Okay, guys, this is for KAYLEE'S BIRTHDAY!!! YAY! Okay, so it was LAST Sunday, but this story took longer to write than I expected . . . *giggles* It kinda got away from me . . . ;)
Anyway, this is a Mooks story--what? You haven't READ Kaylee's Mooks series?! You should be ASHAMED! Go! Now! I hereby order you little heathens to go and read it! I don't know where it's archived, but I'm sure Kaylee ([email protected]) will know. :)
Anyway, this is for Kaylee, for her birthday, and yes, she said I may send it (I got a Kaylee-blessing. *giggles*). It's supposed to be one part, but I had to break it into three. Sorry. :)
DISCLAIMER: Marvel doesn't want this Bobby and Remy, I'm pretty sure. But just in case, I'm not making any money off this. Anyone who steals this Bobby and Remy will . . . well, I'll send you to Kaylee to be dealt with appropriately. Now there's a threat. Heh.
And feedback. To me. To Kaylee, for general good Mooky-ness. It's all good. ;)
JBA Special Kinda Birthday
Jubilee fairly bounced in through the front door and down the hall, arms loaded with mail for the various X-Men in residence. Whistling, she glanced through the papers, tossing the junk mail into the garbage before letting several magazines flop down on the den table.
Swiftly, she rifled through the rest of the mail.
Ororo Munroe. Not going in that direction, she thought, dropping the envelope down on the table. Rogue. Nope. Hank. I'll leave that in his room. Remy, she paused, turning the package over in her hands before finally shrugging. Taking that. Jean. Dorky mailman stuck this in the wrong box . . . Logan. Her face split into a grin at the last one, and she snatched all the letters that were destined for the men's wing and tucked them under her arm, bouncing down the hall and then up the stairs.
"Hank!" Jubilee shouted, giving a cursory pounding on the door before bursting into the empty room. She plopped the mail down on the bed, then continued on her way.
Remy's room was next--Logan had secluded himself at the far end of the hall--and Jubilee hammered on his door before waltzing in.
"Ack!" she said, rather eloquently considering it was an 'ack.' Jubilee twisted back out of the bedroom, closing her eyes tightly against the image within. "Can't you two hang a warning outside your door for poor souls like me?" Jubilee shouted, leaning back against the wall. "That is downright traumatic! Bad enough with Scott and Jean at it all the time, now you two have to start . . . it's like seeing my parents!"
Remy's head poked around the doorway, a bemused smile in place. "You could learn to knock," he pointed out.
"You could get a room!"
"We're in a room," Remy answered, red on black eyes looking at Jubilee rather blandly. "What'd you need, peti'e?"
Jubilee handed him his package wordlessly.
Remy took it and disappeared back inside the bedroom, the door closing firmly.
Jubilee leaned against the wall for a long moment. Oh, sure, she'd heard that Remy and Bobby were . . . ah . . . 'an item,' but walking in on the item-ness in action was quite different. And the image of them practically making out (kissing), sprawled on the bed (sitting), half clothed (fully dressed) wasn't leaving her mind very quickly (anytime soon).
Jubilee sighed and shook her head forlornly. What good gossip. She really needed to visit more often.
That decided, she turned and continued down the hall toward Logan's room.
"Oh my God," Bobby muttered, head cradled in his hands.
Between his fingers he could see Remy standing by the door, head cocked, red-hued mahogany hair falling to one side. "You okay?"
Okay. Ha. He could feel the heat from his blush all the way down on his neck, and if it were possible Bobby was pretty sure that the tips of his hair would be pink, too.
"Oh my God," was Bobby's answer, though he did finally look up. "Did she have to burst in then?"
Bobby watched as Remy smothered a laugh, folding long legs gracefully to sit back down on the bed.
"I'm sure she'll knock next time," Remy said, red on black eyes sparkling. He reached up and brushed a rebellious strand of tan hair out of pale blue eyes, then scooched--somehow making even that look graceful--back on the bed until he could lean against the headboard.
Bobby sighed and flopped backward, not even bothering to try for graceful, figuring he could at least go for . . . well, floppy. His head and shoulders hit something bony--knees?--and he pulled back up almost immediately. "Sorry," he murmured, glancing back to be sure he hadn't hit Remy too hard.
Remy was looking at him, cringing in sympathy, slender fingers reaching out to touch the back of Bobby's head. "You okay?" Red eyes sparkled mischievously. "Knees ain' a very good pillow, Bobby."
Bobby smiled, even as he felt the familiar heat of a dull blush try and creep up his neck. "I noticed. Didn't mean to smack you."
Remy blinked, then shook his head slightly as if to clear it. "I'm sure my knees'll live," he said, smiling to take the sting out of the words. "Lay back down. But watch y' head."
Bobby looked at him uncertainly, was met with a disarming smile. "My head's heavy," he pointed out.
"I t'ink my legs can handle it," Remy said, almost managing not to chuckle. Hands reached up and grasped broad shoulders, tugging downward insistently.
Hesitantly, Bobby laid back down, head guided this time by Remy's hands to land on muscular thighs instead of hard knees.
"Tell me if your legs go to sleep," Bobby said, turning to look up at Remy.
Remy nodded wordlessly, picking up the brown box Jubilee had brought in.
"What's that?" Bobby asked curiously.
"Don' know," Remy answered, and proceeded to open it. A smile spread slowly across lean features as he pulled out several bright envelopes, then a small package wrapped in colored paper.
"What's all that for?"
"Hmm?" Remy glanced up from one of the envelopes, then shrugged. "It's not'in'."
Bobby didn't press the issue, watching instead as Remy pulled free several cards and read them, chuckling quietly at one. They all were set down carefully on the bed, and Remy opened the brightly colored gift.
Slowly, checking Remy's face frequently to make sure it was all right, Bobby reached out and picked up the top card.
"As your elder, I'd like to give you my two cents on your birthday," the outside read. Bobby opened it, and smiled at the two pennies glued to the inside of the card. "Happy birthday!"
Bobby closed the card without reading the note within, and glanced up at Remy. "It's your birthday?" Duh. People don't send birthday cards randomly, a little voice inside him said.
"Oui," Remy answered quietly, glancing from the present--a book titled "Hacking For Dummies"--down to Bobby.
"Oh," Bobby said when it became apparent that Remy wasn't going to elaborate. Bobby glanced back up. "Happy birthday." He felt like he should've known.
Remy smiled, looked again from the book to Bobby, and bowed his head slightly. "T'anks."
Bobby looked back down at the card. He should have known. He wasn't sure how he would have known, but that was one of those things that people who cared about each other knew, right? And he hadn't known. "Do the other X-Men know?" Bobby asked finally, flipping the card in his hands.
Those red eyes looked at him, almost warningly. "Non. De ot'er X-Men really don' need to know."
"Oh," Bobby sighed. "But what about cake and ice cream? And everyone needs presents," Bobby answered, grinning brightly.
Remy chuckled and shook his head. "We eat cake an' ice cream even when it not someone's birt'day. And I don' need presents--I can buy my own t'ings, t'anks."
Bobby frowned and gnawed on his lower lip. People who really cared for each other should give presents. All the time, but especially on birthdays. That was just the Thing To Do.
But, on the other hand, what did you get a thief who bought whatever he felt like buying?
"Bobby," Remy's voice cut into his thoughts as though reading his mind. "I don' need presents. No presents."
Blue eyes carried a frown as they looked up into serious red ones. "But--"
"Non. No presents. Oui?"
Bobby scowled again and gnawed on his lip before looking back up at Remy. "But it just seems that--"
"Stop dat," Remy said, smiling gently. "No presents." One of those hands came out, sweeping knuckles down the side of Bobby's face. "An' stop chewin' on y' lip." An eyebrow quirked upward. "Dat's my job," he said with definite cockiness.
Bobby smiled slowly, frown smoothed instantly away, then pasted a pitiful look on his face and gazed forlornly up at Remy. "But you're falling down on your duties."
Remy chuckled in That Way and set the box, book, and cards aside. "Well let me jus' fix dat li'l problem . . . "
A rock fell victim to Bobby's sneaker as he kicked at it, then watched it bounce across the dirt and plop into the water. The plop wasn't nearly as ploppy as he wanted, and another rock sailed through the air to join the first.
He jumped at the voice in his head, then chastised himself for it. "Hi, Jean."
"Are you feeling all right?"
He saw her walk up out of the corner of his eye, her green sundress billowing in the slight breeze. "Sure."
"Which means no," Jean translated with a smile. "What's wrong?"
Bobby squirmed, remembering the very seriousness in Remy's gaze the day before when he'd insisted the X-Men didn't need to know about his birthday. "Nothing," he muttered at last. Blue eyes looked out across the pond, and his chest rose and fell with a deep sigh.
"How about I guess?" Jean asked, a laugh in her gaze.
Bobby considered that, then shook his head.
"It must be something pretty serious."
Blue eyes slid toward Jean, then Bobby shook his head once more. "Not really. I mean, I'm just making more out of it than I need to . . . "
"Bobby," Jean said, linking her hands before her, "I won't tell anyone."
Bobby hesitated, torn between wanting advice and not wanting to betray Remy's trust--no matter how little a thing it seemed. "Not even Scott?"
"Not even Scott," Jean affirmed solemnly.
Bobby hesitated for a long moment. It was Jean, not the X-Men. Jean wouldn't tell. She promised. Bobby took a deep breath and answered all at once, "It'sRemy'sbirthdayandIdon'tknowwhattodo."
Jean nodded and opened her mouth to answer, only to be interrupted.
"Andhesayshedoesn'twantanyonetoknowandhedoesn'twantanypresents--andwhat doIgetamanwhobuyswhateverhewantsforhimselfanyway?" As though exhausted by his confession, Bobby collapsed onto one of the pillars on the dock.
Jean almost laughed. Almost. "Why doesn't he want anyone knowing?"
Bobby lifted one shoulder in a helpless shrug.
Jean smiled to herself, propping her chin in her hand. Scott didn't like having his birthday celebrated either, though Jean usually overrode him on that. "Throw Remy a private party," she finally suggested. "You two can celebrate without the whole mansion finding out."
Bobby looked thoughtful, nodding slowly. "Yeah," he said after a minute. "I could do that."
"And if he doesn't want presents then you don't have to get him any."
Bobby squirmed and rubbed his arm. "That's not right," he sighed.
Jean watched him.
"I mean . . . it just seems like . . . well, some people don't want presents and that's okay, but Remy . . . I should do something . . ."
Jean smiled slightly and shook her head. "Well, I can't help you there, Bobby. You know Remy's interests better than I do."
Bobby squirmed some more, then dropped his head into his hands. "He's not exactly easy to buy for. As far as I can tell, he just buys whatever he wants. And if there's something he can't afford . . . well, I certainly can't afford it if he can't." Bobby sighed, drooping.
"What about something more personal?"
Bobby looked up, hope lighting his face. "Yeah?"
"Maybe go out to dinner . . . or on a picnic, or do something Remy really likes." Jean took a seat on the piling across from Bobby, folding her legs up indian-style and balancing with her telekinesis.
Bobby's face had fallen again. He watched the progress of an ant idly, worrying once more at his lip. His watch beeped, and he turned the timer off after fiddling with the buttons for a moment. "Danger Room," he muttered, then stood. "Thanks, Jean," he called, raising a hand in a wave.
"Good luck," Jean called back. She grinned hugely as Bobby walked away, then she stood and started toward the boat house.
Bobby toweled his hair dry as he walked into the bedroom. He gave one last swipe with the terrycloth, then balled it up and threw it toward the laundry basket.
It missed, and landed on the floor in a purple heap. Bobby eyed it, as if able to will it to get up and put itself in the basket.
The towel laid there in direct opposition to his will. No doubt mocking him and his telekinetic talents. Bobby was sure he had them. Telekinetic talents, that was. They were just buried very, very (VERY) deeply, and someday they would pop out, and then he would never have to clean his room again.
Bobby left the towel relaxing on the floor and headed for the dresser, pulling out a clean blue T-shirt and swapping his slightly dirty one for it. The slightly dirty one ended up reclining next to the towel, and Bobby glared at them both before grabbing Remy's hairbrush and tugging it through his shaggy hair. He needed a haircut, but after Jubilee had offered to try out her new hair-cutting skills on anyone, he didn't dare mention it until she left. He loved Jubilee like a little sister, and like a little sister he didn't trust her anywhere near his hair while she was holding scissors.
Bobby set the brush down, closed the dresser drawer, and glanced at the card laying there. A birthday card. For Remy.
Bobby cocked his head and picked it up, glancing inside. It looked somewhat personal, so he set it back down.
Birthday. Birthdays needed presents. It just wasn't right to not get presents. Especially if you didn't get them from someone close to you. And Bobby was close to Remy, right?
You didn't know it was his birthday, that constantly criticizing part of him noted. Maybe you aren't as close as you thought.
Of course he was close to Remy. They were living in the same room, right? And sleeping (among other things) in the same bed.
You know him so well you can't even think of something to get him. You're so "close," and yet you haven't a clue.
Bobby scowled at himself and pulled his shoes from the closet, stuffing his feet into them without bothering with socks.
"Hey, Bobby," Remy said as he walked in.
Bobby smiled up reflexively, the voice inside him silencing. "Hey yourself. So what's with the 'Hacking For Dummies' book?"
Remy chuckled and picked it up off the nightstand, tossing it just short of Bobby.
Bobby picked it up off the floor and opened it, glancing inside. The book was filled with signatures and notes, some of them novels in themselves, many of them poking fun at something written within.
"Wow," Bobby said at last. He'd never seen so many names in his life. He knew he didn't have that many people to sign anything for him. "That's a lot of people." After a long moment he closed the book and glanced up at Remy, who was watching him. "Who are they?"
Remy stepped around the bed, bending to take the book from Bobby's outstretched hand and then helping the young man up. "Dey're mostly from de T'ieves Guild," Remy answered. "My fam'ly an' friend's."
Bobby glanced again at the book. "I thought you weren't allowed in the Thieves Guild anymore."
Remy nodded, walking with Bobby toward the door. "Oui. But dey still my fam'ly."
Bobby frowned as Remy tossed the book on the bed. "But you can't see them?"
A strange look crossed Remy's features, but was gone so quickly Bobby wasn't sure he hadn't imagined it. "I c'n see dem if dey come here. Problem is, dey're too busy, or I'm too busy." Remy shrugged. "Don' work out ver' often. Let's go eat, neh?"
Bobby glanced back at the book as Remy headed out the door. Discussion closed, if he had read Remy's tone right. And he had.
Unable to see your family. How miserable.
"Somet'in' funny?" Remy asked as they started down the hall, passing Hank as he mumbled into papers and bumbled along.
"Just got an idea, 'sall," Bobby answered, trying to smother his smile and failing miserably. "Um, Remy, I gotta go. Tell 'Ro not to wait dinner on me, okay?"
"Okay," Remy answered, looking completely bewildered.
"'Kay. I'll be back a little later." Bobby grinned and raced ahead, drumming down the stairs and grabbing his brown leather jacket from the hall closet before tearing out the door.
Remy looked after him, confused, then shook his head slightly and continued on into the kitchen.
Bobby scowled at the screen, typed for a minute, index fingers punching at the keys, then frowned again. This wasn't going to work.
Blue eyes narrowed in concentration, and his fingers stabbed some more at the keyboard. Nope. There was no way around it. He needed more money.
Bobby sighed and leaned back in the hard library chair, then switched screens to check his e-mail. No new messages. Bobby checked it again, just to be sure, and then had to accept that there really were no new messages.
It had been five days since he'd had his Idea, and he'd been unable to get a hold of the right people. In fact, he wasn't even sure if he had the right address, but it was the only one he'd been able to find. After spending an entire day looking through their room, searching drawers and little black books and all manner of other things, he'd finally picked up Remy's wallet and searched that, coming out with an address buried in the back. He'd written a letter, including his phone number and address, and e-mail address, but there hadn't been any contact.
At this rate, his Idea was never going to work. The people weren't showing, he didn't have enough money, and Remy was starting to get suspicious.
First problems first, Bobby thought, switching screens once more. Assume they'll contact you, and figure out how much money you'll need. Bobby's quick blue eyes glanced over the figures on the screen before him. He reached up absently to correct a typo, then left his fingers there, ticking gently against the keys. He needed a lot more money. If he took those three tax jobs . . . and his friend said he could get Bobby a temporary position at that restaurant . . . Bobby gnawed on his lip. It just might work.
Bobby switched screens and checked his e-mail again.
What, you expected things to change in the ten seconds since you last checked it? he asked himself sarcastically.
Oh, shuddup, he answered himself, and checked his e-mail again, just for spite's sake.
Bobby sat up straighter when a message arrived, and he clicked on it quickly.
"Aren't you one of those X-Men Remy plays with?" the message opened. "What is it you need?"
That was it. No signature, no niceties. Bobby didn't mind in the slightest. He cracked his knuckles and gleefully started to reply.
Remy kept his back turned as Bobby stumbled in, closing the bedroom door quietly before stripping off shoes, jeans and T-shirt and pulling on sweats. Remy cracked one eye, glancing at the glowing red lights of the clock next to him.
Two thirty. AM.
Beside him, the bed creaked under Bobby's weight, and the blankets shifted to allow another body beneath.
Remy rolled over, resting his head on his arm. "Where've you been?" he whispered into the silence. For over a week Bobby had been disappearing shortly after dinner and not coming home until the wee hours of the morning. Time spent at the mansion was mostly working on several tax jobs he'd taken, and Bobby woke fairly early every morning either for Danger Room sessions or to disappear once more.
Bobby mumbled something incoherent in response to Remy, and rolled closer, curling himself into the taller man's chest.
"Bobby," Remy whispered, touching a bare shoulder gently.
There was no answer, and Remy pulled back slightly to look down at the other man's face. Bobby was sleeping.
Remy frowned and thought about waking him up, but didn't have the heart to do it. He laid back down and shifted Bobby more comfortably against his chest, then buried his face in soft brown hair and closed his eyes.
Tomorrow. Tomorrow, one way or another, he'd get some answers.
Remy peered into the bedroom, relieved to see Bobby there. The man had been gone that morning when Remy awoke, and had come home only to race to the Danger Room and from there upstairs. Remy wasn't even sure Bobby'd taken the time to eat.
Something Remy planned to rectify now. He came slowly around the corner, loaded dinner plate in hand. "Bobby?"
Bobby didn't answer, intent on the computer screen and tax forms laid out around him.
"Bobby? What're you doin'?"
"Taxes," Bobby answered, glancing up. "I'm a CPA, remember?" There was a smile in those blue eyes. Eyes that sported dark circles from no sleep.
"Hm. I brought you some food. You missed dinner." And breakfast and lunch, most likely. Remy didn't add that, though.
That got the young man's attention. Bobby's head snapped around, eyes wild. "What time is it?"
Remy glanced down at his watch. "Seven t'irty."
"I'm gonna be late!" Bobby yelped, shutting down the computer in a rush.
"Late f'r what?" Remy asked, setting the plate down carefully.
"Late for a very important date," Bobby answered, grinning as he grabbed his jacket off the chair. "No time to say goodbye, hello!, I'm late I'm late I'm late!" and he disappeared out the door.
Remy waited for the count of five, then followed quietly. By the time he'd reached his Harley, Bobby was already in his light blue Honda and out the drive, speeding down the road.
Remy took his time, settling his helmet firmly in place before starting the Harley up and turning down the road the same way Bobby had gone. It didn't take long to catch up to the man, and Remy stayed low against his bike and far enough back that he didn't think Bobby would notice.
They drove, Bobby leading and Remy following at a distance, until they reached Westchester proper. Bobby stopped at a gas station and ran into the restroom, and Remy parked at the restaurant across the street. After a moment Bobby emerged wearing a new button-down shirt--a gaudy button-down shirt--and got back in his car.
Remy started his motorcycle up and followed Bobby farther, always staying several cars behind and in a different lane. If Bobby realized he was being followed, he didn't show it.
Fifteen minutes later they arrived at a Hawaiian restaurant, Aloha Joe's, and Bobby parked and hurried in. Remy waited for a long while, then casually got off his bike and wandered over to a teenager sitting on a brick wall nearby.
"I'll give you ten bucks if y'll go in dere and tell me what dis man is doin'," Remy said, handing the boy a photo of Bobby.
The teenager glanced down, considered the offer, then nodded and took the picture. He disappeared within the building, then emerged a moment later. "He's bussing tables," the young man answered, taking the folded bill from Remy and handing the picture back.
"T'anks," Remy murmured, and looked at the restaurant thoughtfully. What was going on? Suddenly, Bobby was running himself ragged, doing taxes, bussing tables, disappearing in the morning to go--where? Come here? All without any explanation.
Remy leaned back against the brick wall, folding his arms across his lean chest. Obviously Bobby needed money. Remy didn't know why his supposedly quick brain hadn't picked it up sooner.
Now the question remained, why would Bobby need money so suddenly? He had some of his own, Remy knew. Xavier dealt with all their food and bills, and various tax jobs Bobby had done over the years had all paid him decently. The money went toward whatever Bobby felt like buying, and Remy knew that the man didn't buy very much. Xavier hired Bobby to do the accounts at the mansion, along with the accounts for the other school.
And it wasn't enough money.
Remy crossed his legs at the ankles and considered the building before him.
So Bobby needed a lot of money, fast, and didn't want him to know. Remy ran long fingers through his auburn hair, pulling a tangle out absently. Maybe Bobby was in some sort of trouble. Trouble that he didn't want other people to know about--which could range anywhere, if Bobby was embarrassed about it. Remy's eyebrows rose and he sauntered back to his Harley. He'd have to check that out. And corner the man, see if he couldn't get Bobby to confess. Whatever it was, they'd deal with it together.
Remy swung onto his Harley and shook his head to himself. Leave it to Bobby to worry about confiding in the people he loved.
"Why would I need a loan?" Bobby asked through a mouthful of toasted waffle. He opened the refrigerator door, reaching in to get butter. His hand hovered over the syrup for a moment, then left it alone and closed the door.
"Dat's not what I asked," Remy answered slowly, frowning. He peered into the depths of his coffee as though it held some great secret, swirling the mug and watching the liquid flow in small circles and slosh up onto the sides.
"Sure it is." Bobby set his waffle down on his plate, then pulled a knife out of the drawer and proceeded to butter his breakfast. That done, he picked the waffle back up and munched on it like toast. "I mean, yeah, you said it more diplomatically. But that is what you said."
Remy frowned at his coffee. It was what he'd said, but he'd thought he'd phrased it well enough that Bobby wouldn't get offended. Not that Bobby really seemed offended . . . really, he seemed almost curious. Remy glanced up into guileless blue eyes, then sat his coffee mug down and leaned forward. "Bobby--"
"Is that java I smell?" Hank called, bursting in through the door. "Surely a fragrance as daintily luscious as that which is reaching my olfactory senses could only mean one thing!"
Bobby plopped into a chair across the table from Remy, grinning up at Hank as he bounded toward the coffee pot.
"Coffee! Java! Mocha! Caffeine extract! Legal narcotic! Whatever you call it, it's coffee!"
Bobby was laughing openly, shaking his head.
Remy leaned back in his chair, watching the other two men silently. This was no time to talk about Bobby's "moonlighting." He didn't know if the younger man had even told Hank.
"You know, Bobby," Hank said, pouring an alarming amount of sugar into his coffee, "I was checking my records recently--"
"As a matter of fact, I didn't know that," Bobby deadpanned.
"Hmmm. Well, I was," Hank answered just as seriously. "And I noted a peculiar anomaly in my normally complete and well-ordered files."
"And what was that, Hank?" Bobby asked, leaning on one hand.
Hank's big eyes looked down at Bobby solemnly. "You, my hypothermically inclined friend, haven't made a sojourn to my offices lately." Both eyebrows climbed, in wait of an explanation.
"Oh." Bobby took a sudden interest in his plate, carefully cleaning up the crumbs. "Well, that's explainable."
"Indubitably. Why don't you come with me and explain it whilst I run a diagnostics of your personal organic functioning facility?"
Bobby sighed heavily and looked with great sadness at Hank. "I just can't do that, Hankster. Remy would be left all alone, and he's afraid of kitchens."
Remy's eyebrows both shot up.
"It's a little known fact," Bobby continued.
"Ah. You're in quite a quandary." Hank nodded solemnly. "But I have found the solution for just such an unusual occurrence. Remy should stay in the kitchen alone for a few moments, while you travel with me to my laboratory. I'm sure the knowledge that you'll come back to him, safe and sound, will keep Remy from being overcome by his kitchenophobia!"
Bobby's eyes twitched around the kitchen. "I'm allergic to check-ups," he finally admitted in a solemn whisper.
"Ah," Hank said again, nodding. "I happen to have an anti-allergenic pill for that!" He smiled and, with a flourish, pulled a red lollipop out of his lab coat.
Bobby considered, then shook his head. "Can't do. Remy was talking to me."
Hank pulled a yellow lollipop out of his other pocket, and waved it temptingly in front of Bobby's face.
Remy chuckled. "Better go, cher," he said quietly. He wasn't going to be able to ask Bobby about the job with Hank there, and Hank wasn't leaving until Bobby went with him.
Bobby gave Remy a forlorn look. "But what about your kitchen-o-phobia?"
"I'll work at gettin' over it," Remy answered.
Bobby shot him a traitorous look.
"Roooooberrrrrt . . ." Hank sang softly, pulling a green lollipop out of his inner coat pocket and adding it to the lollipop bouquet, waving the whole thing before Bobby's face.
Bobby tried to smother his grin. "I suppose I have no other choice . . . " he sighed after a moment. "Gimme those," he muttered, snatching the three lollipops and following Hank out of the kitchen.
Remy had looked through all of Bobby's documents (his conscience eased when he remembered it was for the good of his lover), checked the room thoroughly for anything hidden, and surreptitiously asked around to find out if anyone knew anything.
He couldn't find a single thing to tell him why Bobby could possibly need money. And that made him worry even more. In his experience, if it was something that well hidden then it was probably also something illegal and dangerous.
Fighting spandex-clad bad guys was one thing, but fighting the New York underworld was another. Bobby was good at the former, but, as far as Remy knew, had no idea how to go about doing the latter.
So Remy decided to find out what was going on the old-fashioned way.
Remy glanced around the den for the umpteenth time, drumming slender fingers on the coffee table. Bobby was still with Hank. Remy knew because the doorway of the den gave him a perfect view of anyone coming down the hall.
And Bobby was still with Hank.
Merde. Maybe he needs money 'cause he's sick or somet'in'. Remy's stomach twisted at the thought, Bobby's of-late pale face hovering in his mind's eye. Maybe Bobby wasn't sleeping much not because of a job, but because he was sick. And he was leaving early in the morning for . . . what? Treatments? What if Bobby had some strange and rare disease that wasn't covered by insurance? Den why wouldn't he jus' go to Hank? the logical part of Remy's brain argued reasonably.
The emotional side of Remy's brain ignored that point completely, instead coming up with all sorts of strange diseases that could have infected Bobby.
And how would he get those? the logical side asked sarcastically.
"Bobby!" Remy called with relief, seeing the young man walking down the hall. "Is ever't'in' okay?"
Bobby stopped, smiled, and leaned against the doorframe, obviously tired. "Yeah. Why wouldn't it be?" he asked, smothering a yawn.
Remy watched him closely, still not completely able to chase away the unreasonable idea that Bobby might be infected with some horrible disease. "You were dere f'r a really long time."
Bobby rolled his baby blues and nodded. "Tell me about it. I swear, if Hank ever sweeps you away into his lab? Don't argue about anything. He can come up with all sorts of tests to make you take."
Remy smiled, raising an eyebrow.
"He can! Weird tests that I've never even heard of! Like, testing for the X'inax virus. I think it's a Shi'ar thing."
Remy chuckled, and shook his head. "Right." He stood, lithe body moving gracefully. "Bobby, c'n I talk to you? Privately?"
Bobby tensed slightly, eyes widening, and Remy found himself reviewing his words to figure out just what had Bobby suddenly worried. Oh. Right. Private talks weren't generally considered good for relationships. Remy started to say something, then decided not to. Bobby'd figure it out in a minute, and the man wasn't completely panicking.
They went back upstairs to their room, and Remy closed the door.
Bobby stood by the foot of the bed, one hand rubbing his arm unconsciously.
"I know y' workin' at Aloha Joe's," Remy started, sitting down in the chair by the desk and leaning on his knees. "An' I'm worried. What do you need money for?"
Bobby smiled slightly, relieved, and plopped gracelessly down on the bed. Then the relief left his face, and he frowned. "Uh . . . it's . . . it's for, um . . . a . . . a new . . . computer." He smiled hopefully, normally bright eyes tired.
"Uh huh." Remy kept his gaze on the younger man, knowing eventually Bobby would break.
"Yeah. An expensive one. That . . . uh . . ." The intercom buzzed, and Bobby leapt for it like a suffocating man would for air. "YeahI'mhere!"
"Bobby?" Scott's voice called. "Telephone for you."
"Thanks!" Bobby said, then shot Remy a smile and almost ran from the room.
Remy sighed in irritation and scrubbed his hands through his hair.
Two days. Bobby had dodged him for two days.
Remy leaned against the bedroom doorway, watching Bobby work at the desk. Tax papers were laid out before him, pens and pencils near to hand. Brown hair fell in the young man's face, disturbed only by Bobby's breath as it whispered past. The circles had darkened beneath his eyes, and he'd been stumbling through his life on auto-pilot. This couldn't go on much longer.
Remy stepped into the room, easing himself down on the bed behind the other man. "Bobby? Cher? Can we talk?"
Bobby leaned back in his chair, rubbing his neck with one hand. "Oh man. Not right now, okay Remy?" Bobby swiveled around, tired blue eyes pleading silently. "I have to get this done, and I'm almost there."
He looked so pitiful, brown hair falling in blue eyes, pale skin only accenting the dark circles. Barely visible beneath the skin was blond stubble where Bobby had forgone shaving that morning, sleeping for ten extra minutes instead.
"Please, Remy? Not right now? Later, okay?"
Remy knew he shouldn't agree. He knew that if he came back later Bobby would be gone. Knew that, even though Bobby was looking at him with those heartbreaking blue eyes, and that look was too weary to be contrived, he should press his advantage and get some answers now.
"Get some sleep, 'kay cher?" he asked instead, standing up.
Bobby smiled slightly, obviously relieved, and turned back to his papers.
Remy paused beside the desk. "You can' keep drivin' y'self like dis," he murmured quietly.
"I know," Bobby answered, and smiled in what was supposed to be a comforting way. Remy frowned deeper. Bobby looked too tired to give comforting looks.
Remy watched him for a moment, then turned and left the room.
Bobby opened his eyes sleepily, morning sun pouring into the room. He groaned softly, closing his eyes again. He hadn't gotten in until three that morning, and it couldn't be later than ten. In fact, it was probably closer to nine. Getting home late and waking up early was starting to take its toll. Then he smiled slightly. But it was going to be worth it, and it was almost over--last night had been his final night at Aloha Joe's.
Bobby cracked an eye, feeling a very intent presence above him, and saw Remy sitting on the bed, one arm planted on either side of Bobby's chest, watching him. "Hi," Bobby murmured, smiling.
"Hi," Remy echoed.
Bobby started to get up, only to have a hand placed firmly on his chest.
"Why do you need de money?"
Bobby blinked. Money? What mon--oh. Yeah. He relaxed against the bed again and stretched luxuriously. "Can I tell you later?"
Drat. "Later today?"
Double drat. "In . . . " Bobby glanced at the bedside clock (it was, indeed, only nine twenty), "two hours?"
Triple drat. Foiled again. Somehow, though, he was too tired to mind much. "Please, Remy? Let me shower and eat and then--I promise--we'll go for a drive. Just you and me. And I'll explain. I swear on BuzzBuzz's grave."
Remy was quiet for a long moment before rising to the bait. "BuzzBuzz?"
"My pet bumble bee when I was little."
Remy thought about that, then shook his head slightly. "You were a seriously disturbed kid, cher."
Bobby snorted and stretched again, reaching above and pushing against the headboard. "Says the boy who was raised as a thief."
Remy didn't respond, just smiled down at Bobby. "What do you need de cash for, Bobby?" Asked quietly, but very insistently.
Bobby smiled beguilingly, a trick he'd learned from Remy. "I'll tell you. But first, I wanna shower. An' I wanna eat. An' brush my teeth. I've got the nastiest taste in my mouth . . . " Bobby stuck his tongue out and made a face.
"You promise me, Bobby?" Remy asked softly, red on black eyes searching Bobby's, feeling like they were looking through to his very soul.
"Yeah. I promise. I'll explain."
Remy hesitated a moment more, scrutinizing the face beneath his. "A'right," he said at last, shifting back. "I trust you."
Bobby smiled sleepily, stretched again, then rolled over, falling to his knees on the floor, and stumbled toward the half bathroom to brush his teeth.
Bobby chuckled and started his blue Honda. "Luuuucy," he mimicked, "you got some 'splainin' ta do!"
Remy pulled black sunglasses away from his eyes and looked at Bobby over the rim. "I don' sound anyt'in' like dat."
"No, not until you say 'splain.'" Bobby grinned mischievously and turned off the gravel driveway, onto the access road.
Remy sighed and leaned back, propping one arm up on the windowsill. Bobby watched him out of the corner of his eye, noting the stubble already present on the Cajun's chin, giving him that roguish look so many people--Bobby included--found attractive.
"Why you smilin'?" Remy asked suspiciously.
"I'm happy," Bobby answered truthfully.
"Y' tired. You sure you don' wan' me to drive?" Remy asked, shifting slightly in his seat.
"I'm fine. Lots of coffee this morning," Bobby answered, and glanced at the clock. Twelve o' clock, straight up. Perfect.
"Which brings us to why you been stayin' up late," Remy continued smoothly. "What do you need de money for?"
Bobby sighed and glanced in the rearview mirror, wondering how he was going to stall for twenty minutes. "Welll . . . " he started. Speak slowly. That oughta help. "I needed more than I had . . . "
Remy shifted to look at Bobby more squarely, and Bobby purposefully didn't look at the thief, knowing that the instant he did he'd have a harder time stalling.
"'Cause I didn't have enough . . ."
"Bobby," Remy said, and there was a definite note of irritation.
"How'd you find out, anyway?" Bobby asked, suddenly curious, and more than a little grateful for the distraction.
Remy shifted back around until he didn't face Bobby quite so squarely. "I, ah, followed y'."
"I followed you," Remy said louder, enunciating. "I'm sorry, but I was gettin' really worried an' you wouldn' answer any o' my questions."
Bobby thought about being angry, and found himself pleased instead. Remy was that worried? About him?
"Now why you smilin'?"
"No reason," Bobby answered happily. Remy had been that worried. About him.
"You ain' mad?"
"Nah." Remy had been so worried about him, he'd gone to all the trouble of following him to make sure he wasn't in trouble. Worried about him, despite the fact that Bobby could take perfectly good care of himself against just about anything (except, of course, Hank).
"So, what do you need de money for?"
Oh. Drat. Foiled again. Maybe I should be mad, and then he won't think about the money. Bobby bit his lip and slowed the car for the stop sign. He had fifteen more minutes to stall.
"You didn't think I could take care of myself, so you had to follow me?" Bobby asked, though even to his own ears it didn't really sound angry.
"Dat ain' it, cher," Remy said in that tone he used whenever he was trying to sweet-talk someone. "I was worried 'bout y'. Wha' would I do wit' m'self wit'out y'?"
The accent had mysteriously thickened. A definite sign Remy was trying to charm him. "You could have just asked," Bobby answered.
"I did," Remy said, and there was an underlying note of irritation. Bobby mentally cringed and hoped he hadn't carried things too far.
"Bunch'a times," Remy continued. "I hadn' hardly seen you in a week, though. You were doin' taxes or Danger Room sessions or sleepin' or workin'."
Bobby had to admit that much was true. Ten more minutes. He had to stall for ten more minutes.
"So, what did you need de money for? Are you in trouble, Bobby?"
Bobby blinked. Trouble? What sort of trouble would he get in? It wasn't until Remy answered that he realized he'd asked out loud.
"I don' know. Mebbe you bet on a race wit' de wrong person, an' lost."
"I don't bet on races," Bobby answered, somewhat befuddled. "Well, with Hank sometimes. But he almost always wins. I'm really bad at picking horses. Or he's really good. I'm not sure." Bobby frowned as his mind tried to twist around and understand which it might be.
"Den somet'in' else," Remy said, sounding exasperated.
Five minutes. They were almost there.
"Somet'in' accoun'ants do."
Something accountants do? What would that be? "What would that be?" Bobby asked, almost laughing.
"I don' know," Remy answered, and now he was definitely exasperated. "I was never an accoun'ant!"
"I'm not in trouble, Remy," Bobby said, glancing quickly over and smiling. "But thanks for worrying."
Bobby couldn't see those red on black eyes behind Remy's black glasses, but a frown creased the other man's forehead. "Den why do you need de money?"
Bobby smiled as they pulled into the parking lot of the Hungry Hunter, then carefully parked and shut off the engine. "C'mon," he said, opening the door and gesturing with his head for Remy to follow. Not for the first time, he found himself nervous.
Bobby's stomach felt like it was trying to start a conga line right up his throat. He glanced back once to make sure Remy was following, then led the way into the restaurant.
The hostess smiled at them, very prim and proper.
"Reservations for Drake?" Bobby asked, glancing again over his shoulder. Remy stood just behind him, a slightly curious look on his face, hands relaxed in his pockets. Even in jeans and a black T-shirt, Remy looked at ease in the restaurant. Bobby felt distinctly under-dressed.
"Come right this way. The rest of the guests have already arrived," the hostess answered, looking almost ill at the mention of the 'guests.'
Remy's eyebrows rose far above the rim of his sunglasses at the mention of other people, and he shot a strange look at Bobby before following the hostess down a small hallway and into room reserved for large parties.
"Happy birthday," Bobby murmured just before they entered, smiling nervously. His fingers seemed to keep tangling together, and as he stepped away for Remy to enter first, he thought for sure his stomach and heart were going to leap-frog out of his chest. He was pretty certain his heart was going to win.
What if he doesn't like it? Pleaselethimlikeit! Pleaselethimlikeit! Pleaselethimlikeit!
Bobby watched, hopefully, as Remy walked into the room and looked around warily--only to have that wariness disperse completely as he pulled his sunglasses off his face and stared in stunned amazement at the man who stepped from the crowd of people, arms wide.
"Happy birt'day, Remy!" the man roared as the hostess fled.
Bobby grinned hugely as Remy twisted and looked at him, jaw slightly dropped, though no words came out. Remy turned and looked back at Jean Luc LeBeau, who laughed uproariously and clasped him in a giant bear-hug. After a stunned moment--during which the rest of Remy's family started to laugh even harder--Remy hugged the man back.
"How--?" Remy finally managed, looking from Jean Luc to Bobby and back again.
"You mus' be Bobby," Jean Luc said, reaching out and taking Bobby's hand to shake it firmly. "We've pro'ly met, but I can' 'member!"
Bobby laughed nervously and nodded his agreement.
"Y' frien' here," Jean Luc said, grinning back at Remy, "foun' de 'mergency address y' keep in y' wallet--if I 'member correctly?"
Bobby nodded again.
"Oui. Well, he write t' dat, and it travel 'round de grapevine till it finally get t' me, an' I respond. Week an' a half later, de boy's chartered a plane for y' family an' frien's, rented hotel rooms, rented dis room--all t' get us here f'r y' birt'day!" Jean Luc grinned at Bobby, winking. "An' even put up wit' an interrogation t' be sure dis wasn' a set-up."
Bobby shrugged uncomfortably. "It wasn't that bad," he laughed weakly.
Remy looked like some strange, real version of an anime character. "Dis is why you needed dat money?"
Bobby felt his blush deepen and nodded again. "Only I wasn't going to tell you all of that," he mumbled.
Jean Luc laughed. "I know! Dat's why I did it! Y' got some good frien's here, Remy."
Remy nodded, eyes sparkling as he looked at Bobby. "Oui. I know."
"Now c'mon!" someone across the crowded room shouted. "We wan' t' order! We wan' t' be eatin' cake! Dis is y' birt'day, after all!"
"We wan' singin' waiters!" someone else fairly cackled, and Remy groaned.
"Do we have to have de singin' waiters?" he moaned through his hastily concealed grin.
"OUI! Dey're an integral part o' de birt'day tradition!"
"I hate de singin' waiters!" Remy protested loudly as the others--all members of his adopted family--laughed and pulled him to a seat.
Remy smiled, waving one last time at the car as it drove away down the road. Still smiling, he leaned back against the rail of the porch and reached into his pocket for a cigarette, not quite ready to go inside yet.
His family was spending the night in a hotel nearby, and he'd have the next morning with them before they got back on the plane and headed home. A plane Bobby had chartered.
Remy shook his head slowly, a smile spreading. It was incredible. It was thoughtful and sweet and . . . Remy chuckled at himself, shaking his head. He sounded like a sap.
But Bobby had just spent a week and a half working himself to the bone, just to give Remy a birthday present. Remy took a breathful of smoke and propped a foot up on the rail.
That smile was creeping up on him again as he looked out at the stars. Remy couldn't remember someone ever doing something like this for him. Not recently, by any means. Oh, he'd had fun birthdays when he was little, but no one had gone to lengths this great just to make him happy.
He took a last draw on his cigarette, then dropped it and stomped it out before picking it back up and walking inside.
He tossed the butt in the trash and continued on into the lit mansion, something inside him feeling oddly fluttery. Bobby had done all of that. For him.
Remy's footsteps hesitated. Where was Bobby? The smile was replaced by a slight frown as Remy paused in the hall, glancing down at his watch. Barely nine thirty. According to the people who'd seen him leave, Bobby had fled Hungry Hunter's around eight thirty, saying he had something else he needed to do still.
Remy's mind flittered back to Aloha Joe's, and he quickly moved to the window and glanced out. No, Bobby's ratty old Honda sat in front of the garage. He was here, then.
Remy heard voices from the den and walked that way quietly, peering in. Logan sat on the couch, Jubilee curled by his side. She laughed at the television, then tossed popcorn into the air and caught it in her mouth.
Remy smiled slightly, saw Jubilee prop her fuzzy bear-claw slipper-clad feet up on the back of the sofa, and then he slid silently out of the room. Obviously, Bobby wasn't in there.
Remy skimmed up the stairs on silent thief's feet, gliding down the hall toward their room, a smile dancing around his mouth. There was a dim light beneath the door, and Remy opened it quietly.
Candles flickered on a table--a card table?--set up between the bed and the desk. A white tablecloth covered it, and plates were set out with food. Wine chilled in a bucket, and there were two chairs--both empty--pulled up on either side.
Remy smiled for what seemed the millionth time that night, and stepped farther into the room. One of his CDs played softly, the music filtering through the air. Remy turned and closed the door, then glanced around for Bobby.
He smiled slightly when he saw the young man, curled on the bed, head pillowed on a book. Blond eyelashes covered the dark circles under his eyes--dark circles he'd gotten from no sleep, because he was trying so hard to get Remy a birthday present. Remy's smile widened. It was the best, kindest birthday present he'd ever gotten, made more so because he'd seen what Bobby had put himself through for it.
Remy stepped up to the table, quietly covering the food. It would all hold until morning. He bent, blew out the candles, and paused as something caught his eye. Softly, Remy picked up the birthday card and opened it, reading through. The card itself was short, but what Bobby had written took longer to read. Remy's smile grew, faded, and grew once more as he read--and then re-read--the note. Red eyes flickered up toward the sleeping man, then back down to what had been written. He blinked several times, trying to breathe normally though his chest felt constricted, as his gaze fluttered over the blocky handwriting. After warm glance at Bobby, Remy walked around to his nightstand and tucked the card carefully within the top drawer, his chest aching oddly.
Bobby stirred when Remy gently pulled the book away. "Shh, cher," Remy soothed, running his fingers through Bobby's hair, brushing it softly away from his face. "Go back to sleep." The words were barely breathed, flowing across pale skin. Bobby stilled again.
Remy smiled and set the book on the nightstand, then quietly changed from his jeans and T-shirt to sleeping clothes. He snuck under the covers, still smiling, and reached out to touch the man sleeping beside him.
"Remy?" Bobby mumbled, barely half-awake.
"Shh. Go t' sleep," Remy answered, curling closer.
"Dinner," Bobby whispered on a sigh.
"We gon' have dinner many ot'er times. Now go t' sleep."
Blue eyes were starting to flutter, trying to open, though Bobby's sleep-deprived body was fighting it. "But your birthday--" he managed to mutter before Remy silenced him, brushing lips across lips.
"Bobby, I ain' never had a better one," he murmured against the pale forehead. "I--" he stopped, wanting to say too many things and not sure how to do it. Instead, he brushed a kiss across Bobby's forehead and whispered, "T'ank you."
Bobby murmured something else and curled further into Remy, his body finally starting to win out in the fight over whether or not to wake up. "Happy birthday," he woke enough to say against Remy's neck, then let his head relax on the man's arm.
"Oui," Remy agreed almost silently. His smile returned, bringing with it that odd, vibrating sensation in his chest, and he wrapped his other arm around Bobby, holding him closer. "It was."
Happy (late) birthday to you!
And may you have a clear shot with your roll at the singing waiters . . .
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