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The Long Road Home

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How long had it been since he'd been home? Would he even be welcome anymore? After how he was taken, bound in cuffs and a sack over his face, surrounded by armed men who pointed their guns at anyone who got in their way, dragging him out and tossing him into the back of a van. Anna’s face was still burned into his mind, her eyes full of tears, afraid of what may happen. Then everything spiraled from there. He had been used to pull heists all over the world, the constant threat of death coming from the nanobots injected into his neck. The thought of home kept him going, even when everything was hopeless, sitting in a small prison cell, thinking that he'd die there. It wasn't until someone unexpected saved him, someone that, if given the chance, would have otherwise killed him. Finding this uneasy ally brought the Cajun hope, something he had lost while imprisoned.

After that, the nanobots were disarmed, and it became a journey home, the long way around. At some point, he saw the news that he was presumed dead, and a memorial had been set up at the mansion to remember him, honor his memory. He had left the bar, going to the small room he had rented for the night and cried. Not for himself, he wasn't worth the tears, but for Anna, for the team that had become his family. His thoughts raced that night, from how he could come back, to what if he never returned, wandered the world without a home. Maybe it would be best, for everyone else, if he remained “dead”. So he wandered, doing odd jobs to get by, never staying in one place for long. Until he finally found his way home. Standing on the edge of the grounds, cloaked by the treeline, he looked to the stars above, sighing with the last drag of a cigarette. A filthy habit that he picked back up, and one he was going to drop again. Maybe he'd stay there for a while, watching everyone move in the night. Oliver found his way to his human, sniffing him warily before climbing into his lap, purring loudly and demanding more attention.

Sitting among the roots of the massive oak, the smell of the rain hitting dry stone wafted across the grass, shadows dancing between the curtained windows, students heading to bed and the adults moving to the common area to relax. Was she there? Chatting with Ororo, or maybe sitting in her favorite alcove, reading a book? A small smile stole his mouth, his eyes tearing up thinking about his wife, the only person who really understood him. Or, at least, she did. Before he was taken away. It had been almost two years since he'd been home. A few months trapped in one position, a few more in another. Then his wandering, ultimately bringing him back to where his heart had always been. If she'd moved on, then he'd be a phone call away, staying out of the way of what she had going. As long as she was happy, he'd be able to live with whatever came. The thought of her having moved on hurt, leaving cracks upon his fragile heart, leaving doubts in his mind. He felt he should leave, letting everyone believe that he was dead, whatever cover story he was given. Let them have peace. His family needed peace.
On the one hand, if he did return, what consequences would arise? Would he disrupt a peaceful time? Would he be greeted with open arms? What changes have been made? How would he fit with those changes? On the other, what if he left, leaving behind his legacy as an X-Man? What would happen to Anna? How has his absence affected her? These thoughts and many more swirled around his head as he lit his last cigarette, the flame from his lighter burning like a beacon in the darkness. Exhaling with a stream of smoke, he tried arranging his thoughts, each drag from the cancer stick coming out with a small sigh. How did telepaths handle so many voices at once? His own was enough for him.

If he did return, how would he explain where he's been? What he's done? Would he allow himself to rejoin the team? People had gotten hurt on his tasks, innocent people, and he couldn't save them. He made a point of learning each one’s name, matching the names to the faces. Each person weighed in his shoulders, slumping them. Why would they want him back after what happened to those who lost their lives? Because he couldn't do anything to save them? The nightmares still haunted him at night, infecting his sleep with death. Just like the Massacre had done to him. His face held signs of all the tears he'd shed, night after night, unable to find sleep again. Even now, in this moment, they fell, his head resting against the mighty trunk of the elder tree. In this moment, sitting upon the edge of the grounds he called home, Remy LeBeau was a pitiful sight.

His presence was soon discovered by Laura, coming upon him with a look of disbelief at the sight of the swamp rat sitting among the roots with his cigarette dangling from his lips. She knelt down beside him, pulling him into a tight embrace with a tear falling from her eye. “We've missed you, Remy. Where’ve you been? It's been so long!”

“Takin de long way home, petite. Anyone else know ah’m here?”

“No, not a soul. You should come in, let everyone know they can stop looking for your body.”

“You t’ink dey'll be happy to see me?”

“Of course they will, especially Anna. She hasn't been the same since you left. She cries almost every night.”

Rising to his feet, Remy smiled lightly, his gaze moving to the sprawling mansion, the windows allowing light to dig its claws into the ground. An idea popped into his mind, simple yet undoubtedly him, urging him towards his home. “T’ink ah could get to de kitchen without attention?”

“The kitchen? Why?”

“Been a while since y'all had some good food, neh?”

The Wolverine allowed her confusion to show for a moment, before her stomach spoke for her. It had been a while since she’d had his fried chicken, not to mention his various other culinary masterpieces. “Follow me, there's a secret way I kinda made to use to sneak out. Don't tell anyone.”

“You? Sneakin out? Tell me it ain't true, Laura.” His voice deigned faux shock, following after her to this secret path to the kitchen. They moved silently over the grass, feet flowing swiftly over the grass, nearly blurring in the battlefield of darkness and light. Transitioning into a small stone tunnel, carved into the foundation of the mansion, they soon came to the kitchen, pausing just before entering. After Laura ensured that they were alone, the pair set to work, not speaking a word as chicken became breaded, ready to fry, and pasta was set to boil. They relied on hand signals, simple yet effective. The moment they dropped the chicken into the fryer, the kitchen took on the sorely missed smell of the French Quarter, coming from the various spices mixed with the crumb coating.

Throughout the mansion, the smell of comfort food tickled each individuals nose, affecting Anna’s most. She knew that smell, the name, the face, the emotion connected to that smell. Everyone watched as she sprinted to the kitchen, throwing the door open to see him standing there. Even with a full beard she knew him, those ruby irises set in ebony. Tears began to fall from her emerald eyes, her knees buckling beneath her, and his arms wrapped around her, catching her as she fell. All she could do in response was cling to the Cajun, feeling the warmth of him against her skin.

“Ah’ll always find my way back to you. Ah’m sorry it took so long, Anna, so sorry.”

She stammered, trying to find her words, relief washing over her. When words finally came, Rogue didn't want to let go of the man who’d stolen her heart so long ago, afraid he'd disappear if she did. “It took you long enough.”

“Well, ah did have to travel quite a ways. Cross an ocean, even.”

“Still. Took ya long enough.”

“Miss me, chère?”

“The entire time.”

“Get a room! We don't wanna see all that while we're eating.” Bobby popped off behind them, with Ororo chuckling over his shoulder.

“The Bright Lady has surely blessed this wonderful night. It's so good to see you Remy.”

“Yeah, yeah, Remy's back. More importantly, his cooking is back. It really is good to see you alive, though. This place hasn’t been the same without you.”

“Tis good to finally be home. Who's hungry? Aside from Bobby.” The Cajun's remark earned him a dirty glare from the cryomancer and a small nudge from his wife. “What? You already said you hungry, no?”

“Oh, well, yeah, yeah I did. Oh, you said that-“

A baby's cry cut him off, sending Anna flying through the halls, Remy following close behind her. The room she entered was right next to their room, a nursery, and a young child resting in the woman's arms. The expression on her face told him everything. “His name's Olivier. Olivier LeBeau. With eyes almost like yours, Remy.”

It was his turn to stammer now, his eyes gazing at the little boy, then his lover, trying to find something, anything to say. What could he say to this, having been absent for so long? For being away from his family? The Southern Belle approached the swamp rat, her movements slow and swaying, avoiding doing anything to wake the child, her gaze set upon her husband's face. He finally found his words, his voice coming out as nearly a whisper. “May ah?”

With a nod, Olivier was placed in Remy's arms carefully, Anna staying close by them. The young boy squirmed for a moment before settling in, not yet realizing it wasn't his mother holding him close, relaxing with a deep sigh. And just like that, Remy felt himself being tied right around his son's little finger. “Looks like Oli here got your hair, mon amour. Ah get de feelin it's gon be hard to say no to him when he gets older.”

“Try sayin no to him now. It's impossible.”

“Oh, ah’m sure it is.” For so long, they both had been convinced that they weren't the kind of folks to really settle down, to raise a family. Now there they were, standing together with their son, their family. Their minds had gone to the same place, thinking the same thing.

“I'm surprised he isn't crying right now, usually he doesn't like anybody else holding him. Only person aside from me he really likes is Kurt.”

“So he’s a Mama's boy, neh? Ah completely understand, his mama is quite de amazing woman.”

“Oh hush, you. You're the one returning from the dead.”

“And ah've always cone back to life cos of you.”