Disclaimer: Marvel owns 'em, I'm just borrowing them for a while. No profit made, no harm intended, no money to get sued for, so why bother? Oh, and this is set sometime after "Catching His Breath" for anyone who cares. ;- Talking It Out
So, you want to know how I found out? Simple enough. I'm head of a certain organization down in New Orleans. We have a sister organization in New York. Now, as a matter of professional courtesy, when someone from one of our organizations has work that takes them into a city in which another group has their base of operations, the member who travels to that city will inform the leaders of the local group of their presence and intentions, to insure that there is no conflict of interest involved. It's bad for business to have one of our allies in conflict with a member of one of our affiliates.
No, Mr. Drake, you do not want to know what line of business I'm in. Suffice it to say that I pay my taxes promptly and on time.
In any case, someone from the New York branch came down to New Orleans and severely annoyed a close personal friend of mine, and I came up to New York to make certain that he was properly disciplined. I suppose I could have simply called and expressed my displeasure, but the fact is I was rather looking for an excuse to spend some time with my youngest son.
And yes, I know he doesn't look much like me. He's adopted, but he's still my son.
So, I came up to New York and checked in to a hotel, planning to stay there a few days. Given what my son had said about certain of his teammates' opinions of his profession, I wasn't entirely sure that I'd be welcome at the mansion.
No, being an X-Man is his avocation, not his profession. If you don't know what that is, ask my son. Or your son, for that matter. I'm quite certain that Bobby knows. He couldn't very well have been living in the same house, much less the same room, without knowing something that obvious.
I'm sorry, I didn't mean to laugh. No, Remy's not a hit-man or a drug dealer. But certain of his activities could get him into fairly serious legal trouble if they came to official notice. And, my apologies, but I don't know you well enough to know whether you would feel yourself honor-bound to report those activities if you knew for certain what they were. As it is, I think you are intelligent enough to know that drawing official attention to the X-Men's civilian identities would put both them and us in danger. Remy can kill, no question about that, but he much prefers to avoid situations that would force him to do it. Or he did, until he hooked up with the X-Men. They do some good, but mon Dieu the havoc they cause doing it!
So, I was in town, and thought I'd just drop in quietly and see how he was doing. We're both night owls, so I simply slipped in and went up to his room. Didn't think he'd mind...
Jean-Luc LeBeau slipped in through the window and waited silently for his eyes to adjust to the darkness of the room. Outside, the moon was full and bright, but the bedroom he stood in was cloaked in shadows.
He recognized the bed, an antique four-poster that he'd given his son when he'd adopted Remy. He recognized Remy as well, curled up against another figure. His brows shot upwards in surprise.
If he'd expected to see Remy in bed with any of his teammates, it would have been Rogue. The fiery auburn-haired Southerner had come down to the Big Easy with Remy a time or two, and no one could have missed the sparks flying between the two of them. He'd rather liked Rogue, although he'd wondered at the time if she had the stability to handle a relationship with his son. Apparently the answer was no, given the fact that the person Remy was cuddling with was not only blond but male. Also familiar. Dat frien' of his, Bobby. De one dat t'rew him the birt'day party last year and busted his buns gettin' all of us Thieves up here from Nawlins. Good sign, dat. He cared enough to make dat kind of effort, he probably been treating Remy right.
He saw the slight smile on Remy's face, the utterly trusting relaxation in his body, and smiled himself. Dat's another good sign. He don't trust jus' anyone enough to let them sleep with him. And there's two dressers here... dat means dis ain't something too recent, or just a casual fling. They planning on going for de long haul here.
He approached the bed on silent thief's feet, fully expecting to wake his son, but there was no movement from the bed, no indication that Remy was even aware of his presence. Either I'm gettin' better, or he's gettin' sloppy, Jean-Luc thought with a grin. Have t' remember to razz him 'bout dat when I come back. He looked at the clock on the bed-stand, noting that the alarm was set for 7:00 a.m. Mon Dieu I'm glad dat I'm not an X-Man. Bet Remy hates dis part o' the job. Always was a bitch t' get him out of bed in de morning.
He gazed down at the two lovers for a moment longer before vanishing back into the night.
Oui, I actually caught them in bed together. Weren't doing anything but sleeping, but it was rather obvious that they had been.
Mr. Drake, Remy had... a very rough childhood before I adopted him. Some of the things he went through, I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. But he's come through that with flying colors, and become the kind of man that I'm very proud to call my son. His taste in bedpartners means absolutely nothing to me compared to whether or not his lovers make him happy. For the most part, they haven't. Bobby has. For that alone I would excuse him just about anything. Since he's also a very kind and thoughtful person, I happen to like him very much. Whatever you decide, he will be considered family to me and mine.
Now, where were we?
Remy and Bobby were eating breakfast with the other X-Men when the Cajun's head suddenly lifted. "C'mon in, Pere," he called. An instant later, the door opened.
"One of dese days you gonna have to teach me that trick, pup," Jean-Luc said with a chuckle. "Such a pity you can't seem to do it in your sleep."
Remy gave him a smug smile. "If y' referring to de fact that you snuck into my boudoir las' night, I did know y' were there, I just didn' bother waking up. Believe me, if you'd tried to touch either of us, you'da been flat on y' back before you even realized that I knew you were there." As he spoke, he gestured toward an empty seat, and rose to get Jean-Luc a plate and silverware so that he could share the pancakes piled in the middle of the table.
"Y' showed up here dis early because you checked the setting on the alarm and knew I'd be up." He grinned at his father challengingly. "Y' came in t'rough de window and left the same way. It was about 2:15, and you left about five minutes later." Both men ignored Bobby's groan of realization and painfully red blush as he realized what Jean-Luc must have seen.
Jean-Luc grinned and shook his head. "All right, mon fils. Y' got me dere. Merde. I t'ought I'd finally gotten you."
"I am de third-best thief in the world," Remy said with pardonable pride.
"Second," Jean-Luc corrected absently. "Lady Mairhie finally got herse'f killed."
Remy blinked, then snorted. "AIDS or a jealous ex?" he asked with a certain hint of contempt.
"Stupidity. She let one of her lovers rob her blind, den went an' tried to make a big score to make up for it. Didn't do her homework and found out de hard way that the target took his security serious. And dat he wasn't interested in de female of de species."
"Sound like somet'ing she'd do. Fool woman been trading off her looks f' years now."
Jean-Luc looked at him dryly.
"Don't gimme dat look, Pere. I admit I got a reputation f' liking to play those games, but I always knew who I was dealing wit' before I went in. Besides, y' know I got an advantage in that area."
Jean-Luc snickered. "As Cousin Tien found out t' his sorrow, neh?"
Remy gave him one of his trademarked wicked grins. "Oh, dat he did, certainement."
Bobby, his red-faced embarrassment having faded to a faint flush, asked what Remy'd done to this "Cousin Tien" and was rewarded by a story of one of the less welcoming members of Remy's adopted family getting his just deserts in the midst of a Mardi Gras parade... which Remy'd somehow charmed him into joining stark naked and painted purple, green and gold. The whole team was listening avidly to this tale of fast-talking hoodwinkery. By the time the two of them were done, the entire team was laughing uproariously, except for Scott, who had his head buried in his hands. But even his shoulders were shaking.
Hank, who hadn't made it up from the lab until halfway through the story, laughed with the rest, but spoke up after the story was over. "Pardon my tardiness, my Cajun compatriot, but I seem to have missed the introductions. I suspect I know who this gentleman is, but we have never been formally introduced." He looked curiously at Jean-Luc.
"Dat's because my son seems to have forgotten what manners I managed to pound through his t'ick skull," Jean-Luc said. Then he grinned wickedly, and suddenly looked remarkably like his adopted son. "Took me long enough t' do it, too. He was a li'l barbarian when I 'dopted him."
Remy scowled at him in mock-anger. "My apologies, mes amis. Pere, dese are the X-Men. Scott an' Jean - hands off, Pere, Fearless Leader there is de jealous sort - Logan, and I t'ink you know Ororo. De big blue fur-ball there's Hank. An' you've met Rogue and Bobby. Guys, dis is mon pere, Jean-Luc LeBeau."
Jean-Luc nodded acknowledgment as Remy performed the introductions, casually filing identities away in his trained memory.
Scott scowled at Remy, who gave him an innocent look. "Quoi? He knows how t' keep his mout' shut. Besides, what've you got t' worry about? Not like your identity's all dat secret anyway."
Scott blinked. "What exactly do you mean by that?" he asked suspiciously.
Remy looked at him like he was missing something horribly obvious. "Um, Scott? You are de same Cyclops that was the leader of the original X-Factor team, oui? Y' didn't get hit over de head and f'get that, or get replaced by a clone or a cosmic entity or somesuch?"
Scott glared at him. "Yes, it's the real me. What's that got to do with anything?"
Jean-Luc's eyes were dancing with amusement. "I t'ink he's referring to dat press conference y' held back when de Mutant Registration Act was first established, in which y' announced your real names on national television," he said in an admirably level tone.
Bobby began to snicker, as did several others.
"Don't laugh too hard, Bobby," Scott growled. "You were in that press conference too."
Bobby just shrugged. "So? We already know the government knows where to find us. Heck, so do half our enemies. Once someone knows where we are, it's just a matter of time before they figure out who we are. If that bothered me, I'd've taken off years ago." Some of the others looked at him oddly at this perfectly logical statement, but only because Bobby'd never been known for that much common sense.
The rest of the meal was completed in companionable conversation, everyone trying to get Jean-Luc to tell tales about Remy. He obliged, talking about the little hellion he'd taken in off the street and the battles he'd had over eating habits (whatever he could stuff down his gullet whenever he could get it), table manners (grab whatever was in reach and shove it down his maw with his hands, threatening the life of anyone who attempted to claim a share), vocabulary ("boy had a mouth dat could make a sailor blush"), and assorted other skirmishes in the war to turn the feral street-child into a reasonable approximation of a gentleman.
But in with the embarrassing anecdotes were bits of information that made it clear just how proud Jean-Luc was of his adopted son. How he'd been totally illiterate when he'd been adopted at twelve, yet had earned his high-school diploma by sixteen. How he'd taken to his training so quickly that by the time he had reached seventeen, he'd caught up with the skills of the children of Guild members, despite the extra workload from all the remedial education that he'd needed. How he'd become a Master Thief less than two years after receiving Guildmember status, when most of the few who ever made it to the rarified ranks of Mastery were lucky to do so after a decade of hard work.
The stories of his wild adolescence Remy took with a laugh and a jibe. But those bits of paternal boasting... Remy was never easy to read, but to the ones who knew him best, it was obvious that he was drinking in the approval like a man dying of thirst. Bobby's hand under the table sought his and squeezed affectionately.
Jean-Luc noted, but didn't comment.
What? Why should I say anything at that point? All I knew about Bobby at that point was that he was an X-Man, and he'd gone to a lot of trouble the year before to give Remy a birthday party. That earned him points in my book. Anyone who goes out of their way to be good to my son deserves to get cut some slack.
Mr. Drake, I knew that Remy was bi. I've known for years. I don't necessarily like it, but I've got more important things to worry about than the gender of my son's lovers. I've known plenty of gay men that I'd trust with my life, my soul, and my first-born son. Known plenty of straight men who weren't worth the bullet to shoot them with. I love my son. I want him to be happy. He can't be happy if he's being forced to make a choice between the people he loves.
Oh, yes. I'm quite certain that he loves your son. He's not an easy person to know, but he's more open with me than just about anyone else. Except your son.
The two Cajuns settled down on the roof. Scott had excused Remy from the Danger Room session that he'd gotten up for. Neither LeBeau was quite sure whether it was because he was acknowledging the fact that they rarely had a chance to be together, or whether he was just uncomfortable with the idea of the best thief in the world being left loose in the house.
"So, Scott always like dat?"
Remy snickered at his father's comment. "Oui. Actually, y' caught him on a good day. If dere had been somebody hurt in that mission yesterday, den you'd have had a lot harder time charming him."
"Me? Charm someone? Perish the thought. That's your talent, not mine."
"Oh, you don't do too bad f' a flatscan," Remy teased.
Jean-Luc raised his fist in a mock threat. "Watch de comments, gene-joke," he bantered back.
Remy smiled, then leaned in and gave Jean-Luc a one-armed hug. Jean-Luc smiled at him, his mock-scowl disappearing as if it had never existed, hugging his son back. For all Remy's free-and-easy persona, it was rare for him to offer completely spontaneous affection to any but his very closest friends and family.
"So, what y' doing in town? You didn't come all dis way to see me, did you?"
"Oui et non. One of de New York thieves came down to Nawlins and stole something from Pierre Brudeax, but I could have just called up an' had him taught a lesson soon's he got back. Dat just an excuse to come see why it is dat you ain't had any contact with anyone f' almost a year now." He frowned at his son.
Remy sighed. "It's kind of a long story. Basically, I got real sick for a while. Like, 'I coulda died' kinda sick. Not'ing that Tante Maddie could have helped wit', it was real touch 'n go for a while dere. I didn't want word t' get out dat I was sick, so I cut off all contact wit' everyone on dat side of de street. Got too many enemies with too many connections, didn't want word getting out. And I couldn't just call you direct, because then you'd have t' make the choice between what's good for the guild and what you figure dat you should do f' a son. Either way, it'd attract attention when dat was de last t'ing I wanted."
"So y' took de chance that I'd never get t' say goodbye proper? Merci beaucoup, mon fils. I jus' love people making dat kinda decision f' me." Jean-Luc snapped. "Y' stayed up here all alone instead o' letting y' own family know what happened."
"Bobby, he's family too. I had him wit' me every step of de way." There was something old and sad in those red-on-black eyes. "If it weren't f' Bobby... I wouldn't have even tried, Pere. I was dat messed up inside. I just... wanted de pain t' end. Bobby kept me going."
"Dat's when you got t'gether?"
Remy shook his head. "Non. We'd been t'gether f' months before. Just, like I said, I was hurting inside. When I broke up wit' Rogue - she'd found out some stuff about t'ings I'd done. T'ings I've never even told you 'bout, dat happened after I... left Nawlins. Real bad stuff. She couldn't handle it."
"An' does Bobby know 'bout dese... bad t'ings?"
Remy nodded. "Whole team knows," he said quietly, then smiled slightly. "Bobby don't judge. Far as he's concerned, de past is past, an' he's interested in de now. Hell, he took Rogue on f' de way she treated me when we split up. And Bobby's been scared t' death of Rogue long as I've known him." The memory warmed his eyes, and that terrible knowledge inside them faded.
"So how'd de two of you hook up, den?"
"Oh, well... after what happened wit' Rogue, I got stuck somewhere rather... unpleasant f' a while. Got sick from exposure, all sortsa mess. Dat's part of why I was sick last year. It weakened me, made me more vulnerable. Any case, by de time dat Stormy found me, I was pretty much better, but way out of shape. So Scott, bless his soldierly li'l heart, assigned Bobby as my workout partner. Got to be friends, den we got to be more dan friends." He was quiet for a long moment. "After... what happened. I didn't t'ink I'd ever laugh again. I t'ought dat what happened was a punishment from God f' what I did, an' all dere was f' me was to try t' make amends until de odds caught up wit' me. Bobby helped me see dat wasn't true. Reminded me dere's more t' life dan paying debts."
Jean-Luc looked at him in shock. His Remy'd come to that pass without him knowing? "Dieu, pup, t'ought you knew better dan dat. Life is for living. Y' got to take responsibility for y' actions, oui, but making y'self miserable for de rest of your life is a fool's game. What de hell did you do that made you forget that?"
Remy pulled his legs to his chest and wrapped his arms around them defensively. "Got some people killed. Lots o' innocent people. Dey trusted me, and I let de wolves in de door." His voice was faint but filled with self-loathing. Remy wouldn't look at him. He just curled up around himself and ever-so-faintly began to rock.
Jean-Luc was silent for a long while. "Did y' know what was going to happen?" he asked finally, looking at his adopted son levelly.
Remy shook his head.
"When you realized what was going to happen, did you help de killers?"
Remy looked at him, stricken. "Non!"
"Could you have stopped it wit'out killing dose innocents y'self?"
"Don't y' t'ink I would have if I could?" Remy shouted, jumping to his feet. There were tears in his eyes. "It been years, and I still have nightmares about it. I still remember it every day. Every time I t'ink maybe I'm doing good, I 'member dat day, an' I know dat not'ing I do will ever be enough t' make up f' what I did!"
Jean-Luc looked up at him calmly. "Sit down, mon cher fils. I didn't t'ink you'd do anything like that intentionally. But I couldn't very well tell you dat it wasn't your fault if I didn't know what it was, now could I?"
"Y' said it yourself. You didn't know what was going t' happen. Y' didn't do any of de killing. You couldn't have stopped it without killing dose people y'self. So why are you beating yourself up about dis?"
"I shoulda known. I shoulda realized what was going to happen. I should never've gotten involved wit' Essex." He sat down, gingerly, next to his father.
Jean-Luc put an arm around him, and Remy leaned into the gesture. "Dis Essex. Did he give you any reason t' think that he'd do anything like this? Did you know of any reason why he'd want these people dead?"
Remy shook his head. "Essex, he goes by de name of Mr. Sinister,"he said, voice thick with emotion. "Didn't know that at de time, but it suits him. He's over a hundred years old, and been studying mutants all dat time. Real cold bastard. I knew he studies mutants, but I t'ought he just another human researcher. I hooked up wit' him after I left Nawlins. My powers were goin' nuts, and I heard he could maybe help me control 'em. He did, and I started doin' jobs for him. Recruiting, mostly. Little industrial espionage, but nothing violent. Nothing really nasty."
"And he's de one that killed these people?"
"Ordered it. I didn't know it at de time, but some of de mutants he'd had me recruit, he wasn't just after 'em for dere powers. He wanted some muscle. Real nasty muscle. They're de ones that did the actual killing."
"Why kill them?"
"They were a group of mutants called de Morlocks. Lived in the tunnels under Manhattan. T'ing is, they were real obvious mutants, more so dan me. Most of 'em couldn't hide what they were with a pair of shades, y'know? So they lived down dere because it was safer. Then the Marauders came. I'd shown them the way through the tunnel because, well, they were being led by Creed at de time, an' we both know dat he'd've just loved an excuse to rip me apart. In de tunnels I couldn't take him, not without bringing the roof down on my own head. And with de others t' back him up, I'da been dead if I hadn't done what I was told."
He lowered his head. "Shoulda done it anyway. Straight off, before we got in close enough dat the Morlocks'd be in danger from de blast."
"As f' why Sinister wanted de Morlocks dead, I still ain't sure. Just know dat he's de one that gave de orders, and the Marauders were the ones that carried 'em out. An' dey... dey couldn't have... done it wit'out...." He choked on the words.
Jean-Luc took him in his arms and held him comfortingly as he shook with silent sobs. The older man stroked his son's hair gently and waited for the tumultuous emotions to settle slightly. Not speaking, not judging. Just being there, as he had been for a much younger Remy. When the sobbing had slowed, Jean-Luc spoke in a thief's whisper. "Toi c'est mon fils ami. Je t'aime, petite cher. Je t'aime."
Remy looked up at him with eyes that were, for once totally vulnerable. "C'est vrai?"
"Certainement." He gently wiped the tears from his son's face. "Now, tell me 'bout Bobby, neh? I know he y' teammate 'mong other t'ings, but I don't know anyt'ing about him as a person."
Remy gave a watery chuckle. "He's one of a kind, dat's f' sure. Goofy an' funny an' he loves playing practical jokes. Lots smarter dan most people t'ink he is. Usually doesn't push too hard, real easy-going. He was one of de first of de X-Men, one of de original team. Real sweet, too. Well, you know dat. Y' saw how he wore himself out getting ever'body up here f' my birthday that time. I hadn't told him when my birt'day was until de package came in. Still haven't tole de others, f' dat matter. He don't much like fighting, but he getting pretty good at it dese days. Been showing him some of my moves..."
"I could tell," Jean-Luc said with a snicker.
Remy ignored him loftily, "...an' Logan's been teaching him some more stuff, so anybody who might manage to disrupt his powers is gonna be in f' a nasty surprise if dey t'ink he's gonna be helpless wit'out 'em.
"Lemme think, what else? Tole you he took care of me when I was sick, he's a real good nurse. Also a good accountant, although I wouldn't advise y' asking him t' do your books. He's incurably honest," Remy said with a grin.
"An' he treats you right?"
Remy's smile turned blindingly bright. "Oh, oui. Never had nobody dat treated me dis well. He t'inks about me before anyone else, and everyone else b'fore himself. When I was so down dat I thought I'd never smile again, he made me laugh."
Wish you could've seen the look on his face. If you had, you wouldn't even have to ask if what they've got is real. Never seen Remy look that happy, not even when he was a boy. There was always that little hint of calculation, of wariness. Not then. If nothing else, your son has taught Remy how to trust. It's a precious gift, one that comes all too rarely in the world that Remy grew up in.
So, me and my son had a nice chat, talked some shop, got re-acquainted. Nice day, nice view from up there on the roof. He always did like high places. Seems a little unfair sometimes that his powers don't let him fly. I know he'd love it.
We had lunch together at this little French place near the school, real nice, not too pricey but well-prepared. Me and Remy and Bobby. I wanted to get a closer look at the two of them together, without all the distractions of the rest of their team.
I liked what I saw. They laughed with each other, not at each other. And your Bobby, he is good at making people laugh. There's too little joy in this world, and he makes a little more wherever he goes. It's a rare talent.
I can see by your face that you don't agree. But then, from what Remy said, that doesn't surprise me.
No, Remy doesn't know you. He's never had the chance to. But he's heard enough things that Bobby's let slip over the years that he can put the pieces together. You're very much a materialist, aren't you? Very practical and down-to-earth. Bobby's not. That's one of the best things about him, I think, and Remy agrees. My son's wild, unpredictable and a bit of a prick at times, but he's very practical when he needs to be.
Of course he is. I love him, but I admit he's got his flaws. He can be incredibly arrogant, self-centered, and manipulative. Everyone's got their little ways to protect themselves. He's got more than most. But then, he's always needed them more than most.
Not many people have ever seen the real Remy, but he's worth the effort to get to know.
As I was saying, we had a very enjoyable day. Nice day, good meal, excellent company. Well worth the trip to New York. Went out for a ride in Central Park afterwards, did the tourist thing for a while. I hadn't been up to New York for more than a flying visit for... mon Dieu. Almost forty years. A lot has changed in that time.
Yes, I am serious. I am considerably older than I look, thanks to a certain... former associate of the family. I suppose that's why I tend to be rather relaxed about certain aspects of human behavior. I've seen far stranger ways to express one's feelings, and I've always been of the opinion that love is more important than social mores.
Manners are merely grease with which to smooth one's path through society. And right and wrong should be dictated by one's own conscience, not someone else's notions. As long as no one is getting hurt, I tend to find such strictures of fairly minor concern.
Remy told me that you were nearly killed for speaking out against Graydon Creed, despite the fact that you yourself have always been rather... uneasy about mutants.
Yes, family is always more important than prejudice.
Actually, that's something that I can understand. Being an X-Man actually makes perfect sense for someone like Bobby. It's all about helping people, after all. Your son is a very caring, compassionate man. Very good at seeing both sides of a disagreement, I noticed that when we were talking after lunch that day.
Of course I made a point of getting him alone. He's involved with my son, after all. I wanted to get to know him.
Remy? Why would he try to stop me from getting Bobby in a private conversation? Oh, I'm sure that he would have given his eyeteeth to listen in, but he knew perfectly well what I was doing, and he had enough confidence in your son to know that I would take to him.
"So, um, what exactly was it that you were wanting to talk about, sir?"
"Jean-Luc, please. 'Sir' makes me sound like some stuffy ol' man. And while I admit to de 'old', I don't t'ink anybody's ever accused me of being stuffy." Jean-Luc gave Bobby a grin as he sat down in one of the overstuffed recliners in the library. He gestured toward the bottle of brandy he'd found in the sidebar, and shrugged slightly when Bobby nervously shook his head.
"Jean-Luc, right. So what were you wanting to talk about?"
The older man smiled and poured himself a drink, settling back to sip the brandy in comfort. "Relax, Bobby. I jus' wanted t' get acquainted, seeing as how you and Remy been together longer dan I think he's ever managed to hold on to a relationship b'fore. He been telling me dat you're really somet'ing special. Anybody dat can manage to get this far past mon fils' defenses is somebody I want t' get to know better."
"You mean to tell me that he's never had a relationship last for more than two years?" Bobby asked in surprise.
"Not dat I know of. Certainly not before... he had t' leave. Not 'less you count Belle, and dey were more friends dan lovers, I t'ink."
Bobby winced. "I know he had rotten luck with relationships before we got together, but I didn't think it was that bad. 'Course, he'd almost have to have broken off all his relationships pretty quick, considering how many of them have come back to bite him in the ass... he wouldn't have had time for all of them otherwise."
Jean-Luc choked on his brandy. "Dat's one way of looking at it, I s'pose." He hesitated. "Hear de last one was one of de worst, but he didn' seem t' want to talk 'bout it. All he was saying was dat it was a pretty nasty breakup and dat he was mighty depressed afterward."
Bobby looked at him narrowly, a very serious expression on his usually-cheerful face. "Did he tell you why they broke up? What happened?"
"She found out 'bout de Morlocks, and couldn't take knowing dat they died because he got suckered by dat Essex fellow. Didn't give any details. Did say that you didn't t'ink much of the way she acted, and told her so."
Bobby snorted, a surprisingly cynical sound from a young man who didn't seem to have a cynical bone in his body. "I kicked her ass all over the front yard, is what I did." He grinned sheepishly. "I'm not sure who was more surprised when I won that fight, her or me or Scott. Nobody figured I had the power to take her on, much less beat her without getting so much as a scratch. Including me... I wasn't looking to get into a brawl, that was just the only way I could get her to stop and listen to me."
He looked at the Cajun consideringly. "You know, we've never actually talked about that. He knows it happened, he knows how I feel about it, but we've never discussed it. I'm surprised he said anything to you." His tone invited an explanation.
"He was tellin' me about how you accept him f' what he is now, rat'er dan what he did b'fore he met y'. He was real touched by de way you defended him. It meant a lot t' him dat you were willing t' give him a second chance."
"He shouldn't have needed one," Bobby growled. "Too many people around here get them without even asking, without even wanting one, he shouldn't have had to go through what he did to get one."
"What did he go through?"
Bobby clammed up.
Jean-Luc sighed. "Bobby. I can find dis out from you, or from him. An' if I don't get it from one or de ot'er of you, I'll find someone else to pry it out of. Any way y' look at it, I'm gonna be finding out, an' the more trouble I have to go to t' get dat information, the more pissed I'm gonna be once I get it. Now, why don't y' want to tell me dis? I don't t'ink you'd have been grinnin' so wide at de idea of clobbering skunk-hair if you were hoping t' protect her, so why you keeping y' mouth closed?"
Bobby looked at him levelly. "If I tell you, you're gonna be pissed. If you get pissed... with your connections, Rogue just might get dead. I don't want that. Mad as I am at her over that, she's still a teammate, and I am not going to lower myself that far. She knows how I feel about it, and she's on probation. We're watching her real close, believe me."
Jean-Luc's eyes narrowed and his lips thinned as he considered this. "An' if I promise not t' kill her?"
"Then I'll tell you that I need to talk to Remy before I tell you anything else." Bobby's voice was pleasant, but uncompromising.
Jean-Luc smiled faintly. "Well enough. If y' say dat it's being dealt wit' in-house, den I'll accept dat f' now. But I will find out eventually." A certain tension left the Cajun, unnoticed until it was gone.
Bobby noticed it. "You wanted me to say that, didn't you?"
"P'haps. Or maybe I just wanted t' see what you'd say 'bout it."
The younger man chuckled. "Now I know where Remy gets it from."
Let me tell you, I was impressed by the way that he stood up to me. But then, he's been going up against the likes of Magneto for years, I suppose that an old scoundrel like me probably doesn't seem too threatening.
I find that powers aren't necessary to impress someone, however. There's a few tricks to intimidation that I've learned over the years, and Bobby's a pretty easy-going type. He's a lot more vulnerable to social pressure than anyone would expect from a person who goes up against the worst this world's got to offer on a regular basis. And he knows that I'm his lover's father, I'm sure that added to the strain. Having him stand up to me to protect someone that he was pretty annoyed with himself, well, if I doubted he had guts before, I don't any more.
In any case, I stuck around the place a few more days, getting to know Bobby better. I liked what I saw, Mr. Drake. He's a fine young man. Very thoughtful and considerate, a lot smarter than his reputation would lead you to believe.
Well, of course he has a reputation. He was one of the original X-Men, after all. He's been in the business since before he was old enough to shave. It just doesn't happen to be the kind of reputation that strikes fear into the hearts of evil mutants everywhere... or into the heart of anyone else who isn't a bigoted fool.
My apologies. I hadn't intended to annoy you. Although why you'd be worried by anyone who loves you as much as your son does escapes me.
Of course he loves you. I wouldn't be here otherwise.
Look. Your son loves you. My son loves yours, and I love my son. Therefore, anything that upsets your son makes Remy upset. I can't protect mon fils from much in this world, but if I can make his life just the slightest bit easier, it's worth a shot. And if you and Bobby at least call a truce, then Remy'll stop feeling guilty about this.
I have no intention of threatening you, or anything of the sort. I simply wished to talk to you in private without anyone, including our sons, trying to interfere. Like it or not, you and I have something in common, and I thought perhaps the perspective of another father might help you to think things through.
What do you mean, what things? Bobby feels like you don't love him. He thinks that no matter what he does, he'll never get your approval. And he wants that. He wants you to say that you're proud of him, or that you love him, or even just that he's a good man.
He is, after all. Not what you were expecting, perhaps, but a good man nonetheless.
I didn't say you hated him. Just that he doesn't feel like he's ever done anything right in your eyes.
What do you mean, how do I know? He said as much.
Bobby slammed the phone down with a curse, and Remy winced guiltily. "Your pere?"
Bobby nodded curtly. "He still doesn't get it." He flopped down on the couch, scowling into space. "I wish that he'd accept that we're together. I wish, just once, he'd give me a break."
Remy stood and walked over to the sofa, cuddling up to his lover. "I'm sorry, cher. Remy nev' meant to put a wedge between you and y' family." His red-on-black eyes looked at Bobby remorsefully.
Bobby gave an exasperated snort. "Hey, I never did anything right as far as he's concerned. Don't blame yourself for helping me admit that I was living a lie." He suddenly seemed to remember that Jean-Luc was in the room. "Sorry you had to hear that, Jean-Luc. I'm afraid my Dad and I don't get along real well. He wasn't real thrilled when he found out that I was a mutant. Finding out I'm gay too was just a little too much, I guess." His voice was steady enough, and his shrug was perfectly relaxed, but his eyes were sad. Remy curled a little tighter around Bobby, and Jean-Luc smiled.
"Ne pas problem," he said gently. "Me, I never got on too well wit' mon pere either. De ol' man and I didn't have much in common." He hesitated for a moment. "Y' know dat you be part of de family, now, oui? Far as I'm concerned, y' be a LeBeau, as much as anyone else."
Bobby looked at him in surprise, then smiled wistfully. "I... thanks, Jean-Luc. That means a lot."
Well, I can certainly sympathize with that.... Remy? Do things that I don't approve of? Constantly. He's an X-Man, I certainly don't approve of that. Much too high-profile, you attract the kind of attention that isn't good for someone in our line of work.
The point is, yes I'd be happier if Remy'd fallen for someone that could help him make some grandbabies for me to spoil, but the fact is, he didn't. He's in love with Bobby, who's in love with him, and I'd rather have him be happy than worrying about passing on the bloodline with someone he can't stand, merci beaucoup.
Oui, I know that Bobby's your only child. But he's not you. His choice of bedpartners doesn't say anything about anyone but him, and what it says about him is that he's got damned good taste in men. Myself, I suspect that the two of them will wind up adopting. Remy knows quite well how many children there are out there that need someone to take care of them, and I get the impression that Bobby's rather fond of kids himself.
I never bothered to do any kind of paperwork with Remy, myself. Social workers generally have a more practical view of some things than the bureaucrats that actually make the rules. If the child is being loved and taken care of, most of the ones who're working in the field will... overlook certain irregularities. There are so many little ones who are in actual danger, after all, and if I know Remy, he'd probably want a child that no one else would consider adopting. No one else wanted him, after all.
Hmm? Oh, it was the eyes. When he was on the streets, they used to call him "devil eyes". As far as anyone can tell, he was born with them. Mark him pretty clearly as a mutant. Scares some people.
Not particularly. I know he doesn't have a choice about it, after all. Just the hand he was dealt. He's been playing it pretty well, considering. Oh, he's made some serious mistakes, no question about that, and some of those mistakes have had really bad consequences, but he hasn't given up. I admire that about him.
He's a good man. Not conventional, no, he's never been that. He's been an outsider all his life, I don't think he'll ever truly blend in. But a good man nonetheless. He and your son have that much in common.
I think it's the contrast that brings them together, myself. Bobby does try to be normal, to blend in as best he can, and Remy's been an rebel from day one. Bobby's a bit shy, Remy's always loved attention. They say that opposites attract, and if there's also some similarities to bind them together... they balance each other, Mr. Drake. Fire and ice, yin and yang, describe it as you will. I've seen a lot in my life, but I've rarely seen a couple that works as well together as they do. Their abilities, their attitudes, they complement each other.
Your choice as to whether or not you decide to make peace with your son. Your choice whether or not you give yourself a chance to get to know Remy. I'm just doing what I can to give you the information to make the right choice.
There'll be a car waiting at the door for you. If you hurry, you'll be able to get back home before your wife wakes up and starts worrying. Oh, and I do hope that you won't hold it against the boys that I snatched you like this. They didn't realize that I was going to take a hand in this.
Adieu, Mr. Drake. Think about it.
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