Disclaimer: I do not own 'em. Not a lick.
Thank you for patience. (This is the point in which I just assume you've been waiting patiently) Hopefully updates won't always take this long, but the might not be as quick as they were when I was writing 'Normal'. My available writing time is just not what it used to be.
Reviewer Quote of the Week: from Ben40 - the first Anonymous RQotW. Go Ben.
As a side note: just being married would not scare off all the interested females in his class. Heck it might attract a few as plenty of teaching assistants can attest.
HA! Okay, now on with the show...
Three months and I'm still breathing
Been a long road since those hands I left my tears in
But I know, it's never really over...
- Sober, Kelly Clarkson
Two breaths in. One breath out.
Remy sat in the middle of the Danger Room floor, his legs crossed and his eyes closed, his hands relaxed and resting on top of his knees. The room's customary simulations were turned off, leaving the large space open, and unusually dark. Quiet.
Two breaths in. One breath out.
It had hit him that morning before he'd even fully woken up; that aching, uncontrollable, gotta-have-a-cigarette-now-before-I-jump-out-of-my-skin need. The cravings had been getting progressively worse for days. He'd tried the gum before he even got out of bed. It was a bust, just like he knew it would be. The next attempt was going for a run with Rogue and the dog, but that only served to make things worse, seeing as his girl didn't exactly appreciate being told to get her "fat ass" moving. He wasn't even sure why he'd said it; he knew the only reason she was lagging was because David kept stopping to sniff stuff, and no one in their right mind would ever consider her tight little tushy anything close to 'fat'. He was just that irritable. He had to do something. And coffee wasn't it, either.
Two breaths in. One breath out.
He focused on the oxygen entering and leaving his body, trying to mentally visualize its journey through his circulatory system, sweeping through each area of his body in a giant, calming wave. His toes. His legs. His abdomen. His chest. His arms. His hands. He imagined the oxygen moving throughout him, attempting to smother out the fires of anxiety one by one, willing his body to relax.
Two breaths in. One breath out.
"The hell, Gumbo, what're ya doing in here, having a seance or some shit?"
Remy sighed, opening his eyes. Yeah, the peace was officially broken. Again.
He turned his head, looking back over his shoulders as the Danger Room doors slid shut behind Logan.
Logan quirked an eyebrow as he tossed his workout towel to the side of the room. "In the middle of the Danger Room?"
Remy turned back, working the kinks out of his neck. "'s da only place on da whole damn property dat's quiet."
"Really." Logan paused, crossing his arms. "Not even up on the third floor?"
"Stormy's up there in da music room wit' Jean workin' on dat song o' hers."
Logan cringed, and Remy didn't blame him. The redhead had decided to take some sort of choral class for her fine arts requirement at NYU, but it turned out that little miss Perfect-At-Everything couldn't sing. As in 'couldn't sing' couldn't sing. Not that Remy was trying to be judgmental or anything like that, it was just the cold hard facts. His chere wasn't going to be dropping an album anytime soon, but at least she could carry a tune, hit the right notes at generally the right time. Jeanie, bless her little heart, was about as tone-deaf as a person could be. Actually, Remy didn't know it was possible to be quite that tone-deaf, but apparently it was. Storm was sweet enough to try and help her, but everyone at the Mansion knew that was a doomed mission if there ever was one. Remy actually found the quirk quite endearing – honestly, it made the redhead a whole hell of a lot more likable knowing that she wasn't so annoyingly flawless after all – but it certainly made living only 15 feet away from the music room unfortunate at times.
"Well, did ya try out back?" Logan offered.
"Kiddies are playin' Mutant Ball." He paused. "Or, Mutant Tag. Mutant Race. I don' know, one o' those games they made up, 'Mutant' somethin' or other."
Logan rolled his eyes. "All their games are 'Mutant' something or other." He thought for a beat as Remy flopped back, stretching out on the floor and laying an arm across his eyes wearily. "What about-"
"Bobby's playin' video games in da den," Remy cut in, "Scott an' Kurt are playin' pool in da game room, Hank's still reorganizing da library so dat place's a mess, Professor's on a call in 'is office, Piotr's workin' on da X-Van in da garage, Tabby and Jubes are doin' breakfast dishes in da kitchen..." He sighed. "Dis place is a friggin' madhouse on a Saturday."
Logan studied him for a second. "Nicotine cravings are that bad, huh?" It wasn't really a question.
He hesitated before answering. "Oui." He didn't really like admitting such a petty weakness to someone like Logan, but it wasn't like it wasn't terribly obvious already.
Logan nodded. "Alright. Get up."
Remy looked up at the feral mutant for a moment before deciding it was probably best that he did as he was told. He stood up as Logan called out to the control room.
"Computer, run program: Wolverine 7." The empty room around them was suddenly transformed into a vast, vacant field on a quiet Japanese mountaintop. The air was cool, the grass beneath their feet green and soft, and the only sound was the gentle rustling of a mild breeze.
"I thought y' came in here t' workout," Remy questioned as he looked around the now-familiar surroundings.
"I did," Logan answered, quietly moving to his usual spot. "But now I'm doin' something else. Starting position, let's go."
Remy walked around to stand behind him where he always did for Tai Chi, his feet parallel and knees slightly bent, his arms along his sides with the palms open and facing his body. He tried to relax, focusing on his breathing and attempting to 'feel the earth', as Logan had taught him. He wasn't exactly sure how one was supposed to 'feel the earth'... mostly he just thought about dirt and hoped that was good enough. Slowly, they moved through the first set of 12 movements in silence. They spent a few extra centering moments in the Grand Tai Chi before moving into the second set. As they pushed through to the Single Whip, Logan spoke up.
"I hear you and Rogue are headed down South for spring break."
Remy quirked an eyebrow. "Uh, yeah."
Well, that was strange. In the three months that they had been married, Logan had refrained from talking about both Rogue and Remy in the same sentence. It had become sort of an unspoken rule that the Wolverine would tolerate the union as long as he didn't have to actually acknowledge it. In any way. Seriously. Back in December he had interrupted a Saint's game to give Remy the typical 'you hurt her, cheat on her, take her for granted or get her pregnant and I'll be sending you back to the Bayou in pieces' speech, and that was the absolute last he'd spoken on the subject.
"When're ya leaving?"
"Week from today."
Logan nodded, moving with slow precision to the next position. A quiet settled back on the room for another minute as they continued their exercise.
"You gonna go see the old man while you're down there?"
It took a moment for Remy to respond. "Don't know." He paused. "Maybe."
He hadn't visited Jean-Luc's grave when they went down for Christmas. He just... wasn't ready yet. It felt like he had just been there, and he hadn't exactly left the place on good terms.
"Hmmm," Logan responded thoughtfully. "Ya oughta think about it."
He left it at that. That's what Remy liked about Logan. He wasn't like Xavier, he didn't push for information or meaning, didn't require anything from a conversation other than conversation. Didn't make you say it out loud when he knew what you meant without. And if he wanted to give you advice, he just gave it. He didn't make you ask for it when you weren't really sure you wanted it in the first place. Remy appreciated the Professor and respected the effort he'd put into him, but Logan was just easier. He got Logan.
They finished their second set and moved on to the third before Logan spoke again.
"How you doin' with all that, anyway?" he asked as they turned their bodies, shifting their weight onto one foot, lifting the other.
They raised their arms. "Your dad. His passing. All that."
Remy swallowed. "It's fine. 'm fine."
"Yeah." He paused. "Not that I don'... I think about him, y' know? Not all the time, jus'... But it's – I can handle it."
Logan hummed thoughtfully in response.
They concluded their last Grand Tai Chi in silence. The breeze around them picked up slightly, bringing with it the soft tinkling of a distant wind chime. Their exercise finished, Logan walked quietly over to the field's edge, where the mountaintop sloped down and one could see a quaint little Japanese village a great distance below them. Remy followed behind him, stopping next to him to look down upon the small town. Logan never talked about it directly, but he knew that the feral mutant had a meaningful connection to that place, to something or someone in it. After all, he had programed this specific mountaintop for his relaxation exercises, and often he would end their Tai Chi sessions by taking a few minutes to simply gaze down upon the small homes below. Logan was a man of few words, generally. He didn't talk about whatever it was that was down there, not exactly, but Remy could see it. He could see it in that look in his eyes, the look that suddenly made him appear just as old as he really was, even if just within the confines of those two dark orbs.
"It's like a living thing, grief." Logan's sudden declaration was soft, quiet. His voice was steady as he continued to gaze off into the distance. "It hits ya hard, at first. Like a tidal wave that crashes into you, pulls ya under and throws ya around for a while before you can finally pull yourself up for air. And then it slumbers." He paused. "It sleeps and it waits and it watches. The first strike, that's the one that people see, and when it's over, they think that they're safe, but they're not. It waits until your guard is down, and that's when it makes its move. It attacks, and it keeps on attacking. Sometimes it will pummel ya, knock ya to the ground, and sometimes it just moves in and gnaws on your leg a little. But it's there."
Remy swallowed, Logan's words and that far-off look in his eyes causing his throat to constrict. He continued.
"Ya can't run from it, Gumbo. Ya can't hide. Because it lives inside of you. It's a part of you now, it's a part of who ya are." He took a breath. "Ya have to nurture it. Tend to it, help it grow. Tame it. It's not going away, but it'll calm with time, grow tired and old like we all do, if ya let it. But ya can't ignore it. It won't let you. If ya try, it will keep on coming, hittin' ya and hittin' ya until ya finally accept that it belongs to you now."
Logan turned his head, looking at the young Cajun for the first time. "Do you understand what I'm sayin' to you?"
Remy nodded, blinking away the moisture in his eyes that he hadn't even realized was forming.
He knew what Logan meant, about the hits. Jean-Luc's death was hard at first, but he thought that he had gotten over it. In a week, he had convinced himself that he didn't even need to think about it. Jean-Luc was just a man, a man who took him in and called him his son. That was all. He had used him. Yes, they'd had good times too, but all that was in the past. He could move forward, or so he thought.
It came at him when he least expected it. He would be fine for days, and then suddenly the grief would hit him so hard he would forget how to breath. It came and went in waves, in patterns he couldn't quite predict. He'd just be going about his day and something would pass by that reminded him of his father – big things, like a stranger with his general build and coloring or mentions of his name, and small, like a whiff of his cologne or a tremor in the same baritone of his voice. And sometimes it didn't even need a trigger... it just came. There were times that he would wake up in the middle of the night, Rogue snoozing beside him, with an ache in the pit of his stomach and an overwhelming feeling of panic threatening to swallow him whole. It would just pummel him, that incredible sense that something was gone, something was taken, his world had been changed and it was wrong, wrong, wrong.
And sometimes he was fine.
Except, he wasn't. Not really.
Logan looked back to the view below them, taking in a deep breath and letting it out slowly through his nose. "Go see your dad, Gumbo," he stated, no question in his voice. "Go see him while your down there."
Remy looked down and swallowed. "Okay."
He didn't talk about Jean-Luc's death with Xavier. He didn't talk to Rogue about the grief.
When it came to his father, he only talked to Logan.
The older mutant turned, his back to the town. He looked at Remy. "How're the cravings?"
He opened his mouth to respond before stopping. He hadn't even noticed, but at some point the raging maelstrom of need had been soothed, dying down to just a low simmer of desire. It was manageable now. He looked up. "Bien. 's better now."
Logan nodded. "Good. Computer," he called out, "end simulation."
The Japanese landscape faded around them, leaving them back in the vast starkness of the empty Danger Room floor. Logan turned, grabbing his towel from where he had tossed it. Remy watched as he left the room without a word, the large mechanical door swooshing closed behind him.
After giving Logan a couple minutes head start to get away without having to acknowledge his atypical display of emotional wisdom, he left the Danger Room himself, heading up to the kitchen for a late breakfast. He'd pretty much missed the meal, since his earlier nicotine rampage had made Ray's amateur attempt at homemade oatmeal so irritatingly flavorless he'd been tempted to chuck his bowl at the little pinhead's brain. Yes, he'd been in quite the fool mood earlier.
Bobby was already in the kitchen by the time he got up there, munching on a plate of cookies leftover from the Cajun's baking blitzkrieg from earlier in the week. Remy gave a halfhearted two-finger salute in response to the ice-mutant's "'Sup", and made his way over to the fridge. As he pulled out the egg carton and placed it on the counter, Kitty and Rogue entered the room in a flurry of bags, boxes, and packages.
"What've you two belle femmes been up to?" Remy asked casually as he pulled a skillet out from the cabinet.
"Runnin' errands," Rogue responded, placing her bags on the kitchen table. "That, and avoidin' that dark cloud you've been sportin' since ya woke up. Ya done bein' an asshole yet?"
"Yes," he sighed dramatically. "An' y' know why I was actin' like dat. I'm doin' it f' you."
She sat down, putting on her most sweetly-sarcastic smile. "Thank you for quitin' smoking, darlin'. Please try harder not to be such a bitch while doin' it."
Kitty rolled her eyes as she placed a small white box on the table. "Wow," she deadpanned. "You two are so damn cute. Seriously, keep this up, it's totally not making Bobby and I uncomfortable at all."
"Huh?" Bobby looked up, his mouth full as crumbs tumbled down his chin.
The tiny brunette rolled her eyes again. "Go back to your cookie, numb-nuts." She turned back to Rogue, her eyes brightening. "Forks?"
Rogue's mood changed instantly, her face lifting. "I'll get 'em."
Remy glanced over this shoulder from his place at the stove top at Rogue as she crossed to the utensils drawers. "Forks f' what?"
She grinned, her eyes sparkling. "Cupcakes."
"Cupcakes? Really?" he asked incredulously.
Kitty rolled her eyes. "No, not just 'cupcakes'. These are cupcakes, from The Dirty Sheets Bakery down on Main. No kidding, they're like diabetic orgasms packed in cute little pink wrappers."
"Amen," Rogue nodded as she sat back down, opening up the small white box in front of them.
Remy rolled his eyes eyes as he plated his eggs. "I 'm seriously doubtin' any baked good is really gonna be as enjoyable as an orgasm."
"S'mores, Remy. In a cupcake!" Kitty held out her treat for him to see.
He scoffed. "I hate t' think what dis says about poor Petey's performance level in da bedroom."
"Oh. My. Word," Rogue moaned as she bit into her cupcake. "I've laid in bed dreamin' about this red velvet for days. Honestly, days."
"Gee, what's that say about you, huh?" Bobby teased.
Remy shot him a vicious glare. "Shut up."
Kitty giggled in a sugary high. "I know I said I was only going to eat half and save the rest for another day, but I'm totally downing this sucker."
Remy gazed upon the two girls with disbelief. "Y' know it's only 10:30 in da mornin'."
Rogue scoffed. "They're cupcakes, not alcohol."
"Yeah, and not a word out of you about it all going straight to our 'fat asses', thank you very much," Kitty shot back with a grin.
His jaw dropped indignantly. "You told her 'bout dat?"
Rogue ignored him as she continued devouring her treat. "How about we change the subject before my cupcake euphoria is ruined and I really start gettin' pissed?" she suggested darkly.
A quiet fell upon the room, all inhabitants knowing better than to invoke the wrath of that particular Southern Belle.
"Why do they call it an 'in your window'?" Bobby asked suddenly, all eyes turning to him.
"Quoi?" Remy questioned, leaning back against the counter with his plate in his hands.
"'In your window'." Bobby repeated, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
"Bobby," Remy replied, taking a bite of his eggs, "I have no idea what da hell y' talkin' 'bout."
"An 'in your window'," he began. "You know, like when you walk up to a super hot chick, give her a wink and a super smooth Beiber hair flick, and then say something wicked, like 'Hey girl, is there a mirror in your pocket? Because I can see myself in your pants, yo'. Why do they call that a 'sexual in your window'? Is it like a Peeping Tom reference or something?"
Remy stared at the younger mutant blankly for a moment, his fork frozen in his hands. He turned to the girls.
"Am I on camera?"
Kitty cleared her throat, putting her cupcake down. "First of all, Bobby, what you just did there? Ew. Secondly, that was more of a 'pick up line', and a bad one at that. Thirdly, it's called a sexual 'innuendo'."
"What'd I say?"
"'In your window'."
"Right," Bobby nodded. "In your window."
"No, not right. Innuendo," Kitty corrected.
"That's what I said."
"Yeah, it's so not."
"Holy hell," Rogue interrupted, "can we please change the subject, again, before my brain melts out my ears?"
"Ooh!" Kitty exclaimed suddenly. "Remy, you've got a big package."
"That's what she said," was the unified declaration.
"That's an 'in your window', am I right?" Bobby asked hopefully.
Kitty scrunched her brow in thought. "Meh, kind of a gray area."
"I thought we were changin' the subject." Rogue pointed out with a hint of danger.
"The mail, Rogue," Kitty explained.
"Oh, right." She turned, reaching to grab a large box from where she had placed it on the chair beside her. "Here, this came for ya, Swamp Rat. Looks like it was sent from the Guild."
He set his plate down and reached out to take it from her, glancing at her incredulously. "How in da world do y' forget about bringin' in a big ol' heavy package?"
"Cupcakes." She replied simply.
Remy scoffed as he turned his attention back to the box in his hand. He opened it, pulling out a large, leather bound reference-sized book, the bindings old and worn. A small note was attached to the book's cover.
"Is it from Henri?" Rogue asked as she took her last bite.
He shook his head. "Non. Note's from Marcel." He looked up. "He one o' da newer Thiefs. We got 'im doing office stuff 'round da headquarters most o' da time."
"So why'd he send ya the book?"
Remy shrugged. "Hell if I know. Marcel's an idiot. Henri probably asked 'im ta order a pizza or somethin' an' da dumbass got confused." He opened the front cover. "'s one o' da Guild History books. Be hell t' pay if dis gets lost." He stood up straighter, putting the book under his arm. "I'm gonna take dis upstairs an' put it someplace safe before anything happens t' it an we're forced t' feed Marcel t' da gators." As he crossed the room to the door, he glanced over his shoulder. "Enjoy y' cupcakes, Chere."
Walking down the hall, he heard Kitty behind him.
"That was a joke, about the gators... right?"
He took his time making his way up to their third floor apartment, all casual-like. When he finally got there, he shut the door behind him, quietly latching the lock. The truth was, he had asked Marcel to send the book to him, had him overnight it and everything. It just happened that Marcel was already the perfect cover should anyone ask what's up... he really was a dumbass.
He sat down at the small desk in the sitting room, placing the book in front of him. He carefully opened it, the leather creaking. He leafed through the pages slowly, the scent of stale paper and stuffy back rooms wafting up to him. The newer Guild books were created on computer, printed on expensive laser-jet printers and bound to last. The older books were precarious, type-writer made, the ink prone to smudging when met with the heat and oils found in human skin. He took a minute to skim through the pages, exploring the book's contents, but he didn't really need to. Remy knew this book, though he'd only encountered it one time before. After a moment, he built up the courage to turn to the page he was really looking for.
Page 376. Two thirds down the page. Le Diable Blanc.
His breath caught in his chest as he ghosted his fingers over the words. He read the section, the prophesy, but he didn't really need to, he'd already pretty much memorized it to heart. The memories came flooding back to him as if it had only been yesterday that he'd first discovered the book, the entry with his nickname. He had ripped the page out back then, bringing it with him to confront his father. Someone had carefully secured it back in place with invisible tape. He ran his finger down the length of it, his heart clenching at the thought that Jean-Luc had probably been the one who had made the repair.
He didn't want to be reading this. In all honesty, he never really wanted to see that book ever again. It hurt in a way that was so much easier just to avoid all together. But if he was going to find out where he came from, this was a place to start. There were clues here. He pushed that empty, hollow ache deep deep down until it fell below his feet and he brought his eyes back to the page's contents. Under the section in question there was a quickly scribbled, hand-written note. The Guild didn't keep a detailed reference system organizing and connecting the contents of their History books, but when it came up, record keepers would occasionally make footnotes regarding pertinent sections in other books. At the bottom of his section, there was one of these footnotes.
Antiquary. That was all it said. And it was written in Jean-Luc's handwriting.
Remy took a slow, deep breath, sitting back in his chair. He really wanted a cigarette. Maybe it was this whole trip to New Orleans, and the little covert fact-finding mission it entailed. Maybe it was that everything lately seemed to be reminding him of his recently deceased father. And maybe it was because he was lying to Rogue. He sighed. Keeping secrets was second nature to him, but it was risky business when you're married to a mutant with the ability to steal your memories. It was just another reason why being with Rogue was probably a bad idea. She was just wrong for him on so many levels, but he'd always had a habit of wanting what he really shouldn't have.
Like right now. He really, really wanted a cigarette. He closed his eyes, and tried to think about dirt.
Two breaths in. One breath out.
Two months ago my sweet 9 yo niece Rachel was tragically killed in 13-car pileup in Seattle. A week and a half ago my 20 yo cousin passed away. Me and grief? Yeah, we're pretty tight right now.