Logan came to a dead stop at the top of the stairs. He blinked once, then twice. No, it wasn't his imagination. There in the front hall, in front of God, the children, and anyone else who might wander by was the up-tight, irritating prick, Scooter, kissing a man. Now, the fact that old One-Eye was kissing a guy wasn't exactly a surprise. His nose had told him that the boy got aroused whenever Logan confronted him, but Scott Summers was Jean's lover. He was in mourning for her death and he'd closed off from almost everyone in the Mansion.
He evaluated the new man. He flared his nostrils and pulled in the scent of clove cigarettes and bourbon over a spicy scent that made Logan's mouth water. He and Scott were about the same height, but the new boy was slighter. His hair was long, pulled back into a pony-tail. He wore a ratty leather trench and motorcycle boots. They broke apart. Scott rested his head on the other man's shoulder. "You have something for me?" Scott asked.
"Ah, cher, you know I don' just come for deliveries."
"Yeah, but for four years you haven't come back at all, just sent me disks in the mail." Scott straightened up, pulling away from the embrace. "So, how about we try the truth this time."
"I heard what happened t' your girl s'all."
Logan couldn't stop listening. He didnít move a muscle afraid they'd hear him and stop talking.
"So you came back to offer me a hug. Grand." Scott crossed his arms. The gesture seemed more protective than angry.
The young man sighed. He touched Scott's cheek. "Don' be like that, Scotty. You the one who told me t' leave. Didn' want me messin' things up with her. Didn' want to break my heart. All that wonderful goodie-two-shoes schtick you been tryin' t' force-feed ole Remy for years. Y' didn't mean it then, y' don' mean it now. Stop bein' Cyclops f' a minute, oui?" The young man's hands were half-covered with fingerless gloves. He stroked his knuckles along the edge of Scott's glasses. "Let m' be there f' Scott. I ain't on your team. I ain't a student. Sil tu plait?"
Scott snorted. He ran a hand through his hair. "I've never had any control over you, so I know better than to tell you to do anything. I sent you out on a recon mission and you didn't come back. The mansion was raided. You hear about that too? Or how about the fact that Stryker was brainwashing mutants into an army? Oh, I know, maybe you could have sent me some intel on the congressional committee?"
"Y' ain't blamin' me f' that! I done kept this security higher than the White House. Don' do no good when there's someone *on the inside* who told them how t' get in. Wait who went and got his sorry ass kidnapped again? Oui, that would be you an' Charles."
Scott paled at that. "You still know exactly where to put the knife."
"Watch m' twist it too. Merde, why y' have to have it this way? Ain't I allowed t' be sappy and sweet? Can't I just take care of y'?"
"I don't know, Rems, I just don't know. You walked away."
"You fell in love," Remy countered softly. "And she loved you. I couldn't get in the way of that."
"It didn't have to be that way."
"Jeannie don't know how t' share."
"And you do?"
"I ain't the marrying kind."
Scott winced. "Okay. Before I say anything else that can be twisted and turned around against me, let's try: welcome home, Remy. I've missed you. There? That better?"
"I don't know. Don' know if I believe y'." The boy's tone was light though and a quicksilver grin crossed his face. "Heard tell y' went and found Wolverine. Also heard y' went up against Magneto. And y' let him go too."
"'Let' isn't the word I'd use. And how did you hear about that?"
"Talked t' Mystique." Remy shrugged. "Most folks ain't sure where my loyalties are. Y' gonna offer m' a drink or we gonna do a debrief in the middle of the hall?"
"Is that what they're calling it these days?" Scott said, snorting. "Come on. I think there's still some bourbon in my office."
"Charles didn't take it?"
"Charles gives the illusion of privacy. And he's not the thief of the family."
The boy gave Scott a flourished bow. Then, he stepped into Scott's personal space again. He kissed him on the cheek. "I really am sorry about, Jeannie, cher."
They left the front hall. Logan blinked, processing all the new information. "I need a drink," he muttered. He stalked to the kitchen for a beer.
"So are you really back or just here to mess with my head?"
"Ain't your head I'm interested in, cher. Your heart, oui, I'll take that." Remy's smile was sly and predatory. Scott wanted to hate him for it, but he couldn't. His shoulders slumped.
"God, I've missed you." He collapsed onto the couch next to his, what was Remy anyway? They'd been so much to each other: lovers, partners, friends, leaders even. He rubbed at his temple. Remy was his thief. That was the one thing that would never change between them. "So, you still planning to heist the Sistine Chapel?"
Remy chuckled softly, the warm whiskey sound burning Scott's ears. It warmed him from the inside. "Soon as I figure out the flight path. You'll still fly f' me, non?"
"Course. Heist of the millennium."
"Good. Last time I was here you was such a good boy the t'ought made you piss y'self."
"Crude bastard." Scott smiled in spite of himself. "But I love you anyway. Why did you stay away so long?"
"I'm willin' to share you, but that don't mean I'm willin' to watch it. Well, I ain't willin' to watch you with her. She hated m', cher. She hated m' for makin' you the bad boy you been when she met you." Remy leaned forward to stroke Scott's cheek. There was sadness in his eyes. "I never meant t' hurt you, cher. You know I wouldn't do not'in' like that on purpose."
"I know," Scott murmured. "So what does the word on the street say? Are we nuts?"
"Yeah." Remy grinned. "Non, whispers say you was in the White House, that Charles went and made some really dangerous secret service men lose time. Now, dat's a talent I can appreciate. Also heard tell you was in a government lab. He hurt y', cher?" The red eyes were serious, scared.
"He had this drug that let him control people. I don't know if he ever bothered using it on humans. I don't know who developed it."
"I do." Remy kissed Scott thoroughly, distracting him for a moment. "Got so much to tell you, Scotty-cher, but I want t' just curl up with y' for a bit. D'accord?"
Scott put his arm around the younger man and held him close, eyes closing. "Don't run out on me again, Cajun, or you're dead when I catch up with you."
A soft chuckle answered him. "Always loved the bloodt'irsty ones."
Logan was brought up short by Charles' amused voice in his head. //I see you've met Scott's bad habit.//
//Not met exactly, Chuckles.//
//Ah, I see.// Charles' voice was amused. //Is this a problem for you, Logan?//
//Why should I care who he bangs?//
The surprise was obvious this time. //Scott and Remy have more than a physical relationship.//
//Get out of my head.//
//As you wish.// Charles was gone, leaving Logan disturbed. He dug out a smoke and went to sprawl on the porch swing. He was surprised to find the new boy there, sitting with his legs spread, Scott relaxing between them. Both men were smoking.
"Bonjour," Remy said with a grin. Logan's claws sprang free at the sound. "You remember Remy, oui?" he purred. "You remember hittin' him hard enough t' leave him in the hospital mebbe?"
"I remember you being with a sick fuck who wanted to dissect me."
"He wanted y' to work for him. I was just the recruiter. Y' didn't have to hit so hard." The kid's pout was picture perfect and Logan itched to smack it off of his face. "Of course, y' better off here." The boy's face faded. He looked down at Scott who was carefully avoiding looking at anything but the decking. He stroked Scott's hair. "M. Chatton sends his regards."
Logan stepped forward, threatening. Scott put a hand on his frames. "If you attack, I'll knock you down," he said quietly. "I don't know why you two have gotten into a pissing match, but I'm not going to stand for it. And Remy, if you don't stop bating him, I'm going to have to do something drastic."
The expressions that ran across Remy's face were hard to pin down. Finally, it settled into a curious smile. "Like what?"
"Spank you. Steal your smokes. Ground you. I'm sure that the jail that was holding Mags would love the challenge of holding you."
"You wouldn't turn po' Remy in."
"I'm not above making sure you're locked up and you know it," Scott replied, voice turning cold and hard. "But I think it would be easier to just beat you."
Remy shifted uncomfortably. He looked up at Logan. "Fine. I'll be good." Logan raised a brow. He had the strangest feeling that Scott actually would beat up the Cajun just to prove his point. The Cajun brushed a kiss over Scott's hair. "Sorry f' stirrin' him up."
"Quoi? How y' want m' t' do that?"
Scott leaned his head back. "Bring me something shiny."
The thief laughed. "Oui, Scotty." He smiled brightly at Logan. "Y' see, cher? I ain't so bad."
"What are you planning to do here?" Scott leaned his head back and rested it on Remy's chest. He got a kiss to his forehead for his trouble. Logan's muscles tensed.
"Y' still got an art classroom open?"
"All yours. French classes too. You can trade off with Logan."
"Figured Logan was goin' to be high-tailin' it out of town again."
Scott bit his lip. "Is that one of the reasons you didn't come back earlier?"
"Non. Told y' already. I couldn't watch the two of ya." Remy stilled. "Logan was in love wit' her too, wasn't he? Mebbe I should've come back at that. Logan gets her, I get you."
"I don't share well," Scott drawled. His voice was beginning to slur. Logan shook his head.
"Ya need help gettin' him up to his room?"
"Non. I'm stronger'n I look."
Logan wandered out onto the grounds with his cigar.
Scott groaned into his pillow. He could smell the familiar scent of jasmine that seemed to linger on Remy's skin and the sharpness of coffee. "That better be for me."
"Yours is on the nightstand if'n y' can sit up."
"Y' ain't, more's the pity."
"How much did I drink? Jesus." Scott put a hand on the back of his head, as though that would keep it from coming off when he sat up. The intense pain from moving his head made him think of migraines, but his stomach informed him that no, this was most definitely a hangover. "Why didn't you make me drink water and aspirin?"
"Oh, cher, y' done made me make nice wit' Wolverine. Hangover's the least of y'r troubles. Still, I told the ole man that y' ain't up for teaching until this afternoon at the very least. He was very understandin'."
"I'm going to hear about that."
"T'ink he's relieved t' tell y' true. He's feelin' guilty and sad as y' are. Y' gonna introduce m' to the chilen t'morrow? Reassure them that I ain' here t' take Jeannie's place?"
Scott's gorge rose. How could his thief mention her so casually? He swallowed hard.
"Huh. T'ought so. We ain't gonna let it happen like this, cher. Y' ain't gonna repress and pretend it ain't happened. But that ain't a task f' t'day. Let's get y' up and showered. And mebbe we get y' some food and somethin' stronger than aspirin." Remy offered his hands. Scott laid his wrists in the grip and tightened his fingers around the leather bracelets and the thinner chains that he didn't recognize. With one strong pull Scott was up. He screwed his eyes tightly shut and waited for the room to stop spinning.
"I'm getting old."
Remy snorted. "Ain't we all. Come on then. Shower. Empty y' stomach mebbe." He walked backwards, leading Scott surely into the bathroom and possibly into temptation. If his mouth didn't taste like a dead rat had taken residence in it, he might have suggested something to that effect. "Here we are. Safe and sound in the bathroom. I'll go get somet'in' t' eat."
"Bring me some too."
Remy laughed. He smacked Scott's shoulder with the back of his hand as he passed. "And dey call me a brat."
"You are." The hot water felt heavenly. But the toothpaste and mouthwash was better. By the time he made it back into the bedroom he felt mostly human. Mutant? Whatever. And there was breakfast. Suddenly, he was hungy. It hit him out of the blue. He hadn't felt hunger in so long that he'd forgotten what it actually felt like. It was something from before. Before being brainwashed. Before losing Jean. Before coming to Xavier's at all. And Remy was part of that before, so maybe he understood. There was toast and scrambled eggs and a tiny bottle of Tabasco sauce. "I'm sharing the eggs I see."
"Only proper. Brought jam f' the toast." He held out a small jar of strawberry jam. "Jus' don't let none of that touch my toast, d'accord?"
Scott laughed. It felt rusty and worn, but it was a real laugh. Maybe he was getting the hang of this living thing again.
Xavier had never felt Jean's loss more clearly than watching Remy hold Scott against himself as they smoked. Scott's head was lolling to the side, clearly asleep. The young thief smiled down at him where he was just starting to drool. It had been a common sight before Jean arrived and chosen Scott for herself. Remy had given in gracefully. Scott had never seen their relationship as something permanent and Remy was too quiet to interfere in what he saw as true love. Jean had liked him.
The old man rubbed his temples. He could have stepped in then, but he had never interfered in his children's choices before and he wasn't about to start. Remy's empathy brushed against Xavier's shields in a familiar caress. The guard dog was checking over his flock. Jean's death had brought him back, but Scott's pain would be the one thing to keep him here.
"Charles?" The soft French purr of his name roused him from his thoughts. Remy chivvied Scott in front of him. "We talk some after I put Scotty to bed, oui?"
"I'll set up the chessboard."
Scott pouted. "Damn, I thought I had my teddy-Cajun back."
"Don't y' worry. Ole Remy'll take care of y'."
Charles gathered wine and glasses for their appointment. The thief would appreciate the vintage. Xavier hadn't changed much in his office since Remy had last been there. Perhaps there were a few more books, a few objects his students had sent him. But for the most part it could have been any time they'd met over the years. "Hello, Rogue," Charles said without looking up. "May I help you?"
The teen, almost a woman, frowned at him. "Ah heard there was someone new lookin' after Mr. Summers."
"An old friend," Xavier told her. He looked up and smiled.
She gave him an uncertain smile in return. "Somethin' in my head keeps tellin' me there's more to it. That we ought to beware."
After a moment's thought Charles spoke again. "Perhaps it's something that's lingered from Eric. He and Remy never did get along well."
"Ah suppose. Goodnight, Professor."
"Goodnight, Rogue. Pleasant dreams."
Her smile skittered across her face then disappeared before she turned. She slid past Remy without acknowledging him. Whether that was on purpose or something that the thief had perfected in the years he'd been away was yet to be determined.
"Lil' girl warnin' against me? She ain't never met m'." Remy settled in his usual seat and swept up the kings to offer choice. The illusion of choice at least. He was a master at prestidigitation after all.
"She has remnents of Eric in her head. It can be most disconcerting for her when his memories sound the alarm bells." Charles chose white.
Remy poured the wine and swirled his glass a bit, enjoying the scent of it the way his teammates never did. He'd had a classical education and a level of manners thumped into his head to match it. "Eric an' I don't get on. Mystique an' me were talkin' recently. 'Bout him being out on the streets again. Dangerous man. Might even be right."
Charles' mouth tightened. That was the reason many of the X-men didn't trust Gambit. He never clearly sided with Charles, despite his dislike of Eric. "It's a shame that I've never gotten to see you over a board with him"
That garnered him a quicksilver grin. Charles didn't respond, but started his opening and waited. The thief responded quickly. Move and counter-move continued for a long moment that felt warm and comfortable. "Told Scotty I'd start teachin' art again. He says I got t' take the French classes too. Trade off with le Wolverine."
"That would be excellent actually. You can take the older students. Logan is quite good with the younger forms."
Remy made a face at him. "Scotty ain't doin' well."
"Better, I think, having you here. We have missed you." Charles smiled. "I've missed our chess games."
Remy snorted. "You've missed my intel. The chess is just a bonus."
"You wound me, Remy."
The young man laughed. "You such a liar, Charles. Y' miss y'r boyfriend too, non? Email's good f' games. Regular mail too. Mon pere an' I still play that way. Mate in two."
"Perhaps," the professor allowed. He flicked his king down. "Since you're rejoining us, would you like your old room?"
Remy stilled. "Weren't plannin' on stayin' anywhere but wit' Scotty. He... he ain't good." The young man rubbed his chest over his heart with a grimace. "Lots of folks here ain't. Y' best get some sort of social worker in here cuz ole Remy ain't goin' t' do it again."
"Blast, I had hoped between us we would be enough of a support staff for the children."
The empath shook his head. "Non, the kids need real help and an outsider. Y' need me to call around? I got a friend who might come up."
Charles steepled his fingers as he thought. "Yes, that might be best. Someone who you trust to keep your secrets should be capable of keeping ours."
Remy snorted. "If y'all would stop gettin' kidnapped, that'd be easier." He rose gracefully from his chair. "Bon nuit, Charles. I'm off t' cuddle y'r son." He winked.
Charles chuckled softly as he sauntered off.