The bus station was mostly empty. Rain fell steadily on the roof. Thunder crashed violently and lightening streaked across the grey storm sky. Seated on one of the plastic chairs in the long row, was a young man in jeans and a flannel shirt. His hair was touseled from the fingers he occasionally ran through it. A white cane sat propped between his legs, his duffle next to him. His hand was wrapped around the strap.
"This seat taken?" asked the Southerner who approached him, two backpacks slung over one shoulder.
The man sat down and shifted the packs to his knees. They listened to the rain as they waited for the next bus. After almost ten minutes the second man spoke. "By the by, m' name's Remy. Remy LeBeau. Seems we be headin' in the same direction."
"Scott Summers," the blind man replied, a smirk creeping onto his face. "I was betting on Logan."
"He t'inks y' went t' the train station. I told him t' call Jubes."
"So they sent *you* after me?"
"Not 'sent' exactly. I'm runnin' away from home. Just figure it's gonna be more excitin' wherever you be headin'."
"And what are you running away from? Responsibility? Comitment?"
"Very pissed off team members?" Scott snorted. "Had a screamin' fight wit' Stormy. Rogue damn near knocked m' t'rough the wall. Logan done clawed m' f' insultin' Jeannie. Henri wants m' in de lab 'til the rest of m' burns heal up. And Bish says he won't be stoppin' dem if'n they attack. An' let's not even *start* wit' m' and Charles."
Scott's brows rose above his shades. "What did you do?"
"Charles wants a Summers clone. Ole Remy, he told him t' shove it up his bald ass. I'm blamin' painkillers."
Scott's jaw closed with an audible snap. "I don't know weather to be pissed off at Xavier or proud of you."
"Let's try de proud route f' once?" Remy's voice was soft. "Hope y' don' mind m' followin'."
"Not really. I just couldn't handle another pretentious 'it could be worse' speech. I threatened Hank with poisoning if I wasn't released. Is Bobby still in a coma?"
"Oui. It don' look good, but Henri ain't gonna give up on him."
"What are friends for?"
"Breakin' y'r heart. This is our bus. Y' okay wit' stairs?"
Scott snorted. "Just spot me."
Once they were settled, Scott spoke again. "Remy?"
"Why are you fighting with Ororo?"
"She wants m' t' be team leader. Told her that was her position. She tol'm' that I just didn' want t' grow up."
"And?" Scott prompted after a long pause.
"Last time Remy led somet'in' folks got hurt."
"I'm guessing you were a lot younger."
"Non, just a couple years."
"I wasn't thinking physically. How old are you now anyway?"
"Hmm. Twenty-two, near as I can reckon."
"Were you even legal when Logan took you out drinking?"
"non, but dat's never stopped m'."
Scott grinned. "How's your hand?"
'Healing. I get rid of the dead skin better'n Hank. Shouldn't scar too bad. M' face aussui. Ain't worn m' hair this short since I was a pup."
"Hank says you're the one that pulled me out. Thanks."
"Bien," Remy muttered. "Brought somethin' f' y'." The thief fished out a walkman and popped in a tape. He put it in Scott's lap. "It's Sun Tzu. T'ought mebbe y'd want somet'in' t' do."
"When I was laid up. I convinced Stormy t' let me have m' laptop. Got _The_Art_of_War, Rise_and_Fall_of_the_Third_Reich_, and _Truman_ and a couple f' m'self."
Scott didn't know what to say, so he changed the topic. "So what are you planning to do?"
"Follow y' around like y'r pup."
"Does that mean I need to get a leash?"
"And a collar? Maybe one of those rhinestone ones."
"A harness then?" Scott snickered. "I know, a little apron that says 'working do not disturb'."
"Careful, I'll steer y' into a lake."
Scott shook his head. "Why?"
"Why did you really follow me?"
Remy was quiet for a long moment. "Don' know f' sure. I t'ink I just want t' make sure y're okay before I let y' live y'r life."
"I've been in this situation before."
"Me aussi. So what? Dis is permanent, Scotty."
"So you do know my name."
"'Bout as well as y' know mine."
Scott winced. "Since I never talk to you, refuse to party with you, and hoped you'd leave Rogue alone and date Storm or Logan, why the Hell do you care enough to follow me?"
"Y' don' like Rogue?"
"Not for you." Scott sighed. "That woman has the nastiest temper of the group, and I'm including Logan on that list. And she's been under the professor's psychiatric care since she arrived and still has as many issues as when she started. She's *never* had a relationship that turned out well. At the very least, you have a wife. Besides, she treats you like shit and you crawl back for more. I think you've finished your penence, Remy. There's no reason for you to crawl to an ex-terrorist for punishment. I know you love her. Any idiot can see that. But it will never do you any good because she doesn't know how to love. I'm sick and tired of watching people get hurt. You're great partners, but as lovers, you suck."
"Not often," Remy muttered. "Well, y' be happy t' hear she broke it off. She don't t'ink love and leadership mix."
"Dear God, tell me she's not. . ."
"In charge of the team? Oui. An' that, mon ami, is the other reason Remy ain't takin' the job. Woman t'inks strength is the only way t' solve a problem. Ain't gonna take a bruisin' every time she decides sneaky and underhanded be unethical."
"It isn't unethical. Merely under used."
"Jean and I made it work."
"But Ro's y'r second."
"And the two of you would balance out."
"Non, homme, I ain't leader material."
"Only because you refuse to believe it."
"I don' compromise well. Le professeur an' I had a long discussion. I figue better t' leave b'fore it turns out Bishop's right."
"Don't talk like that. You would never willingly hurt the team."
"But unwillingly? Jus' by fuckin' up? Oui, that's possible."
Scott's hand settled on Gambit's arm. He squeezed gently. "You aren't a fuck up. I don't know who or what convinced you of that, but you aren't. Irresponsible. Yes."
Remy laughed. "T'ought it was too good t' be true. Mind if I sleep on y're shoulder?"
"Merci. This is play, stop, rewind, fast forward. Claims it's all on the one CD. We see, non?"
"Yeah. Thanks, Remy. Get some sleep."
Remy nodded and took one half of the pain pill Hank had prescribed. Almost immediately, the interior of the bus blurred. He closed his eyes and settled his head on Scott's shoulder. He was asleep a breath later.
Scott wasn't listening to anything, but the headphones would keep people from bothering him. The headaches were worse than ever. Hank thought it was because the beams were impaired by the damage. Scott fingered the bandages that his behind his shades - ruby quartz still. Even if his blasts were still functional, Hank said he'd be blind for the rest of his life. That meant he couldn't aim. Hell, he'd never get to see the Cajun with short hair, or Beast go grey, or Jubilee in a wedding dress. He didn't even notice when the tears dripped from his eyes, soaking the cotton.
The bus driver looked back at the brothers. They were asleep now. It must have been one hell of an accident.
"Tell me why y' chose San Fransisco again, homme."
"Because it's the last place anyone is going to look for me. Hopefully, the four transfers and two lay-overs will throw people off track. First, we need someplace to stay. Then, I need to find a job."
"Y' could just live off of me for awhile. Just pretend it comes from le professeur."
Scott noted that Remy's accent had lightened along the way. He was beginning to sound like everyone else. Scott thought that was a shame.
"For a little while, I guess. On the condition that you don't lose the accent all together."
"How's your hand?"
"Healin'. Take m' arm. We'll find a cab."
From the corner in the shadows, mouth open in shock, Mystique watched them leave. "Very interesting," she murmured.
Remy located a ground floor apartment within the week. "Now we just got t' decorate. Y' come wit' Remy? Please?"
"I don't like shopping."
"Sil vous plait, Scotty?"
Scott gritted his teeth as the image popped up of Gambit in a pout. Damn it. It wasn't fair. Being blind should save him from having to fight puppy-dog eyes. Something tickled his mental shields. Something that didn't feel like Jean or Xavier. "Cut it out, Gumbo. Whatever it is you're doing."
"Merde. Never figured y'd feel it."
That gave Scott pause. "My wife's a telepath, Gambit."
"Oui. That's why Remy figured it was safe."
"What were you doing?"
"Tryin' t' charm y'."
Scott cocked his head to the side.
"Mais, Tante calls it devil's tongue. Bella, well, that's different." Remy sighed. "Been told it's like telepathy, but f' emotions."
"It's called 'empathy'. You can read and project emotions. Oh, shit. That's how you found me."
"O-oui." Remy scuffed at the pristine hardwood floors. "Y' called out."
"Jean didn't hear me."
"Jeannie had troubles."
"Our link's been shut off since Israel."
"Dat don' mean not'in'," Remy said vehemently. "Dat girl loves y'."
Remy stopped mid-thought. "But y' love her back. Remy's seen it."
"She loves Logan too. I *know* that. I've been in her mind and she's been in mine. I love her, but I don't know if I can hold onto her anymore."
"Y' know what, Scotty? First, we get some stuff. Then, we get some beer. Then, we talk about dis. Y' need de sun."
"It makes my head ache."
Remy put his hand on Scott's wrist. He winced when Scott flinched away. "Je suis desole, cher. F'got."
"It's alright." Scott sighed. "Let's go shopping. It's getting close in here."
"Here. Have y' keys. Y' get t' lock-up."
"Y' ain't an idiot, or a chile. Use de keys in de door when we leave."
Scott smiled. "So my coddling period is done, huh?"
Gambit laughed. "Never meant t' coddle, Cyke. Just weren't sure what y' could do. We get back t' trainin' too?"
"I'd like that. I can feel my muscles atrophying as we speak."
"And how can I help you today?" the salesman said with a smile. His nametag read "Chris."
"We just got a new place and we're looking for things to fill it," Scott said. He tugged on Remy's sleeve. He knew, just knew, that something had caught the thief's quicksilver attention.
"Is there any particular period or style you're. . ."
"LeBeau!" a booming voice cut Chris off. The salesman frowned as his spiel was interrupted.
"Merde," Remy muttered. He plastered a smile on his face. "Carlton, it's been so long. They finally let y' out on parole?"
The owner of the voice faltered in his advance. He fixed his smile more firmly in place. "I beat that charge. False allegations." Chris' brows rose.
"False like a Bible y' mean. Y' raped her y' bastard. Just 'cause y' got a good lawyer don' mean y're clean."
"Watch your mouth or I'll have you up on slander charges."
"Don' t'reaten me," Remy snapped. "And just keep y're pants zipped around m' friends and we get along just fine."
Scott had never heard Remy express so much venom.
"This your new toy?" the man sneered.
Scott tsked softly. "Bad move," he muttered.
"He ain't worth killin', Slim."
"No, but he could use a lesson or two in manners and tact. We have things to shop for remember? Beds, mattresses, home security?"
"Oui," Remy snickered. "Beds and all the trimmin's. Chris here'll help us, non?"
"Of course. If you'll follow me." Chris was surprised when the elder put his arm though the younger's. Then again, it could have been just something to throw in the asshole's face. The man was glaring at the redhead's back. The Southerner ignored him.
"Somethin' sort of simple, oui, Scotty?"
"Maybe a slatted headboard. Squared like that at least."
"Okay, we have a couple of options."
Scott fell back across the hotel bed. "You're worse than Jean. And do you have to flirt with every salesperson we meet?"
"How else is Remy supposed t' get a deal? 'Specially on antiques. Beer? Pizza?"
"Why'd y' want t' eat Ange?"
"That's sick. He's not my type."
"Y' don' like rich playboys?" Remy asked dialing.
"I don't like arrogant bastards that frown at the fact that I don't have a penny to my name except for the trust fund Charles set up when I was a teen."
"Po' cher. Yes, pepperoni, mushroom and onion. Pan. And an order of wings. An order of breadsticks. For delivery. Shearton Room 2750. Thanks."
"It freaks me out when you sound like me."
"It's and artform. Speakin' of which, y' mind if I draw y/"
"Oui. I was t'inkin' of goin' into art. Need t' get m' hand workin' right."
"Sure." Scott was quiet for a moment. "I never considered that you'd go legit."
Remy looked at him sharply. He forced back his immediate protest. "Mais, Scotty. Remy won' be givin' up t'ievin'. He can't."
"Gambit, do me one big favor?"
"Drop the third person shit."
"Je suis, Scotty."
"Don't lie to me."
"I'm t'inkin' I should write Stormy."
"Non." Remy settled next to Scott. "Only missin' Stormy. Nice not t' have t' save the world every few days. T'inkin' I was off base when I was fightin' wit' her. Don' want t' have her mad at me."
Scott put a hand out and touched Remy's leg. "I don't think she's mad."
"I can't lose her."
"Remy, trust me on this, Storm is a stubborn woman. You won't lose her over a fight. Hell, you could probably work for Sinister and she'd follow. You're her family, Gambit, more than any of us."
"What if I did?"
"Worked f' Sinister? Or Magneto? Or Mystique? Merde. De Hellfire Club? What den?"
"Then we deal with it. Gambit, what makes you think you're going to lose her."
"Tol' her de thrut'."
Scott cocked his head to the side. "Tell me," he ordered.
"Remy, this is the single best time to tell me. I *can't* run away. I'm tapped out."
"Y're a freak, homme."
"What did Sinister off you?" Remy jerked back like he'd been stung. The pizza arrived giving him a momentary reprieve. Scott repeated the question.
"A way t' control m' powers."
"In exchange for what?"
"Hirin' the Marauders. Stealin' info. Blueprints. Monitorin' de medical journals. Hidin' his investments."
Scott took his time eating a slice of pizza. "To be me essentially, plus the stealing."
"Non, ain't a Summers." Scott heard the bitterness in the statement.
"What do you mean?"
"Summers is the best hope for the next generation. His bloodlines are the strongest and so on and so forth until de name Summers made m' want t' scream. Den I met y' and Hell de brainwashin' was too strong t' ignore."
"Which is why you're here with me and not in New York."
"Some of it, oui. I like y'. Don't want t' be 'round Xavier wit'out y'."
"Cuz he dinks I'm a Summers."
"And you aren't. I'm not as stubbornly self-sabotaging. Of course, my girl doesn't throw me into walls and engage me in violent hand to hand combat when we have a fight."
"Told y', homme. She ended it. F' real this time."
"As soon as you're gone, she'll want you back you know."
"Then maybe it's time she crawls t' me. Why'd y' leave Jeannie behind?"
"Because there's something wrong and as long as we're together, we won't know what it is."
"Mebbe y' just been t'inkin' so long that y' stopped talkin'."
Scott blinked. "What do you mean?" he asked reaching for another slice.
"Y' been a set f years, Scotty. Before the whole future life even. Y' have a link that let's y' wander around in each other's mind. Y' don' have t' talk t' one another no more and there's the problem. Y' bot' assume that the other already knows and mebbe that ain't true."
"So what broke between you and Rogue?"
"She wants all of m' past wit'out givin' anyt'in' back. She wants t' hold all the power, all the knowledge. I know her mama better'n I know her. She ain't never even told me her name. She don’ trust m' t' keep business and personal separate. An' she don' understand that I ain't what she wants m' t' be."
"Remy, how do you know?"
"Because she hates m' shadows. She told m' that after Israel. There ain't enough light t' make the dark disappear."
Scott held his hand out, palm up. "Give me your hand." Remy complied. "Now, if empathy works anything like telepathy, this should allow you a firmer contact. Listen carefully. I trust you, Gambit. You're a competent thief, a good sparring partner, a good man to have at your back in a fight. I trust you not to screw me over or turn on me. I trust you to tell me the truth when I need it. I trust you to protect me when I’m hurt. I trust you not to steal my girl, no matter how much you flirt. And I need you to trust me."
"Wouldn't be here if I didn'." Remy gripped Scott's hand.
A few weeks later Gambit looked up form the want ads. "Scotty?"
"What about teachin'?"
"I don't have a college degree."
"That ain't a problem."
"What would I teach anyway? Math?"
"How 'bout military history?"
Scott considered. "I could do that. You'd have to grade papers."
"Make them turn them in on tape."
"When they write the papers, they have to turn them in on tape."
"But I still don’t' have a degree, Remy."
"Y' will, homme. Y' interested?"
"Anything is better than sitting around bored.'
"Y' don't like bein' kept? I'm hurt."
"I still don't see how you arranged this," Scott stated.
"Negotiated wit' the University for lifetime credits. Got a copy of y're transcripts from Xavier's via Kitty and an anonymous server. Made y' take those evil CLEP tests. All y' need t' do is write up a thesis."
"You frighten me."
Scott smacked the back of the Cajun's head.
"Hey, my aim's improving too."
"Y' up f' a spar then?"
"Professor Scott!" Randy called out. The older man stopped and turned towards the voice. Randy jogged over to him. "Can I talk to you?"
"Sure. Walk with me."
"It's very simple, Randy. Alternate feet in the same direction I'm heading." Scott grinned.
"Okay." They continued towards Scott's office. "Professor?"
"Yes?" Scott was still having trouble answering to that title.
"I was just wondering about the readings for this week. I mean Malcom X? I thought this was about tactics."
"And what makes you think that tactics didn't play a part in his actions? Outright wars aren't the only place where military tactics occur. That's what the selections are about." Scott stopped. He cocked his head to the side. "Down, now!" he commanded, shoving Randy out of the way of the bullets. The metal chipped into the building.
"What the fuck?" Randy gasped.
"Someone's trying to kill me. God damn it. And not doing a very good job. Get to cover and stay there. Wait. What color is your hair?"
"Sort of red-brown."
"Long or short."
"Okay. Just stay close then."
"Ever seen my ride?" Scott asked maneuvering them closer tot he building.
"Yes. Remy right?"
"Yeah. What color's his hair?"
"Same as. . . oh."
"He used to wear it half-way down his back."
"Hey, cher, talkin' 'bout m' behind m' back?"
"Gumbo, this is Randy. Get him out of the way. Is it?"
"Looks t' be the FOH."
"You're shittin' me."
"Language," Remy chided.
"Merde." Gambit grinned. "Why the fuck would they be after. . . Randy?"
"What's your power?"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Liar," Remy stated. "Looks sort of like Chatton."
"Yours or mine?"
"Mine. Fangs. Retractable claws. Great hair."
"You like Creed's hair?" Scott asked as they found their way towards the office.
"Y' know that man don' got t' wash it but once a week? An' he don't need conditioner or not'in'."
"TMI. Inside. Rem . . ."
"On it. We got t'ree comin'. All armed. One's campus security."
"I'm fucked," Randy sighed.
"Mebbe, if y're good." Remy winked.
"He's too young for you. Don't worry. Three against three. Sort of uneven odds wouldn't you say, Gumbo?"
"That mean I can take 'em all?"
"Just don't kill them or do any property damage."
"Y're no fun." Remy extended his bo settled his balance. Randy's jaw dropped. The thief bounded off.
"We're just going to sit here?" Scott's hand closed like iron over Randy's arm.
"Just watch. Three FOH bastards are nothing. Rule number one, know the enemy. If you know his weaknesses you can win."
Randy watched the Cajun saunter out to meet the three men. He pinned the security guard as the ring leader. "Want t' play, mes braves?" Within a minute they were on the ground. Remy retracted his bo and sauntered back.
"Rems, what's the second Summers' rule of combat?" Scott asked as they thief rejoined them.
"Know the individual strengths and weaknesses of y'r team. Remy LeBeau, pleased t' meet y', petite."
"That's where we were heading. Randy needs to talk to me."
"Combat Basics 102 right?"
Remy nodded. "I'll be a good lil chien an' stay by the door in case they try t' get in."
"Yeah?" Scott asked, shutting off the tape and pulling the headphones off.
"Y' up f' dinner out?"
"I suppose. Where are you taking me?"
Remy rolled his eyes. "There's a place downtown that swears up an' down it's Cajun."
"Let's go. I can't believe some of the shit people turn in. I mean, honestly, where did they get the idea that a full out frontal attack was the best?"
"Half pincer movement."
"Didn' y' never watch A-team?"
Scott shook his head. "I was actually leading a team at the time. Fearless Leader is bad enough."
"Mebbe we change it t' imperious leader?"
"Don't make me hurt you, Gumbo."
Dinner was better than Scott had expected. It was even better than Remy had expected. "T'ink we might have a winner here, cher. Now, if they'll just deliver, life'll be perfect."
"I'm sure that if you pay them enough they'll deliver. Speaking of paying. . ."
"About the rent."
"Told y' don' t'ink about it."
"Remy, I. . ."
"Make shit all, but y' workin' and y' ain't drivin' me crazy. Y' make up f' it in groceries. Don' worry."
"I always worry. Have you found a gallery yet?"
"I ain't sure. There's a couple places that been interested in m' stuff. But they be the out there ones. Y' know what I mean. They don' exactly carry y' everyday type of t'ing."
"Yeah. And they don't get much traffic."
"Most of the galleries are worried about security I t'ink."
"Oui. I been usin' mutants as subjects, non?"
"That could make life interesting. I meant to ask, how are the scars?"
"Fadin'." Remy toyed with his food for a moment. "Y' okay with this, Scotty? I mean, I could leave if'n y' want m' to?"
"No." Scott shook his head. "I spent too much time on my own, Remy. I'm not planning on spending any more of it that way. I don't want *them* involved in my life anymore. They'll drive me insane, but I don't want to have to start all over. You know what I mean? It's comfortable."
"Yeah, cher. I do." Scott could hear the smile. "Bobby ain't come out of the coma yet."
"Shit." Scott took a ragged breath. "I should email Hank. He can't be taking this well."
"Stormy's been seein' him a bit. Makin' sure he gets out of the house. Moira's offerin' t' take Bobby t' Scotland."
"That might be the best thing for Hank's sake if nothing else. I know how McCoy handles frustration."
"By knockin' down the chandelier and eatin' too much junk food?"
"Obsession. He needs to make it right, Remy. He'll burn himself out. How's Rogue?"
"Don' know. I ain't asked and Jubilee ain't tellin'. She's lookin' f' colleges. I'm the only one she trusts f' advice."
"That frightens me."
"I'm the only one who didn't get in because Xavier or Frost sent them. She knows I been through the weedin' process. She's feelin' controlled. Logan's been tellin' her t' do what she wants and damn the costs. She was thinkin' of goin' into accounting through the local college. I asked her why she ain't doin' fashion. She ain't been able t' give me a reason yet. I seen that girl's work. She's good. Even if she do dress like a retro freak."
"I happen to like retro freak on her. At least she's not a carbon copy idiot like some of the new ones. She even has her own taste in music."
"Alternative." Remy shook his head. "Y' a bad influence on this po' boy. Y' got him listenin' t' all sorts of t'ings that'd get him a walloppin' from his tante."
"I could do it in her stead," Scott said with a sweet smile.
"Y' evil, cher. I'm tellin' y'. Evil. What say we blow dis place an' find a nice lil blues club?"
"I suppose." Scott sighed with mock-resistance.
"I'm poutin' at y', cher, just so y' know."
"Oh, don't even."
"Oui, wanna make me?"
"Not really. I'm feeling a little too mellow to properly irritate you."
"Come on, Wolvie, I want to see this place. San Fran isn't bad and ya know I miss Cal."
"I know, kiddo. I know. Fine. I'll come with ya. Can't believe I'm doin' this."
"Your own fault fer pickin' up kids, ya know," she winked at him.
"You can't be serious, Remy. Me? A model? No way."
"Come on, cher, y're perfect. Let me use y'."
Scott snorted. "Fine. Whatever you want. There's a freshman tour coming in today. Try not to be too outrageous."
"No jumpin' off the roof of the buildin'?"
"Exactly. There's someone who wants to meet with me about the history program. They want to specialize in military."
"Oui? That's good."
"Maybe. It's a girl. That's all I know about her." Scott shrugged. He reached out and caught Remy's ponytail. He tugged it. "Heal."
"Fuck y', cher."
"Not tonight, I've got a headache."
"Y' always got a headache. 'Nough t' make a boy feel unwanted."
"Ah, but you're paying my keep so I can't throw you out."
Scott's classes were used to the banter. There was a running bet as to whether or not they were actually a couple. "Y' mind if I sit in? The War of Northern Aggression t'day, oui?"
"The Civil War, yes."
"Like I said. Y' need m' perspective obviously. Y'all invaded m' town f' more'n fifteen years after the war."
"I’m an Indian."
"At least an eighth, if not a full quarter. On my dad's side. Don't give me any shit about not understanding."
"Y' ain't from the South, cher. That's all that matters. Hell, y'r state didn' even exist yet." Scott swiped at the Cajun who ducked. Scott settled in his usual position on the desk with his cane next to him so he could use it as a pointer. Or a weapon if worst came to worst.
His class settled down. "Okay, today is the American Civil War. And don't say it, Remy. Opposition viewpoints come later."
"Don't call me Scotty." Scott started his lecture and the class scribbled furiously. Scott Summers didn't provide overheads unless he needed a map. He gave his students a full set of notes in the beginning of the class, but the real meat of it wasn't written anywhere. Not even the textbooks at times.
"Remy, next time I say you can sit in for a class? I'm lying."
"Come on, cher, y' loved it."
"I'm going to make you a guest lecturer soon."
"Y' wouldn't dare."
"The university already considers us a two for one deal. You do all the work that they'd have to pay a grad student for."
"What about Randy? He be a good kid."
"Yeah, but he's still a kid. The self-defense classes are going well?"
"Very well. He's takin' to it like a gator to flesh."
"Oh, that's disgusting."
"One of Belle's. T'ink she made it up."
"I'm sure she did. Okay. Time for this meeting. Do I look presentable?"
"T'ink y'll do. Bonjour, petite."
Jubilee looked up in shock. "Remy! Scott!" She tackled Scott in a bear hug then threw herself at the Cajun. "Where the fuck have you been, Gumbo?"
"Right here wit', Scotty. Hey, Logan," Remy said more softly when she released him to go back to Scott. He tipped his head to the side self-consciously to minimize the impact of the scaring. Logan reached out and tipped the face upright studying it.
"Lookin' better. Not great, but better. San Fran must work fer ya."
"Yeah. I leave y'all t' talk 'bout t'ings. Gotta go meet up wit' Louise."
"Bullshit, Cajun. Get into the office. If I've gotta deal, so do you."
"Takes one," Scott snapped back. Jubilee's jaw dropped.
"Sun's been good to you," she stated with a whistle. "Now, about the history department."
"Step into my parlor, little fly."
"Great Scott," Remy muttered into Jubilee's ear. She cracked up as Randy jogged over to them.
"Professor, I've got a question on that book you suggested."
"The Art of War was not a suggestion, it's a required text."
"No, the other one."
"The Bourne Papers."
"No, that wasn't it either."
"He's talkin' on Gone with the Wind, I t'ink."
"There's a book?"
"Oui, cher. An' there's a second one written from the slave perspective too. Remy'll find it f' y'."
Scott smacked the back of the Cajun's head.
"I know! I know! No, third person. Y' gettin' so bossy."
"He's always been bossy, kid," Logan snorted.
Jubilee took Remy's arm. "Aren't you gonna introduce me?"
"Not unless you're planning to stay," Scott informed her. "I'll give the class a full suggested reading list, okay?"
"Yeah, that'll be cool. Hey, Remy, what time's the next class?"
"Right. See you then."
Scott nodded and Remy waved as Randy moved off. "We were headin' fer food?" Logan stated.
"Yes. Remy, that little place is walking distance right?"
"Oui. I'll lead."
"So how ya like San Fransico, Cyke?"
Scott shrugged. "Until the two of you showed up is was the perfect place to start over."
"Why'd ya run away, Slim?"
"Fuck off, Logan," Scott said cheerfully. "We got students coming?"
"Yeah, three on the left. No one I recognize."
Scott caught hold of Remy's ponytail. "Heel."
"Let them pass." Remy rolled his eyes. Logan's brows shot up.
"Ya let him get away with that?"
"Why not?" Remy asked in surprise.
Logan blinked. "He's orderin' ya around. You never listen to orders, Gumbo."
"Logan, y' don't know shit about me."
"Then maybe it's time I start learnin'. About both of ya."
"So, you two come here often?" Logan grinned as they settled into a booth. Remy waved cheerfully at the cook.
"Oui. Y' eat what she brings y' and be happy 'bout it."
"Damn. It's like eating at the mansion."
"Non. She's a better cook than Jean." Logan growled low in his throat and reached across the table to force the Cajun's head straight. "Fuck off, Logan."
"I hate the pity, Logan. I don't need it. So I minimize it."
Jubilee stared. "Where's yer accent?"
"It's there when I need it."
Scott stroked Remy's ponytail in absent comfort. "How is Bobby?"
"In Scotland. Moira's not hopeful."
"Damn. So he's going to be in a coma until he dies?"
"Or he'll wake up tomorrow. We don't know."
"Too bad. He's a good kid. Stupid, but a good kid."
Remy rolled his eyes. "Y' emailed Henri, oui?"
"Good. Told y' y'd get the hang of the machine."
"Ha, ha. I touch typed it. He'll have to decipher it. Don't sigh at me like that."
Remy sniffed theatrically and Scott smacked him across the shoulder. The waiter brought four orders of the special of the day. "Merci, Benny."
"Your welcome, Remy. Oh, sis wants to know if your still looking for models?"
"Yep. Tell her to give me a call. The openin' is in a week. On Friday. Did she get the invite?"
"Yeah. I'm coming to. To protect her honor."
"Right. As if she has honor. That girl cheats at poker."
"Warned you not to play strip poker with her." Benny winked. "You need anything you call."
"Is his sister the one that cursed you out last Friday?" Scott asked.
"Non, that was JoAnne. She's Bethany's sister from 307. I wouldn't let her get a copy of the test."
"Good guide dog."
"I'm hirin' Randy next semester. See if I don'."
Scott pouted. "You don't love me anymore. I guess I have to find my own place now."
"Don't even t'ink 'bout dat. I'd just have t' crash on y'r couch. Y'd never get any work done." Logan's nose twitched as he picked up on the faintest whiff of fear. Seemed that some things never changed. The Cajun was still thinking that he'd get thrown away. Scott's hand settled on the Cajun's thigh as Remy carefully arranged Scott's place for him. He made sure the glass was at 1 o'clock and on around the plate. "Curry chicken. Chicken's on the bottom left third."
Jubilee stared. "You two make a cute couple."
"Gag," Remy stated.
Scott grinned. "Welcome to sunny San Fran. You can spend the rest of the next four years wondering if the Cajun's actually tumbled me. And maybe remember that both of us are actually married."
"The Cajun's married?"
"Yep. Didn't you ever hear about Belladonna?"
"The blonde? I didn't know you were married to her. I just thought she was a friend from home."
"You met her?"
"The two of them took me shopping."
"Belle likes to meet the femmes in my life. All of them." Scott's brows rose.
"Is that why she came to the mansion?"
"She wanted t' meet Roguie." Remy shrugged and dug into his meal.
"The mansion's nothing like it used to be. Things are really strange with Stormy and Rogue in charge." Jubilee shook her head. "And Hankster's all depressed. I don't know what to do about it."
"It's not for you to do anything but remind him that you still love him. And remind him that he's not God."
"Non, he's kinder," Remy muttered.
"What have you two been gettin' up to?" Logan asked.
"Scotty's bein' a professor. Remy's gettin' back int' art. And gradin' papers." Remy shrugged.
"What did I warn you about that?" Scott snapped. Remy winced.
"De sole, cher. Anyway, Scotty's got hisself a degree and *I* have an openin' at an art gallery. Photography mostly. Some paintin'. M' hand ain't up t' fine details yet."
Scott frowned. "You didn't tell me you were having trouble with your hands."
"It's bein, Scotty. I'm gettin' it all back. It's just gonna take longer'n a year. That ain't surprisin'."
"I didn't know there was anything wrong with your hands."
Remy's eyes dropped and he poked at his veggies. "Burnt 'em." He shrugged. "Ain't a big deal."
"Yes, it is a big deal, but we'll talk about it at home. Is the place presentable enough for guests?"
"It's clean enough f' a drill sargent t' visit," Remy drawled. "Y're rubbin' off on me."
Logan's jaw dropped. Remy winked at him. "You're gettin' us confused again, Scotty."
Scott snorted. "Brat."
"Don' y' like me?"
"That's just freaky," Jubilee stated, looking between them. "Shit, what did you do to the man?"
"Not'in'. That's pure Scotty, petite."
"As soon as we finish eatin', we're goin' to yer place and talk fer a bit."
"Yes, sir, Mr. Runt, sir," Scott sneered. "Christ. I go away for a year and a half and suddenly he thinks he can order me around."
"T'ought you liked that sort of t'ing," Remy said idly. Scott snorted.
"Not my scene."
"Too bad. Plenty of boys t' fix you up with 'round here. Ah well."
"Damn, Cajun, ya keep a clean place."
"Talk t' the drill sargeant."
"Hey, you're the one who refused to get a harness."
"I weren't gonna let y' get me up in the middle of the night 'cuz y' wanted t' pee. That's why y' got a cane."
"Which is useless against piles of clothing."
"Dat was *one* night and y' never let dis po' boy f'get it!"
"And one of these days I'll use my cane the way I said I would."
"Not if you'll enjoy it."
"Asshole." Scott waved to the side. "Kitchen's in there. Jubilee, get us something wet and cold and alcoholic. It's going to be a long night. Do we have any appointments tonight?"
"Non, cher. Not'in' f' t'night. 'Course y' didn't tell m' 'bout havin' a visitor after class t'day neither."
"I told you. You've just been caught up in opening type t'ings."
"Y' gone and picked up my accent finally? Good. About time. Now I can mock you."
"You do that anyway."
"True. But it'll be mo' fun this way."
"Both of you shut up!" Jubilee snapped. "What the fuck happened? Why did you leave the fucking mansion? Why does nobody ever tell me anything?" She stood there four bottles of beer in her hand.
"Hand over the beer and I'll make the Cajun tell you a story." She gave one to Scott and then passed out the other two, keeping one for herself. "Just make sure you don't drink enough to fall asleep before the end."
"I can hold my liquor unlike some people."
"I resemble that remark. Rems, you have any of those little pills around?" Remy dug into the pocket of his jeans for the pillbox he kept filled with Excedrin. He handed one over. "Only one?"
"If y're drinkin' y' only get one. Y' know how quick y' go through them."
Scott took the pill with a mouthful of beer. "Now, tell the girl what happened."
"Non. Y' get the tellin' duty."
"Cyclops," Remy imitated Scott's tone perfectly.
"Fine. We were on a mission. The professor had picked up a disturbance in the force. It was, let's just say it was a mistake to go in the way we did. We scared the shit out of a group of mutant teenagers who couldn't control their powers." Jubilee winced at that. "And all Hell broke loose. Phoenix tried to calm them down, but it didn't work that easily. Then, things started exploding. There were some bottles of kerosene or something there for their lights and they went up. The whole place was on fire. The skylight exploded and half of the roof came with it. My visor, of all things, broke. The thief pulled me out. And he'll have to tell you the rest because I got one fucker of a concussion. I don't remember much about it except threatening to pluck Hank clean. And that Bobby was caught by a roofing beam and hasn't woken up since."
"So?" Jubilee prompted the Cajun.
"Bobby was in a bad way. Blood was everywhere. The chilen had finally responded to Jeannie, but she had her hands full wit' him. I heard Scotty and went t' pull him out. 'Nough said."
"What happened, Cajun?" Jubilee snarled. "Don't make me force Wolvie to hurt ya, bub."
Remy rolled his eyes. "I got burnt pullin' him out. Got caught in a flame-over sort of t'ing. M' face and hands. Didn't even notice it 'til Stormy got freaked."
"Which don't tell us why y'all left without a word," Logan snapped.
Scott flicked the Canadian off. "I told Charles I was leaving. He didn't believe me. I told Jean I was leaving. She didn't believe me. This one found me at the bus stop and came with me."
"Gumbo? Heard ya had a fight or two before ya left."
"Told Charles I weren't a Summers. Wanted me t' work wit' Roguie f' leadin'. Rogue an' me broke up. Stormy and me had a fight about whether I was duckin' my responsibilities."
"Non. Scott's m' responsibility."
"Why?" Logan pressed.
"Leave him alone," Scott ordered.
"No. I want to know why the fuck the boy walked out on me."
Everyone in the room froze for a moment. "I didn't walk out on you, Logan. You ain't never been interested in me. You're thinkin' like Charles. I ain't y'r boy. He's over there." Remy went to the kitchen to get another round of beer. Logan stalked after the Cajun. He grabbed his arm and turned him. The thief looked at him evenly. There was no coy cock to his head, no smirk on his lips. "I ain't never been anythin' but a substitute t' y'," he said in a low voice. "Y' t'ink I don' notice t'ings? Y' t'ink I'm some back-alley whore that don' notice when y' scream someone else's name? We bot' know who y' really want, so let me go." Scott frowned in their direction. Remy's voice was barely below his range. He caught a few words, but he knew the tone of voice. Remy was rarely poisonous to friends. "Y' angry at m' f' not bein' Scott or f' callin' y' on it? Y' wanna hit m'. So why don't y' just do it?"
"Ya know I ain't gonna hurt ya Cajun." Logan's grip eased, but there was a growl still underlying his voice. Remy pulled away gently.
"We ain't finishin' this conversation. It was not'in' but sex. Y' know that. Now, get over t' that couch, pup-pup." Logan looked at the thief for a long time.
"Yer wrong," was all he said.
"And y' been in love, deep, painful, bone-deep love wit' Cyke f' as long as I known y'. I know the difference, Logan. Always have. Maybe y' should look at y'r heart a little closer." Remy pushed gently and Logan went back to the couch. Scott cocked his head in Remy's direction.
"Better have one for me."
"'Course, cher." Remy handed over the bottle. Jubilee rolled her eyes.
"You two are so sweet together. Now, I want some straight answers not this pussyfoot shit you've been feeding me."
"I should wash your mouth out with soap."
Jubilee snorted. "Just tell me the full truth."
"You can't handle the truth," Scott deadpanned. She threw her bottlecap at him and he dodged it. She stared.
"They told me you were blind."
"I am. I've just got a good sparring partner. Let's see. I left because I just couldn't take it. Everyone was walking around me on eggshells. I had to threaten Hank to get out of the med-lab. And I got sick of the whispered conversations. It's not my fault that no one listened to me when I told them I was leaving. What good was I doing there? None."
"What about Jeannie. You know, your wife?"
Scott gave Jubilee a sad smile. "We were waiting on the divorce papers. After the explosion she decided that she wasn't going to divorce me. She couldn't leave me to face the world alone, were her exact words I think." The mall-rat winced.
"Man that's harsh."
"So, I made the decision go away." Scott shrugged. "That also meant I didn't have to listen to Charles babbling on about how I had train a replacement. I gave him a list of people who'd make good team leaders. He was surprised that I'd thought of it." Scott scowled. "He forgot that I wasn't seventeen."
"Charles f'gets that a lot," Remy commented. He savored his beer. "Shit," he said suddenly and lunged for the phone. He dialed quickly. "Missy, hey, chere. Oui. Y' got those forms f' me? Mind leavin' them in Scotty's mailbox? I'll pick 'em up later t'day. Got caught up wit' some business from home. Merci, ma petite. Slave driver. Oui, I'll make sure they get filled out. Merci, Missy." Remy hung up. "Je suis desole."
"The class req forms?"
"Better you than me."
Remy rolled his eyes. "I'm teachin' y' t' use that machine. See if I don't. I got a readin' program for a reason."
"But I like your voice much better. The computer sounds like Magneto on ludes."
"I keep tellin' y' that poutin' ain't gonna work on me."
"Bullshit." Scott smirked in the direction of his guests. "Got him wrapped around my little finger. Waits on me hand and foot. Why else would I want to. . . put that pillow down, Remy."
"Watch y' mouth then, boy," Remy drawled. Scott's smile widened.
"I like it when you drawl."
"Then, I'll just have to quit won't I?" Remy taunted in the snottiest British accent he had in his repitior.
"You do and I'll tell Missy that you want to run out on her."
"That's cheatin', cher. I don't t'reaten y' with Missy."
"Missy likes me. It's just that when paperwork doesn't get done, it isn't my fault anymore. If I'd known you were so good at it, I'd have had you as my assistant at the mansion."
"But I’m your responsibility, remember?" Remy scowled in Scott's direction. "So, how much are we going to tell them?"
Remy sat back with a sigh. "Depends on what they want t' know."
"Why's Cyke your responsibility, Cajun?" Jubilee asked. She stared at the thief with steady blue eyes.
"Because that's the job I was meant t' do wit' the X-men. Protect him."
"Not Storm?" Logan tilted his head to the side. "What're we missin'?"
"That he's Sinister's best boy?"
"De word y' lookin' f' is experiment, y' miserable encule du mere."
"Watch the mouth, pretty boy, and I won't have to call Creed."
"Fuck y'self, Scotty," Remy said. It was surprisingly without rancor. Jubilee coughed up a trickle of beer as she stared. Logan's jaw had dropped and Remy savored the expression. It wasn't one the man wore very often. "T'ink we shocked them, cher."
"I'm sure we did." Scott patted Remy's arm. "Now, be a good boy and give them the long version."
"Non. T'ink it's more interestin' this way, me."
Logan snorted. "Yer runnin' a scam on us?"
"Nope." Scott settled back and sipped at his beer. "Tell them."
Remy glowered in Scott's direction. "When Remy was a pup, he couldn't control his powers. He went t' a docteur who said he could. Turned out this doc wanted more'n just money. He hired ole Gambit t' t'ieve f' him. Asked him t' get a team t'gether f' him. Then, t' lead them int' some tunnels and get the hell out of de place. I was free t' go after I got dem in, debt paid. Well, turns out they weren't doin' what Remy was told dey was. People was dyin' an' Remy could feel it. He barged in and got hisself cut up. The doc fixed him up again wit' not'in' more'n a long-sufferin' and disappointed look. Remy went on and picked up Stormy. Once he got t' the X-men, he started t' understand some of what le docteur had been tellin' him f' two years." Remy shrugged. "So when Scotty left, Gambit, he followed."
Scott nodded. "Have a sip." He offered his beer.
"Merci." Remy took a gulp from Scott's beer and handed it back. His own sat abandoned on the end table. He folded his hands in his lap and waited for the questions to come.
"Merci." Remy took a gulp from Scott's beer and handed it back. His own sat abandoned on the end table. He folded his hands in his lap and waited for the questions to come.
Logan's eyes narrowed. There was a palpable tension in his muscles. Jubilee rested a hand on his arm, feeling the muscles tremble. "Ya were part of the Massacre," Logan growled.
Remy inclined his head, waiting for the explosion.
"That ain't you, kiddo. How the fuck did you manage to get that fucked in the head?"
Remy shrugged. "Were just a security job. Done plenty of them, f' assassins and f' not. Mon pere, he did the same f' you an' yer team in Germany."
"I don't remember that."
Jubilee's eyes narrowed. "Don't threaten, Gumbo. You'll just get hurt when I take your skinny Cajun ass down."
"Any time, petite." Remy smirked at her. She sent a small paf in his direction. He countered it with a bottlecap. They exploded in the middle of the room. Scott frowned.
"Both of you stop it. Remy isn't a threat, Logan."
"He's prickin' at me. Boy knows just where to hit to score on me."
"It's an artform, cher."
Logan lunged for the young man's throat. He felt Scott's cane impact his chest and gasped in surprise. "Surprise, Old Man. Adamantium. A birthday present from the thief. Sit down and listen to me for once you old motherfucker."
Logan snorted, but returned to his seat. "Why shouldn't I smack the brat around some?"
"It's not in your nature to hurt a friend," Scott snapped. "Don't pretend otherwise. You're mad at him, but not for doing his gods-be-damned job, so what are you pissed about?"
"Fucking liar." Scott shook his head and collapsed his cane. "You're going to drive me crazy. Both of you. Why don't you two take the rest of the day to finish visiting the campus, investigate the environs. Then, after we've all had a chance to think, we can talk again. And if I find out that either of you called the mansion and told them where to find us, I'll make sure you never find us again. Got it?"
Logan nodded. "Sure, Slim. Good idea. Come on, Jubes. Let's get out of here before I do something I'll regret."
Jubilee looked thoughtfully at the two men. Impulsively, she leaned down and kissed Scott full on the lips. Scott jerked back, stopped only by the back of the chair. "Bye-bye, boys." She batted her lashes at Remy.
Remy pouted. She rolled her eyes, then kissed him too. Logan growled. Jubilee grinned at him. "See you later." They left. The door closed with a sharp "click." Scott sighed.
"She's turning into you."
"I don't go kissin' folks for no reason."
"You screwed Logan?"
"Because. . . I don' know. He was there and I needed a warm body next t' me. Suppose anyone would've done. Merde, even M. Chat, I t'ink. But I needed t' feel. But it go too intense after, mais, after the fire. I couldn't take it. He was treatin' me like a piece of china that couldn't be taken down from the shelf. He wouldn't get rough. Merde, I've had women treat me rougher then Logan. It was drivin' me crazy. I didn't tell him I was goin'. He's the only one there I didn't have a screamin' fight wit'."
"Instead you had it here. God, I don't know what I’m going to do with you."
"I got some ideas."
"Cram it, Cajun."
"Damn, dat was one of the ideas. You went an' peeked."
"What did you say to him that pissed him off, Remy? I need the truth. I have to know what you said."
"I told him I weren't his whore. And if he thought he loved me maybe he shouldn't have screamed your name when he came."
Scott went white. He looked like he was going to throw up. "Fuck. He didn't."
"Oui, most of the time he did. Only time he ever called m' name was before and after. Weren't never me there in his head. I can only take so much of that. Ain't the first homme t' pretend I was someone else. Usually end up bein' his wife or son or somet'in', but I can't do it all de time. Sometimes I need t' be the one there, y' know?"
"I know." Scott reached out to stroke the Cajun's bangs. Remy leaned into the touch.
"I need a real drink, cher. And I need t' go get that paperwork done f' Missy so we ain't in dutch with her." Remy's voice was dull.
"Rems, don't think too much about it. You'll just make yourself sick. I know that for a fact."
"Already am sick, cher. Sick and twisted. Don't know why I'm surprised though. Ain't never been more than a whore t' the X-men."
"Stop it!" Remy winced away. "I will not listen to one more put down out of your lips. I finally break you of the third person bullshit and you start on this trip. Don't fucking think about it."
"I was a whore."
"But you aren't one now. You did what you needed to do to survive. You did your job. You didn't do it for fun or pleasure. You were used. But that's over."
"Am I using you? Should I find a place on my own?"
Remy shuddered. "Non. Non. I can't stand bein' alone."
"I'm here. When you're ready to really talk to me, I'll still be here. Partners?"
"Oui. Partners." Remy shook Scott's hand.
Jubilee looked speculatively at her partner and father. "Well, that was interesting."
Logan snorted. They were walking around the campus to "explore the environs" as Scott had suggested.
"No, it was very interesting. I found out why you've been such a pain in the ass since Remy disappeared. I thought it was just the fact that Scott was gone so you didn't have anyone to snark at. No, turns out you weren't getting any."
"Shut it, kiddo."
"No way. I mean honestly, Wolvie, you should have *told* me you were doing the Cajun. God knows he never did. He did mention having a fling with a guy, but I figured it was someone he'd met out on the town. He didn't even tell me about the fire. Neither did you. You didn't tell me they were hurt. You told me Scott was blind, but Remy just sort of slipped your mind. Or was he stuck in the other head?"
"Damn it, girl, I ain't talkin' about this with you."
"Who else? Huh? Your best friends are sitting in an apartment, learning to deal with the world again. I never thought I'd see the Cajun lose his looks. Never thought I'd see grey in his hair, but it's there. And he's scarred. And he's hurting. And the only thing you can do is accuse him of walking out on you. I don't remember you telling me you were fucking him, let alone committing to him!"
"Quiet down, will ya?"
"Hey, man, it's okay," a passerby said. He smiled. "You new here?" He was tall and gangly, like a young man that hadn't gotten his muscles yet. His hair was short and brown. He had a ring in his eyebrow, a barbell in his tongue and five earrings in one ear.
"She's lookin' at the college. Any advice?" Logan asked to divert the conversation somewhere safer, at least that's what he'd thought.
"Get Scott Summers for a class, and hook up with Remy LeBeau for self-defense. It's a great college. And this place is cool with untraditional lifestyles." The young man winked. "Good luck. . ." He raised his brows looking for a name.
"Jubilee." She smiled at him. "So, what's the gossip on Summers?" She ignored Logan.
"Bad accident blinded him, but he's a top-notch military historian. No body knows if he's really sleeping with his guide dog, or if they're just yanking our chains. It could go either way. He's a tough grader and requires all tests to be put in on tape. He likes arguments. What are you planning to study?"
"Military history and fashion design."
"Not exactly the same department. Interesting double major though. I'm in Fashion Design myself actually. I could show you around if you join up. Let me give you my e-mail."
The two exchanged email addresses. "I'm Luke Parsons by the way. And, dude," he said to Logan, "she has a point. If you're going to commit to someone, you've got to tell him."
Logan growled. Jubilee winked at Luke. "Merci buckets."
"De nada." Luke hurried on to his next class.
"Are ya done embarrassing me?"
"You shouldn't be ashamed of who you are, Logan." Jubilee grinned at him. Then, she sobered. "You should have told me, Logan. If I'd known, I might have been able to crack the Cajun's code and gotten him to actually tell you what was wrong."
"What the fuck are you talking about?"
"That boy's an empath. He just doesn't use it. He needs people like he needs air to breath. Then, suddenly, people won't even look at him. Can you even imagine it? You've been defined by your pretty face for your whole life and then bang, flash, it's all gone and you're nothing but a rapidly aging, scarred, mutie thief who doesn't know who he is anymore. And Scotty? Mr. I can calculate an angle in my head and shoot pool without a losing a break suddenly can't see. His whole world has gone 'poof' and he's being treated with kid gloves by the one person he thought could trust, his wife. She treats him like the worst kind of retarded cripple. No wonder he had to leave."
"Ya got all that out of that conversation?" Logan's brows raised.
"Nope. I read between the lines of that conversation, pieced together e-mail from the whole crew and tacked on the pieces that Remy gossips about on the phone when we talk for five hours every second Sunday of the month."
"Five hours? That's a lot of hot air."
"Ha. Ha. Very funny. He's the only one of you that ever had to fight his way into college. He didn't even know how to read until he was ten. He's the only one of you freaks I'm willing to trust with my LD woes."
"LD? Ya never told me that."
"Yeah, well, you weren't around when it came up. Gumbo was. I don't want everyone knowing because then they'll start treating me like I'm an idiot, when it's just that I've got problems with mixing up numbers." She rolled her eyes. "Math is not a strong suit."
Logan shook his head. "Learn somethin' new every day."
"You over wanting to kill Remy for not being your fuck-toy?"
"Where did you get that mouth? I ought to wash it out with soap."
"Try it and I'll sue."
"I ain't got any money left after sendin' you, Kitty, and Yukio to college," he grumbled.
"But you love us more than money."
"Course I do." Logan sighed. "I better go apologize to the brat."
"Don't make me tickle you."
"Why look, cher, we got company," Remy said helping Scott off the motorcycle. "Wonder what they want."
Scott snorted. "Must be Jehovah's Witnesses trying to get us to see everything the right way. Wonder if we tell them about the sacrifices will they go away?"
"Non, looks like one right nasty guard dog and his girl. Too bad."
"Damn. How'd they find the place?"
Logan snorted. "Yer a regular comedy team, ain't ya?"
"Yup. Jubes, are you sure you don't want to dump the dog? We could let you crash on the couch."
"Stop it, bub," Logan said. "I came to apologize."
Scott tilted his head to the side. "I think I misheard you. Did you just say the word 'apologize?' I didn't think that was in your vocabulary."
"Can we do this inside?"
Scott put a hand on Remy's shoulder. He squeezed. "Sure, Logan. Why not?" Remy answered. "Y' can call it through the back door."
Logan glowered. "I'm sorry."
"F' what?" Remy asked. His voice was studied innocence.
"Fer treatin' ya bad. Fer tryin' to interfere in yer life here."
Remy nodded once. "Okay. Y' can come in. But if y' start yellin' I'm throwin' y'r sorry ass out. Jubilee can stay."
Remy settled into his favorite chair. He pulled his feet up onto it. Scott sprawled on the end of the couch. Jubilee curled up next to him. Logan took the other end of the couch. "So? Talk."
"I'm sorry, kiddo."
"Not tellin' ya that I cared."
Remy snorted. "Y' only think you care, cher."
Logan growled low in his throat. "Why do ya say that?"
"Well, cher, it's like this. I been y'r friend f' a long time. In all that time, you ain't never told me 'bout y'r daughter in Japan. Y' never said a word 'bout Mariko. Y' ain't never tol' me 'bout nothin' from your past, not even t'ings wit' the team. I found bunches of shit out from lookin' at old records, but ain' none of it from y'. If'n y' cared, even a lil', y' would've tol' m'. I was there when y' found out Mariko died, but y' *never* talked t' m'. I followed y' an' y' spent the next few weeks snappin' at m' like a pup wit' a hurt leg, but y' didn' do shit 'bout it. An' if y' cared, y' wouldn't scream out other folks name when I go down on y'."
Logan's eyes narrowed. "Yer full of shit."
"Non, cher, dat'd be y'. Leave m' b', homme. I don' accept y' apology 'cuz that ain't what I'm pissed at y' 'bout."
"Try givin' me a hint, then, boy, 'cause I'm fresh out of ideas."
Jubilee rolled her eyes. "How about, 'I'm sorry I treated you like a whore, Gumbo'?"
"That's alright, 'tite, I don' mind it from y' so long as y' keep feedin' m' all that insider info on Frost." Remy waved it off. Scott snickered.
Logan took a calming breath. "I'm sorry I treated ya badly."
"Sorry enough to walk my ass back here."
Gambit sighed. "I never could keep a proper mad at y'. Don't mean we ain't got more mendin' to work on, but f' now, I f'give y'." Remy waved a hand in the air. "So, petite, y' gonna stay in San Fran?"
"Yeah, I think I will. But the problem's gonna be keeping the rest of the fam from finding out that you're here."
Scott sighed. "If they show up, we're leaving. At least I am. I don't care what you get up to, Rems."
"If I wanted t' be 'round them would I be here?"
"To be honest? I'm not sure. I don't know you that well."
Remy smiled sadly and looked away from all of them. "Sometimes y' can't go back. I always wanted a real life. An' I got an openin' next week. Merde, cher, I've got an opening *next* week! I don' even remember what name's on de proofs." Remy left the room and the conversation without another word. Logan and Jubilee stared after him. "Where's that envelope? What y' done wit' it, boy?"
"You put it on your desk under 'opening'!" Scott called back.
"I did?" Remy's voice was surprised. "When'd I get that anal?"
"About the time I swore I'd cane you if you left anything on the floor in front of the bathroom again."
"Once. Dat was once!"
"Did you have a point or were you protesting just to hear yourself talk? What does it say?"
"Montgomery. Shit, I didn' go an' tell her Essex did I?"
"Isn't that the name on the lease?"
"Non, Etienne Montgomery. She got it backwards mebbe? She's Japanese."
"And you don't speak to her in English?" Logan guessed.
"Non. Not'in' t' panic about. Don' have anythin' but 'Montgomery' on it." Remy came back, sheepish smile on his face. "Sorry. I'm a lil' tense."
"That's enough from you," Remy threatened lightly.
"You won't hit me. I'll just tell everyone you're an abusive partner."
"Y' wouldn' dare."
Scott just smirked. Jubilee shook her head. "This is going to be a trip. Can't wait to see what sort of shit you pull on campus. What day's yer opening, Gumbo?" she asked.
"Thursday. How long y'all plannin' on bein' out here? Just the weekend?"
"We ain't decided. Rogue's got the team on vacation. Got Cable watchin' the east coast fer us," Logan answered.
Scott sighed. "I suppose that was inevitable."
"Course, cher, told y', Summers' blood's gonna save the world."
"I thought we promised that you'd try to work through your brainwashing issues."
"You a right brat sometimes, cher."
"Oui," Remy said, sulkily. He slumped on the couch.
"Summers does not mean Christ."
"Very good. And?"
"Sinister ain't always right."
"That's supposed to be isn't, but I'll let it pass."
Remy snorted. “Fine. Cable’s gonna kill Apocalypse f’ M. Essex and me and Scotty here are goin’ t’ live a somewhat normal life, so long as m’ wife don’t figure out where I’m hidin’ and we don’t get no new contracts on our heads. Jubilee and logan can model f’ m’ if’n they ain’t got other t’ings they want t’ do?”
“No.” Jubilee’s voice was soft, but firm. She was growing up. Scott felt something tight in his chest. It was like the day he’d sent Kitty off to Excaliber. “I think we’re going to spend the next few days on campus. We’ll stay for the opening. And at the end of the week, I’ll make my decision. At the very least, we won’t tell anyone we saw you. Only Frosty’ll breach my shields and then only if I don’t have something to distract her with. And that’s not an issue.” She stood up and crossed the room to sit between them. “I’m not giving up on you two, even if I go back to Boston. You will give me email addresses and cell-phone numbers before I leave. Well, Scott will. I’ve already got yours.” She snuggled up to Scott’s side for a moment. “If I told you that I don’t think I want to be an X-Man right now, would you be pissed?”
Scott went still. He gave the question the consideration it deserved. “Yes, I would. You’ve always told us, me and Logan and everyone else who was on the team when he picked you up, that you wanted to be on the team. You’re basically already on a team in Boston. Are you telling me you don’t want to be on any of the teams or that you just want to take a break and get some time in the real world first?”
She bit her lip. Logan’s breathing was eerily calm. Remy wrapped his arm around her waist and leaned his head on her shoulder. She shifted and wrapped an arm around his neck. “I think. I don’t know. I haven’t done normal since my parents were killed. I want to try. I’ve seen what the teams can do to you. I know how to fight and I know I’d be ready to die for the dream. I just want to put that off for a little while. If I hate it, I can always run back home. Westchester’s always going to be home for me.”
The former-field leader took a breath, then another. "Fine then. Do normal. See if you like it. I can't tell you that you have to be on a team. It's your decision. But if you do come out here. And you decide to be my apprentice in battle tactics, then you will have a few rules. No getting into fights without backup. And no letting Gambit seduce you into thieving."
"Merde, cher, where else is a boy supposed t' find an apprentice?"
"Oui. Oui. I hear y', Cyke. Y' okay wit' that, petite?"
"I'll live with it for now. I reserve the right to change my mind. Now, I'm going to drag Logan off. We're going to take some time to explore the campus. And day after tomorrow, we'll have dinner and I'll let you know about college. Then, day after that we decide if we're going to stick around for the opening or if we're going to come back."
Scott nodded. Her hair caught in the rim of his glasses and she sniggered in his ear.
"Don't ever change, Summers. You're just as much a dork today as you were when I first met ya."
"And you are still a brat." Scott tickled her ribs.
"Cozy little family. Think there's room for one more?"
Jubilee and Scott went silent. Logan nearly held his breath. Remy's shoulders tightened. Jubilee held him tighter. "Oui. I'm willin' t' try at least. But this is just t' see if'n we can be friends. I ain't going to be your lover again."
Logan nodded. "We were friends first. Come on, kiddo, let's let the kiddies get to bed. They've got school in the morning."
Scott flipped Logan off absently. "Did you get that reading list printed up?"
"Emailed it out t' the kids yesterday."
Jubilee swirled the champagene in her glass. It was better quality than she'd expected. Frost had taught her to recognize quality. The photography on the walls wasn't what she'd expected from Remy. The young people smiling, laughing, showing off their mutations and their scars were almost over-saturated in color. They were edging into hyper-real. She stood in front of one of the few black and whites and studied the raised scars. The young man had had his wings removed and it wasn't a pretty picture. He was smiling shyly over his shoulder. The softness of his smile and the lightness in her eyes made her catch her breath. This man trusted Gambit. No, she corrected herself, Montgomery.
She turned her head, her earrings jangling noisily and blanking out the dull roar of the party. Remy was working the crowd, his head held up despite the tension she could see. She wasn't used to reading fear in the Cajun. The scars that ran down his face made her want to hug him hard every time she saw him. This wasn't the theif she knew. This wasn't even the theif she'd crushed on for all of twenty minutes before Rogue had clued her into the facts of death. Fact number one, don't touch Rogue's boyfriend or she'll tear off your head. He wasn't wearing his trenchcoat. He had on black slacks and an emerald green shirt that turned his hair redder than normal. His hair just brushed his shoulders and he let it hang loose around his face. She wandered further into the gallery.
Leaning against the wall and talking to the tiny-framed woman who owned the gallery was Scott. He looked at home. His cane was leaning against his leg. The closest patron did a double take as he passed. He looked from Scott then toward the wall on the opposite side of the room. She had to see what Scott's picture looked like. She slithered between the crowd. Logan had hidden himself somewhere to have a cigar, she was sure. This wasn't his scene. She turned around a patron and was confronted with a charcoal drawing of Scott.
He wasn't wearning his visor or his goggles. He was leaning back against a cushion with headphones on. His cheekbones were high and his lashes lay against his cheeks. His chest was bare and she gasped at the starburst scar of gunshot near his shoulder. She raised her brows when she noticed the phoenix tattoo over his heart and the tiniest x in a circle just below it. She bit her lip and her eyes pricked. Logan's hand fell on her shoulder. "You okay, kid?"
She nodded. "Is that real?"
"The tattoo? Yeah. He got it after she died. And the X? I think he's had that since he was a teenager. Ask Hank."
"You could just ask me," Scott murmured. Jubilee jumped. The champagene splashed onto the back of her hand. She licked it off. She noticed the young man who was edging out of the area swallow. She winked at him.
"Need to get you a bell, Summers."
"I got the X after our first mission. I wanted a physical reminder. I'm sure you get that. So, is it a photo or what?"
"Ah. Remy mentioned that he was getting his hand back into shape. He misses painting."
"He paints?" Jubilee raised her brows. "Not just copies?"
"Well, probably mostly copies." Scott smirked. Her heart clenched. Scott with emotions was just freaky. "But he did a portrait of Belladonna in miniature. I think he used to carry it with him. I'm not sure if it was a charm against death or if he was just hoping it would deflect a bullet if she got it into her head to kill him again."
"I still can't believe someone was desperate enough to marry him." She let her voice carry. Remy looked over at her and stuck his tongue out at her. She batted her lashes. "So, are you or aren't you two together? For real?"
"Not telling. You'll have to figure it out. So, what do you think of the display?"
"I think you and the professor have rubbed off on him. This is like photojournalism."
Scott shook his head. "No, Remy's always had an agenda. He just doesn't broadcast it. How many little red dots do you see by the pictures? I can't get a straight answer."
"Um, all but three have dots. Why?"
"Looks like I won the bet. He thought this would be a bust."
Remy settled on the couch and dropped his head onto Scott's lap. Scott ran his fingers through the younger man's hair. "So, how long do you think we have?"
The Cajun snorted. "I give it about a day or so. Logan can't keep a secret for shit. Jubilee'll keep her mouth shut."
"Logan can keep it from Jean and Xavier as long as he doesn't tip them off that he's got something to hide. If he thinks of Jubilee and her going off to school and of Kitty and Yukio, we should be in the clear."
"Oui. Suppose so. We'll, looks like I'm goin' t' be on the art scene f' awhile. Got two good reviews and one op-ed generating interest. Figure I sold most of the picture t' the models or their family. The one I done of you ain't f' sale. Gonna send it t' Frost."
Scott's fingers spasmed. "If you aren't fucking with me, I'll have to kill you."
"See. I been suggesting that." Remy's laughter puffed out onto Scott's leg, momentarily warming it. "But, oui, I'll send it East one of these days. As a fuck y' to all of them. Frosty can use it t' decorate her dungeon."
"You are a sick and twisted individual."
Scott stroked through Remy's hair. "Have you packed up?"
"F' both of us. We're out in fifteen at the outside."
"Good." Scott sighed. "I'd hoped to have more time."
"Wishes and fishes, cher. I'll find us a new apartment, since we got two folks who know where we is."
"I told Jubilee to send anything she wanted to ship to the college."
"Moi assui. Y' want me t' pack your room or just give you boxes?"
"Just give me boxes and tape. I'll figure out the rest of it.
Jubilee squealed in delight as she opened the package. It had come from a gallery in Texas, but she knew the photography style immediately. She lifted the simply framed picture from the box. It was Logan, but you had to know that. It was a close-up of his hands, the tiny lines here and there, the coarse hairs and the callouses from his sword. There just the barest hint of his claws beginning to press against the skin. It was perfect. She set it up on her dresser.
M raised her brows. She crossed the room to study it. She frowned. "Isn't that new artist who's been put up as a target on the FOH website?"
She sat up straight and stared. "Probably would be a target. I didn't know he was up on the site though."
M opened her laptop and went to check on the enemy with brisk efficiency. It was one of the few reasons Jubilee didn't completely hate her anal-retentive prissiness. "Montgomery. They've highlighted him as an enemy of humanity."
Jubilee snorted. "We need to plant a nasty worm on their site so Google blocks it."
The rich girl raised her brows. "Hm. I'll set Anonymous on them. Someone will do it for us."
"Elegant. I knew there was a reason I liked you."
"No, you like me because you can use me as a straight-woman."
"That too. Have you considered coming out to San Fran with me this fall?"
The other girl sighed. "Is there some reason why I should leave the East coast when MIT is just down the road from here?"
"Because San Fran is on the other coast and not just down the road from here?"
M scowled. "Are you serious telling me that you're considering not being on a team, Lee? You? The X-Men's biggest fan-girl? Especially with the problems they have right now?"
"I'm not going to be on a team right now," she confirmed. "Of course, I'll still send intel to them and if there's something they need in Cali then Chuckles can always call me."
"Logan's got enough to worry about without me right now. Besides, he needs to keep working so he can send me to college."
M snorted at that. "Right. Fine. I'll consider it. But I doubt they have the same quality of minds in San Francisco that they do at MIT."
"You want to be a geek for the rest of your life, fine, but I plan to do something radical. I'm going to be a student activist. It'd be nice to have someone I trust at my back, but I can do without it. I've done it before."
"Jesus, Lee, if you wanted a partner, why didn't you just say so?" M's lips curled up wrily. "I probably should get out of this area or else I'll end up teaching here."
"What?" Remy asked into the phone. Scott sat up straight. "Um, sure. Let m' look it up." The clatter of the keyboard told Scott that Remy was online. "International Relations. Oui. I'll send the applications. I can fake up some references if'n she needs. Sure 'nough, petite." He hung up. "Well, looks like we getting more'n just one new recruit. Monet St. Croix wants t' come to San Fran."
"You're shitting me. Last I heard about M she was going to MIT and specializing in psychology."
"Looks like she wants t' be more like her papa and possibly be an ambassador some day."
"Huh." Scott leaned back into the soft back of the couch put his feet up on the coffee table. "So, I was talking to the art department yesterday."
"Merde. What did those flakes want?"
"A new teacher. Looks like Laurie's going on maternity and Sebastian wants to take a sabbatical to research Eastern influence in the American architecture. So, they need someone who can do art history and architecture. And if you tell me you're not qualified, I will personally call your father and have him yell at you."
"That ain't fair."
"Nope. I told them you were interested, as long as you could use the studio for your own projects."
Remy's inhaled sharply. "Y' got m' a new dark room, in other words."
"And a supply of new subjects. You don't have to teach any of the actual art classes, but you'll get free run of the studio and the dark room."
The rush of air warned Scott the instant before he was pushed into the cushions by a crushing hug. "Merci." Remy placed a delicate kiss on Scott's forehead. "I can't let no one know where Montgomery does his work, what wit' the threats and all, but if I'm teachin'? Oh, I knew there was a reason I stuck wit' y'." He smelled of curry spices and dark room chemicals. There was a hint of something else too. It took a moment to place it as turpentine.
Scott gave him a quick hug in return. "Now, get off of my legs before they fall asleep. You can take me out to dinner or something."
Remy rolled to sit next to him. "Should I send a picture of y' to Jeannie? T'rough the gallery in Florida? That's where they gonna be lookin' for ya, non?"
"Mississippi," Scott corrected. "Working one of the boats maybe. Or playing my guitar on the street-corner like some old-school busker."
"Y' don't play guitar."
"Well, no. But I could learn. I do sing some when I get drunk."
There was a long silence. "Y' tease m' so, cher. Guess I'd best get some alcohol in too. Got t' hear y' sing now."
"Don't bother. I'm not that young or stupid anymore. And you will not convince me to go to karaoke no matter what."
"All I'm hearin' is that there's a challenge."
Logan shuffled into the den and flopped down to watch the game. The mansion was quiet. He'd never realized just how much he missed Bobby's voice, until he didn't have to fight him for the rights to the den television. He could still see traces of the young man scattered through the room as if no one could stand to pack them away. There were cartoon videos under the cart that no one was going to watch. And there were still dirty socks under the chair in the corner. Logan rubbed a hand over his face. He debated getting up and doing what no one else could, but then, he remembered that the transfer to Scotland was happening tonight and there was no way that Hank was going to take it well if all traces of Bobby disappeared. They were having a hard enough time getting him to let someone else take care of his best friend. Shit, Scooter, we need you to make it a damned order.
Jean's scent preceded her into the room. She smelled good and not in just the familiar sense. She was ovulating and he could smell it on her. The animal in his soul wanted to throw her down on the pool table and fuck her. It wasn't like anyone was using the table for anything else. She settled on the counch next to him with a stiff dose of brandy in her coffee. His nose wrinkled up at that. He hated brandy unless it was in pudding.
"Bobby's ready for the move. Hank's checking everything for the fifth time. I couldn't take it anymore. Who's playing?"
He lifted his eyes to the game on the screen. It was football. "Ain't got a clue." Logan barked out a laugh. "Some college team from somewhere. I'm rootin' for the kids wearin' red."
"Good enough." Jean sipped her coffee. "Did you, do you, is Scott happy?"
"How'd I know?"
"Because you were his friend. Because he'd talk to you when he shut me down. Was he okay before he left?"
"He wouldn't have left if he were okay. He yelled down the house with Charles one night when you were out patrolling or whatever you and girls really got up to before he left."
Her breath caught. "I just." She stared into the coffee. "I handled it wrong. He still wanted the divorce, didn't he?"
"Yeah, Darlin', he did." Logan grimaced. "It hurt him to put the papers in, but once he made the decision? Yeah, there weren't any reasonable way out of it, so he dealt with it. Ya changed the rules on him."
"I didn't mean to drive him away. I just wanted him to be happy! Safe. Here."
"Waiting on you to take him back? You takin' yer advice from Rogue now? All teasin' aside, Gumbo ain't really a Summers."
Jean laughed at that. "Oh, God, his face the first time Hank demanded blood for a paternity test." She shook her head. "No, I knew that once it was over it would be for good. Scott's too commited. I just thought he needed me to be there. To rely on while he got used to being blind." She took the remote and Logan didn't fight her for it. She flipped through the guide. "I realize now that it probably came off as me being a know-it-all bitch again. I used to do that to him all the time when we were younger. Drove him crazy."
"He never told me why."
"Because we just weren't, we didn't talk anymore. It was dead and dull and killing us both. Somewhere along the line was stopped being friends and lovers and started being acquaintances. That's not the way it should be." She dropped the remote to the couch and let it revert back to ESPN.
"And you thought that was going to change as soon as he went blind?"
"He was blind when I met him. I was practically mute. We were so fucked up back then."
Logan snorted. "Darlin', you're still fucked up. No one calls ya on it though because you hide it well."
She punched him in the shoulder. "Asshole. And why did your lover run off?"
The Canadian winced. He took a long pull from his bottle. "Depends who ya talk to. Jubilee tells me it's because he thought I was usin' him. I think it's because he needed to not be pushed into become Scott's clone. That's what Chuck wanted you know. What's Ro say about it?"
"She gets an email from him once a month letting her know that he's alive and thinking of her. No details she could use to follow him. She wants him back."
"I'll drink to that."
"Do you still love me, Logan?" Her voice was brittle. "Even a little bit."
"I'm still here." He put his hand over hers.
Remy lounged on the floor with a book as Scott taught his last class of the day. "Two chapters by next class. I expect you to be able to answer my questions and to actually discuss things. And I can hear you breathing, so I know you're not all dead yet. If you choose to continue this silent treatment, there'll be pop quizzes every class. If you skip one, you're getting an F. Am I understood?"
There was a murmur of assent. The freshmen drifted off. "So, cher, you want m' t' play with them some next class?"
"Oh, feel free to do whatever you think will catch their attention. Don't you have self-defense classes tonight?"
"Non. Cancelled it. It's your birthday, so we're goin' to get a nice dinner."
"If you get them to sing to me, I will drown you."
"Trust me, Scotty." Remy got to his feet gracefully. He saw a lingering presence in the upper corner of the lecture hall. "Hey, now, chere, you need some help?" he called up to her.
"I might at that."
Remy stared for a moment. "Oh, fuck."
Scott stilled, hands freezing over the laptop full of his presentations. "Raven?"
She laughed. "I have to know if you left Grey for my favorite thief."
"You can guess along with everyone else. I don't want to do this, but do you want to get some dinner someplace we can talk?"
Remy flipped his bookmark through his fingers as he stood there. He didn't want to out himself, but he'd take her down if she turned into a threat. "What y' say, Raven?"
"I think it sounds lovely. I get to have you two on my arms and no one will ever believe me. Rogue's disappointed that you left."
Remy snorted. Mystique sauntered down the stairs, her hips showing off the glittering belt on her hips. She looked mostly like herself, but her hair was cut short and was darker than usual and her skin was a soft creamy mocha. She looked exotic and dangerous and gorgeous. Remy stepped in front of Scott. He didn't trust her. "Rogue don't give a damn about me. She ain't for a long time. We just got habit in place."
"A habit that I'm very glad you've outgrown. I give you my word that I'm not here for any nefarious purposes. I just want to meet with you. I've always thought that our animosity was foolish."
Scott barked out a laugh. "This is because you were working with Alex."
"Oh, fuck yes. How did you not kill him when he was a child?"
"I'm his big brother, I have to protect him."
Mystique rolled her eyes. Scott finished packing up his things. Remy settled close to him to let him take his arm. "I t'ink we can break him of that duty and responsibility crap, non?"
"Brainwashing is notoriously difficult to undo. Take yours for example." She showed a few too many teeth when she smiled. She took the arm that Scott wasn't using. She led them towards the parking lot. "I have reservations for three. Consider it a birthday present to both of you, since I missed yours, sweetie." She pinched Remy's cheek.
"We can pay our own way. As you can see, Remy's forcing me to work."
"And you love it. As long as it isn't History 101. Dear lord, how did you get caught up in that?"
"I'm the newest teacher. That means I get to teach the idiots that don't really want to be taking history in the first place." Scott's hand tensed as he shrugged. "You watched all my classes. Wait a minute, were you the one who was arguing about me on the use of spies in civil war battles?"
"It was. I enjoyed it." Her voice was wistful. Remy raised his brows. "You would have found it interesting too, my little thief. I think you should attend more often."
"I had business."
"Ah, are you still in the business?"
"Depends. You offerin' a job?"
Scott's fingers tightened. "Is this really the place for this discussion? I don't really want to burn another apartment, but I do have an on-campus office."
"Non." Remy shook his head. "We can talk in the car. And if'n Mystique made some good reservations at the restaurant."
"I did make reservations at the local club. Completely safe to discuss our business there."
Mystique watched in fascination as Remy explained the menu to Scott in a low voice. He also talked the man through how many pieces of silverware were on the table, where the glasses were and what sort of wine they should order to soak her for all they could. After agreeing to a bottle of red and two small steak and vegetable meales, they were ready to talk. "So, about that job?"
"Oui, chere. What do y' need?"
"I need copies of some documents hiding in City Hall. I believe they are related to that project that we don't discuss because the walls have noses."
At Remy's soft "ah" of assent she continued. Scott was frowning at her, but he seemed to be following. "And what else?" the thief prompted.
"I might want some information on how to find the people I want for back-up. Victor hasn't been returning my calls and Irene is sure he's still alive."
"How is Irene?" Scott asked. He seemed to perk up. "Is she around? I wanted her advice on cooking."
Mystique all but slapped her forehead. "Of course. I'll call her and see if she'd be willing to give you some lessons. She keeps telling me that there's no mutation involved in the process, but I can't boil water."
"Or make coffee," Remy teased. "Cher, this woman ever offers y' coffee, be polite and say no, for the safety of all concerned."
"You've been draining your accent." She frowned. "Does your father know where you are?"
Remy looked down and away. He was quiet for a long moment. "Non. I ain't told him yet. I can't be beholden until I get back t' paintin'."
She looked at his hand, at the scars on his face and ached for him. She didn't give into her maternal insincts often, but Remy was nearly her son-in-law. She patted his hand. "Call your father. Just to talk. You'll feel better and maybe it'll stop him from throwing lines out into the underground looking for you again."
"That were only one time. I ain't heard anythin'."
"That's because you haven't been listening. About my information. I have an office and I have some partial information on what the security is like. I tried to get into it, but I haven't been able to study his secretary enough to make it stick or to get the information in a timely manner."
"I know it's gauche, but payment?" Scott's brows rose.
"Hush. She knows m' rates and she won't try t' cheat me. I know where her lover's livin'. And he still returns my calls."
"I knew it. Give a man two children and he just up and stops answering your calls."
"Raven, you're married to Irene."
She stared at Scott. "So?"
He cocked his head to the side. "Jesus. I should have married you when Jean died. Then I wouldn't have a psycho ex-wife to contend with."
The waiter brought their meal. Scott and Remy's interactions made her smile. "Irene is going to mother the two of you to death, you realize?"
"Good. Boy needs some motherin'." Remy poked Scott in the shoulder. "And since y' seem t' know what's goin' on in the Mansion, how is everyone?"
It took her a moment to organize her thoughts. "They're functional. Mostly. Dr. McCoy is mourning. Storm is unreadable, but I've seen her working in the garden. I did plan to go in as Rogue and talk to her, but the one time I saw them together Storm zapped her with lightening and threw her across the lawn. Grey looks as pinched and annoying as ever. Logan is." She searched for the word. "He's Logan. He smokes, he drinks. Xavier is still an annoying hypocrite who claims that he doesn't read anyone's thoughts without permission, but gives me migraines." She chewed part of her chicken. "The team is still responding to incidents. They haven't been in the papers, but I've seen them on the New York News. They're surviving. You're not going back, I take it?"
"No." Scott's voice was soft, yet firm. It was his command tone. "And I would appreciate it if you would restrain yourself from getting too close to the team while knowing where we are. The professor might not read your mind, but Jean or Betsy might. For all their protestations to the opposite, I wouldn't trust them."
"Good to know. They don't know where you are?"
"Logan does." Remy admitted the fact softly. "And don't go talkin' t' him neither."
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