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Runaway

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The backyard was almost completely dark as eight year old Spencer Reid slipped out the back door of his house. His hands were very careful as he drew the door shut with only a whisper of sound. There probably wasn’t any need to work so hard to be quiet, it would be a miracle if anything could be heard over the blare of the TV in the den, but habit had him moving as quietly as possible anyways. His footsteps were silent as they ghosted across the back porch and down into the yard, never faltering through the steps he’d taken countless times before. He knew all the spots to step, the shadows to cling to, that would take him to his hiding spot all the way at the other end of the yard. It was a perfect place to hide. No one ever found him there. Back in the right corner where the bushes were thick and a heavy tree stood right up against the fence that separated their property from the ones beside and behind them. There, in that little corner, Spencer could duck down into the bushes and no one would be able to see him. No one could find him.

He’d found his little sanctuary when he was five and he’d used it ever since then. Any time he needed to get out of the house, away from his father, he’d come out here and crawl into the thickest part of the bush. It was perfect for hiding. The branches dipped a bit underneath so that there was this almost perfect little alcove for him to curl up in. He’d slept in there a time or two on the really bad nights. Those happened a little too often as he got older. With each passing year, Spencer swore his father got angrier and angrier.

There wasn’t a time in his eight years that Spencer could remember his father not being angry. That anger had always been there, always present in the tense lines of the man’s body, in the tightening of his face. It only got worse when he looked down at his son. Spencer had learned at a young age to drop his eyes if his father ever looked at him. Nothing made his father angrier than looking into Spencer's eyes. Eyes that had marked him as different since the day he was born. Spencer had been born a mutant with a physical manifestation that told of his genetics loud and clear. He wasn’t born with anything large, thank Heavens. Not wings nor tail nor anything else quite so visible. But all anyone had to do was look at his eyes to see. His pupils were long, thin slits, just like a feline, and his irises were like a firestorm. That was what his mother called it. They were a yellow and orange mixture close to his pupil, fading out to a darker orange and some red before finally ending at a darker red and an orange so dark it was close to brown. When calm, those colors were calm as well, slightly muted. Emotion changed how brightly they burned. When he was happy, it was like the colors flashed and flickered like an actual fire.

Those fires were banked now, the colors dimmed, as Spencer slipped into his hiding spot.

There was a section of the fence that was broken and if Spencer reached out and shifted it just right it allowed a tiny bit of light into his hiding spot. Not enough to reveal him; just enough to keep him from being totally in the dark. He settled back in on the ground and folded his hands together, pillowing his face on them. The light cut a soft path across the grass right in front of his face. He stared at it and tried not to think of what was waiting up in the house. He tried not to think about the aches and bruises that he knew were already building.

The grass felt cool against his hands, a nice contrast to the heat of the summer night. He soaked up the touch and let himself drift slightly on it. Eyes hazy, only half open, he watched the grass flutter under a small breeze and he let his mind flutter away with it. It was a trick he’d learned years ago. Disconnecting himself from the pain and the world around him, cutting off the thoughts that otherwise ran rampant. He let himself drift on a cloud of simple sensation until, for a little while, there was peace.

That peace didn’t last. Spencer had no idea how long he’d been lying there when suddenly something cut off his light. He blinked, slowly drawing back into himself, when the sound of a bark had his whole body jumping. There, at the broken section of fence, was a dog, barking madly while trying to shove its head through the small space between the two boards and failing miserably at it. Wide eyed, Spencer scrambled further back into his hiding spot, not quite able to mask the terrified choking sound that tore at his throat. Would the dog be able to break through those boards? He looked too big to fit but maybe he was big enough to push and break them even more. What would he do if he got through? There was no way Spencer could outrun him. Oh, God, what if Dad heard him? What if Dad heard the dog and came out to investigate what was going on and he found Spencer here? He needed to get out of here, now, before either the dog broke free or his Dad came out!

Only, right as Spencer was trying to figure out how to climb out without getting too close, he heard a voice. A voice that, after the initial panic, he realized was definitely not his father. It wasn’t as deep and was thick with an accent that Spencer couldn’t quite place.

“Oy!” A male voice shouted. “Rowdy, y’ idiot dog, what’re y’ doing? Y’ chasing shadows again?” There was a rustling sound a Spencer drew back into the bush a bit more, clinging to the shadows, watching as the dog’s head was pulled back. There were some sounds that Spencer thought might be the dog being wrestled back, followed by a low laugh. “Knock it off, y’ flea bitten mutt! Aint no one never taught y’ manners?” Another laugh. “All right, all right. What de hell’s got y’ so interested, eh? Y’ find y’rself a nice lil girlfriend over in de next yard, huh? Y’ stepping out on dat poodle y’r always after at de park? Y’ faithless hound.”

All of a sudden the light was blocked once more and it took a second for Spencer's eyes to adjust and for him to realize that it wasn’t the dog back at the fence again, it was a person. A teenager. Glowing red eyes sat in a slightly tanned, youthful face, which was quickly stretched with a smile. “Well lookee here, Rowdy.” The teen said with another laugh. “Weren’t no bitch y’ was barking after. Y’ done found a lil firefly in de bushes.”

Spencer stayed frozen, his body tight with tension and adrenaline while his mind scrambled to figure out whether it’d be safer to stay frozen or to run as fast as he could for the house.

The fence board moved a little more and Spencer watched cautiously as the teenager there shifted around a little until it looked like he was lying down. He propped his face up in his hands and kept on smiling at Spencer. “I hope Rowdy didn’t scare y’ too much. He’s a nosy, curious lil shit an de open fence was probably too much temptation. De pup probably didn’t know what to do when he found a lil firefly hiding in de bushes. He’s more used to chasing dem t’rough de air.”

Despite himself, Spencer's body relaxed a little. He couldn’t quite keep up his level of fear in the face of this teen’s ridiculousness. Whoever this guy was, he was strange, but he had a friendly smile.

“What’s got y’ hiding down dere? Did someone try and stick y’ in a jar?” The guy asked him.

Spencer couldn’t quite stop the snort that slipped out. “You’re weird.” He said, before he could stop himself. Then he winced. That was one of the things that always got him in so much trouble. His Dad said he needed to learn to think before he opened his mouth to speak. Sometimes, he just couldn’t seem to help it. Something crossed his mind and he’d find himself saying it, sometimes without even realizing he was doing it. It got him into a lot of trouble.

This guy didn’t seem the least bit bothered by it, though. His smile grew a little bigger and he laughed again. The sound was pleasant and Spencer felt his lips twitching in response. “Aint de first time I heard dat.” The guy said. “Won’t be de last, neither. Rather be weird dan boring, me.”

“I’m boring.” Spencer blurted out. He’d been told that plenty of times by the kids at school.

That earned him a low scoff. “Y’, boring? I don’t believe it. Would a boring person be hiding in de bushes pretending to be a firefly to trick unsuspecting dogs?”

To his surprise, Spencer felt a laugh tickling at the back of his throat and he had to quickly put a hand over his mouth to stifle it. “I wasn’t!” He whispered, his hand still hiding his mouth.

“Uh-huh, sure.”

Spencer opened his mouth to say something else when a muffled crash came from somewhere in the distance behind him. His whole body went still and on alert in a flash. There was another crash and the muffled sound of shouting, followed by a softer sound that had Spencer giving a full body flinch. He turned himself so that he could peek through the branches of the bush, up towards the house. When he’d left, his Mom had been asleep. That was part of the reason he’d felt safe enough to sneak out here. If she’d been awake than he would’ve stayed in the house with her. He wouldn’t have dared leave them alone together with the mood his father was in tonight.

Another shout had Spencer flinching again. This time, though, he uncurled himself from his hiding spot. His eyes flickered up towards the house and then back to the teen in the fence. “I’ve got to go.”

Those glowing eyes scrunched a little and the smile faded ever so slightly, but he didn’t protest. “Maybe I’ll catch y’ out here again, firefly.” Was all he said. Then, before Spencer even moved, the face was gone and the board was slid back into place.

Spencer stayed there a second longer, staring at the fence and wondering what on earth had just happened. The sound of another crash from the house snapped his attention back to the present. He pushed back all thoughts of glowing red eyes and smiling faces and focused instead on sliding out from the bushes and up towards the house. It was going to be a long night.

CXCX

That little visit played in the back of Spencer's mind off and on for the next few days. He highly doubted he’d see the teen again. Why would he? Kids around here didn’t like to talk to him. The ones his own age thought he was weird and older kids didn’t like having someone so young come off as so smart. It basically left him on his own. For the most part, he’d gotten used to it. It was normal. He had no reason to believe that this kid next door would be any different.

So it was a giant surprise when, only a few days after their initial meeting, Spencer saw him again. Once more he was hiding underneath his bush to keep away from his Dad. He had a blanket with him this time and planned to spend most of the night out here. His mother had gone to visit a relative of hers that was in the hospital and she wouldn’t be back for a few days. That meant that there was no one else here with William and Spencer, which meant that Spencer was willing to do pretty much anything to avoid being around the house at all. Tonight he’d waited until it looked like his Dad was mostly passed out in the living room and then he’d grabbed his blanket and slipped outside.

He was lying as comfortably as his bruises would allow him, his blanket wrapped around him to ward off the cooler night air, when he heard movement coming from the other side of the fence. He watched with surprise as a pair of feet showed in the crack through the boards before they shifted away and the face from the other night appeared. The boy was grinning just as much now as he had been then. “Well, well, well, hey dere, firefly. I t’ought I might find y’ over here, once I saw de board was moved.”

Spencer wasn’t sure what to say to that. He wasn’t really sure what to say at all, here. That didn’t seem to deter the teen, though. He was laying himself down just like he had the other night with his face propped up in his hands and sitting right there between the boards. “Y’r a quiet one, aint y’?” He asked, not even pausing to give Spencer a chance to answer him. “Den again, I aint never tried talking to no magic bugs b’fore. Who knows? Maybe fireflies don’t really talk, oui? Dat’s all right. M’ Papa says I talk enough fo’ a dozen people. M’ cousin Lon says de same t’ing. Dat’s his house, back behind me. I’m staying wit’ him fo’ de summer cause Papa wants me to be outta de way while he and Henri—dat’s mon frère—take care of some t’ings. He says I’m here to learn from Lon, mais I know better. I’m Remy, by de way. I don’t t’ink I’ve said dat yet. Do y’ got a name, or am I just gonna have to keep callin’ y’ firefly?”

Wow. He wasn’t kidding when he said he could talk. Of course, most of what came out of his mouth seemed to be complete and utter nonsense. Spencer found himself hard pressed to be bothered by it, though. If anything, he found himself wanting to smile, and he actually answered the question before he’d even given it any real thought. “I’m Spencer.” Then, because he couldn’t resist and because it was bugging him, he blurted out “Why do you keep calling me firefly? I’m not a bug.”

Non, mais y’r eyes glow like fire an dey’re mostly what I can see in de dark like dis.” Remy said easily.

“Oh.” Well, that made a little sense. His eyes always had made him stand out. For once that didn’t seem like such a bad thing. Not when the eyes staring back at him were almost completely black, except for those slightly glowing red irises. “Yours glow too, you know.”

“Most of de time. Makes Remy look a bit like de devil, non? Le diable blanc.”

Curiosity had Spencer turning towards Remy just a little more. “What’s that mean?”

“De white devil.” Remy translated. There was just a hint of something in his tone, something sharp and bitter, and the red of his eyes flashed brightly. Then it was gone again and that smooth humor was back. “M’ Tante Mattie, she just calls me demon-chile, mais only when I’m driving her crazy. She says all sorts of shit when y’ push her de right way. It’s funny. Almost as fun as makin’ Henri mad.”

He thought making someone mad was funny? The idea was flabbergasting to Spencer. Why would you want to make someone mad? He spent most of his life trying to do the exact opposite of that.

“So,” Remy drawled out. “Why don’t y’ tell me about y’rself? Like, how old are y’? I’m gonna be t’irteen here soon.”

Spencer winced, not quite wanting to answer that. Would Remy still talk to him once he found out that Spencer was almost five years younger than him? Most kids that age wanted nothing to do with someone younger. “I’m eight.”

“Dat’s cool. Y’ got any siblings?”

“Uh-uh.” Spencer shook his head. “It’s just me and my parents.”

Nodding, Remy folded his arms on the ground and rested his chin on them, leaving his face visible from his nose, up. “I got an older brother, Henri. He’s a pain in m’ ass, mais I like him. He aint m’ real frère. I was adopted, two years ago. Almost t’ree. He treats me like family, t’ough, an dat’s all dat matters, oui? Papa says family aint just about blood. It’s who we make it.”

“He sounds like a smart man.”

“He is! He’s de smartest homme I know. Y’ should see his library. I aint never seen so many books in one place b’fore! Do y’ like to read? I’m reading de Lord of de Rings right now, fo’ m’ summer reading list dat Tante Mattie gave me. Gotta read em all b’fore I go home.”

Spencer's eyes lit up a little at that. “I love those books!”

“Really? I’m still in de first one…”

And just like that, the two found themselves in an in depth discussion of not just the Fellowship of the Ring, but the Hobbit that came before it, as well as multiple other books. Talk of books led them to talk of movies and then from there onto other interests. Spencer had no idea how long they’d been out there talking when a voice from behind Remy cut off their conversation. He watched the teen’s head turn and then Remy was calling out “All right! Keep y’r britches on!” He turned back to Spencer and flashed another grin. “Dat’s m’ cousin. I gotta head in b’fore he gets his panties in a twist. Meet up at de same time tomorrow?”

“Sure.” Spencer answered quickly. Eagerly.

With a wink and a laugh, Remy disappeared, and Spencer settled back into his blankets with a smile of his own and a small shake of his head.

CXCX

That was the start of their friendship. Spencer, who’d never really known a true friend, found himself enjoying every second of it. They met up almost every single night out there and talked for hours through the fence about anything and everything. School, books, movies, friends. Remy told him about life back in New Orleans, all about his home and his family and the friends he had there, and in turn Spencer told him a bit about life here. One topic they very carefully avoided, though, was Spencer's family. Oh, he talked about his Mom a little. Nothing big. But any effort to press more only succeeded in closing him off and shutting him up. Remy learned fast not to push. But he wasn’t stupid. Spencer knew that his friend knew some of what was going on.

The first time that Spencer showed up for one of their visits with a black eye and a split lip, Remy hadn’t said anything about it, obviously seeing the ‘don’t ask’ look that was clearly printed on Spencer's face. However, that night was the first night that Remy widened the gap in the fence enough for one of them to slip through. He coaxed Spencer, blanket and all, over to his side of the fence, and the two ended up sitting together against the trunk of a tree. Remy didn’t ask him about his face, or about the stiff way he moved. Instead, he slung his arm around Spencer's shoulders, ignoring his flinch, and started pointing out the constellations in the stars. They stayed like that as Spencer slowly relaxed until finally the tension drained away and the bruises seemed to ache a little less.

CXCX

Months passed. Summer slowly faded to fall and the days of summer vacation were quickly dwindling. Spencer found himself both anticipating and dreading it in equal measure. He’d be back in school again, away from home and in an environment where he still got picked on, but his chances of hiding and escaping were much stronger. But, Remy would be gone. Spencer's stomach clenched every time he started to think about Remy leaving. Despite their age differences, the two had grown close over the summer. What would he do once his new best friend was gone? He was going to miss him like crazy.

He told Remy that late one night just days before Remy had to leave, when they were curled up on Remy’s side of the fence beneath the tree. He had his side pressed against his friend’s and Rowdy was sprawled against his other side, leaving Spencer between them and feeling safer than he ever had anywhere else.

The Cajun looked down at him when he heard Spencer's softly spoken admission and his eyes seemed to have lost some of their usual glow. There was this moment of hesitation, so strange because Remy had never seemed hesitant about anything before, but then Remy was tipping his head and saying “Y’ could come wit’ me.”

“What?” Surprised, Spencer sat up a little straighter, his slender body twisting in place so that he could actually look up at Remy’s face. He had to be joking!

The look Remy gave him was serious, though. “M’ Papa, he’s an important person, Spencer. He could help y’. Y’ could come wit’ me and stay wit’ us. Get away from dat.” He spat the last word out like it was vile and made a disgusted sort of gesture in the direction of Spencer's house, perfectly encompassing everything that he felt for William Reid.

There was a small part of Spencer that thrilled at what Remy was saying. The main part of him, though, was already shaking its head, and he echoed that sentiment. “I can’t.” He hated to say those words, hated just how much he wished he didn’t have to, and immediately felt guilty for it. That guilt straightened his spine and firmed his slender shoulders. “Mom needs me. I can’t leave her alone and she…she won’t leave.” He dropped his gaze, sure of his words but not quite able to look at Remy as he said them. The backs of his eyes felt like they were burning. It’s not fair. He wanted so badly to take what Remy was offering.

Remy muttered words that Spencer knew were curses, followed by a deep sigh. “Y’r heart’s too big, petit.”

Suddenly there was an arm around Spencer's shoulders and he was being yanked in for a sideways hug that still made him jump even after all the times Remy had done it this summer. He melted into it quickly, though, soaking up the comforting touch he’d only ever gotten from his mother. Remy held him tightly and Spencer leaned into him, wondering if this was what it felt like to have a brother. Remy’s sigh ruffled his hair. “Jus’ cause I’m going home don’t mean dis is goodbye.” Remy told him in a voice that had become steady once more. He gave Spencer a small shake, laughing when Spencer swatted at him. The tense mood was broken with just that simple move and it felt a little easier to breathe again. Remy loosened his grip enough to be able to ruffle his hair and smile down at him. “M’ cousin Lon here, he said I can write y’ here and he’ll leave de letters on de back porch fo’ y’. An I’ll bug m’ Papa till he says I can come back next summer.”

Spencer ducked his head down as emotion built a lump in his throat. Remy was leaving, but he wasn’t actually leaving him. He’d already thought of ways to keep in contact. It wasn’t the same but it was good enough.

“Y’r stuck wit’ me, firefly.” Remy told him, chuckling. “Dere aint no getting rid of me now.” He felt Remy’s hand ruffle his hair again and this time he didn’t bother swatting at him. He just let Remy tug him in close once more and went back to staring up at the stars.

CXCX

Remy was true to his word. Not even a week passed after he left before the first letter appeared on the neighbor’s back porch. Never once did Spencer see this ‘cousin Lon’, but the man faithfully put out the letters for him on the porch where they’d stay dry if a chance rain came through. It felt strange for Spencer to creep across someone’s backyard and grab up his letters; not strange enough to stop, though. He loved each and every letter he got. He wrote back to each one, too, after the second letter came with extra envelopes and stamps stuffed inside. Spencer secreted those into his school bag and kept them there, dropping off his letters on his way to school.

Through pen and paper, Spencer got to know his friend on a whole new level, and in return he opened up to Remy in a way that he hadn’t with anyone else. It was easy, somehow, to put pen to paper and just let his thoughts flow. He found himself telling Remy all about school, about the classes he was taking and the teachers, about being bumped up another grade and how worried he was about being around students that were older than him. He worried sometimes that he might bore Remy with all this, but his friend wrote back faithfully to every letter and responded to the things he said with comfort and sympathy and occasionally a creative curse for the bullies in Spencer's life.

Remy told him things in return. He talked about his own lessons, since apparently he had a private tutor instead of public school. He talked about his brother, Henri, who drove him crazy sometimes, and who he often got into playful prank wars with. Spencer had laughed out loud when he’d read about how Henri had stuffed lunch meat deep in Remy’s coat pockets one morning so that Remy’s clothes ended up smelling like old meat, and how Remy had gotten revenge by pouring glitter into the AC vent in Henri’s room so that his whole room got covered in glitter when the air conditioning turned on.

The two grew close in their letters. He’d enjoyed his summer with the other boy but he really enjoyed their letters. There, he didn’t feel so awkward. He just felt like himself.

And when he got the letter telling him that Remy’s father had finally agreed to let him come out again, the boys were both thrilled.  For the first time in his life, Spencer had a friend, a real friend, and it was a great feeling. One that not even his father could take away.

Chapter Text

Spencer couldn’t believe that the day was finally here. He stood in line with the other students in his senior class and waited for that moment when his name would be called. It took everything he had not to vibrate with excitement. Today, it was going to be official. He was graduating! Twelve years old and he was graduating high school. No more classes here, no more dealing with the other students, no more getting shoved in lockers or dropped into dumpsters, no more eating his lunch in the dark corner of the library just to make sure he’d eat it okay.

“Alisha Derry!”

Just this final day, this last moment, and he was done here. He’d walk across that stage when they called his name and he’d take the diploma and then he’d be done. What he’d do next, he didn’t know, but it had to be better than here. He knew what he wanted to do. More than anything in the world, he wanted to go to college. But he also knew better than to think that was going to happen.

“Lottie Henderson!”

Maybe once he hit eighteen. Maybe then, he could get a scholarship and find himself somewhere to go. But not now. There was no way his father would let him go. And his Mom…he couldn’t just leave her alone. Spencer had been taking care of her for so long, he didn’t know how not to. If he wasn’t there, she’d never remember to take her meds, or to eat, or to even get up out of bed some days. Who would make sure she did all those things? Who would get her to her doctor appointments? Dad certainly wouldn’t. He was too caught up in his new affair with his secretary that he didn’t even bother hiding from his family. Hence all the ‘business trips’ that he’d been taking. A blessing in disguise, those. They did much better without him around. When he was home, it never boded well for either Spencer or Diana. Just another reason for him to stay. If he left, who would be there to get between his mother and father when they fought? On her bad days, Diana didn’t remember that she needed to watch her tongue when she spoke to her husband. She didn’t understand just how dangerous it was to ignore him. Nor did she even really notice when her slender son got between them and took the blows meant for her. If Spencer wasn’t there to do that for her—he shuddered to think of what might happen.

 “Tim Raymond!”

The name was called and Spencer sat up a little straighter, shaking off his dark thoughts. They were almost to him.

He heard the voices cheering for Tim and a momentary pang hit Spencer's heart. There would be no one out there to cheer for him. His father was on a ‘business trip’ and his mother had barely woken enough for him to tell her that he was leaving. There was no way she would’ve been able to get up and come here today.

“Brittney Regis.”

The next name was called and Spencer shook off his melancholy thoughts. Nothing was going to get him down. Not here, not now. His name was next! It didn’t matter that his parents weren’t out there to cheer for him. It didn’t matter that he was alone. Later tonight, when his Mom was awake and having one of her lucid moments, he’d show her his diploma and she’d light up with that smile that she got when she was so very proud of him, and maybe they’d sit together in her big bed and talk and laugh together until they were both tired, and then she’d read to him until he fell asleep beside her, pretending for a moment that he was a child once more, not an adult in a child’s body.

“Spencer Reid!”

The sound of his name had Spencer's head jerking up. His legs trembled ever so slightly as he rose to his feet. The whispered comments from some of the others in his class meant nothing to him. He ignored it as he’d always done and he made himself climb those stairs to walk across the stage. The principal was reading off the list of awards and achievements that Spencer had earned and Spencer flushed ever so slightly when he reached the man. The list ended and the audience gave a polite applause and then Spencer was stunned completely by someone suddenly calling his name, cheering and catcalling loudly. He couldn’t help but turn and look out into the audience and what he saw had him both blushing and grinning broadly. There, standing halfway down the middle aisle, were Remy LeBeau, clapping and cheering his heart out.

Spencer's cheeks were burning as he left the stage, clutching his diploma to his chest. Still, his grin never left his face through the rest of the ceremony.

The minute they were all released, the place became jam packed as people tried to find their friends and family. Spencer tried to look around for his friend though he knew it was almost hopeless inside of this crowd. He had no choice but to follow the press of bodies out to the cafeteria where everyone was gathering for an after-graduation buffet that had been set up. There, people spread out a little more and it was a little easier for everyone to breathe without being pressed hip to hip against everyone else.

Spencer didn’t even make a full scan of the room before he found who he was looking for. Or, more accurately, Remy found him. He heard a voice call out “Spencer!” and he turned around to find Remy and making his way through the crowd. The Cajun raced around and past people and straight for him. When he finally broke out of the crowd, he caught Spencer and yanked him in for a huge hug that had Spencer laughing. Pulling back, he flicked a hand up at the tassel hanging from Spencer’s cap. “Look at y’, Mister Graduate! Congratulations!”

“What are you doing here?” Spencer blurted out, his shock and joy evident in his words and on his face.

Remy let out a merry laugh that turned more than a few heads around them and had a few of those people smiling. There was something infectious about Remy’s laugh that always caught people’s attention and made them want to smile. “Got a ride to go wit’ m’ new license. Where de hell else am I gonna be, huh? Aint everyday y’ see a firefly graduate.” He explained. Even as Spencer smiled and blushed once more, Remy reached out and stole Spencer's cap and stick it on his own head so he could ruffle the young boy’s shaggy hair. He slung his arm around Spencer's shoulders again and tugged him in close to his side so he could flash a cheeky grin at him. His eyes were showing just slightly over the top of his sunglasses and they were lit up with the absolute joy that seemed to accompany him always. “So, got any plans here, Einstein?”

The nickname that came out like a slur from anyone else held a note of fondness when it came from Remy. Still, Spencer wrinkled his nose at it and gave a none-too-gentle nudge to Remy’s ribs with his elbow. “No, nothing. I was just planning on heading home after this was done, actually.”

“Well, y’ do now.” Remy informed him. He drew his arm in just enough to put Spencer in a brief, mock-headlock. Then he relaxed is grip a bit and his arm just rested casually on his shoulders. His easy going view towards touch was so at odds with Spencer's world. Hell, it was at odds with the normal world. No sixteen year old he’d ever met talked or acted quite like Remy did. No one that Spencer knew, of any age, touched as easily or as openly, as if it were the most normal thing in the world.

Neither one of them mentioned his parents’ absence, for which Spencer was grateful. He didn’t feel like getting into that right now. Today was his day, his celebration, and he was with someone who had become his best friend and whom he hadn’t seen in eight months. Someone who had driven across country just to come to Spencer's graduation ceremony. Spencer slid his arm around Remy’s waist and let his friend lead him out of the school, smiling all the way.

He couldn’t help his delighted laugh when he saw the car that Remy was leading him to. Cars weren’t Spencer's thing and he had absolutely no idea what make or model it was. But it was all long, sleek lines, and a bright red that matched the glow of Remy’s eyes when he was happy, and it looked old, like it needed some work, but that was perfect for Remy too because Spencer knew that his best friend liked to work on cars. Remy dragged him over towards it, grinning proudly. “Aint she a beaut?”

“It suits you.” Spencer said agreeably.

Remy let go of him to head to the driver’s door, tipping his head down just enough to wink over the top of his sunglasses at Spencer. “Sleek, sexy, an purrs wit’ de right handling? Sounds ‘bout right.”

Instant blush heated Spencer's cheeks and Remy’s laughter filled the air. Spencer chose to ignore it while he quickly pulled his graduation robes off, leaving him in the slacks and shirt he’d worn underneath, and he stuffed both his robe and his bag into the backseat.

“So,” Remy drawled out once they were both seated and buckled in the car. “It’s y’r special day, firefly. Where y’ wanna go eat, hm? Any place y’ want.”

“There’s a diner just two blocks down the road that makes delicious burgers.” He knew how much Remy enjoyed a good burger. Spencer had no real preference where they ate, personally. Just having his best friend here was enough of a treat for him. He hadn’t expected this at all. Sure, he knew Remy had known his graduation was coming up, but he hadn’t expected the man to drive out here for it. No one had ever really cared that much before. Not even his own family had been able to make it here for his graduation today. Yet Remy had. Remy had driven over seventeen hundred miles to be here for this important day in Spencer's life. Sure, part of it was because the teen had a new car and he couldn’t resist driving it and showing it off. But he’d driven it here. He’d come here, for Spencer. No one had done that for him before. It left Spencer with a warm, light feeling inside.

The look that Remy sent his way told him that his best friend had guessed at least part of his thoughts. He had an uncanny ability to do that. Somehow he was able to hear beyond what Spencer said in a way that often had Spencer teasing him about becoming a telepath on top of everything else. It was always worth it to see the disgusted look that Remy would get. He wasn’t exactly fond of telepaths. They both knew that wasn’t Remy’s power, anyways. He just seemed to understand Spencer.

Showing that same understanding now, he didn’t call Spencer out on choosing a place that they both knew Spencer had picked solely because Remy would like it. Instead, he nodded as he turned the car on and put it into gear. “Sounds bien to me.”

There was one request that Spencer would make for himself, though. Turning in his seat, he bit on his lip for a second before asking. “Can we get it to go?” The last thing that Spencer wanted was to be in another crowd of people.

“Whatever y’ want, petit. It’s y’r day today.” Remy’s grin was quick and bright. “So, tell me, how’s it feel to be a graduate at twelve? Y’r putting y’r po’ Remy to shame here, I hope y’ know! I aint even graduated yet. T’ough, m’ tutor t’inks I might be able to, if I finish up a few t’ings over dis summer.”

“Really? Remy, that’s wonderful!”

School hadn’t been easy for Remy, he knew. Having spent the first ten years of his life on the streets had left Remy solely lacking in a normal education and he’d had to fight hard to get to where he was now. It helped that he was exceedingly bright. Far brighter than he gave himself credit for. He just had a slight bit of trouble in a normal learning environment. ADHD, the schools had tried to say. Slow, another had said, and Spencer remembered how upset Remy had been at that. His letter had been shorter than normal and slightly depressed. The next one had been more cheerful, though, as he’d told Spencer all about how Jean-Luc had pulled him out of school and gotten him a private tutor, under whom Remy had excelled. He was a smart kid who just happened to learn a little differently than others. Sitting down at a desk all day and being forced to stare at books and learn in that kind of environment didn’t work for Remy. The classroom was a torture device for him. He worked much better when allowed to move, to stretch around and let out the energy that was always in him. He was much more of a hands on learner.

Remy smoothly pulled his car out of the parking lot and set off in the direction that Spencer pointed. “Y’ still t’inking about applying for dem scholarships y’ was talking about? I’m sure dere’s plenty of places dat are gonna want some genius like y’.”

Remy.” They’d had this conversation before, plenty of times. Spencer sighed and rolled his eyes. “You know college isn’t any option for me right now. Besides, I’m only twelve. What college would take me anyways?”

“Plenty! Y’r age only proves how much of a genius y’ are. Dey’d be lining up to take y’ in!”

“That’s if they could manage to get past the fact that they’d have a mutant on campus.” Spencer shot back. There was no argument Remy could give for that. They both knew that his eyes would make things difficult. Some places would probably reject him on that alone. Seeing the way Remy’s hands clenched on the wheel and the slight clench to his jaw had Spencer pushing past his usual boundaries and reaching out to lay a light touch on Remy’s arm. “It’s fine, Remy. I’m needed here at home, anyways. Mom needs me. It’s only five years, three months and seventeen days until I’m eighteen. I’ll apply to plenty of places then.” And he’d be able to help his Mom then, too. At eighteen he’d be able to act in her best interests and get her set up in a place that could take care of her properly. Somewhere that could give her the full time care he knew she needed.

A long sigh slid from Remy. “Y’r too damn old, firefly.” Letting go of the wheel with one hand, he reached out and patted lightly over Spencer's hand which had still been resting on his arms. Then he visibly pushed back all the depressing talk and the thoughts it’d brought and he smiled once more. It wasn’t as bright as before, but it wouldn’t take long to get there. “Enough of dis. Today’s a day to celebrate. We’ll get our food and den find ourselves somewhere quiet to sit an eat.”

The diner came up in the distance and Spencer pointed it out to him. Soon, the car was parked and the two were climbing out, meeting by the hood and heading inside together.

They weren’t even a step inside the diner before Spencer found himself inching just a little closer to Remy. The bright, cheerful, sassy person he could be when alone with Remy vanished the instant that they got into a more public setting. It had only taken one outing for Remy to learn that lesson when they were younger and it was one he hadn’t forgotten. For some reason, it was easy for Spencer to speak with Remy. He had no troubles talking to him or sassing him—habits that Remy encouraged, often laughing when Spencer said something sassy or blunt—or any of those things. Being with Remy was just easy for him in ways that being around others wasn’t. When he got around others, he reverted back to the scared, shy boy he’d been his entire life. His eyes lowered, instinctively hiding them behind shaggy bangs, and his shoulders would hunch in an effort to make himself appear smaller.

In one of those easy gestures that only Remy could manage, he slung his arm around Spencer's shoulders again and led him up to the counter. He kept his arm there, too, as they ordered their food, and he made sure Spencer stayed safely tucked against his side until they had their food and were once more outside. He only let go when they got close and he had to let him get into the car.

They headed out of town with their food until they reached a place where Remy could turn off and park on a deserted little dirt road. The two climbed out and sat themselves down on the trunk of the car with their food and drinks spread out beside them. Even though it’d been months since they’d seen one another, since they’d really been able to do anything but write, it was easy to fall into conversation together. Alone like this, they’d always been good at talking. Spencer told Remy all about the senior project he’d had to complete and Remy complained about the massive essay his tutor wanted him to do. There were other stories, too, ones told just to make Spencer laugh. Remy told him about more practical jokes between him and Henri—those were always ongoing, it seemed. A war that would never end. He told him about Henri trying to switch the sugar for salt, thinking Remy would use it for his coffee, only Jean-Luc got there first. Spencer laughed so hard at that he would’ve fallen off the car if Remy hadn’t caught him.

It was good and it was easy hanging together out there. Spencer felt more relaxed than he had in months.

They’d just finished their meals, the garbage put into bags and tossed into the backseat of the car, when Remy pinned Spencer with a steady look and said “Okay, spill it.”

“What?” Confusion wrinkled Spencer's brow.

“Y’ been fair to bursting with somet’ing fo' de past two months, an I been waiting patiently fo’ y’ to tell me what it is. I’m tired of waiting. So, spill.”

Oh. Spencer flushed a little. He hadn’t realized he’d been that transparent. There was something that he’d been wanting to tell Remy. Something he’d been eager to tell him, really. He’d just been waiting for the right time. Apparently, that was now. “I wasn’t trying to keep it a secret.” Spencer told him. “I just hadn’t figured out how to share it with you yet.”

Remy took a long drink off the soda in his hand, eyes on Spencer and eyebrows lifted.

That look was easy enough to read. Spencer rolled his eyes. “Okay, okay. I, well…I mean, um…” The words he wanted just wouldn’t seem to come. Nervous and not quite sure why, he couldn’t seem to say what he wanted to say. He blew out a frustrated breath. “Maybe it’s just easier if I do this.” He set his cup down and then lifted one hand up. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Remy sit up with sudden interest. Drawing in a breath, Spencer focused the way that he’d taught himself and he watched as five little flames came to life, one over top of each fingertip, each one a different color. Red, deep red, orange, yellow, and white.

“Y’r powers kicked in.” Remy breathed out. Utterly unafraid, he scooted over until he and Spencer were pressed together side by side and he could lean in to get a closer look. “Always knew it’d be somet’ing wit’ fire. Didn’t know y’d be able to make it.”

“I can play with it a little, too.” Spencer said. He brought his hand up, turning his palm outwards, and the little flames moved as well, growing. With a small gesture he sent them out a bit where they started to zip and zoom in front of them like, well, like little fireflies. “They seem to be different colors, depending on how hot they are. I can change the temperature,” All of the little flames changed into that darker red, and then regular orange tinged in yellow. “The shape and the size.” This time the flames came together, forming one big one that Spencer made expand and then shrunk back down again. Then he broke it apart until there were twelve little flames, which he set to twisting and spinning around one another in patterns and swirls. “And I can make it disappear.” With careful thought, he drew his hand back in, and the flames smothered away with only a small wisp of smoke to show they were there.

Spencer hadn’t showed this to anyone. He hadn’t even told anyone. No one had been around the night that they’d been triggered and he’d made damn sure to work hard to gain control after that so that no one would have to know. People were scared enough just by seeing his eyes. If they saw what he could do—there was no telling how they’d react.

The only person he’d wanted to tell was Remy. He knew that Remy was the only person who was going to be happy for him. Who would be excited, not afraid.

He was right. Remy was smiling and his whole face shone with his excitement. Without a care for their cups, he grabbed Spencer up in a tight hug, almost knocking them and the cups down. Spencer flinched at the initial contact and then melted into Remy’s embrace and hugged back, laughing, as Remy squeezed him. “See, I told y’!” Remy said when he pulled back, grinning broadly at him. “I told y’ dat y’ was a firefly!”

“Somehow I just knew you were going to say that.” Spencer said dryly. His eyes were shining happily, though, the flames in them dancing.

Remy grabbed their cups and then scooted back into the empty space. “C’mon!” He thrust Spencer's cup at him and then patted the spot at his side. “Get over here and show me what y’ can do. Make me some fireworks, firefly.”

Spencer was laughing when he slid over and lay back on the car at Remy’s side. “You are so strange.”

Oui. Now, c’mon!”

What else could he do? Lifting his hand, Spencer called on the flames and made him some fireworks.

Chapter Text

Things had never been what one would call ‘okay’ in the Reid house, but they’d gotten considerably worse since Spencer's mother had gone to the hospital three months back. She’d gone in just after Spencer's sixteenth birthday for a really bad chest cold that had turned to pneumonia and hadn’t come back home. Spencer had overheard the doctor telling his father that there’d been an incident at the hospital when it came time for Diana to take her meds. Hearing it had made Spencer wince. He knew just how difficult it could be to get her to take her medications. Often, she believed she was being poisoned, or that ‘the man’ wanted her drugged so she’d be more compliant. Apparently, she’d fought the nurses so badly on taking them that they’d finally had to physically restrain her and then sedate her. She was kept after that for a mandatory psych evaluation. No one had been surprised when she’d been committed after that.

In some ways, Spencer found himself envious of his mother. Though she’d essentially traded one prison for another, at least at this other place she was going to be safe and cared for. She didn’t have to be here.  Deep inside, where he didn’t like to admit it, he was jealous that she’d gotten out of here, and then guilty for even feeling that way. He should be happy for her! At least one of them got away. Diana was in a place now that would take care of her. They’d know how to handle her episodes, how to make sure that she ate and slept and bathed when necessary. They’d be able to give her proper care. All Spencer had ever wanted was for his mother to be safe and happy. That had been the motivation behind so much he’d done in his childhood.

But with her gone, there was no one else around to help bear the brunt of William’s anger, and there was no one for him to lean on during the nights when things got really bad. Sometimes, on the nights when he could barely drag his body into bed, Spencer thought about leaving. What was there to hold him here anymore? His mother was gone. He didn’t have to protect her anymore. But Spencer knew he wouldn’t leave. Even with her gone, he couldn’t go. William had made it very clear to Spencer what he would do if the boy ever tried to run away from him.

Something happened, though, that took the decision out of Spencer's hands. Just three months after his mother went into the hospital, three months of being left alone in the tender care of a man who hated him, something happened that changed the direction of Spencer's life.

CXCX

Making dinner was one of the chores that Spencer had been doing for years. Since he was old enough to reach the stove, he’d been responsible for making their meals. Dinner was on the table by six, without fail, every night. Tonight was no different. There was a pan of lasagna in the oven that was just about done and Spencer was setting the table when he heard the front door open. Immediately his body tensed, an instinctive reaction to his father coming home. He forced the tension out of him as best as he could and made his hands stay steady as he set down the plate he held.

The sound of voices came to him next and Spencer's eyebrows shot up with surprise. William had brought someone home with him? It wasn’t the first time that he’d brought someone home for dinnertime. Usually it was a client or one of his partners at the law firm. Someone that he needed to wine and dine and impress a bit. But he usually informed Spencer in advance so he could make something special and so he could make himself scarce.

“Spencer!” William stepped in through the kitchen door just far enough to be able to see Spencer. “We’ve got a guest for dinner. He’s a very important client of mine, so you’re on your best behavior tonight, am I clear?”

“Yes, sir.” Spencer answered quickly.

Their guest was apparently someone extremely important, judging by the way that William was treating him when they sat down at the table. Irvin Locke, as he introduced himself, looked to be about William’s age, with bright red hair and cold blue eyes that had Spencer shivering as he served the men their food. There was something about him that reminded Spencer of his father in some ways, only, colder. Spencer hadn’t realized that was possible. But the way that Irvin looked at him, so cold and calculating, it made Spencer want nothing more than for dinner to be done with. He ate his own food quickly and quietly and, when he was finally excused, he rushed to the kitchen with a sense of relief. Much as he hated washing dishes, he’d much rather be doing that than be stuck out there with them. The distance and having a close door between them helped him to steady himself again.

What was left of dinner was already packaged and in the fridge and most of the dishes were done when the kitchen door opened. Spencer glanced up just as Irvin came walking in, dirty plates in hand. The man flashed a bright smile as he walked towards Spencer. “Your father asked me to bring these in.”

“Ah, thank you.” With one soapy hand, Spencer gestured to the counter beside him, hoping that his nerves didn’t show in his voice. He had no idea what it was about this man that set him so on edge but he couldn’t quite kick the feeling. “You can just set them right there.”

Irvin put the plates down where Spencer indicated. He didn’t leave, though, as Spencer had been hoping for. Instead, he leaned against the counter right beside them, just inches away from Spencer. Bracing his hands on the counter, he leaned back enough to catch Spencer's gaze, his smile growing. “You’re quite a talented chef for one so young. Not many kids your age know how to cook, let alone make something so good.”

“Thank you.” Polite. I have to be polite. “It’s my mother’s old recipe. I just followed the directions.”

“So modest.” Irvin said. He reached one hand out and tucked a bit of Spencer's hair behind his ear, chuckling when the teen instinctively twitched back. “And shy, too. Surely you’re used to hearing compliments?”

That weird feeling that had been sitting in Spencer all night was growing now. For the first time he actually found himself wishing his father would come in the room. Even if it was just to yell at him. Anything, to break up this moment and get Irvin away. Conscious of just how close they were to one another, Spencer shifted his weight to the right, leaning ever so slightly away from him. The move wasn’t subtle and it seemed to only serve to amuse Irvin. “Come on now, Spencer.” Pushing off the counter, he stepped up close to Spencer, fingers trailing up Spencer's arm from elbow to shoulder. “There’s no need to be like that.” Before Spencer could try to move away, Irvin twisted, putting himself right behind Spencer. The little fear that Spencer had felt before exploded through him like a wildfire the instant the man’s body pressed up against his and he felt a terrifying hardness pressing against his backside. “No need to be so unfriendly.”

Hands still buried in the dish water, Spencer let go of the plate he’d been scrubbing and curled his fingers around the handle of a knife, the only thing he had to protect himself with in here. “M-My father…”

“Who do you think sent me in here?”

Spencer barely had time to process the fact that his father had—had actually sent this bastard in here, had seemingly given his permission, before Irvin was pressing up against him and squishing him against the counter, hands bracketing him on either side and his mouth dropping to the curve of Spencer's neck and shoulder. Sharp teeth nipped there and Spencer let out a choked cry and bucked his body, hard. Irvin rode it out as if he’d been expecting it. He hadn’t, however, been expecting the elbow that Spencer slammed back into his gut, and that worked to break his hold. The minute that Spencer was free, he darted away from the sink, the knife still held tightly in his hand. He held it tightly in front of him as he put his back towards the wall, wide eyes on Irvin. He didn’t even notice as a small tongue of orange fire traced over the edge of the blade to lick around the tip. “Get out!” Spencer spat the words out, fighting hard to get them past the pounding of his heart and the heavy lump in his throat. “Get the hell out of here!”

Irvin was no idiot. He may have had a taste for feisty young boys, but he wasn’t stupid about it. He had no wish to tangle with the kid who was clutching a knife that was on fire. “Forget this.” Irvin snapped, all signs of friendliness gone, leaving his expression dark and twisted. “Fuck you, kid, and fuck your father’s deal.” With that, he spun and marched out of the room.

Relief had Spencer sagging. The panic fueled adrenaline was still burning in him and he had to grab the counter to brace himself up so he wouldn’t slide down to the ground in a shaking, quivering mess. His hand trembled as he dropped the now normal knife into the sink water. God. God! That man, he’d almost…and William had…he’d allowed it? Spencer pressed one hand against his stomach and tried not to bring up his dinner.

The kitchen door snapped open with enough force to bounce off the wall and Spencer barely had enough time to lift his head before a backhanded blow sent him flying into the counter. He caught himself with one hand on the countertop, his other hand going up to his face, only to be caught by another blow. “You little shit!” William snarled out. “What the hell did you think you were doing? Coming at my client with a knife?”

“D-Dad, he…”

This time the blow was hard enough to send him crashing into the doorframe. Spencer cried out as his ribs hit the frame and his body crumpled to the floor, half in and half out of the kitchen. A few hard kicks had him scrambling back, into the dining room. His father caught hold of his shirt front and yanked him up to his feet until they were face to face. “I know what he was doing!” William looked furious, eyes wide and bright and full of that hate and disgust that always burned at Spencer's insides. Still holding Spencer's shirt tight, he used his other hand to slap him. “All you had to do was one thing.” Another slap. “One simple thing. And you couldn’t even do that right! You think all this comes free, boy? You think this food, those clothes, that they’re just free?” Another slap, and Spencer felt dizzied with the blows, his head spinning. He felt himself yanked in close until his father’s breath was hot in his face. “It’s about damn time you earn your keep around here!” The man snarled at him.

What it was that prompted him to speak, he didn’t know. Maybe the blows to the face had left his brain too scrambled to think clearly. He knew better than to argue or to even try and say anything other than an apology in moments like this. But instead, he found himself gasping out “I w-won’t be a whore for your clients!” The instant the words were out, he wanted to draw them back. The fury in his father’s eyes grew and Spencer knew he was in so much trouble. He’d never seen him so angry before. Then again, he’d never argued with him before. Never defied him like this.

He hit the ground with enough force to snap his teeth together and jar every single joint in his body. The pain ripped through him and he curled in on himself with a whimper, his head swimming. It was clear enough, though, to hear the sound of a belt being unbuckled. “You’re going to learn your lesson.” William snarled over him. Metal jingled and then there was the hiss of the belt as it was removed from the belt loops. Spencer had just enough presence of mind to drop his face and bring his arm up to shield it before the first stroke fell. His cry echoed through the dining room as the belt connected over his side and back.

The strokes started to fall in quick succession, one right after the other without any pause, whipping across his back and shoulders while William’s furious voice echoed around them, his words punctuated by each stroke. “You do not,” snap “disrespect me” snap “in mysnap “house!” snap “You filthy” snap “little” snapfreak!” The last blow fell across Spencer's arm, the tail end of it curling around to snap across his cheek and Spencer couldn’t hold back his scream. It only spurred his father to hit harder and faster.

The beating stopped as quickly as it began. Spencer lay in a ball on the floor, whimpering, his whole body trembling with the pain. Above him he heard a disgusted snort.  “Clean yourself up.” William snapped at him. “And clean this mess down here up. I’m going to go take a shower. By the time I’m out, I want you upstairs. I think it’s time to remind you just who the boss is around here.”

Spencer lay there and listened to his father’s footsteps as they left the room, traveled up the staircase, and then went down the hall to where the master bedroom was. It was only when he heard the kick of the water heater come to life that he finally pushed himself up off the ground. Climbing to his feet was a long, painful experience that even moving slow couldn’t help make easier. This was one of the worst beatings he’d received in a long time and he knew he’d be feeling it for a long time to come. All because I wouldn’t turn myself into a whore for his clients, Spencer's mind whispered. The thought made his gut clench and his heart pound. William had done this, reacted like this, all because Spencer had told a client ‘no’. He’d set the whole thing up. That hurt Spencer more than anything else. It shouldn’t have come to any shock, not with everything else in his life, but it did. He’d come to expect and accept the things that his father did. But he’d never expected the man to use him that way. To whore him out to secure a client or as some kind of, of payment.

He couldn’t stay here.

The thought hit Spencer like a jolt of lightning.

There was no way he could stay here. Not after this. Because Spencer knew his father and he knew that this wouldn’t be the last time something like this happened. He would punish Spencer tonight, remind him of his place, and then he’d do this again. He’d bring someone else over and expect Spencer to, to…A shudder ran down him. No. No. He couldn’t stay here and live like that. He just couldn’t. That meant he had to go. He had to get as far away from here as possible. That thought gripped Spencer and it wouldn’t let go. It filled him with a certainty he’d never felt before.

He didn’t know what gave him the courage. Maybe it was knowing that his mother wasn’t here anymore for him to have to protect. Maybe it was knowing what his father had tried to allow to happen to night—had, in fact, encouraged. Whatever it was, it gave Spencer courage. Before he could second guess himself, he was moving, knowing that his time was limited. William would be done with his shower soon and he’d be expecting Spencer there. He had to be long gone by then.

The pain was pushed back under the adrenaline that flooded through him. Spencer moved quickly, wasting no time. He didn’t bother going to his room to gather his things, though he mourned the loss of his letters that were hidden under his bed. Nothing else in there was important. Nothing in there couldn’t be replaced. Hurrying, he went straight to the living room closet and grabbed the zip up sweater he kept in there. With quick, wincing movements, he pulled it on and zipped it up, flipping the hood over his head. Then, on impulse, he grabbed the jean jacket in there as well and pulled it over top. No telling how cold it would get tonight or where he’d be. Better to be prepared. Last, he dug to the coat that hung in the back, hidden by the others, and reached down into the pocket. It was where his father kept the emergency stash, he knew. Just a few hundred dollars. It should be enough to get him away from here.

Spencer didn’t give himself time to second guess what he was doing. He stuffed the money down into his pocket without even counting it and then quickly shut the closet door. One last check to make sure his wallet and ID were still in his coat pocket and then he was hurrying towards the front door.

He never once looked back.

CXCX

Adrenaline kept Spencer going. It kept him from giving in to the fear and turning around to go back home. Fear licked at his insides, coiling through his belly like a snake that he knew could consume him if given half the chance. But the adrenaline of leaving, plus what he thought might be a touch of shock, kept him going, kept him moving. It kept his brain from focusing on what he was leaving behind and instead put his focus with sharp clarity on what he needed to do. That, he could focus on. That, he could use to anchor himself.

His plan was simple, really. Nothing complicated to it. He needed to get as far away from his father as possible and there was only one person in the world that Spencer could think to run to.

There was no doubt in his mind that Remy would take him in. The question of it never even occurred to him. His best friend would help him, he knew. All he had to do was get to him.

That part was proving trickier than he’d thought. He’d figured it would be simple. A plane was out of the question, what with his age, and a train was too expensive. That left the bus. But he quickly discovered that it wasn’t going to be that simple. The woman at the counter calmly informed him that a ticket from Vegas to New Orleans was going to run him around two hundred and eight dollars. Spencer had already checked the money he’d taken from his father and his stomach sank when she told him the price. He only had one hundred and twenty on him. Spencer couldn’t back down, though. Backing down meant giving in and giving in meant going back and that was something he couldn’t do.

Tilting his head up, he swallowed down the lump in his throat and tried to make his voice steady. “How close will a hundred get me?” He made sure to keep twenty out of that, just so he could get something to eat and make sure he had money for a payphone. He was going to have to call Remy at some point.

The woman behind the counter felt her heart clench a little as she looked at the youth in front of her. She could clearly see the marks on his face he was trying so hard to hide underneath his hood and she didn’t miss the careful way that he stood. Someone had hurt this boy and hurt him pretty badly. With the practice of someone who’d worked this station for years and who’d seen plenty of people come and go, she could see clear as day that this boy was running. Underage and running. Rightfully, she should call the police and report him. But one peek at those uniquely burning eyes, which he worked so hard to keep sheltered under his hood, and she knew she couldn’t turn him in. Whatever he was running from, it was bad, and she knew she couldn’t live with herself if she sent him back. “That’ll get you to Albuquerque, New Mexico.” She told him. When she rang him up, she added a student discount, hoping the little extra it would save him might help.

That was how Spencer ended up tucked into the back of a Greyhound bus, leaving behind the only life that he’d ever known. With thirty dollars in his pocket and not a thing to his name, he was finally doing the one thing he’d dreamed up; he was getting the hell out of here and as far away from William Reid as he possibly could. And he was going to do everything in his power to make sure he never went back. Staring out the window, he watched as the bus rolled down the highway and the lights of Vegas slowly faded into the dark.

Chapter Text

Whatever it was that had gotten Spencer to the bus station helped hold him together through most of the ride. His mind kept trying to drift back over the night’s events only to be resolutely shoved back once more. He knew if he let himself really think about it, he was going to come apart at the seams. Just unravel and fall to pieces right here on this bus and that was just something he couldn’t allow to happen. Not yet. Right now he had to hold himself together. He had to keep himself in one piece until he got somewhere safe. Until he got to Remy. Once he got to his friend, he’d be safe. He knew he would be. That was something he held no doubts on. Remy would keep him safe. He’d help Spencer figure out what the hell to do next.

Without his cell phone, there hadn’t been any way to call Remy while on the bus. But when the bus stopped in Flagstaff for a transfer, with a thirty minute wait between, Spencer took the opportunity to dart into the station and exchange a few bills for quarters. Then he hurried to the bank of payphones against the wall and found himself one that wasn’t being used and was far away from any others that were being used. He didn’t want anyone overhearing him. The last thing he needed was for someone to hear something and realize that he was a runaway and call security over here. They’d send him back home and Spencer couldn’t have that. He just couldn’t go back home.

Spencer made sure to pull his hood down a little more to try and keep his face hidden while he leaned in against the payphone. His body was protesting being upright. But it’d been protesting the bus ride for the past few hours, too. Only a bit of fitful sleep had allowed him to make the trip this far. His high pain tolerance only got him so far. Anyone who’s ever been the victim of a belt wielded by someone bigger and stronger than them can attest to just how much damage that strip of leather can do. The deep bruises and welts were a symphony of pain that had him gasping or clenching his teeth each time the bus jostled. The bit of pain reliever he’d finally broken down and bought at the last layover in Kingman helped to at least take some of the edge off. But it wasn’t quite enough to touch the ache in his ribs

With slightly shaky hands, Spencer dropped the coins into the slot and then dialed the number he’d had memorized for years. It was late, he knew, but he hoped Remy would still answer. Spencer's bus had left Vegas at almost eight thirty at night and it was now almost three in the morning. That would put it at four in the morning in New Orleans. Knowing Remy, he’d probably just crawled into bed. Or he’d be tucked in someone else’s bed. But he’d always answered Spencer's rare calls in the past. Please, please don’t let now be any different. Wrapping his sore arm around his aching ribs, he leaned in and pressed his forehead against the side of the payphone and listened to the ringing.

Three rings later, a gloriously familiar voice came on the line. “Whoever de hell dis is, y’ better have a dan good reason fo’ waking Remy up.

Just the sound of Remy’s voice was almost enough to shatter Spencer's control. His hand gripped convulsively in his sweater and an aching breath huffed out of his chest. It almost stole his voice, leaving it a thin, thread whisper that practically throbbed down the line. “Remy.”

Oui, t’ink we established dat. Who’s dis?

The snark in Remy’s voice was just as soothing as any reassuring words. It steadied him a little; gave him enough strength to get out more than just one word this time. “I-It’s me.” The words shook and Spencer clenched his hand on the phone. “Spencer.”

There was a rustling sound and suddenly Remy’s voice was back, sharper and much more alert than before, no signs of sleepiness in it anywhere. “Spencer? What’s wrong? Are y’ okay?

Spencer drew in the concern in Remy’s voice and let it warm him inside where he’d been feeling so cold. His tremors grew a little more and he had to fight to keep it together. It was just so tempting to come apart right now. Now that he had Remy’s voice in his ear, strong and steady, he wanted to wrap himself in it and let go, even though he knew he couldn’t. Not yet. Not yet. “I, I’m in a lot of trouble, Remy.” His breath hitched and a sob caught in his throat. “God, Remy, I’m in so much trouble.”

Calm down, firefly.” In an instant Remy’s voice switched over to that thicker, soothing drawl that never failed to settle Spencer's nerves. “Jus’ take a deep breath an calm down. Tell me what’s going on. Where are y’ right now? Are y’ safe?” That was an important question. Remy was the only person in the world who knew just how serious and important a question like that was. This wasn’t the first time that Spencer had called him up while scared. Usually, though it was while he was hiding out, waiting out his Dad’s temper somewhere that he couldn’t be found. He’d call Remy on the cell phone the man had given him on his last visit and they’d talk until Spencer had to go. But this wasn’t like that and Spencer knew the answer he was about to give was going to make his best friend panic.

He drew in a breath like Remy advised and carefully blew it back out, mindful of his various aches as he did. “I’m in Flagstaff.” He blurted out.

Flagstaff?” Remy said incredulously.

Spencer didn’t give him time to ask any more questions. The story came spilling out of him, words tripping past his lips in their hurry to get free, whispered fast and low to keep anyone around him from hearing them. “I didn’t know what else to do, Remy! He was so pissed. I’ve never seen him that mad before! I couldn’t just stay there. So I, I grabbed the money from the closet and I just, I ran, and I couldn’t think of where to go except to you but the lady at the station, she said I could get as far as Albuquerque and I just, I didn’t know what else to do! I can’t go back, Remy. I’m in so much trouble. Oh, God, Remy, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know who else to call…”

Hey, hey, shh now. Shh.” Remy cut in. “Shh. Take a few deep breaths b’fore y’ send y’rself into a panic attack.”

Swallowing to try and fight back the sob that wanted to break free, Spencer closed his eyes and held himself just a little tighter. “I’m scared, Remy.” He whispered in a little boy voice. It was an admission he would never have dared make to anyone else.

There was a soft rustling sound in the background on Remy’s end of the phone. “I know y’ are, firefly. It’s gonna be okay, t’ough. Y’ said y’r bus is going to Albuquerque?

“Yes. It’s due in about ten a.m.”

All right. Dis is what we’re gonna do. I’m getting up right now an getting dressed an den I’m gonna get in m’ car an drive on out dere to get y’.”

“Remy, that’s like a sixteen, almost seventeen hour drive!”

De fact dat y’ know dat, just off de top of y’r head, disturbs me, cher.” Remy teased him. “An y’ know I’m gonna make it faster dan dat. But y’r right, y’ll get dere b’fore I do, so I want y’ to listen to me. I got a friend dat’s close to de area right now, up near Santa Fe. He’s a good homme an I trust him wit’ m’ life. I’m gonna have him pick y’ up an get y’ into a hotel fo’ me. Y’ stay wit’ him an don’t go nowhere till I get dere, y’ hear? He’ll keep y’ safe until I can get to y’. Y’ got me?”

“I got you.” Spencer parroted back. Some of the weight sitting on his chest lifted away with Remy’s steady take-charge attitude. It felt just a little easier to breathe now.

Y’ hang on, Spencer. I’ll be dere as fast as I can. I’m grabbing m keys right now, y’hear me? I’m coming fo’ y’.”

After Spencer hung up the phone, he held himself tightly and started to make his way back towards the busses. It was about time to board on the new bus. Despite his aches, the rest of the trip didn’t seem so bad all of a sudden. He had a plan now. Remy had a plan. Spencer could follow that, could follow the directions he’d been given. Step by step he’d do what he had to. He had an end destination firmly set in place now. All he had to do was get through all this and he would get to Remy. Then, then he could finally let go and let someone he trusted be in charge for a little while. All he had to do was make it sixteen more hours. He could do that. He’d survived sixteen years under William Reid. He could survive sixteen more hours until Remy could get to him.

CXCX

He didn’t stop to wonder until he’d already arrived at the station in Albuquerque just how he and Remy’s friend were supposed to spot one another. Really, though, he should’ve known that Remy would have it all under control, and in true Remy fashion, too. When Spencer walked away from the bus and into the station it only took him about ten seconds to find the person waiting for him. The piece of cardboard box turned into a sign with the word ‘Firefly’ written on it was a pretty good giveaway.

The guy holding up the sign was short and stocky, with arms that Spencer privately thought were probably as big around as his waist. That wasn’t exactly reassuring. There was the definite look of a brawler to the guy, an obvious aura of danger around him. He was dressed casually in well-worn jeans, a t-shirt and short sleeved flannel over it, with his dark hair sticking up sort of wild and thick sideburns. Sharp blue eyes were scanning the crowd and they easily picked up on Spencer as he started to make his way towards him. The guy must’ve noticed that Spencer was making a straight line for him and had made the appropriate assumption. He waited until Spencer got right up to him before he spoke in a voice that was low and rumbling, with just a hint of a growl at the edges. “Spencer?”

Spencer nodded, ducking his head a little more so that his hood and his hair covered his face just enough to shield the marks on his face and his eyes. Hiding his eyes was force of habit and he was proficient at using his hair to do it when he didn’t have sunglasses.

The guy nodded at him and lowered down his sign. “Right. My name’s Logan. Sorry about the sign. Gumbo said it’s probably not smart to be showing off your name right now.” He slanted a look at Spencer with those sharp eyes of his that stared at him like they saw way too much. “Let’s get you outta here, kid. I got a room at the motel just down the block where we can hole up till the Cajun gets here.”

Logan waited until Spencer was right beside him before he started moving. He kept close, but not too close, giving Spencer just enough space to feel comfortable. The way he walked at Spencer's side reminded him a little of Remy, though. Not in the proximity; Remy always walked practically on top of him, often with an arm around him. It was more in the way he walked. Logan moved with the same alertness that Spencer had only ever seen on Remy. Like he was watching everyone around him for potential enemies, anyone that might cause trouble, while also keeping an eye on the exits at all times. He steered Spencer carefully through the crowd, too, and Spencer noticed that he was making a point to step in the way of anyone that might get too close to Spencer. He was protecting him. Like—like a bodyguard or something. Wow. Remy must’ve really gone overboard on his protectiveness of Spencer when he called up this guy.

However, Spencer wasn’t going to complain. If anything, he was grateful. The last thing he wanted was contact with some random stranger. He didn’t like crowds on a good day and today was definitely not a good day. He felt jumpy, his own senses on high alert for any trouble around him, and he honestly didn’t know how he’d react if someone touched him. His control over his powers was still there but there was no telling how much it might waver if someone had the misfortune of startling him.

When they got outside, the crowds were thicker and Spencer instinctively stepped closer to his ‘protector’. Logan must’ve noticed because he took a step forward and just a bit closer to Spencer as well, putting them within inches of each other. He angled them so that he was just slightly in front of Spencer, enough to act as a barrier, and he had Spencer between him and the wall. Spencer was embarrassed by how grateful he was. Not embarrassed enough to move, though. He kept his arms wrapped tight around himself and focused on following Logan’s footsteps. Each step was reminding him that he needed to take some more pain reliever, even take the time to strip down and assess and treat any injuries. That was going to have to wait, though.

By the time they arrived at their destination, Spencer was breathing heavier and his whole body was throbbing.

Logan led him right up to a motel that really was just a block away from the station. He must’ve already been checked in because he didn’t go to the office. Instead, he led Spencer down to the room at the end of the row and pulled a key from his pocket. “Here we are.” He said, swinging the door open wide. He stepped back, gesturing inside with one hand. “Get in here and sit down, kid. I don’t know how badly you’re hurtin’, but you’re making me hurt just looking at ya. Go get off your feet.”

Remy trusts him, Spencer reminded himself as he walked into the room. Remy trusts this man. He wouldn’t have sent him if he didn’t. The reminder helped him push down some of his fear. Enough that he was able to go inside the motel room with this strange man that he didn’t even know. The room was basic, two double beds plus a small couch and TV. It was the couch that Spencer went to. Just because he was trusting the guy this far didn’t mean he was going to be stupid enough to go to one of the beds. The wry look that Logan gave him while he shut the door said that he’d guessed Spencer's train of thought. He watched, seemingly knowing better than to offer help, as Spencer gingerly slid his aching body down onto the edge of the couch. His back was screaming at him. Hours and hours of sitting on the bus had been a form of hell. He’d had to turn himself carefully to his good side so as to avoid the mass of welts he knew would cover his back. Sadly, it was far too familiar to him to move around the pain. At least the years of experience had ended up being good for something. They’d helped him make it here. With less of a pain tolerance, he knew he would’ve broken down sobbing only hours into the trip.

Once Spencer was seated, Logan took a few more steps into the room, but he kept his distance, opting to lean against a wall instead of come close to him. “Okay, kid, now that we’re away from prying eyes and ears, Rem wanted me to let ya know the plan’s changed a bit.”

It was like a fist to the gut. Instant panic hit Spencer and his whole body locked down. Oh, God, had he been wrong? Had he been an idiot to trust this man? He had Spencer alone in a motel room. He could do anything he wanted! Air started to hitch in Spencer's lungs and his fists curled into his sweater.

Logan’s eyes widened with surprise and then he was holding his hands up in the universal gesture of peace, showing he was unarmed. “Woah, woah, kid. That aint what I meant. You’re safe, okay? I aint gonna hurt ya.”

The same courage that had prompted this insane run in the first place prompted him to speak up now, though his voice shook ever so slightly. “You try anything and I swear to you, I’ll burn the room down if I have to.”

“Shit, I should’ve phrased that better.” Blowing out a breath, Logan ran one of his hands through his hair before dropping both hands back down to hook in his pockets. “Gumbo caught a plane out here instead of driving. He said the car would’ve taken too long an a flight cut the time in half. He should be getting in within the hour. That’s what I meant, kid. Nothing else.”

Relief wanted to swamp Spencer. By sheer will he managed to push it back. That little burst of fear had made him warier, less willing to trust. “I want to talk to him.”

“He figured ya might.” Reaching down into his pocket, Logan pulled out a cell phone, exaggerating the movement slightly to make sure that Spencer could see at all times what he was doing. “So long as they aint landing, you should be able to reach him.” He tossed the phone so that it landed on the cushion next to Spencer.

The young genius caught it up before it could make its second bounce. He dialed the familiar number from memory and pressed the phone up to his ear, all the while keeping a steady eye on Logan. It took a single ring before Remy’s voice flooded the line. “Bonjour, mon ami. Y’ get m’ firefly all right?”

There was warm concern and an easy friendliness in Remy’s voice that did more to set Spencer at ease than anything else. It warmed him to hear that affection from Remy, to know that that was how he spoke about Spencer to his friends, and it eased him to hear how friendly Remy sounded because that meant that he not only trusted this guy, he cared for him too, and that meant a lot in Spencer's books. The tension in his shoulders faded a little and he felt like he could take a steady breath again. “Hey, Remy.”

Spencer! Merci Dieu, he’s got y’, den. Is everyt’ing okay? De two of y’ are all right?

“We’re fine.” Spencer snuck a look up at Logan, who hadn’t moved from his spot against the wall except to pull a cigar from his shirt pocket and stick it, unlit, into his mouth. “We’re at a hotel room. He…he said you’d be here soon?” If there was a bit of hopeful pleading in that, no one commented on it.

Oui, cher. We’re actually running on time, too, so it aint gonna be no more dan an hour b’fore y’ see me. I told y’ I’d get dere as quick as I could, didn’t I? I always keep m’ word.”

“Yes, you do.”

I hope Logan didn’t scare y’ none. He’s a sweetheart. Don’t let dat gruff mountain-man look fool y’. He’s a big ol’ teddy bear on de inside.” There was a small pause, then, “Just don’t tell him I said so, d’accord?”

Spencer chuckled softly at that and snuck another look up at Logan, who was watching him with a small smile that suggested he knew he was being talked about.

The phone was passed off after that, once Remy had once again reassured Spencer that he was going to be there soon, and from what Spencer heard it sounded like Logan and Remy were simply discussing things like arrival times and how they were getting from the airport to here. Spencer wasn’t really listening by then. After running for so long on the adrenaline, the fear and pain and panic, Spencer's body was slowly starting to drop. The couch he was on was comfortable and he was with someone that Remy insisted was safe. Apparently that sense of safety was all Spencer needed for his exhaustion to start to catch up to him. His blinks grew longer and longer and it became more difficult to open his eyes back up each time.

He never really noticed as his body listed just slightly to the side, propping up against the high arm rest. By the time Logan got off the phone, the young genius was curled up into the corner of the couch snoring softly. The feral looked at him for a long moment. Then, smiling, he shook his head. On silent feet he padded over to the bed and grabbed the comforter. There were plenty of people who would’ve been surprised to see as the big, bad Wolverine carefully laid the blanket over this scrawny youth, making sure to gently tuck him in. Once he was satisfied, he moved over to the front door, opening it enough that he could lean in the doorframe. There, silent and steady, he smoked his cigar stood guard over the occupant of the room, waiting for the arrival of one of the few people in his life he’d honestly call friend.

CXCX

Spencer woke to a burning ache through his body, the gentle feel of a hand brushing across his face and the low sound of a familiar voice cursing vehemently. It was a strange combination of anger and tenderness that he’d only ever encountered with one person before. That familiarity registered in his subconscious before he’d even fully woke. In those random nights that Spencer had fallen asleep in his backyard hideaway while waiting for Remy to slip out, he’d come to recognize the feeling of his friend waking him. Because of that, he didn’t tense, didn’t try to pull away from the touch now. He pressed in, mindless of the ache that spread through his face.

Blinking open heavy eyes, he found just what he knew he would. Remy was kneeling down in front of him looking at him with eyes that had gone hot and sharp with both concern and anger. The only thing that threw him was that he was no longer on the couch. Somehow he’d managed to make his way to the bed. Judging by the way all of his aches were coming to life and the way that Remy was stroking at his face, soothing him down, it wasn’t hard to guess that the Cajun had carried him over here. The pressure on his injuries was probably what had started to wake him to begin with. It would explain why Remy was cursing and trying to soothe him back down.

To Spencer's absolute mortification, he found his eyes filling with tears.

Almost immediately the temper in Remy’s gaze burned away. “Ah, cher.” With the hand that still cupped Spencer's cheek, he used his thumb to wipe away the single tear that slipped free. “It’s all right now, Spencer. I’m here. I’ve got y’.”

Spencer tried to force back the tears but he’d been fighting them for so long now. And with Remy, he’d never had to be ashamed of shedding them. Remy had never mocked or ridiculed him for them. He didn’t now, either. Nor did he try to stop them. Instead, Spencer watched as Remy pulled his arms back long enough to shed his coat and, judging by the sounds of it, remove his shoes. A second later he was lifting up the comforter and sliding underneath it to stretch out right by Spencer. With careful hands, he gathered Spencer to him, bringing him in close, and Spencer went without hesitation. He didn’t even care when Remy’s hand pressed over some of the welts and bruises. Tears slowly building, all he cared about was the safety of the arms that pulled him in and the security of the solid chest that was in front of him. Spencer buried his nose against Remy’s collarbone and relished in the safety and security of the man who was holding him like he was something so precious. Safe here as he’d never been anywhere else, there was no hope for Spencer to hold back. His tears poured out of him and a gasping sob broke free.

“Dat’s it.” Remy murmured, pressing a kiss against his hair. “Jus’ let it out, Spencer. I’m here and I’ve got y’. I aint going nowhere. Y’ just go on and let it all out, firefly.”

Let it out he did. Spencer couldn’t have stopped it if he’d tried. He let out all the pain and fear that had been riding with him since he’d run out of the house. No, since he’d stood in that kitchen holding the flaming knife. He let it all out into Remy’s chest until there were no more tears left to cry. The whole time, Remy just held him close, keeping him sheltered. And when it was done, when the last of the tears had run their course and Spencer was sagging against him with exhaustion from the purge, Remy still didn’t let go. He kept Spencer close and hummed a wordless lullaby. It was the last thing Spencer heard before his body once more dropped down into sleep.

Chapter Text

Spencer slept for even longer this time. Comfortable and safe in Remy’s arms, and with a little help from Remy’s charm, he stayed under for a few hours. Remy had been able to see just how badly he needed the sleep; that was why he’d helped him along. He stayed with him the whole time, too, not even moving to speak with Logan. The two kept their voices pitched low so as not to disturb Spencer. The whole time, Remy lay there and kept Spencer in the circle of his arms, refusing to let him go. There was no way he could. Not after the panic of these last few hours. His heart had been racing since Spencer had called and it hadn’t stopped until he had the young genius in his arms.

Blissfully unaware of his friend’s thoughts, Spencer slept through the rest of the morning and into the afternoon.

When he started to stir he didn’t find himself waking up afraid. Even as he registered the feel of arms around him, he heard the low hum of Remy’s voice singing to—the Eagles. Spencer's lips curved up. The Eagles were one of those bands that Remy liked that he didn’t often admit to. But the Cajun was lowly singing ‘Lyin’ Eyes’ at the moment and Spencer kept his eyes closed as he enjoyed it. He really didn’t want to have to get up. As had become normal, he hadn’t moved while he slept, so his body was still stretched out against Remy’s. The only difference was that he’d managed to press in even closer. His nose was nuzzled right up against Remy’s collarbone, actually dipping underneath the neck of his button up shirt. Here, everything was safe and easy and Spencer didn’t want to leave to go back to the real world. However, he didn’t really get a choice. Remy finished the verse he was singing and then startled Spencer by saying “I know y’r awake dere, cher. Aint no point in playing possum no more.”

“Give me five minutes and I can be asleep again.” Spencer promised in a low murmur.

“Not yet, Spencer.” Remy said in a surprisingly serious voice. It was serious enough that Spencer actually pulled back enough to peek one eye up at him. He found Remy looking down at him with an expression that was as serious as his voice. One of Remy’s hands slid up from where it’d been resting on Spencer's back and he used it to brush back some loose hair and part of Spencer's hood. Gentle fingers just barely grazed over the mark on his face. “I know y’r tired, mais dis needs tending, an anyt’ing else dat I can’t see.”

Even as he pressed his cheek into Remy’s touch, not caring about the ache that flared up, he dropped his eyes down. “I don’t want to.” He admitted only slightly shamefully.

The hand on his cheek brushed back and slipped underneath his hood to thread through his hair and cup the back of his head. “Je sais.” Remy murmured. He leaned in and pressed a soft kiss to Spencer's forehead. “Will y’ let me look anyways?”

“What about your friend?” He was grasping at straws, he knew. It wasn’t like Remy would actually let someone sit in on something like this. He was picky about who was allowed around Spencer on a good day. While he was hurt like this? Spencer had no doubt that Remy was going to be even more protective. He wouldn’t let anyone in around Spencer like this if he didn’t have to, and he definitely wouldn’t allow anyone in while he was checking Spencer over.

He was proved right just a second later when Remy said, “Logan aint here, cher. He went to go check out some t’ings round town. It’s just y’ and me here.” Once more he kissed Spencer's forehead. “C’mon, firefly. Let me take a look at y’ and y’ can tell me what happened.”

How on earth was it that Remy made it all sound so simple and so reasonable that Spencer couldn’t argue with it? The last thing he wanted was to sit up and talk about things or to let Remy see just how bad the damage was. Hell, he hadn’t even looked at the damage completely yet. But a few words from Remy in that steady, husky tone of his and Spencer found himself being sat up on the bed and pouring out the whole wretched story. He started off hesitant and slow while Remy slid his hood off, keeping his voice soft. But soon the words picked up pace until they tripped rapid-fire off his tongue. His best friend listened, growling when Spencer started to describe the situation in the kitchen, then grinning sharply when he heard about Spencer setting the knife on fire.

“Good fo’ y’!” he said fiercely. There was pride on his face and it gave Spencer a little more courage. He continued his story, focusing on his words to help steady him.

When he got to the beating, he couldn’t actually look at Remy’s face, but he saw how the Cajun’s hands fisted tight in the bedding. He didn’t say a word as Spencer quickly hurried through the end of the story, finishing with getting onto the bus at the bus station.

Silence filled the room once Spencer wrapped up his story. Then those familiar hands cupped his face and pulled him in just enough that Remy could press yet another kiss to his forehead. The gesture was a normal one between them, one that Remy had first done the very first time he’d ever seen Spencer hurt, telling him it was something Tante Mattie did to make him feel better when he got hurt. It had become a sort of healing gesture since then and Remy often used it when Spencer was upset and hurting. Feeling it now had the young genius relaxing just the slightest bit more. The words Remy whispered against his forehead relaxed him the rest of the way. “Y’ did de right t’ing, coming to me.”

“Really?” Spencer blinked rapidly to clear his already watering eyes and he looked up at Remy through his bangs.

Remy smiled down at him and stroked his palm over Spencer's good cheek. “Oui.

“Dad’s not going to be happy with me leaving, Remy. He’s could cause a lot of trouble if he finds out I’m with you. I’m only sixteen…”

“Pfftt.” Remy rolled his eyes and tapped his finger against Spencer's nose. “Hush. I aint scared of dat connard. Dere aint not’ing he can do to me, firefly, so don’t y’ worry none. I already got a plan.”

“A plan?”

“Mm hm. Y’ just don’t worry none and y’ let Remy take care of y’, d’accord?”

It was what he’d wanted. Independent though he may be, this was exactly what Spencer had wanted. He’d known the minute he called Remy that his friend would swoop in and take over. It was just a part of his personality. He was a caretaker through and through. Especially when it came to those close to him. Spencer had known that Remy would take control of this situation and start making plans. And though he wanted to know about what they were, later, he was content now to put himself into hands that he trusted. The only hands in his life that he trusted right now. The faith and trust he had in his friend had him relaxing completely into the hold on his face and he looked up at Remy with trust burning in his fiery eyes. “Okay.”

He knew what was coming next and he didn’t protest when his face was released. Remy’s hands were gentle as they helped to carefully strip Spencer of his jacket and sweater. When they were gone, Spencer could see as Remy’s eyes ran over his shirt, knew that he’d found the bloodstains in a few spots when he saw his jaw tighten. The red in his eyes flashed briefly and then was tapered down. When Remy spoke, his voice was steady. “Y’ fond of dis shirt, cher?”

Looking down at himself, Spencer debated before he looked back up and shook his head. “Not really. It’s the only one I have right now, though.”

“I’ll get y’ a new one.” Reaching into his pocket, Remy pulled out a knife and flicked it open. It showed a hell of a lot of trust when Spencer sat perfectly still and allowed Remy to cut his shirt right off of him. However, he couldn’t bring himself to look up at Remy’s face anymore, not wanting to see his reaction to what was about to be revealed. Instead, he looked down at his lap, watching his arms as Remy very carefully pulled the shirt off. The damage done to his one arm had Spencer wincing. He also braced himself, knowing that his side and back had to look so much worse and knowing that it was going to infuriate Remy.

He was right. Remy was furious—no, beyond furious—when he saw Spencer's body. Only years of training on how to keep his emotions hidden kept him from reacting now. He knew the last thing that Spencer needed to see was any sort of anger. Despite how well he was doing, there was no doubt in Remy’s mind that his young friend was still very fragile right now and he needed strength, not to deal with someone else’s temper. But it was hard.

Even without Spencer's story, it would’ve been obvious what had happened to him. The damage left behind from a belt is pretty easy and clear to see. Remy had thought the mark on Spencer's face had been bad; it was nothing compared to the rest of him. The one on Spencer's face, going off the kid’s story, had been at least slightly lessened by the fact that the belt had impacted his arm first so it had lost some of its strength by the time it got to his face. There was a welt there, a huge bruise, plus the splits in cheek and lip that could’ve come from the belt or from the slaps that had been placed there. But the rest of Spencer's body…all along Spencer's right arm, over his right side and over his back, he was a network of bruises and welts, a mass of dark colors broken here and there by red where the belt had struck with enough force to actually split the skin. This wasn’t just a simple whipping, if the word simple could ever even be applied to being whipped. The person that had done this had done it with true anger behind their blows. They’d done it with the intent to hurt, to cause actual damage, and it only made Remy want to kill William Reid all the more. As he looked at one particularly bad mark, the long, bloody line of it that stretched over Spencer's lower back, he seriously contemplated talking to Belle when he got back home. She’d probably give him a discounted rate if he asked nicely enough. Hell, she’d probably go and do it herself. Remy was her best friend, though she’d never openly admit to it, and she’d heard enough about Spencer over the years she’d consider this personal. He might not even have to ask her. If she found out about this she might just take it upon herself to exact a bit of revenge.

Blissfully unaware of his friend’s train of thought, Spencer carefully moved his right arm in front of him, looking at the bruises and testing his range of movement. Things always ached pretty badly the first day but he knew that tomorrow morning he was going to wake up even achier than now and horrendously stiff and sore.

“Some of dese need cleaned.” Remy said from where he’d moved behind Spencer. His weight shifted on the bed and Spencer knew he was climbing off. “Y’ stay dere. I’ll get some washcloths an supplies. Logan got us some basic first aid shit earlier.”

The reminder of the other person had Spencer drawing his arms self-consciously in towards his chest. “You’re sure he won’t be coming back any time soon?”

There was the sound of running water from in the bathroom. Remy raised his voice to be heard over it. “He promised to call me b’fore he comes back. C’mon now.” The water cut off and Remy’s voice got closer again. “Y’ know me better’n dat, Spencer. Like hell I’m gonna let anyone in here while I do dis. I wouldn’t embarrass y’ like dat. Not even fo’ Logan.” Something was set down behind Spencer and then Remy’s hand came down on Spencer's good shoulder as a gentle warning before the bed dipped down and Remy carefully settled in behind him. “All right, brace y’rself, cher. I’m gonna start cleaning t’ings up now.”

Chewing on the inside of his cheek, Spencer turned his head a little and glanced back. Remy sat with one leg tucked under him and the other hanging off the bed. It looked like a plastic store bag was sitting in front of him. Spencer held still as Remy started the painful process of cleaning up all the dried blood. Though his touch was gentle, Spencer still flinched here and there, and Remy murmured a soft apology.

Spencer closed his eyes and dropped his head a little as Remy hit a particularly sore spot. He needed some kind of distraction to get through this. Something to focus on. That always made it easier to get through pain. Normally, he’d find that inside of his own head, but he had Remy right here and it was never difficult to get Remy to start talking. There was an easy enough topic to get him on right now, too, that would also serve to distract Remy from the temper that Spencer knew was rolling around inside of him and slowly building steam with each wound he cleansed. “Your friend Logan, he seems nice.”

“Oh oui, he’s a great homme.” Remy said immediately.

“How’d you two meet?”

That simple question was all it took to get the man going. Remy launched into a story about meeting Logan at some poker game in a dive in Chicago, giving Spencer all the details down to the very last card. The brunt of the story really wasn’t that important. Spencer let most of the details slip on by and just let his friend’s voice wash over him and anchor him down. He knew that Remy had to realize what he was doing. It helped, though. It held him together and Spencer made it through being cleaned up and bandaged without anything more than a few winces and a slightly chewed lip. He was a little pale when Remy finally took his supplies away, but he hadn’t cried out and he hadn’t shed a tear. He’d had enough crying today to last him for a while. The last thing he’d wanted was to shed another tear over all of this. Tears were a weakness he didn’t often indulge himself in. Not when they’d gotten him into so much trouble in the past.

Remy’s phone gave a buzz on the nightstand just as the Cajun came back out of the bathroom. He checked it while he dug through the bag on the floor that Spencer hadn’t noticed before. When he straightened back up, he set the phone back on the nightstand and turned towards Spencer, a shirt in his hand. “Here, cher, y’ can wear one of m’ shirts. I brought a few, since I didn’t know how long I’d be here fo’.” Reaching out, he carefully helped Spencer scoot towards the edge of the bed a little more and then lifted the shirt. Neither one of them said anything about how Remy helped to carefully dress him in the button up. He threaded Spencer's bruised arm through the sleeve with a careful touch that barely ached at all. As he did, he told Spencer, “Dat was Logan messaging me. He’s on his way back, should be here in de next ten minutes or so. Once he gets here, we’ll get going.”

“Going?” Spencer tipped his head up, letting his bangs fall off his face so that he could see his friend. He didn’t miss the way that Remy winced as his eyes drifted over the now visible marks.

Though he winced, his hands didn’t falter as they started to button up the shirt. “Oui. We can’t exactly fly back home since we need to keep under de radar. We don’t want y’r Papa finding us, hehn? So Wolvie’s gonna drive us on back home. He said he might stay fo’ a little while, too. Jus’ to help keep an eye on t’ings until we get all settled.” Finishing the last button, Remy straightened out the rest of the shirt, adjusting the collar. He smiled down at Spencer. “Y’ made an impression on him. He said y’ got some spunk in y’.”

It only took a second for him to realize what Logan must’ve been referring to. Oh, right. He’d completely threatened Remy’s friend earlier. Spencer flushed a little bit and dropped his eyes in embarrassment.

His reaction had Remy chuckling. “Yeah, he told me. Am I gonna have to start calling y’ firecracker instead of firefly?”

“Oh, hush.” Spencer snapped half-heartedly. He ignored Remy’s delighted laugh and tried to quickly change the subject. “So we’re driving down to New Orleans?”

The grin Remy wore said he knew what Spencer was doing, but he let him get away with it anyways. Letting go of Spencer, he slipped down to sit beside him, leaning back against the headboard. “Dat’s right. Once we get y’ in de city, dere aint a damn t’ing y’r Papa can do.”

“What if he calls the police, Remy?”

“Let him.” Remy’s expression darkened a bit. “He’ll have a hell of a fight on his hands. M’ Papa knows a lot of important people, cher, y’ know dat, even if we don’t really talk about dat part of m’ life. One of de first t’ings we’re gonna do is go an talk to Papa. He’ll help us get de ball rolling on some t’ings.”

Get the ball rolling? Spencer bit nervously at the inside of his cheek again. What exactly was Remy planning here? “Remy…” he hesitated for only a second before trudging on. “I don’t want him arrested. I don’t want to go through all of that.”

He was surprised when Remy just nodded at him. Reaching out, his best friend patted his knee and gave it a reassuring squeeze. “I knew y’ wouldn’t. I aint ever convinced y’ to do it b’fore. Didn’t t’ink now would be any different.”

“Then what did you mean by ‘get the ball rolling’?”

“I’ve looked into some t’ings b’fore fo’ y’, just in case I could ever get y’ to get de hell outta dere.” Remy said that without an ounce of shame, meeting Spencer's gaze head on with an almost defiant spark there as if daring Spencer to scold him or make fun of him for it. “Y’r sixteen, y’r old enough to file a petition fo’ emancipation. Y’ fit some of de basic requirements, too. I called m’ Papa on m’ way out here an he agreed to talk to de family lawyer and get de paperwork started fo’ it. We’ll have to meet with de lawyer, of course, an y’ may have to go b’fore a judge at some point, mais it seems de best way to get y’r freedom wit’out risking y’ getting put in de foster system. It was either dis, or talking to Papa an having him convince de connard to sign over his parental rights to Papa. I t’ought y’d like dis option better.”

For a moment Spencer just sat there, stunned. Emancipation was something that he’d thought about once or twice before. Of course he had. It was a way to earn freedom. To get out from underneath his Dad’s rule. He’d entertained the idea a few times since Diana had been put into the hospital. But he’d never been able to bring himself to do it. Hadn’t even known really where to begin. Yet here Remy was, offering it all up to him on a silver platter without him even really having to do anything. Remy was just going to give it all to him without him even having to ask! He’d come up with it and planned it out on his own just because he wanted to take care of Spencer. He wanted to get him free. No one, not even Diana, had ever tried to take care of Spencer that way. Diana had tried to the best of her ability; it wasn’t her fault she was ill and unable to be the mother she would’ve been without her illness. Remy, though, took it on like it was nothing. Like it was natural. From the minute he’d first met Spencer he’d picked up the mantle of caretaker with him no matter how much Spencer tried to protest that it wasn’t necessary.

Remy must’ve been able to see some of his thoughts on his face because he gave Spencer's knee another squeeze. His voice was pitched low and firm as he told him “I want to do dis, Spencer. I want to take care of y’, an I don’t want y’ arguing it with me. If y’ really don’t want to do it, I won’t push. Mais if y’r gonna argue cost, or responsibility, or some other self-sacrificing bullshit, den just keep it to y’rself, d’accord? I want to help y’.”

“Just hiding out with you is risky enough.” Spencer said slowly. “This…this will let him know exactly where I am.”

“Den let him come. Between me an Wolvie, he aint gonna lay a hand on y’ again.”

“And what about you?”

Remy scoffed derisively. “I aint scared of dat fucking connard. Let him try somet’ing. I been wanting to kick his ass fo’ a long time now.”

The low rumbling sound of a vehicle pulling up outside their room cut into their conversation. Next came the sound of a door thudding shut. Remy and Spencer were both watching when the motel room door finally unlocked and opened and Logan came strolling back in. He saw the two of them sitting there watching him and snorted as he shut the door. “Yeah, that aint worrisome, coming in with the two of ya staring at me like that.”

Any seriousness that had been on Remy’s face before was gone now. In its place was the familiar mischievousness that spoke of both good humor and trouble all at once. “I don’t know what y’r talking about, cher. We been being good in here, aint we, firefly?”

Unable to resist, Spencer found his lips curving in the fond smile that Remy always triggered in him. “Very good.”

“Dat’s right.” Remy tipped his head up and smirked at his friend.

Logan looked between them and shook his head. “I’m gonna regret this trip, I just know it.”

Laughing, Remy rose from the bed, extending a hand to help Spencer up as well. “C’mon, firefly.” He smoothed one hand over Spencer's hair, tucking a bit of it behind his ear while sharing a smile with him. Slipping his arm carefully around Spencer, mindful of the marks, he scooped up his bag with his other arm and started to lead Spencer over towards the door.  “We got a long drive ahead of us. Let’s go see how long it takes b’fore Logan tries to stab me, yeah?”

Chapter Text

The next few days passed in a whirlwind of activity for Spencer. Looking back on it later, he wouldn’t be able to quite pin down anything. All of it seemed to jumble and swirl together into this chaotic mess. The only constant in it all was Remy’s presence at his side. Remy’s, and Logan’s, surprisingly. The feral man was there with them the whole way, a solid presence beside or behind them, not really talking when they were around others. He was just there, playing not just the part of friend but of bodyguard as well. Spencer wasn’t quite sure it was necessary but Remy apparently thought so and it was something that Spencer didn’t feel the need to argue on. He didn’t really feel the need to argue about anything.

One of the first things they did after arriving in New Orleans was head to the LeBeau house where Spencer finally met Jean-Luc LeBeau for the first time. The man was kind and friendly, welcoming Spencer not just to the city, but openly welcoming him to the family. “Y’r important to Remy and dat makes y’ important to us.” Jean-Luc told him, after stunning Spencer by kissing both his cheeks. “We protect what’s ours around here, petit. Y’r Papa won’t touch y’ here. Not while we’re on guard.”

Everything after that was a blur of meetings, it seemed, the faces in them not even Spencer's amazing memory would be able to recall later on past the haze of shock that sat over everything. There were meetings with two different lawyers and even one with a doctor, though Spencer balked at that one. Seeing a doctor had always been on his list of things to avoid. But Remy told him that he wanted to make sure Spencer was okay, that there was no serious damage they needed to worry about, and Spencer ended up giving in. Really, he gave in on pretty much anything, letting Remy lead him through it all. At another time Spencer might’ve found that pathetic. In some moments, he still did. He couldn’t help but feel that he should be able to handle all of this. That he should be able to take care of himself and all of this crap around him. It left him feeling guilty, too. Remy hadn’t asked for all this. He hadn’t asked to deal with all of the crap that was being thrown Spencer's way, let alone to come in and take over. Spencer knew he should man up and take care of it himself even if it was just because it wasn’t fair for Remy to have to do it. In those moments, he couldn’t help but worry that maybe he should’ve stayed at home. That maybe he never should have left. He usually managed to banish those thoughts, though. Remy’s presence at his side helped him to let go of some of the stress and fears during the day.

His first few nights were surprisingly peaceful. Maybe it was just that there was too much going on for his brain to really dredge up the strength for nightmares. That changed on his third night there.

All others times that Spencer had been asleep, his mind and body had been too exhausted to even dream. Now…now his dreams were making up for it with a vengeance. Memories and fears twined together to make a horrifying mixture that ripped through Spencer's dreams and tore past any of the mental defenses he’d put up. He woke up screaming, his body jerking on the bed, only vaguely aware of hands holding him down. Terror and panic were twined inside of him and all he knew was that he had to go, had to go now. He had to get away!

Something broke through the fog, hands holding him tight and keeping him in place, drawing his attention from that dark world and to the present. “Spencer! Spencer! Hey, firefly, hey, it’s okay. Y’r okay. Was just a bad dream, cher. Y’r safe here. Remy’s right her and he’s got y’ and y’r safe. Come on now, need y’ to breathe fo’ Remy. Need y’ to calm down b’fore y’ tear somet’ing open.”

Like a bucket of water, Spencer remembered where he was and who that voice belonged to. It wasn’t his Dad holding him down. Wasn’t some stranger that had come to take him away. This was Remy. It was Remy, holding him still so he wouldn’t hurt himself and it was Remy talking to him. No one else was here. He was safe. He was safe. Letting out a choked sob, Spencer did something that surprised the both of them. Instead of denying the dreams or pulling back in embarrassment, as he’d done once or twice before when a nightmare had woken him while sleeping out in his hiding spot during one of those long summer nights, he turned his head and tried to bury himself against the other man. Remy didn’t even hesitate to shift in the bed and wrap his arms around Spencer, bringing him in close so that Spencer could curl against his chest. Weak hands lifted, not clutching at him but just resting between them, needing that connection. Tears flowed freely from his eyes and sobs threatened in his throat.

One of Remy’s hands stroked over his hair oh-so-gently. “Dat’s it, cher. Y’r safe here. Was just a bad dream, yeah. Just a dream. Go ahead and let it out.”

“T-They were hhhittting m-m-me.” The words came out; broken by the sobs he was trying to choke off. He squeezed his eyes shut and pressed his face more against his. Remy was real and safe and he was here. No one was going to get past him. Remy had told him that countless times already. No one was going to get past him or Logan to get to Spencer. The young teen let reminder wash over him and push back some of the darkness, trying to use it to chase away the bits of his dream that were still tugging at him. Broken words tripped their way past his lips. “They h-hit me over a-a-a-nnnd overrr. They w-wouldn’t ssstop.”

Remy’s grip tightened just slightly, ever cautious of Spencer's injuries. “Aint no one gonna hurt y’ here, Spencer.”

Buried here, in a place he knew he was safe, Spencer found himself speaking without thinking. “I’m scared.” No truer words had been spoken. He was scared. Scared of his memories, scared of what he’d left behind and what was waiting ahead, scared of what his father was going to do if he ever found him here, scared of what might happen to Remy for taking him in…just, scared. So fucking scared.

In a low voice Remy made soothing sounds because really, what words were there to say?

CXCX

Never before had Remy ever found himself so tempted to commit an act of murder. Oh, sure, he’d thought about it, the same as anyone else on the planet. Half-formed fantasies of making someone pay for something. Everybody has those. Remy had entertained plenty about William Reid over the years ever since that first day he’d met the young and terrified little Spencer and had figured out what it was the supposed ‘man’ of the house did to his son. He’d come up with many a creative way to kill the bastard for what he’d put Spencer and Diana through. But never before had the urge ever been so strong. It wasn’t a matter of creativity, or of drawing it out and making him suffer, or of making him feel the pain that he’d made Spencer feel. This was rage, pure and simple, demanding that he go to Vegas and make absolutely sure that the connard couldn’t ever lay another hand on Spencer ever again. He knew countless different ways to do it without getting caught. Besides, Belladonna would help. If there was anyone that knew how to kill someone and cover it up it would be her.

The only thing that kept Remy from doing it was the knowledge that Spencer would become an instant suspect if anything happened to William. A young mutant who had run away from home? Oh, yeah. They’d blame it all on Spencer. That was the last thing the kid needed. So that meant that, for now, Remy had to restrain himself. For now, he’d stick with what he could do. Get the emancipation paperwork through for Spencer so that he could safely and legally stay here, get him settled in at Remy’s place, help him get started at college, and make damn sure that he was safe and that he got a chance to heal both physically and mentally from this.

The physical wounds were easy to heal from. The bruises would fade, the cuts would heal. Spencer was moving tenderly now but it wouldn’t last long. It was the mental scars that would take some work. He’d always known that Spencer was—damaged. Growing up in the house that he did, it was no wonder. But damage could be fixed. He wasn’t broken beyond all repair. Remy was determined to do whatever it took to help him fix what William had done to him.

From the first day that he’d met eight year old Spencer Reid there had just been something about the boy that drew Remy to him. Something in those wide, fiery eyes. There’d been fear there and a courage that no small child should ever have. There’d also been pain and resignation. As if the pain he felt were simply a part of his life that he’d come to accept would always be there. It had reminded Remy too much of some of the younger kids on the streets. The ones that he’d run into that hadn’t been forced onto the streets like him, but who’d chosen it, because even a life on the street where you had to watch your back and you never knew when or if you were going to get to eat was a better alternative than the life that waited for them at home. Those kids had always been the jittery ones. The ones who had learned the cruelty of people before they’d ever slept their first night on a cold street. The only thing that had kept Spencer from reaching that kind of fate just to escape his father’s tyranny was his mother. He stayed for her. To keep her safe and to make sure that she was always cared for. His mother was out of the picture now, safe and being cared for the way that she needed, and look how long it had taken Spencer to run. Not long at all. Luckily, he wasn’t alone anymore. He didn’t have to simply hit the streets and hope for the best.

It had terrified the hell out of Remy when he’d gotten that phone call from Spencer. All he’d been able to think of was getting to his friend before anything more happened to him. And when he did get to him, when he saw the damage that had been done—once more, Remy’s mind had come full circle and he was back to contemplating murder again.

The damage that William did on his own to Spencer was bad enough. For that alone, Remy could cheerfully strangle the man. He’d take absolute pleasure from watching the light leave his eyes. But the connard had crossed a major line in Remy’s books when he’d actually had the gall to try and pimp the boy out to someone. Just thinking about it was enough to have Remy’s temper swelling so bad he actually felt the crackle of power around his hands, his charge aching to be set free.

The Cajun took a deep breath and carefully sighed it out. Now was not the time to let his temper get a hold of him. Spencer was currently sleeping after a really rough night. Last night was the first night that Spencer had woken up from nightmares. For the first few days, Spencer had moved around in a daze, and Remy had seen enough people hurt to know what shock looked like. This wasn’t just a physical shock. It was mental; emotional. After what had happened, that was just to be expected. But last night it had finally worn away and the nightmare had hit with a ferocity Spencer was helpless under. His screams and cries had been enough to rouse Remy from his own sleep and the terror that poured from him had yanked the Cajun from his bed and sent him running. It took far too long to wake Spencer up and he’d had to pin him down to the bed first to keep him from hurting himself. Then, once Spencer was awake, the tears and pain that had poured from him had been heartbreaking.

Remy had stayed with him through the night and held Spencer safe in the circle of his arms. With his charm, he’d soothed down any nightmares that he’d sensed, replacing the fear or pain with calming sensations. It left Remy a bit tired, his self-imposed vigilance not leaving him much in the way of sleep, but it was worth it. Spencer had gotten through the night and finally settled down into a deep, easy sleep, and that was what mattered to Remy. Only when he was sure Spencer was really out did he slip out of the bedroom and down here to the small patio off his living room. The night air swirled around him and the smoke from his cigarette curled lazily around his head.

He wasn’t really that surprised when he heard Logan coming up behind him. He’d figured his friend would come out soon enough.

Logan came out with his usual quietness. He didn’t say anything to Remy at first, just made his way to one of the metal patio chairs and lowered his bulk down into it. It wasn’t until he was seated with his legs stretched out, crossed at the ankle, and his cigar tip lit and glowing that he finally spoke up. “The kid settled in now?”

Oui.” Remy drew in a drag off his cigarette, blowing the smoke up in a steady stream. “Should sleep t’rough till morning.”

“He seems like a pretty tough pup.”

The word pup made Remy smile a little. Only Logan would get away with calling anyone ‘pup’ and have it not be offensive in the least bit. He did that with pretty much anyone younger than him. Or, younger than he looked. “He is. He’s tougher dan most people give him credit fo’.” He had to be to have survived this long.

Logan turned his head towards Remy and the look he wore was both contemplative and amused all at the same time. A corner of his mouth quirked up and he pulled the cigar from his lips. “You’re in love with him.”

An answering smile curved Remy’s lips. “Oui.” That had never been in question. He looked over at Logan and didn’t even care that his grin was big and sappy. “T’ink I loved de boy from de first day he looked at me wit’ dem big ol eyes of his an told me I was weird.”

“Does he know?”

Non, cher. Least, I don’t t’ink so.” Pausing, Remy tipped his head in thought. He’d never really thought about whether or not Spencer realized it before. “Y’ know, I don’t know. Dere’s no telling wit’ him. Sometimes he don’t pick up on de simplest t’ings, at least in de emotional sense. Other times he’ll surprise y’ wit’ just how much he’s noticed. So, yeah, dere’s no telling what dat big ol’ brain of his has picked up on.” Remy slanted a look sideways at Logan, watching him carefully in the low light. “Aint y’ gonna tell me how young we are, how young he is?” A little over four years really wasn’t that much of a difference. But it was the fact that Spencer was only sixteen while Remy was just freshly twenty one.

Logan snorted and glared at him like he was being stupid. “Gumbo, you’ve been stuck on this kid for as long as I’ve known ya. You really think I’m gonna bitch now over the fact that he’s sixteen? Don’t be fucking stupid.”

And that right there was approval as only Logan could give it. Remy’s grin came back, bright and amused. “Aw, cher, y’ say de sweetest t’ings.” He said teasingly as he charged his cigarette butt and flicked it into the air where it exploded with a small pop.

Claws swiped his direction almost lazily, easy enough to dodge. “Go curl back up with your boy, Cajun.”

“Y’ jealous, Wolvie? Want Spencer and Remy to keep y’ warm?”

Another swipe of his claws, a little more serious this time, had Remy darting inside. Laughing, he made his way down the hall and back towards his boy. Better if he got back in there anyways. He didn’t want Spencer waking up alone after the nightmare he’d had.

Chapter Text

Pain was the world that Spencer woke to. A hard, steady pounding in his head that thrummed in tune with various bruising aches throughout his body. It was such a familiar sensation that he thought nothing of it at first. Simply lay there and ran through the familiar assessment of injuries. Head—concussion, most likely. There was an intense throbbing on the back of his head and on his jaw. The sensation was familiar enough to hazard a guess at what happened. A blow to the face that had sent him crashing down to strike his head on the ground. He’d felt that combination many times before. For once, though, the rest of what was there wasn’t near as bad. Usually he could count on a beating continuing on even once he was unconscious. So why didn’t he feel the usual deep aches or burning bruises?

He tried to shift, attempting to pull his hands around to push against the floor, only to feel something tight holding his wrists in place. His whole body froze. What the…he was tied. His wrists were tied behind his back with what felt like a thick rope. That—that wasn’t normal. William didn’t tie him, not like this. The only time he tied Spencer was in a much different position. What the hell was going on?

Panic hit like a freight train. In the ensuing adrenaline rush, the fog over his head cleared and the night came back to him.

It all came crashing back in. He wasn’t at home anymore. He’d run away, run to Remy. Spencer's heart stuttered in his chest. That was right. He was with Remy now. They’d been at Remy’s place, having a private, celebratory dinner in honor of the judge’s decision today. Celebrating Spencer emancipation. At Remy and Spencer's insistence, Logan had gone out to take care of some of his own things, promising them a few hours alone. The two friends had ordered in Chinese from the place down the road that Remy loved and that Spencer was really coming to enjoy and then they’d settled in for a night for just the two of them. Good Chinese food, a good movie, and even better company. For the first time in what felt like a very long time, Spencer had been happy. Really happy. Everything had seemed sort of perfect tucked underneath Remy’s arm on the couch. The long, warmth of him pressed against Spencer's side, the comforting feel of him holding on, and that little tug in his heart that he’d always felt around Remy, the one that told him he was safe and loved. He’d even hoped, deep inside in the secret places he never told anyone about, that their perfect little night might end in a kiss. It’d been a fantasy he’d entertained for years now and one that he dearly hoped to one day make come true.

But things had gone wrong. Spencer had started feeling strange after dinner. When he’d turned to Remy, he’d found the man slumped back on the couch, eyes rolling back in his head. Spencer remembered the feeling of panic. He remembered trying to climb off the couch, stumbling and tripping as his body wouldn’t cooperate with him, and he’d known then that he’d been drugged. He knew that sensation. The last thing he remembered was stumbling around the corner and something solid struck him in the face. Then everything went black.

Oh, God. Spencer knew before he opened his eyes just what he would find. Gathering his courage, he blinked his eyes open, wincing against the light. What he found was ten times worse than what he’d expected. He was still at Remy’s place—in Remy’s bedroom, actually—and he wasn’t alone. William was standing nearby. And tied, spread eagle on the bed, was Remy. Horror gripped Spencer and he couldn’t stop the strangled sound from leaving his throat. No, no. No! He couldn’t have Remy. No, please no. Not Remy! The sound he’d made alerted his father to the fact that he was awake. Spencer shivered as cold eyes turned and found him.

“Glad to see you’re awake, boy.” William said. A nasty smile was curving his lips, one that had Spencer's insides freezing. That was a smile he knew meant trouble. Very, very serious trouble. When William lifted his hand and Spencer saw the knife there, he had to struggle not to whimper. The man just grinned even more. “You’re just in time for the fun to start.”

It wasn’t towards Spencer that he moved, though—it was towards Remy. Spencer's horror grew. “Dad…”

“This is your fault, you know.” William interrupted him. He moved to stand beside the big bed, twirling his knife around in his hand. Spencer's eyes tracked its movement with a sickening feeling. “Did you really think you could get away from me? That I’d just let you leave? I knew you were stupid, really, but I didn’t know you were that stupid. If you’d just done what you were told, if you’d been a good boy, none of this would be happening. Your little friend here would be safe. You fucked up a lot by running out like that, Spencer. Fucked up a good deal. Now, he’s going to suffer, and it’s going to be all your fault. Are you proud of yourself, Spencer? His blood is on your hands.”

“Don’t hurt him.” Spencer croaked out. His throat was sore and his stomach was rebelling. Whether in reaction to the drugs or over what was going on, he didn’t know. “Please, Dad, don’t hurt him. He didn’t do anything to you.” Oh please, God, someone help them. Where was Logan? Why wasn’t he here? He was supposed to come back tonight! Where was he? Had William hurt him, too? He didn’t dare ask the question out loud. If his father didn’t know about Logan than Spencer definitely didn’t want to alert the man to his existence.

William’s lip curled up in disgust as he looked down at his son. “Don’t hurt him, don’t hurt him.” He repeated in a mocking, sing-song voice. “Jesus, kid, can you hear yourself? You’re pathetic. What’s the life of another whore, huh? What makes you think I give a damn about him or about any pleas you have to make? He deserves this. He deserves it just as much as you do. And you’re going to lay there and watch as I give it to him, or so help me, I’ll stab this blade right through his heart.”

That froze Spencer in place. Chills ran down his spine. It was the first time that William had spoken of death so openly and that Spencer knew without a doubt the man was telling the truth. He would kill Remy and there was nothing that Spencer could do to stop him. No way he could get across the room in enough time even if he tried. William could stab Remy before Spencer had even risen from the floor. What Spencer needed was some way to stop him. His stomach churned at the idea. Him stop his father?  Was he insane? I can’t let him hurt Remy. I can’t!

He knew Remy had hidden weapons all over the place so that there wasn’t a single room in the house that didn’t have at least two weapons in it. One of those places was right behind Spencer, underneath the dresser. He’d thought it strange when Remy had first told him about it. Now, he was thanking a God he didn’t even believe in for it. If he could just get to it, he could hold William off until he could call for help or Logan came back. Slowly, carefully, Spencer slid himself back just the slightest bit. Almost instantly William was looking over at him. “Stay there.” The man snarled.

Dammit. How was he supposed to move back the foot or so that he needed if every movement was going to send William looking his way?

Spencer's eyes lifted and he caught sight of a faint hint of red flashing at him from the bed that made his heart stutter and stop for one split second. Remy was awake. Oh, thank everything. Remy was alive and awake. Judging by the sharpness Spencer saw in that barely-there gaze, the Cajun had been awake for a little bit now and he was already thinking, already planning. His eyes ran over Spencer, to the dresser, and then back to Spencer again. Then he gave a tiny little nod. It was another of those moments that Spencer blessed the man’s seeming ability to read his mind.

A low, aching sort of groan drew William’s eyes eagerly to the bed. Remy was blinking his eyes rapidly, looking for all intents and purposes as if he was just waking up. “What…” He slurred out. “What de hell is going on here?”

Spencer took advantage of the distraction and scooted back a little more. That was the point of this, he knew. Remy was distracting William so that Spencer could get to a weapon. So he could get them free.

Still, he froze, his heart in his throat, when William lifted the blade and tapped the flat part against Remy’s cheek. “Rise and shine, princess.”

The Cajun jerked back from the blade. His eyes shot open wide at the feel of his limbs being tied and not even Spencer could tell whether the panic was real or faked. “What de hell?” Remy said. He tugged on his bonds testingly, then turned his head, devil eyes going right to William’s face. The hatred that darkened his expression was chilling. “Fils de putain.”

“About time you woke up. I was beginning to wonder if we’d have to start without you.” William said with a smirk.

Remy didn’t cow before him. He showed none of the fear or deference that was natural for Spencer. Instead, he lifted his chin and met William glare for glare. “I shoulda sent Belle after y’ when I had de chance.” He said calmly.

A backhanded blow had Remy’s head snapping to the side and Spencer letting out a low cry. “Dad!”

William leaned in close and pointed the tip of the blade right against Remy’s throat. “You watch your mouth, you little shit.”

“Fuck. You.” Remy said lowly, enunciating each word deliberately. “Play wit’ dat knife all y’ want. Y’r in my house now, y’ connard, an Remy’s looking forward to kicking y’r ass.”

It took everything Spencer had to focus on continuing to move backwards. He wanted nothing more than to dart forward, to stop this. To scream at the man to leave Remy alone. Only, Remy was doing this to distract him, to give Spencer the chance to move. He couldn’t waste that.

There was another loud crack as William slapped him again. Cold eyes sought him out and Spencer froze with that same fear he always felt at the coldness of that stare. “Your friend’s got quite a mouth on him.” He said. Turning back, he laid the knife point against Remy’s arm. “I don’t know which of you is stupider. I’m the one with the knife here, you little Cajun whore.” The knife traced a light trail down Remy’s arm and Spencer's whole body shook. He couldn’t stop the words that spilled past his lips. “Get your hands off him!”

William lifted his head and looked to Spencer with surprise. “You’re giving me orders? You’re giving me orders? That’s not how this works here, kid. When are you gonna realize that? I’m the one in charge here. I’m the one with the knife.”

“Then hurt me.” Spencer said. He ignored Remy’s panicked “No!” and kept his gaze on his father. He couldn’t let him hurt Remy. He just couldn’t. Forget getting a weapon. Forgetting Remy distracting him. Spencer knew with absolute certainty that he couldn’t just lie here and watch the man hurt Remy. He just couldn’t. Remy had done nothing to deserve it. In Spencer's whole life, Remy was the one good thing he had, the one thing he’d always been able to count on. In so many ways the man had saved him. He refused to lie here and pay him back for all that by letting him get cut up as a distraction. Better that he do it. Remy could get free of the bindings holding him easily enough if he wasn’t being watched. Spencer would much rather be the distraction than have to watch Remy be hurt. “You want to hurt someone, hurt me. Just leave him alone.”

That terrifying smile was back on William’s face. He lifted the knife and pointed it Spencer's direction. “You’ll get yours, don’t you worry.” Then he brought the knife back to Remy’s skin and once more traced over his arm. Only, this time, he pressed just hard enough to leave a trail of red behind.

Remy didn’t even flinch. His lip curled up and he snarled up at the man. “Is dat all y’ve got, homme? Pathetic. Fuckin pathetic. Y’r a real tough man, aint y’? Drugging and tying us up. Y’r too much of a fuckin’ coward to face us head on!”

What the hell was Remy doing? He was going to just piss William off even more! Pissing him off normally was a bad idea. When he was this enraged, with a knife in hand? It was suicide! Spencer knew that Remy was probably trying to distract the man and keep his attention away from Spencer, or maybe trying to find a way to stall until Logan came back, but he had no idea what he was messing with. He didn’t know William enough to know his tells. To read his features and body language and see just how serious he was. And right now he was very, very serious. The rage that was twisting his features wasn’t entirely sane. If Remy kept this up, there was a very real possibility that William was going to kill him. Spencer couldn’t let that happen. He couldn’t let his friend die just because he’d been trying to save him.

There was no more time for trying to be subtle. Forget trying to get to the weapon under the dresser. Spencer reached down inside himself, pushing past the pain of the concussion, ignoring the headache that started to pulse and throb, and he called for the one natural weapon he possessed. The drugs and the blows to the head had made it feel impossible to reach before. But now, Spencer felt the little flames dancing to life against his fingers, and he pushed even harder. Pushed them to move, to travel up, over the rope on his wrists. The fire was his—his to make and his to control. It burned through the rope and tickled across his skin.

The pain in Spencer's head grew. He wasn’t up for this. But he didn’t have a choice. Courage that he didn’t know he had pushed him to move as he felt the ropes fall away. It pushed him to lift his weight up and onto his knees, and then to put one foot flat on the ground and push up. His head ached and spun and a part of his mind screamed at him to get back down on the ground. To stay down there before William noticed. But he ignored it and continued up until he was standing unsteadily on his feet.

William and Remy both turned to look at him, but Spencer had eyes only for his father. He held his hands out on either side of him and called to the flames that were already there. They danced over and around his hands, white hot with the anger that was in him. “Get away from him.”

For the first time that Spencer could remember, there was a spark of something that might’ve been fear in his father’s eyes. “What do you think you’re doing, Spencer?”

“I won’t let you hurt him.” The flames slid a little higher now, over his wrists, moving up to his forearms. He took a small step forward. “I let you hurt me for such a long time and I never fought back. I took it, over and over again. I even stepped in between you and Mom and took it for her, so she wouldn’t have to, and I never once complained. I never tried to stop you. So maybe, some of it was my fault. Because I could’ve tried. I could’ve told someone. I let you hurt Mom and I. I let you make our lives miserable.” Another step forward. The flames were up to his elbows now, dancing around his skin just as they danced inside his eyes. “But I’ll be damned if I let you hurt him. He is the one good thing I have in my life and you aren’t going to ruin it.”

“You deserved it!” William shouted at him.

The fire on Spencer wavered and a pain that had been in his heart for most of his life pushed to the forefront. “I was just a boy!” he shouted right back. “I was three the first time you took a belt to me. What the hell could a three year old do that deserved being belted till he couldn’t move?”

“I knew what you were and I tried to stamp it out of you. I knew you were a freak from the moment you were born and look at you now. I was right.”

The pain in his head was growing. Spencer swayed slightly on his feet the flames around his arms grew a little more. His concussion must’ve been worse than he’d thought. The more he was using his powers, the greater the pain grew.

The knife shifted against Remy’s skin, pressing in close, and a bit more blood welled up. “Don’t you come any closer, Spencer.” There was definite panic, now.

“I don’t have to come closer.” Spencer said. He pushed himself harder, mindless of the blood that started to drip from his nose. Small flames appeared on the ropes holding Remy’s hands to the bed.

William didn’t notice them. His eyes, wild and crazy, were still on Spencer. “What’re you going to do boy, kill me?” He let out a laugh that wasn’t entirely sane. “You kill me, you kill us all. We’ll all burn alive in here.”

“I won’t let you hurt him.”

He’d thought he was prepared for just about any reaction. What he hadn’t been at all prepared for was the wild roar of rage that William let out right before the man leapt straight towards him. He hadn’t thought William would actually leap towards the fire. Their bodies collided and the whole world turned into pain and fire as the pain in Spencer's head became too much and he felt it literally burst out of his skin. Remy’s scream echoed after him as he and William hit the ground and the whole world went dark.

CXCX

Fire was what he passed out to and it was what he awoke to. It was everywhere, all around him, flames crackling on the ground and the walls and the air was rife with smoke. There was something heavy on top of it that was making it hard to breathe. Spencer barely started to summon the energy to move when suddenly it was ripped off of him and then he was sucking in great, gasping breaths into his oxygen deprived lungs, only to start coughing as he sucked in the smoke.

Hands grabbed hold of him and the panic almost started, his body weakly making an attempt to fight. Then a voice came in, close to his head, so familiar and so sweet. “…just me, Spencer, cher, it’s just Remy. I got y’. C’mon, bébé, we gotta move, de whole fuckin’ place is on fire. I got y’. I’m gonna get y’ outta here.”

It was Remy. Remy, holding him. Remy, wrapping his arms around him and pulling him up to his feet. Spencer leaned in to Remy’s embrace and clutched weakly at his shirt. He couldn’t see, could barely breathe, his head and his body aching and his lungs so full of smoke. All he could do was clutch weakly at the man as Remy gathered him up and then, to Spencer's shock, lifted him up bridal style and started to carry him. Spencer wanted to protest, to insist that Remy put him down, but the fire was growing and the smoke was getting thicker. They couldn’t waste any air. He buried his face in against Remy’s neck as another hacking cough ripped its way free. The very fire he usually controlled was his enemy now and he just didn’t have the strength to try and fight it. The world was fire and pain and smoke. It was thick and suffocating and Spencer thought to himself just how ironic it would be for a fire based mutant to die from a fire. A fire he had started.

All of a sudden the air around them began to change. It was clearer, colder. Yet somehow that seemed even worse for his lungs than before. Spencer drew in a deep breath of it and immediately started to cough. Great big hacking coughs that felt like his lungs were being ripped to shreds by tiny little razors. Each one made his head pound and he swore his heart was beating in his ears. He never heard Remy shouting for help. Never heard the call for medics. But he felt as Remy started to set him down and another pair of hands touched him.

Instantly he went into a panic, his whole body bucking to try and get away from the foreign hands and back to familiar ones.

Remy’s arms wrapped around him and Spencer was once more pressed against a familiar chest. He didn’t have to open his eyes to know that Remy was sitting down on something and drawing him into his lap. Something plastic was pressed up against his face and he could feel the vibrations of Remy’s chest that said that he was talking, only between the coughing and his own heartbeat Spencer couldn’t hear the words. But he trusted Remy. Remy would take care of him. Holding on to that faith, he let himself slump and focused only on breathing. The plastic thing against his mouth shifted and Spencer realized what it was. An oxygen mask. Weakly, he tried to lift his own hand to help hold it, only to have Remy swat his hand away. The Cajun held it there for him as Spencer drew in the blessed oxygen and slowly, slowly, caught his breath once more.

As the coughing fit faded and the pounding in his ears lessened, though the headache was still there in full force, Spencer started to become aware of other sounds around them. The sound of sirens, first. Then voices. People shouting, someone screaming, others just talking loudly. Remy’s voice, right by his head, close to his ear. That was the one he latched on to. That was the one he anchored himself on. “I got y’.” Remy was murmuring to him. “It’s okay, firefly, I got y’. Y’r gonna be all right. We’re safe now. We got outta dere. Just breathe fo’ me, d’accord? Dat’s it, just breathe fo’ me. Y’r safe now. Y’r safe and I’m safe and William aint here to hurt y’ no more.”

The steady reassurances took away the last of Spencer's tension. There in Remy’s arms, with the knowledge that he and the one he cared about were safe, the threat against them gone, he gave up that last little bit of his control. This time, when he sank down into the darkness, it was with a soft sigh of relief.

CXCX

The next time that Spencer woke, things were once more different. He was becoming pretty adept at this waking up in new situations thing. At least this time there was no sense of disorientation. He knew what had happened; well, most of what had happened. He remembered his father, remembered the fire, remembered Remy’s arms around him and the oxygen mask on his face when he finally passed out again. Part of that, at least, wasn’t any different. Remy’s arms were still around him. Only, he was no longer on Remy’s lap, and the air didn’t smell like a fire anymore but like a hospital. He didn’t have on a full oxygen mask, either, thankfully. He was lying on his side on a bed and Remy was right in front of him, cradling Spencer close. When Spencer opened his eyes, it was to a view of the chest of Remy’s shirt, his head neatly tucked in under Remy’s chin.

There was a dull ache on the side that was up, a muted burning on his bicep and towards the back of his shoulder. Most likely the reason that he was lying like this. As he started to wake, he shifted the arm a little, wincing at the pull on aching skin.

“Hold still.” Remy murmured softly. “A piece of burning wood got y’r arm when we was running out. Just some minor burns, some bruising. Dey figured it’d be tender to lay on.”

Holding still was something he could do. He didn’t want to move. Not if it meant leaving this safe place inside of Remy’s arms. Blinking a few times to clear his eyes, he stared at the fabric of Remy’s shirt, trying to piece together what had happened at the end there. A lot of it was a bit blurry. Thankfully, Remy’s ability to understand what he didn’t say just as much as what he did was still there. The Cajun started explaining before Spencer even had a chance to ask and he did it in short, quick terms, laying it all out in simple terms. “When William jumped at y’, y’ lost control of y’r fire. It sort of went, well, everywhere. Y’d already started on burning m’ ropes, so m’ hands were free. By de time I got up to untie my feet, de whole room was on fire and y’ and William was just lying dere. I got him off of y’ and carried y’ de hell outta dere before we got trapped. Logan showed up about de time we was just getting outside.”

Immediate worry hit. Spencer pulled back a little, just enough to look up at Remy, his eyes already scanning for injuries. Remy understood the look and hurried to reassure him. “I’m fine. A few bruises, a few scratches, not’ing serious. Not even a burn on me.”

“Your house?”

Giving him a half smile, Remy reached out and tucked a bit of hair behind Spencer's ear. “Needed a new place anyways.”

No. Dammit. “Remy, all your stuff…I’m so sorry.”

Remy shook his head and, to Spencer's surprise, rolled his eyes. “Shut up.” He said, a note of fondness in those words. “Y’ t’ink I give a damn about things? Y’r alive and dat’s all dat matters to me. De rest can be replaced.”

Something hit Spencer then and his whole body locked down. “My father?”

The look on Remy’s face was answer enough. Spencer's eyes slid shut. He bowed his head, letting his forehead tuck in against Remy’s chest once more. Grief filled his heart. One of Remy’s hands came up to cup the back of his head and stroke at his hair. “De firefighters tried to get him out, mais it was too late. Je suis désolé, mon cœur.

“I didn’t mean for it to happen.” Spencer whispered against Remy’s shirt. He didn’t know how he felt about this. On one hand, there was so much relief, knowing that his father was never going to be able to come after him again. On the other, there was pain and guilt, so much damn guilt. “I didn’t want to kill him. I just…I couldn’t let him hurt you. I couldn’t.”

The hand in his hair gave a gentle squeeze. “Shh. Everyone knows it was an accident. It was self-defense, firefly. Even de cops said so.”

“Oh, God, the cops…”

Remy cut him off before he could really get going on that. “Don’t y’ worry about dem. Papa handled dem. It’s being ruled as an accidental fire and dat’s exactly what it was. Y’ was only trying to save our lives. He would’ve killed us, Spencer, and y’ know it. Y’ saved us.”

Squeezing his eyes shut, Spencer shuddered slightly, the memory of it all playing over in his mind. “I, I didn’t mean for that to happen. It just, my head, it hurt so much and I couldn’t, I couldn’t control it all. When he jumped at me, it was too much. I couldn’t stop it anymore.”

“Y’ had a pretty serious concussion.” Remy told him. His hand shifted in Spencer's hair, curling to brush over a spot that Spencer hadn’t even realized was tender. He hadn’t noticed before how careful Remy was being on where he touched on Spencer's head. “Best as dey could figure, looks like y’ hit y’r head on somet’ing pretty hard. Didn’t scramble y’r brains none, t’ough. Least, not more den dey already are.”

The lightly teasing tone was meant to make Spencer smile and it succeeded, slightly. A faint smile touched his lips. It was gone as quick as it came, though. So much had happened, so many things in his life had changed, and now this. No matter what Remy said, no matter how the cops ruled it, Spencer knew what had happened. He knew. William was dead because of him. Maybe he hadn’t meant it to happen. Maybe he had. Maybe, subconsciously, he’d wanted it. Because, the flames hadn’t hurt Remy, had they? He’d been safe. Yet William…

The guilt of that was something that Spencer was going to have to live with for the rest of his life. Something he would have to come to terms with. His father was dead and it was his fault.

A finger curled underneath Spencer's chin and tipped his face up until he was no longer able to hide against Remy. Their eyes met and Remy held him there. There was such a look of warmth in that gaze, so much love, and Spencer couldn’t help but wonder how anyone had ever accused him of being the devil when he looked like that. For so long now Spencer had been nursing this quiet little crush deep inside of him, always afraid to say something, to act on it. Afraid to reach out and touch. Yet it seemed the most natural thing in the world when Remy dipped his head down and brushed his lips oh-so-lightly against his in their first kiss, a kiss so sweet and full of love that Spencer felt his eyes well up. Remy smiled at the sight and brushed away the single tear that fell with one of his knuckles. “It’s gonna be okay, Spencer. I know it don’t seem like it right now, mais, it will. We’re gonna get t’rough dis, together. D’accord?”

With Remy by his side, he’d be okay. He’d heal. It wouldn’t happen overnight and Spencer knew there were a lot of potholes waiting for them in the road ahead. They each had their own issues and those were going to take a lot to work past. There was a lot that Spencer wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to give the man. Especially when it came to his body. His years with William had left scars both inside and out. But something inside told him that so long as they had one another, they’d make it through. Smiling up at him, he nodded. “Okay.”