Twos Company Arms of the Angels
Remy picked Melody up and held her as the coffin was lowered slowly into the ground. Next to him in a stylish black dress, which hadn't been cleaned out with the "nun collection," Jean stood, head bowed in prayer. Sandy was on his other side looking decidedly less well-kempt. Kelly-Anne had stopped crying during the service, but she hadn't left Remy's side for an instant - not even to see her grandmother. It was a beautiful sunny day and Remy thought it was a shame that no one here seemed to understand they should be celebrating Sarah's life and her sacrifice. She was a hero after all. A stupid hero to be sure, but that's what made him put his life on the line for people who'd never respect him too. Actually, there was a lot to be said for stupidity. Unfortunately, the grey wash of grief hung over most members of the party that gathered at Sarah's grave-side and it was starting to get to him.
There were more cops than family members there to see Sarah off. Remy hid his discomfort as well as he could, but it was as if he could feel them looking at him, staring, wondering who dared to intrude into their clique of grief. He'd never felt so outside of a group. Not even in the police station being booked for shoplifting. At then he'd known there were other thieves and street-rats around. I'm just being paranoid, he told himself firmly. Relax. But he couldn't deny the eyes that made his neck itch. He felt his mouth forming the proper phrases during the short ceremony. These people are going to need a drink badly. I know I do. He wished longingly for a hip flask.
Kelly-Anne sniffled quietly into the handkerchief Jean had given her. Remy rocked back and forth unconsciously. He, Jean, and most of the cops were dry-eyed. Sarah's mother and father were the only other relatives. It hurt to watch Sandy's attempts to get her mother's attention. They old bitch hadn't even said "hello" to her grand-daughter. Sandy sighed. Remy put an arm around her should and she leaned against him. Fucking idiots, he thought savagely. Kin is kin.
Jean caught the violently angry thought that flashed through her lover's mind. She reached to soothe him along the link she'd established with him. She was attempting to blend that link into the one she'd created with Scott and Logan, but he was resisting that with all of his might. She just didn't know why and hadn't had a chance to ask about it.
He smiled briefly at her. She smiled back, knowing that was all he'd really let her do for him. It had to be torture fore him to be around so much grief. She couldn't begin to imagine feeling people's emotions. Hearing the occasional thought here was bad enough.
//Are we going to the wake?//
//Sandy needs us to get her through. The shriveled up bat doesn't even acknowledge that Kelly's alive.//
//Okay. Mel's got to get home early though.//
//Mon pere'd have m' hide, he knew I was here. Weren't like I owned her or somethin'.//
//Paid off. Y' such and innocent, Jeannie.// He sent her a warm fuzzy feeling with the thought. Kelly snuggled closer to him and Jean knew she'd caught the projection.
//I see. You have a habit of bribing the police?//
//Not in New York. But 'round home? Oui. Ain't exactly bribin'. I just take them t' dinner or somethin'. Got a few friends in Interpol too. Amazin' what sort of legal work and enterprising t'ief can pick up.//
//And that's why you want Scott to buy a congressman.//
//Ain't hard. I'll do it myself. Don' worry so, y'll get wrinkles. I'll find a cop or two. Not Clarke obviously. He's wants t' get my balls in a vice. He t'inks I'm a cop? Did y' hear that stupidity? He demanded the name of my superior officer.//
Jean swallowed her laugh. //Oh, sweetie, I'm so sorry to hear that.//
//Ma Belle would laugh herself half-sick t' hear it.//
//I'll have to tell her then.//
//Now don't y' start talkin' t' her! She's dangerous.//
//So am I?// Jean made sure she purred that comment, just a bit. He glared at her over his shades.
The ceremony was finished with a presentation of the flag to Sarah's mother. The little clumps of people moved out towards their cars. Remy stepped to the edge of the grave with the bundle of purple mums that had been sitting by his feet. "Goodbye, chere," he whispered. He turned to gather Jean and Sandy. He was confronted by a pinch-faced woman in black. Her skin was parchment thin. She'd covered her face with thick foundation and powder that made her look more severe.
"Are you that monstrosity's father?"
Remy cocked his head to the side. "Hehn?"
"Her queer boyfriend. Makes perfect sense that a fag would have a mutie child."
Remy couldn't help the rage that made his blood boil and eyes glow red. He pushed his glasses to the top of his head. "I don't know who you are and I don' care. You have no right t' call a sweet and innocent chile a monster. Since she has no family, our school has taken her in. We will raise her without the interference of a bigoted old biddie like you.. Sarah was a beautiful human being and a hero. Her daughter is a treasure. I hope that you ain't swallowed by your own hatreds. And, if you persist in using the terms you just did, I will file verbal assault charges with my friend there as witness."
Remy stalked away from her. "Hey, buddy, call me if you need a witness," a man's voice with fully-grating DeNiro accenting call out. Remy hid his wince. He turned. The man handed him a card. He was in his thirties, wearing an ill-fitting suit and well-polished shoes. His hair was a muddy brown. His face was round and amiable looking. He looked like he should be a priest. "I was Sarah's partner. She asleep?" he asked nodding towards Kelly's back.
The Cajun nodded. "Chile cried herself t' sleep. Ain't surprisin'. Thanks f' the number. Y' need t' talk?"
"Nah. You coming to the real wake? Sarah had no love lost for her family. Except for Kel and her sister. We're not going to the family wake. We'll be at the Rusty Tin."
"Not the Sailor?" Remy smirked, brows raised.
"We *are* cops." The young man shook his head. There was a tightness around his eyes and mouth that made Remy want to sit him down and get him drunk. He practically smelled of guilt and rage. "It's on Elm by the dry cleaners."
"When she starts asking questions, I'm Rob, just call."
"Bien." Remy nodded. "Ought to take Melody home though. She's dead tired."
Rob nodded. He jogged off toward his car and the other man wait in there. Remy collected the ladies for a token appearance at the wake.
Scott stretched. His back cracked. Warren winced. "Christ, Slim," he said looked up from the paper.
"It gets tight."
"You need a chiropractor. Or maybe you need to relax at night."
Scott cocked his head to the side. He looked oddly like a puppy when he did that. "What's wrong, war? You've been on edge for awhile. Can I help?"
Warren looked around the library. Scott's files were spread out on one table and a book lay abandoned on the other. The shelving was glowing softly from the sunlight that streamed through the picture window. The pillows on the window-seat were out of place and he had a sudden urge to straighten them. He sighed. He didn't really have an excuse. "The professor wants me to make nice with Remy."
"And that's the problem? I can tell him to at least talk to you, if you want."
"It's sort of the problem." Warren stood. He started pacing. Scott waited. They'd been best friends once. Now, looking at the younger man, Warren knew that wasn't true. It hurt to realize that. "The problem is that I don't think Gambit's the problem anymore."
The silence grew thick. Warren could see the dust dancing in the sunbeams as he stirred up the air-currents. Finally, Scott prompted him. "Who is?" His voice was soft, non-threatening. Warren closed his eyes. He didn't want to do this. He felt more and more like shit every minute he drew it out though.
"You." He didn't need to be looking at him to know that Scott had flinched at that. He acted touch, talked with barbed-wire wit, and hid behind his Cyclops mask, but he knew the real Scott. The real Scott wasn't any of that. He was sweet, gentle, and generous. He'd do anything for his friends.
"How am I the problem?"
"You won Jean."
"War?" Scott's voice conveyed his bewilderment.
"I lost both of you when you got married. I'm pissed. It's stupid. It's petty. But there it is. And Gambit was, is, the easiest target for me to lash out at." Warren's wings stretched out. He flapped them just a bit in his agitation. "I thought it was losing my wings that did it. And maybe it was. And maybe it is you I'm mad at. And maybe it's Hank or maybe it's Cam and I just can't face it. I never realized how fucked up I am."
"You wanted Jean to choose you."
"What brought it up after all this time? I thought we were over being rivals." Scott was quiet for a long moment. "Are you mad that we brought Logan into our bed and not you?"
"Yes. I mean no. I'm. . . I'm straight, Slim, all rumors to the contrary notwithstanding. You know that."
"So you tell me. So you're mad because Logan got to sleep with her. I'm missing something. Why lash out at Remy? Why not just tell me off like you used to?"
"Because. . . " Warren sighed, voice trailing off like a molting feather. He considered. "He's easy to hate. He's reckless, stupid, dangerous, and arrogant. He can't stand me either. And he's easy to hurt. He's not one of us."
"What does that mean?" Warren could hear the anger Scott was trying to squelch. Scott was trying to listen. Warren felt even more like a creep picking on Scott's new lover, but it was true. All of it. Warren turned to face him.
"He's not one of the five."
Scott nodded. "And you don't know him well. I can see that. Maybe I'm just being dense, but I still don't understand lashing out at Remy because you're mad at me."
"Have you looked in the mirror, Slim?" Warren asked in surprise. Scott didn't respond immediately. He looked at Warren steadily.
"Because he's what you remember me being. Reckless, arrogant, criminal," Scott said slowly. "So you react to those memories? War, have you talked to the professor about this?"
"I don't want to."
"Just try. He's really the best person to help you deal with all of it. Just consider it. Please?"
Warren gave him a thin smile. "Jean thought I should talk to you."
"Jean's a girl. They like emotional problems. Me, I like easy problems, like blasting Magneto into space."
The older man laughed. "I'll tell her you said that."
"You like living right? I'd have to kill you after she castrated me. Just to make myself feel better. You understand." It was said with such seriousness that Warren had to laugh.
Remy tucked Melody into bed with a kiss on her forehead. She hadn't really awakened after the wake. She barely ate dinner. He sighed. She was such a pretty little thing. He turned off the light next to her bed. He closed her door quietly behind himself. He shivered int he half-light of the hallway. The slanting sunlight from the window at the end of the hall wasn't warm enough to combat the chill in his mind. Funerals always made him feel cold and grey to his very core. He made his way up to his sister's loft.
It was drenched in sun from the skylights and the greenhouse. The plants on her desk were blooming with soft fragrances that smelled like a fancy perfume. He draped his coat and tie over her desk chair, then toed off his shoes. He looked around the familiar room and smiled a little sadly. He'd hoped she would be his immortality. He couldn't have a child of his own, so he'd put stock into his apprentice. He shook his head. No, those kinds of thoughts were just going to lead him down roads he didn't want to travel. He'd find another apprentice someday. One to make his father proud. He curled up among her pillows and fell asleep there.
Storm looked at her brother's sleeping form. He looked warn. He was curled up on her bed like a kitten, his soft hair falling over his shoulder as it slipped free from his ponytail. She sat on the edge of the bed. She stroked his hair. He woke and smiled at her sleepily. "Now, padnat, I feel sure you have your own bed. And perhaps you have one to share with someone else?"
"Oui. Dis one. I share it wit' y'. Pas de problem."
She laughed. "You will ruin your suit if you sleep in it."
He made a face at her. "Y such a spoil-sport. I like it here. Y' just tryin' t' get m' t' help out in the garden again." She considered that with mock-seriousness and he swiped at one of her streamers. "If y' ain't nice, I'm gonna dye y'r hair."
She laughed. "Then, rest, padnat. I'll only throw you out if one of your lovers comes looking for you."
"Miss sleepin' next t' y'," Remy said quietly. "Ain't no pressure wit' us. We just be t'gether. There's still this need t' figure t'ings out wit' them."
She stroked his hair. It was strange to realize that they'd switched roles again. Usually, he tried to play the big brother and protect her from all harm. Tonight, she was the elder, comforting him, providing a needed ear. She smiled. They finally seemed to have found a balance as adult siblings. She'd have to offer an extra prayer to the Goddess in thanks. His eyes had closed. He wasn't asleep, but he didn't want or need to talk just yet. Still, she could sit and enjoy stroking his hair.
Jean plugged in the camera that Belle sent. She looked through the manual for a moment. It was fairly straight forward. She set it on a few books and flipped the screen to face her. "This is a test," she said quietly. She replayed it. It worked!
She set it back up. "This is my first attempt to use this thing. I didn't want to think about leaving these records, but Belle's right, you should know us the way we are. We may not live long enough to be in your memories. I'm your mother, Jean Summers. I was born Jean Grey. I married Scott not too long ago, but that's a story for another time. I usually don't wear black. I can't stand the color on me. I just came from a funeral. Today we laid your sister Melody's mother to rest. It scared me into starting this little project. I hope you never see this. I promise not to be too morose, but this is serious. I'm doing this because I love you and you haven't even started to show. This is the story of how Melody became your sister." She spoke for a long time.
Rogue curled up under Joseph's arm as they watched the news. Hank's polio anti-body tests had come back inconclusive. He couldn't determine whether the anti-bodies were from the disease or a vaccine, so there was no way to know if Joseph was actually Magneto or not.
It didn't matter to Rogue. She liked him just the way he was, but she knew that Joseph had been hoping for a few clues. He was having occasional flashes of memory, but nothing clear enough to hang on to. Still, Rogue didn't care if he never remembered who he really was. It was nice to be able to touch someone without fear. She wasn't paying attention to the news; she was breathing in Joseph's scent and listening to his heartbeat. She closed her eyes. Tears pricked at her lids as she realized that she'd been thinking he was Remy for a moment. But Remy didn't smell like this and his heart had a skip-time rhythm that Joseph's didn't.
I'm not in love with Remy. I never was, she told herself firmly. We're partners. That's all. I want to be friends, but that will have to wait. He's still hurting and I'm the one that did it. She probed the dark morass of emotions and memories that filled the dark corner of her mind where she'd thrown his influence. There was so much pain there that she wanted to cry for him. She could almost taste how much he loved her. It's sweetness made her gag when she compared it to the sharpness of his pain and anger. She took a deep breath and turned her back on the memories. She breathed in Joseph's scent and settled closer.
Scott opened another beer and collapsed next to Warren on the grass beside the side of the basketball court. "We need a bigger cooler for this bonding shit."
Warren laughed. He stretched his wings out to their full extent. "So, you're gonna be a father again?"
"Don't remind me." Scott poked Warren in the side. "I'm going to have a hangover in the morning. Oh well."
Warren snorted. "Do you think Hank could find a way to get my real wings back?"
"I don't know. You could ask him. Why?"
"My wings aren't soft."
"They're metal," Scott pointed out. He thought it was obvious, but they were both well on their way to being drunk, so maybe it wasn't.
Scott frowned. The beer had dulled his thoughts enough that he didn't see the issue. Metal is hard. Feathers are soft. Simple statements were easy to understand. "So why do you want soft wings?"
"So I can comfort people, not frighten them. I look like and airplane not an angel."
"Should we change your name to Zoom-Zoom then?" Scott asked. He blinked at Warren.
"Zoom-zoom? Oh, God. That was Nathan's plane word."
"Yep." Scott grinned. "And he had a little plane that did look sort of like you. Except it was a Stealth and you are too damned easy to see." Warren tugged at Scott's hair. "What?"
"More beer, waiter."
"Get it yourself, you overgrown sparrow." That wasn't completely fair. Scott knew that Warren was more eagle than sparrow. Though, now that he thought about it, Warren did look surprisingly like a stealth bomber. Maybe he could convince him to go for black die on his wings, so he can't be seen as easily.
Warren made a show of stretching. Then, he leaned over Scott, putting an elbow into his gut as he reached for the cooler.
"Asshole, " Scott muttered. "Zoom-Zoom's too good for you."
"Since you're over there. . ."
"Get it yourself," Warren snapped back.
Logan followed his nose up to Storm's loft. He found Remy draped over Storm's bed like one of her scarves. Ro was in the shower, singing sweetly. Remy was busy staring at nothing. Logan took a moment to appreciate his lover. Then, he draped himself over the drowsy Cajun. He ran his hand up to settle on Remy's shoulder and squeezed it gently.
"Hm. Dat feels nice," Remy murmured as Logan settled his weight more fully over him.
"Not too heavy, Darlin'?"
"Non, like feelin' y'." Remy's eyes dropped shut.
"Ro'll want her bed back."
"After she done in the shower. F' now, y' hold me?"
"Anytime, Darlin'." Logan growled the 'darlin' to make Remy squirm just a bit. Remy snuggled down into the pillows. Logan nuzzled the back of Remy's neck, shifting his hair out of the way with his nose, inhaling his scent. They lay there, content.
"Hey, Blue, you up for a movie?" Bobby asked. He hopped up to sit on the lab table by Hank's desk. It was his usual perch and the location of their Twinkie stash. He snagged a Twinkie as he waited for Hank's response.
"Unfortunately, I cannot leave these samples unattended. Tomorrow perhaps?"
Bobby squelched his disappointment. It was contrary to his efforts. "Sure. Did you get dinner today?"
Hank looked up, a small frown on his face. "I really don't remember," he said after a moment. He looked back at his computer, obviously dismissing the idea of food.
"I'll get you something then." Bobby bit into his Twinkie with pleasure. He sat there, eating his treat, watching Hank work for a few minutes. "Blue?"
"Yes?" Hank looked up again.
"Make a note that we're going to the movie tomorrow so you don't start anything you can't leave."
"Of course." Hank smiled. "I know you worry about me, but I need to do this."
"If you kill yourself, you can't help anyone." Bobby sighed. "You're my best friend, Hankster. I don't want to lose you okay?"
Hank sat up and turned to face Bobby completely. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing, really. Just that I was talking to Kelly-Ann. She doesn't really understand that her mommy isn't coming back. It's breaking my heart. No one should lose their parents that young. Not for some stupid, pointless reason. Her mom thought she had to be a hero and died for it. I'm just feeling my age, I guess. we're heroes, Blue, for better or worse. We'll put ourselves in the line of fire again tomorrow. I just don't want us to forget we're human. Scott's talking about turning us into a real school. I don't want our friendships to die because we've gotten too caught up in little day to day junk. There's not a lot of things I'm good at. Don't say it! I'm not a genius. I'm a CPA. But I do know people. As of today, I've appointed myself chief of morale. My main duty is to keep people like you from getting stressed out. So you and I are going to the movies tomorrow and I don't care if you've got a culture growing or not. You got it?"
Hank laughed. He saluted. "Yes, sir, Chief of Morale, sir."
"My work here is done." Bobby grinned. He hopped down and went in search of his next victim.
"Oh, Bobby?" Hank's voice stopped him at the door. "Thanks."
Jean relaxed in the bathtub - letting the hot water ease her muscles. She'd lit the room with soft lavender scented candles. Purple was her favorite color and lavender her favorite scent. It relaxed her. She played with the bubbles, watching them shine as she built little towers of them with her telekinesis. She heard a clatter from downstairs and locked the door of the bathroom with a thought. There was no way she'd let the boys spoil her little retreat tonight. There'd be enough time tomorrow for togetherness. Tonight, she wanted splendid relaxation and isolation for a little while.
Scott dropped his keys into what he thought was the bowl by the door. The ended up on the floor. He stared down at them dumbly. He nudged them aside with his toe. He stumbled to the couch and sprawled across it, humming to himself in an aimless melody that he didn't bother to try to identify. He stared at the empty fireplace. Then, he closed his moment for just a moment.
"Out, brother," Storm ordered, laughing as Remy stole the scarf from around her throat again. Logan caught Remy about the waist and lifted him up just enough that he couldn't touch the floor.
"This is yers, I think," Logan said, handing her the retrieved strip of silk. "Come on, Darlin'."
"Non! Put m' down, Logan!" Remy protested as Logan headed for the door.
"You can get your coat and tie tomorrow, brother." Storm shooed them towards the door. Logan smirked.
"Come on now, brat." Logan set Remy down at the door. "Ya heard her. Out. Time to head home."
"Connard," Remy muttered, straightening his hair and shirt. Logan kissed him gently.
Charles leaned back against the pillow and closed his eyes. He briefly touched the minds of this students in a ritual as old as the school he even reached out to the team members who had left New York. Some were asleep, some awake, some joyful, some sad. It was an entire world full of life and it always brought him a little peace. He saved Scott for last, to ground himself in Westchester. He nearly laughed when he realized that Scott was drunk. //Sleep well, my son,// he said fondly. //I'll cancel the morning practice.//
//Night. Remind me to talk loudly around Warren in the morning.//
Charles smiled. He slept, content.
Belle hung up the phone. "And why was Gambit at a cop's funeral?" Gris-Gris asked her. She raised her brows at him and he reassessed his tone of voice. It wouldn't do to piss of the head of the assassin's guild. He may have known her for most of her life, but she'd still kill him in an instant.
"More than likely he owned her. I'd do it for one of mine if she left a chile." Her eyes hardened into sapphires - cold, but beautiful. "Was there anything else?"
"I have the current contract file."
"Leave it on the desk."
Gris-Gris cleared out, leaving his boss to work. He couldn't help but notice that her eyes lingered on the wedding photo that stood on her desk as he left.
Logan laughed when he saw Scott sprawled on the couch. "Well, either he had a fight with Jeannie and started drinkin'. Or he started drinkin' and couldn't find the way upstairs."
"Shut up, Logan," Scott muttered. He rubbed at his eyes. "Jean was in the tub. I didn't feel like going up to a cold bed."
"Come on, Darlin', help me get him up." Remy moved obligingly to help Scott up.
Scott smirked. He pulled Remy's offered hand so that the Cajun ended up half-over the couch. "Kiss me first."
Remy complied. Logan felt his cock stir. He loved watching his lovers. His nostrils flared to catch their scents. Scott's fingers were tangling themselves in Remy's hair now, holding him tightly. By the time he let the kid up for air, Remy was panting. "Y' better get up and get upstairs, or I ain't gonna be responsible f' what happens to y'," Remy purred. Logan's cock went full-hard at that tone of voice. Scott's jaw dropped. He sat up.
"That better be a promise, brat," Scott said, tugging gently on the hair wrapped around his fingers.
"Get up, cher," Remy said more calmly. "Now."
"Don't order me around."
"Ah, well, guess y' don't want none t'night." Remy shrugged. "Logan, shall we?"
"Not so fast."
"Oh, y' gonna listen t' m' then, cher?" Remy's voice was thick with promise. Logan gulped. Scott would be an idiot not to hear it. Well, the boy was drunk, he supposed. That might explain his pushing. Scott draped his arm over Remy's shoulders as he wobbled up the stairs. Logan followed them, getting a perfect view in his opinion. He turned off lights as they went.
Jean was curled up in the armchair by the window, reading some trashy bodice-ripper. She glanced up as they came in and gave them a sweet smile. Remy spun Scott onto the bed and caught him in a kiss. Jean giggled. //Hey, lover,// she said to Logan. //I take it this is how Remy's working off his bad mood?//
//No, he did that in Storm's loft. They teased each other until they were both smiling. This is Scott startin' it and Rems finishin' it. You in, Darlin'?//
//No. I'll just watch. Or you could come over here and watch with me?//
//Sure, Darlin'.// She let Logan settle into the chair, then curled up on his lap. She squirmed until Logan growled in her ear and put his arms around her waist. She rested her hands over his.
Remy had the mostly compliant Scott on his back and half-undressed. Little sparks of red were flashing against Scott's glasses the way they always did when he was drunk. He seemed thoroughly content just to frustrate Remy by not moving. Logan nibbled at Jean's throat as he watched. This, to him, was true contentment. He was surrounded by his lover's scents. They were all safe, sound, and healthy. And Hell, the visuals weren't bad either.
Logan bit in just a little bit to feel Jean shiver against him. He tightened his arms around her waist, arching up against her body as his erection grew. She leaned her head back against his shoulder. //Were you planning to do something with that?//
//Something. Ain't sure what.//
Logan's eyes closed as subtle, perfect pleasure wrapped around his cock behind the restrictive denim of his jeans. He rocked into that touch. It felt soft, warm, but like nothing he could describe. It rippled along his cock in motions that no body or hand could replicate. "Jesus," he breathed in Jean's ear. She just ground her ass against him and the pressure's rhythm changed. He bit her collar-bone as more of the subtle pressure eased into his ass just-so and rubbed his prostate. He came hard and lay his head back with a contented rumble. Jean sprawled across him. He fell asleep a moment later.
Hank contemplated the cultures. There was no change in any of the samples. He sighed. "I will not kill someone just to cure others. I. Will. Not! I refuse. I will not become that which I despise."
Kelly-Anne pulled her teddy close as she cried. "I miss you, Mommy. I want to go home, but Aunt Sandy says you're in heaven. Come home. Please? Heaven's too far away."