sense his own heartbeat picking up in anticipation, but he did try to ignore Remy. He didn't say anything to the other boy's challenge and just kept on working. It would have been impressive if he'd had company in his own mind.
But Remy was curious to see what kind of a person Victor's younger brother was...or rather, what kind of a fighter. He didn't honestly like the older Howlett very much but it was clear that Victor was both vicious and experienced when it came time to throw down. Remy was always one for a challenge and he liked to believe he was a pretty good fighter...he wanted to test his skills on this younger boy who'd already sent the school rumor mill spinning. Remy had been fortunate enough to see the end of the brothers' fight firsthand, but it was nothing like having a little skirmish of his own.
So as soon as Scott left the room to get something-or-other he'd forgotten, Remy opened his mouth again.
"Mais, y'know, I's thinkin' you's a cowan grand aussi, homme. Mebbe it run in de family, non?" He made his words very deliberate and spoke in plain English, easily understandable even if the boy couldn't translate his Cajun French. "You an' Vicky got somethin' in common dere, huh?"
James turned and glared at him with deadly eyes. "We're not related." He knew the older boy was goading him, but he didn't care. He did not want to be compared to Victor, and by extension Logan...he already knew how similar his mutation was to Victor's, and he hardly needed reminding of that fact.
Remy sucked at his cigarette. "Mais, you is, though. You come from de same neck o' de woods, you both wildmen, 'n you both got no pere. Y'say yousself, aussi, you hommes." He stood up and leaned on James's desk, looming over the other kid intimidatingly, and blew smoke in the boy's face again for good measure. "Mais, dat's one too many cwinc'dences, non?"
James snarled and jumped up, grabbing the Cajun's shirt and throwing him against the near wall of the classroom with surprising strength. The rest of the detention students turned around at the noise and stared at the feral and the thief, facing off in the corner of the room.
Remy coughed a little and shrugged his shoulders where they'd hit the wall. He put the cigarette in his mouth and pulled something out of his belt, something that expanded into a long thin staff of some sort. The older boy spun the weapon casually a few times in front of him.
"Dat all y'got, p'tit boug? Coo, you's not just Vicky's homme, you his l'homme capo, aussi." Red eyes flashing, he added clearly, "You a coward, boy."
James's jaw tightened in indignant fury and he felt the claws gore their way out of his arms, the pain only angering him further. He took a deliberate step forward. "You don't say that."
"Don't I?" Remy felt his competitive spirit jump to the challenge it saw here, same as it did when he was taking dares from his cousins back home, or trading blows with a merchant boy in the Vieux Carre of the city. He swung out with his staff and cracked James on the side of the head, not holding back in the slightest with his strength. "I t'ink I do."
James saw stars for a half-second after the blow and he reeled to keep his feet, recovering quickly as his adrenaline and healing factor kicked in. He thought he saw Remy's eyes widen but he didn't wait to check, just jumped at the older boy, intending to bury his claws into his chest for a good grip. But Remy ducked out of the way at the last second and whipped around behind James, cracking him over the head with his staff again. James had managed to sheath his claws before they stuck in the wall and let his momentum carry him away from the impact-so he kept his feet-but Remy's underhanded strike was enough to knock him off-balance. He stumbled and crouched low to steady himself, pushing his claws out again and trying furiously to get his bearings.
Remy chuckled a little madly off to his left and James leapt, aiming for where the older boy's head would be. But again the bastard ducked, swinging his staff overhand this time and breaking the bone claws off James's hands as he did so. The spin of his weapon followed its momentum and slammed into the feral's back as he flew over it, forcing the younger boy into a grinding halt on the floor. He landed on his face and coughed a few times before he caught his breath, his claws already growing back even as bloody marrow oozed out of the breaking points. His head, too, was clear despite the beating it had received not thirty seconds ago and he could taste the snarl growing in his throat.
"Mon dieu," a low voice said above his head. "Dat's some talent you got dere."
James heard the staff spinning before he saw it speeding towards his face. He jerked out of the way not a second too soon and jumped to his feet faster than Remy's considerable senses could follow. While the staff's momentum was occupying Remy's balance, James pushed off and rammed his half-grown claws into the boy's left shoulder, pinning him to the floor as his weight carried them down. The thief's head knocked against the ground and he gasped, red eyes wide and breathing already raspy from the sudden pain.
"C'est bien, m'ami," he rasped, "y'let me up now?" But James was baring his teeth in his face, eyes narrowed angrily, his other fist braced against the older boy's sternum. No claws there, though. Thankfully. Still, he didn't look like he intended to move any time soon.
Remy slowly, painfully rotated his right arm until his staff was leaning against James's ribs. He charged it up so it was glowing an eerie magenta, ignoring the searing ache in his right shoulder as the power rushed to his command. James noticed the new development before it was visibly obvious, his nose flaring at the hot edge the energy lent to the air.
"Y'don't geoff me righ' damn now, I's gonna blow you inta so many li'l pieces y'ain't gonna heal evah 'gain, c'es' clair, p'tit boug?"
James responded to that, the claws snapping back into his arm as he jumped back several feet from the glowing staff. Remy groaned as he rolled to his feet but the staff stopped glowing as soon as he was standing, and he telescoped it down again and tucked it back into his belt.
He gave James a look, and James showed his teeth. "Non, we done, homme," the older boy said wearily. Glancing around, he realized they'd displaced a few desks and scattered papers all over the floor; Remy started reorganizing the classroom as best he could, moving slowly so as not to startle James into anything drastic. He'd known from the start it would be over if the feral got even one hit in, but merde, he hurt.
For his part, James just watched warily from the side, his shoulders tense and muscles still taut and ready. He didn't know why Remy had stopped fighting but as his blood cooled, he slowly began to realize that the whole confrontation had probably been little more than a test. Once he'd figured it out, James was a lot more comfortable with the way the strange boy was acting now...it made him predictable, if not trustworthy in the near future. James decided he might as well help him clean up the mess.
Eventually the two of them had the back of the room looking normal again, except for a few blood smears stained into the carpet; no one would notice those, though. James scrubbed the blood he could see off his arms and poked at a scuff on the knee of his shorts where he'd slid along the carpet. Glancing down at himself, Remy adjusted his clothes as well so that his dark jacket covered the musty blood that was now soaking into his shirt.
"Now homme, we gon' preten' dat didn't happen, 'n there'll be no more problems f'us, huh?"
James frowned at that, but nodded. He didn't want to make any promises, but he also didn't want to have to talk to the Professor again. That man had something in his eyes that did anything but inspire the feral's trust in his good intentions.
Remy nodded too. "Dat goes for de rest o' you, too, huh?" he told the other detention kids. Everyone watched him stonily, unsure what to think of that. Then the girl with the purple hair snorted and settled back into her seat, completely unfazed by the confrontation. Slowly all of the other kids followed suit, even though they were still staring at Remy and James with wide eyes, turned around in their seats to watch. It made James's skin crawl.
Remy nodded and turned back to James. "You have some blood on yo' face, homme," he said, the smirk already back in his voice even if it wasn't on his face. Then he turned and swaggered lopsidedly out, stopping to drop something on Scott's desk before he disappeared down the hall.
Scott came back a few minutes later. Staring at his desk with a frown, he walked over to it and snatched his phone off the table. It couldn't have been here the whole time, I...
Looking up sharply, he turned to the class. "Where's Remy?" he asked, a stern edge to his tone.
It was silent, and then the girl with the purple hair spoke up.
"He must have had somewhere he needed to be," she said.
Scott frowned at that.
Of course he did.
All this French is listed in two groups: one of words you probably know if you know any French, and one of words you probably don't. I put a 'C' next to words that are primarily or singularly used in Acadiana.
Merde = shit
Mais = but, well
Aussi = also
Homme = brother
Mon dieu = my god
J'suis = je suis = I am
C'est bien, m'ami = mon ami = that's good, my friend/that's enough
Sauf = Except
Couyon = couillon = idiot, stupid (C)
Cowan grand = big pussy (C for the cowan, not for the grand XD)
P'tit boug = petite boug = little boy (C)
Capo = coward (C)
Vieux Carre = Old Quarter = French Quarter of the city of New Orleans (C, clearly)
C'es' clair = c'est clair = that clear?