Chapter Four: That River In Egypt
by L.M Griffin
Four Months and a Half In:
"Okay, this had to be the most moronic, idiotic thing I could of done! I go two thousand freakin' miles AWAY from Westchester to NOT think about Remy Lebeau, and then I go to his hometown? This was not a good idea!" Jubilee groused to herself as she shoved her dark sunglasses up her nose, wiping sweat away from her brow as she pulled her dark hair into a short ponytail.
Sunlight poured down on the humid streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans. After finally smoothing the last few errant strands of hair into the ponytail, allowing air to finally reach the back of her neck, Jubilee began stalking down the cobbled street again. As she turned another corner, she was momentarily mullified by the rich beauty of the place. Exotic, enchanting, and down right intoxicating, New Orleans was indeed the perfect birthplace for Remy. It just - fit him.
Jubilee sighed and continued walking, muttering under her breath, "Sure...I'll forget him here. Not like this place is a freakin' shrine to him anyways. Whoops, forgot. It is."
Well, this walk wasn't helping. She had left the hotel she was shacking up in to try and get her mind clear enough to figure out why she was still here. It figured that going outside and actually SEEING New Orleans was just making matters worse. She hadn't meant to come here. Really. No lie. She and the Pack had started to travel North together, up through Kentucky, and into Virginia. That would have been the point where Jubilee had panicked, and left the Pack somewhere in Maryland. She couldn't go home. Not yet. Not with with her heart still...involved. Where every dream she had included a pair of remarkable crimson eyes.
So she headed south again...and ended smack dab in the middle of Louisiana. In the city of Remy's childhood no less, a place where she knew every street as if by heart through his stories. Heck, she even knew how to get to the air force base that he had stolen his first jet from. When he was twelve.
She began stalking through the streets again. She got some looks, some admiring for her own unique beauty, others for the fact that she was talking to herself. She paid them no mind, her thoughts elsewhere. Moving past a man in a fine green silk suit, she growled, "Hello Lee...smell the Freud here?! Subconscious desire, much!? I mean, c'mon girl! Coming here would be considered about as smart as robbing your own damned vault!"
The man in the suit froze in surprise, turning around to look at Jubilee. Tall and well muscled, with long brown hair bound into a long braid and thoughtful brown eyes, he looked to be in his fifties. He tilted his head, suddenly intrigued with the lovely young Asian woman babbling away as if there wasn't another person alive to hear her. Using a phrase he knew only too well, no less.
Five feet away, Jubilee stopped, and slapped her forehead. " 'Rob your own vault'? I'm using thief-speak now?? REMY LEBEAU, get out of my head! I'm trying to get AWAY from you, not obsess over you!" The man in the green suit had to fight off a sudden grin at the young woman's frustration. It was harder then he thought.
Jubilee, completely unaware of the attention she just garnered sighed. "What I wouldn't give for a wall to bang my head into. Many, many times." She started to move forward again, when the man's voice behind her froze her to the spot.
"Y'know Mm'selle, not many femmes wanna t'run away from my son. Quite de opposite 'n fact (much t'de chagrin of de fathers of Louisiana...). Major exception bein' dat Rogue girl, 'n yah definately look smarter den her," the man said mildly, his Cajun accent faultless and colored with something Jubilee catagorized as simply 'class'.
She closed her eyes tightly, and gritted her teeth together. No. No no no no. Her luck could not be this bad. She slowly turned on one heel, tilting her sunglasses down a tad so she could fix her blue eyes on him. Her voice slightly high, she said "Oh please, please tell me you aren't who I think you are?"
The older man's lips quirked for a moment, as he said calmly, "Well, mm'selle...guess it dep'nds on who you think I am, as to whether or not I'm acutu'lly dat person." He stuck his hands casually in his pockets, a gesture that was hauntingly familiar.
Jubilee put her hand to her forehead again as she groaned. "I think you're Jean Luc LeBeau, Remy's father. I also think I really want to bang my head into a wall. Hard. Right now." 'Great way to impress the father, Lee. Really,' she thought to herself. Now Jean Luc LeBeau probably thought she was a complete, raving loon who was obsessed with his son. Wait a second, why did she care what the Guild leader thought? It wasn't like she wanted to impress him.
Of course, explain that to her conscious desire to smooth down her cut-off yellow shirt with the sparkly blue star in the center, and her jean shorts to something less then wrinkled. Arugh. Meanwhile, Jean Luc LeBeau chuckled softly, before saying, "Oui, dat would be me. Now, since you seem t'be one, a stranger in our fair Nawlins, 'n two an 'associate' t'my son, p'haps I could entice you to a cup o' tea?"
"Tea. With you." Jubilee blinked in surprise. She had never been invited anywhere for tea. Heck, the only kind of tea she ever drank came from Snapple.
"Oui, moi." Jean Luc couldn't help smiling again. This girl was so... refreshing was the word he would go with. Blunt, but with an edge of tart sweetness.
"Uhm...where?" Jubilee queried, having a sudden horrid vision of being taken to 'tea' in some fancy restaurant with Remy's father, and her spilling hot tea on his lap. Or some other form of catastrophe.
"At m'home. It's only a few blocks from here," Jean Luc said, eyes twinkling mischeiviously as he added, "With many walls for yah t'bang yo'r head into, if yah so desire. Altho', I think it would be a horrible crime t'ruin such a belle face outta frustration over my scamp of a son." He half bowed, offering an arm to Jubilee.
A wry grin passed Jubilee's lips. "Well then, when you put that way..." She tucked her arm through Jean Luc's, and together they walked down the street, chatting like old friends.
Tea, Jubilee was soon to find out, was less of a elaborate act and more like a Southern pig-out on pastries. While sitting in the air- conditioned living room of the House LeBeau, (Which was so nice. New Orleans was beautiful, but the humidity was killing her.) Jean Luc entertained her with stories of Remy as a child. All the various scrapes the auburn-haired rascal gotten into, and that Jean Luc had had to, more often then not, pull Remy out of. Jubilee had heard many of the stories from Remy himself, but Jean told her a few more she didn't know, and filled in certain 'holes' that Remy left out.
In return, Jubilee told Jean Luc what Remy had been up to lately, filling him in on all the Remy gossip she could think of. Which was a lot, now that she came to think about it. Everyone's emails from home seemed to be filled with mentions of Remy. Jeez, did no one else have a life? Were they all living vicariously through Gumbo? However, Jean Luc seemed to appreciate all her talk; his eyes glowed with a soft longing Jubilee understood completely. It was hard for her to be apart from Remy; it must be ten times worse for a father who hadn't really seen his only son in over five years.
She finished off the story of Remy's latest dating disaster (something she was more then a little glad was over with). "...so then she stared at Remy, and said, 'What do I look like to you, some sort of bimbo? I know you were looking at that woman.' Now remember, this woman was a NUN, in her freaking HABIT, no less. So Remy replied tartly, 'Non. You look like an insanely jealous womon dat I have no clue why I was datin'. Bonne Nuit.' He threw a fifty on the table, apologized to the Sister and walked away."
Jean Luc tipped back his head and laughed heartily, then filled Jubilee's tea cup again. He shook his head, as he commented innocently, "Dat son of mine, he needs t'find h'mself a woman who can tolerate him. 'Nother crumpet?"
Jubilee waved her hand. "No way, those things are too addicting...and there isn't a woman alive who can tolerate Remy's difficult Cajun self twenty-four seven. I'm one of his best friends and he still manages to drive me up the wall." Jean Luc gave her a quiet look, but kept his thoughts to himself. Remy didn't have many people proclaiming to be his best anything. Jubilee, as far as Jean Luc could tell, knew more about his vagrant son then he did. It was a thought that comforted - and stung just a little.
She didn't notice the look however, as she took another sip from her cup. She lifted her gaze to look around, admiring the fine wood paneling and the antiques she was fairly sure Jean Luc hadn't come by legally. Her eyes fell on a picture over the mantle and she pushed herself out of her comfy chair to go look at it.
It was a picture of Remy as a teenage boy, that devilish smile no less captivating in his youth then it was now. She couldn't help but grin to herself as she turned her attention to the woman in the picture. "That's Tante Mattie, right? Your clan's traiteur?"
Jean Luc rose as well, standing beside her. His expressioned softened. "Oui. Dat was when Remy turned fourteen. Full member of de Clan by den. Tante insisted de boy have a real party, somethin' nice t'remember. Remy...never did have many happy birthdays. My boy, he's suffered lot more den he should have."
Jubilee's expression was quiet, as she said, "I know..." The pair continued to look at the picture for a few minutes silently, before Jubilee added, "Is it true? Can Tante Mattie see the past and future?"
"She has, on more den one occasion. She don't mind doin' a bit of seein' now 'd again, when it don't disturb her Catholic faith. You have somethin' you want to ask her, chere?" Jean Luc said innocently, his eyes flickering to the girl. Her gaze, he noted, never left Remy's face.
"Hmm? Well...I am kinda bumming around. Trying to find myself. Maybe if I talk to her, I could get a bit more...focus," Jubilee shrugged, keeping down the blush on her cheeks. "She's the real deal, right? I mean, I don't want to go there and find out some honky bull that I could of figured out on my own."
"Oh beli've me, chere," Jean Luc said calmly, "Mattie's de 'real deal'. Whatever you have questions 'bout, she'll have an answer for ya." Although Jean Luc already had a pretty good idea what Jubilee would ask about.
As the sun slowly dipped down over Lake Pontchartrain, Jean Luc's grey Cadillac pulled into the gravel drive that lead Tante Mattie's small house. Jubilee stepped out of the car, took a deep breath in, and nearly stumbled. Gardinias. The scent filled her senses, the rich perfume tickling her nose delightfully. A soft smile touched her lips, and she turned to follow Jean Luc into the frame house before her.
Tante Mattie, by normal practice, did not leave her altar lit. She only used her traiteur skills when Jean Luc, or any other of the Clan leaders, called upon her for Clan business. However, for some reason she had found it necessary to light the candles today. That sixth sense of hers had picked up on the fact that someone was coming to ask her some very important questions, so she'd best be ready. As Jean Luc and his 'guest' entered the house, Tante Mattie's senses moved past the older thief's aura and went straight to - yes, it was a young girl. She flexed her powers over the girl curiously...
And found herself swept away by a whirlpool of emotions coming from behind those icy blue orbs. Strength. Determination. Ancient wisdom of the words pain and heartache. A face that had worn many a mask. A loner, a survivor, a fighter. The glow of a bright, innocent soul. Purity wrapped in suffering and secrets.
Mattie wasn't sure what she found more disturbing: the fact that all this came from behind just one girl's face, or that this wasn't the first soul she had run across that looked like this. Only one other person, one man had an aura this turbulant. Strangely enough, it was this same man who swirled within this young woman's soul.
She gestured for Jubilee to sit beside her as she lit the candles around the altar, calling to the 'powers'. Jubilee said nothing, simply watched with strangly intent blue eyes, her face illuminated in the dim light. Jean Luc stood in the shadows by the door, watching the proceedings silently. Tante Mattie chanted a few words in the old tongue, swirling the smoke from the candles around her fingers. Through the smoke, images of a man and a woman appeared. Asian in appearance, they strongly resembled the girl beside her. Mattie watched the girl stiffen slightly as her expression became one of shocked surprise.
It was then that Mattie began to speak. "Well Ms. Jubilation Lee, you've come a long way from de mansions of Beverly Hills, non?" Jubilee froze for a moment, giving Mattie a long look, before nodding her head in silent consent. Mattie smiled sadly, before adding, "You were a only chile when they passed on - murdered by a man who claimed t'be their friend. Alone, yah learn'd de most basic rule of bein' an orphan. Survive. Whatever way yah can." The faintly hard look in the young woman's eyes confirmed what Mattie said. A very familiar look...
Mattie raised her hand, and the smoke shifted to different images, two men's faces; one with a smooth bald head, a thoughful look on his face. The other was a wild man, eyes glinting ferally. A look of rueful recognition worked over Jubilee's face. The black woman spoke thoughtfully, "You follow de path of de man who's become your father, de man simply called Logan. He's yo'r only family, one of yo'r best friends. You fight for de Dream of dis other man together - de dream of Charles Xavier, oui?"
Jubilee's chin lifted slightly, as she said firmly, "Humans and mutants co-inciding in peace. It's a dream worth fighting for - even though it ends up costing."
"Don't hafta tell me, girl. I know de prices fo' followin' your dreams. Howev'r, it's not your dreams for a better tomorrow dat take you so far from home. Yo'r head is takin' yah down one path. Yo'r heart..." Mattie raised her hand, and the smoke shifted into another face. A more familiar face to the older woman as she continued, folding her hands in her lap, "...takes you down another."
Remy's visage glowed before them, a soft smile working over his lips. Both Jean Luc and Mattie watched Jubilee closely, intently. They weren't disappointed. Jubilee's entire expression softened, and the look in those sapphire eyes was a mixture of longing, desire...and love. A complete love, a solid bond forged with friendship and trust. Jean Luc had seen that look few times in his life. Never in regards to his son. That alone gave him a glimmer of hope.
Mattie watched, brown eyes glowing as Jubilee gently reached up, tracing the phantom outline of Remy's clefted chin, a gesture that screamed more then just 'friendly' affection. She spoke softly, "Yah want t'love him, but yah keep runnin' away from him. Why?" Behind both women, Jean Luc tensed slightly.
Jubilee reluctantly turned her eyes back to Mattie, despair shining in their depths. "Because I don't want to lose him. I love him so much. I'm so...utterly miserable without him. If he found out I loved him, and he didn't love me in return..." She bowed her head slightly, pain radiating off her in waves.
Jean Luc let out the quietest of sighs. Thank God. Thank God. He had been afraid it was yet again like the others...but no, not this one. She really did love Remy. More importantly, she understood him, where the others had just barely scratched the surface, seeing only what they wished to see. He could see the difference in her eyes. Remy had let her see all the darker sides, and she had come out still wanting to be with him. Now, if he could only convince her to stay...or find a way to keep an eye on her when she finally left. All he needed was for her to stay in New Orleans for a little while longer while he thought of something.
Mattie could taste Jubilee's fears like a bad glass of wine. That he wouldn't love her for her age. For the pain he suffered through because of Belladonna, or Rogue. That he would be afraid to allow himself to love another 'innocent', like Genevieve. Or Remy simply didn't care for her in that fashion, and Jubilee's heart would never recover if that was the truth. Well, Mattie couldn't say they weren't truthful possibilites, except she was feeling some interesting patterns around Remy. Not all unfavorable for the girl. Not at all unfavorable.
However, she didn't want to get Jubilee's hopes up, so she said quietly, "Den yer jest gonna have ta trust your head for now, ch'ld, until it's time fo' your heart t'lead your way home."
Jubilee lifted her head, wiping away a single tear before sighing quietly, "When will I know when that is?"
"Well let's jest say ch'ld, it's gonna come out of the blue, like...," Tante closed her eyes for a moment, before adding wryly, "...like a lightn'ng bolt."
A wry look entered Jubilee's eyes. Gee, now everything made so much more sense. Not. Cryptic advice aside, she liked it here. She liked Jean Luc, and Tante Mattie as well. As it was with the Pack, it was a feeling of being home again. She moved her gaze to Jean Luc. "Mind if I bunk with you for a few weeks, Jean Luc? I kinda want to get my head...settled."
A slow smile worked over the older man's face, "Jubilee, I was hopin' you'd ask me that..."
Five and a Half Months In:
Yes, I know...long time, no write. I just left Nawlins (Yes, now I'm allowed to say that. Jean Luc gave me the okay. Nyener. ^_~ ) a few hours ago, and I already miss it. If there is something worthwhile about the South, it is this beautiful jewel of a city resting by the Mississippi. Am I waxing the light poetic? Yeah, but still...
There's just something in the air, a whisper of voices long ago. Everywhere I went, I thought of the thousands of stories each stone held, every tree and flower. I bet you know at least half of them, don't you Gumbo? I could feel you here too, and not just because you were born and raised here. It's because everyone seemed to know your name, and you might think it's all bad...but there are smiles too. Your city misses you, Remy. I could see it in the way the buildings you told me you haunted seemed to just sag there. The women's smiles aren't quite as bright, the children seem less joyful here.
Your father misses you too. Yes I know, long history, and a lot of it bad. But he loves you, and just how many fathers do you have anyway, bub? There are thousands of things I'd like to be able to say to my father, but I never can now. Jean Luc's still here. Am I going to stop nagging now? Yeah, but just to tell you that your father is one fun guy. I mean, how many people you know are going to take a girl for a nice sight-seeing tour of some of the richer Mansions in the Garden District? So it was at night and the owners didn't know we were there...it was still a blast. Heh-heh.
Really though, we got some nice stuff! I'm sure you'll love what I picked out for you, and don't worry, it's not anything huge (Although I saw this Escher print you would of killed for, well, not literally. Too bulky though. We couldn't get it through the window.). Let's just say...it's the final touch to your bedroom.
All right, time for all good little Firecrackers to hit the hay. Going through Missouri tomorrow. Oh yeah, cheers. Whoo.
Hey, in case I didn't mention it? I miss you.
Love and sparkles,
Remy scanned over the email, a soft smile working over his mouth. Oh, he wished he could have been there with her, walking the same streets she had. Seeing those eyes light up with every new wonder. He could have taken her hand as they ambled along the broad sidewalks of the Garden District by moonlight. Then under that big willow on First Street, he could have pulled her into his arms and...
Mon Dieu, Poppa had taken Jubilee out a job?!? Oh, now this was too amusing. Remy felt a laugh rumble in his throat as he finished reading. Lordy, he couldn't tell anyone about this. Logan might be amused, but Stormy would blow a gasket. As for the Professor, well, he'd have Remy's hide. Cooked Cajun style for good measure, no less.
Still, Jean Luc LeBeau and Jubilation Lee, casing mansions. The thought alone was enough to make Remy burst into snickers. He idly wondered just what the two had found together that they thought would make an appropriate present for him. Then he bit his lip nervously, as he suddenly had horrible visions of recieving some sort of vase or table with the words, 'Property of Anne Rice' stamped boldly on the side.
Non, Jubilee would never send him - oh yes, she would. A bead of sweat slowly trickled down Remy LeBeau's back. Oh merde.
Six Months In:
"Thank you very much," Ororo Munroe said smoothly, taking the package from the Federal Express delivery woman. It was a medium sized box, with FRAGILE printed all over it. Ororo took a moment while she closed the door to read the address. Kansas City. Well, Jubilee was certainly getting around to the garden spots of the United States.
Ororo sighed softly as she carried the box towards the kitchen. No, she wasn't angry with Jubilation. Perhaps a tad aggitated, but not angry. She simply believed that the young woman should be home. Fighting with the X-Men. Keeping Remy from dating half of the 'slut' population of New York City.
All right, so she was angry. She was highly annoyed with the both of them. Jubilee was in love with Remy. Therefore, she should have told him how she felt, instead of racing half way across the country for Goddess-knew-why reasons. Remy was in love with Jubilee. So instead of...doing what he was doing, he should have gone after her, not sat here waiting for her to come home. Yet Ororo bemoaning the utter stupidity of this entire situation was doing nothing. Perhaps then, it was time she took matters into her own hands...
She entered the kitchen, her eyebrows knitting together as she watched several members of the X-Men cluster around the window looking towards the boathouse. Putting the package down on the table, she moved next to Kitty Pryde and peered outside. Oh Bright Goddess; it was Remy and one of those 'women' that the X-Men had started dubbing the 'Jubilee-Skrulls'.
The Wind Rider's tone was dry as she commented, "Well now, what does our Cajun friend have on the menu today, my friends?"
"Slim brunette, Ororo. Her hair is curly, however. I'm taking two points off Skrull-ness for that," Kitty Pryde said, the expression on her face disapproving. Her eyes were fixed on the couple down on the lawn who were enjoying a 'romantic brunch'.
"Ja, but at least this one's eyes are blue. That is a minor improvement on the last one. She wore contacts," Kurt Wagner said, a wicked smirk working over his smooth elven face.
"The young woman does possess some of the more basic characteristics of Jubilee's personality, such as a sharp sense of caustic amusement, and a certain...avante guarde fashion motif," Hank McCoy said, rubbing his blue furred chin thoughtfully.
"Let's not forget the fact that she's a dancer. Swift and graceful on her dainty little feet. Gee, remind anyone here of someone we know?" Bobby Drake said with a high pitched voice, leaning on the edge of the window frame.
The five team members looked at each other. Then looked out the window at the couple. They exchanged glances again as they said in unison, "Jubilee-skrull."
"Someone needs to give Gambit a well deserved Clue-By-Four. He's struggling in the word 'delusional'." Bobby snorted softly, brushing blond-brown hair away from his face.
"Ja, mein fruend Remy is only fooling himself with these replicas of a certain 'Firecracker'," Kurt shook his head worriedly.
"Well, he honestly believes that these women will somehow fill the void which our dear Jubilation has left in the middle of his life. Of course, what he does not seem to realize that each one of these women is a pale shade to the true spirit he seeks," Hank said calmly, taking off his glasses and cleaning them. He added wryly, "In other words, my dear companions, that river in Egypt is flowing right through our backyard."
A masculine voice sounded behind them from the door leading to the living room, the British accent sarcastic. "Letssee. Delusional, skrull, 'n that river in Egypt. We're talkin' about our currently lovesick Cajun chum, ain't we?"
Peter Wisdom, former Black Air agent, former Excalibur member, former and now re-occuring love of Kitty Pryde's life, wandered into the kitchen, a cigarette hanging from his lips. A patch covered one eye (the patch being completely unnecessary, but Pete liked it), the other a sharp, icy blue. Four months ago, on a mission to England, he and the X-Men's paths had crossed again. He and Kitty were strained at first; but a night stuck together on the Moors (her fault), a bottle of particularily bad scotch (his fault), and some weepy-eyed confessions of pained love and lonliness (both of them) brought them back together. They were working hard to make the relationship work, and it wasn't exactly all daisies and sweetness. Still, both realized they were happier together than apart.
"Morning git," Kitty said, with that soft touch of affection. "Yeah, come and take a look at the latest Jubilee-skrull."
"Good morning, Peter." "Morning Pete." " 'Sup Wisdom?" came the various greetings from the other gathered X-Men. Wisdom grunted greetings to all as he made his way over to the window to peer out with the rest. He planted a soft kiss on Kitty's forehead, which she returned fondly.
"Is that her? Well, at least her hair is the right color," Wisdom said with a snort. "What number we up to? Four billion bimbos n' countin? LeBeau's doin' better business then Mc bloody Donald's."
"This would be Jubilee-skrull number 6, Peter...and her hair is brown, not black." Kurt said, laughing softly.
"Get outta here! Really?" Wisdom exclaimed, squinting with his one eye. "Well, I'm not really too sharp in the mornin' without m'coffee, Kurt. 'N yah got to remember - I've never seen this Jubilee bird."
"Believe me Wisdom when I say that girl out there is nothing like the real Firecracker." Bobby snorted softly, shifting around towards the kitchen table. His blue eyes widened, "Hey now, what's this Ororo?"
"It is a package for Remy, Robert. From Jubilation." Ororo allowed a small smile to pass her lips. At least Jubilee was a lot better at contacting Remy then Rogue had been. Jubilee sent numerous packages and emails, always letting Remy (and everyone else) know that she was thinking about him.
A wicked look suddenly bloomed in Wisdom's eye as he looked around the kitchen. "'Ey, who wants to see how fast a Jubilee-skrull can be left inna the proverbial dust for jest a sniff of the 'real Firecracker'?"
A evil look entered Bobby's eyes. "Oh, go for it Wisdom. This I have got to see."
"It would be an interesting study in human behavior," Hank mused quietly.
"What exactly are you going to do, Peter?" Ororo asked, her eyebrow raised slightly.
"Watch 'n learn, Ororo...watch 'n learn," Wisdom said with a smirk, lifting the package up and heading towards the back door. The others looked at each other, then crowded around the window again. Wisdom stepped outside the door and, balancing the box under one arm, yelled down to the couple, "HEY, LEBEAU! Yah got a 'Fragile' package here!"
Remy looked up from where he was whispering sweet nothings into the Jubilee-skrull's ear (her name was actually Monica...), his crimson eyes narrowing as he yelled back, "'N I should care b'cause? Leave it in the house, WISDOM!"
Wisdom shrugged philosophically. He yelled back, as he started to turn around, "All-righty. But I'm sure that this package from JUBI- well damn, look at the boy run." He tried not to snicker as Remy, the mere thought of a package from Jubilee racing through his system excitedly, jumped off the blanket and charged up the lawn. Monica was left sitting there, her mouth hanging open with shock and anger.
"Gimme dat!" Remy snapped, grabbing the package from a smug looking Wisdom. He hugged the package to him, as if the box held the sender beneath the brown paper wrapping. He swept inside of the house, putting the package down on the counter and looking around for a pair of scissors.
Kurt cleared his throat and gestured to the counter right behind the Cajun, where a pair of scissors lay. Remy grunted his thanks and taking the scissors began to cut off the paper. The look on his face was that of the boy who just recieved the ten-speed bike for Christmas. Behind him, Wisdom had calmly closed the door and shared a knowing smirk with the X-Men.
Remy mindlessly ignored the amused looks on his teammate's faces as he tore into the box eagerly, throwing aside the paper and the wrappings inside to reveal...a lamp. But not just any lamp. An original Tiffany lamp. He crowed in delight, carefully pulling out the stained glass masterpiece and putting it on the table to admire.
There was a collective jaw drop from the others in the room. Hank spoke slowly, eyes wide with disbelief. "Remy...is that an original 1929 Lily Design Tiffany Lamp? Worth $10,000 and some odd change?!?"
"Yep," Remy said, a mischevious twinkle in his eyes as he added slyly, "Poppa took Jubilee to some interesting places when she visited Nawlins."
"'Poppa'? As in your father, Remy?" Ororo said, silver eyes narrowing suddenly.
"Why yes, dat would be the man," Remy murmured innocently, as he rifled through the box. Oooh, card from Jubilee. He'd savor it later.
"Your father, Jean Luc LeBeau - the HEAD of the Thieves Guild in New Orleans??" Ororo's tone was dangerously soft.
"Mmm-hm." Remy was fighting hard not to laugh. Oh, this was just too good.
"REMY LEBEAU, do you mean to tell me YOUR FATHER, took JUBILEE..." Ororo sputtered. She couldn't even get the rest of the words out, she was so flabbergasted.
"On a 'tour' of de better Mansions in Nawlins? I b'live he did. Now, if y'all will excuse me, I gotta put my lamp away," Remy said, smirking. He carefully lifted the lamp up. He had the best place for it on his dresser table. Jubilee was right; it was the perfect, final touch.
"Sure Remy...you go and put your...$10,000 lamp...away." Kitty said, her voice choked. The others were still in a state of shell shock, just staring at the Tiffany Lamp as if it were a bomb waiting to go off.
"Thanks Kitty, think I will," Remy said jauntily, walking out the back door towards the boat house. He dimly noticed that Monica had left. Ah well, he still had the lamp.
There was a long moment of silence in the kitchen, before Wisdom spoke up. "Well, anyone time that run inside?" Five sets of eyes moved towards him, their looks disbelieving.
Wisdom took a drag off his cigarette and shrugged. "Jest curious. C'mon now, people. It's jest a lamp. Breath."
There was a soft thump, as Ororo keeled right over in shocked anger. Her other teammates turned to stare at her prone form blankly for a long moment.
Wisdom quirked up his eyebrow. "'N I think someone ought to pick up Storm off the floor. That doesn't look like the most comfortable position 'n the world."
Six and a Half Months In:
Ring. Ring. Click. "Xavier's School. Talk fast, the game's at commercial," Logan growled softly. This was why he hated the days when everyone else took off to do errands and the like. Left him alone to answer the damned phone. Which on most days he wouldn't mind, if Georgetown and Michegan State weren't at the end of the second period, score tied. This better not be one of those credit card companies...
"Hel-Hello? Is this the, er, permanent residence of Remy LeBeau?" The masculine voice was slightly nervous. There was noise in the background that sounded like things were crunching and breaking.
Logan allowed a bushy eyebrow to rise. The guy sounded like a panicked Tom Cruise. Well, he had Logan's attention at hello. "Yeah, but he's not home right now. He went up to the city for the weekend," the Canadian grunted.
There was a snort. "Yes, we know that. Are you one of his, er, 'friends'?" There was another crash and the sound of glass tinkering down to the floor. The man sighed heavily.
Logan's lips shifted to a straight line. "Depends on how many times he skins me alive in poker. He in trouble?"
The man took a deep breath, when all of a sudden there was the loudest breaking noise yet. The man put his hand over the phone and Logan tensed as he heard another voice. Female. What the hell was going on? The man came back on the line, his voice strained. "I am only going to say this once. Help. Now. Please?"
Logan growled low in his throat before saying, "Just what's going on over there, bub?"
The man's voice was wry as he replied, "Oh nothing, really. He's just trashing his very expensive apartment to pieces."
Logan felt a sigh heave out of his chest. This couldn't be good. Well, he had promised the kid that he'd look after the Cajun... "Where are you?"
The man who sounded like Tom Cruise gave him the address of a rather high priced apartment building on the West Side. Logan turned off the game, wrote a brief note to the others where he was and grabbed his Harley from the garage. One hour later (bumper to bumper in the Holland Tunnel, that sure as hell improved Logan's mood) he pulled in front of the apartment building and walked inside. The guard didn't even look at him twice when he said he was here to see Remy LeBeau. Apparently, the management was used to seeing strange men come to see the Cajun. Huh.
He rode the elevator up to the penthouse level and stepped out, broad hands stuffed inside his leather jacket. Well, the place met Remy's level of opualent grace. The black oak paneling was nice, but Logan would have preferred the real smell of trees to all the wood polish. He made his way to the broad, black door and knocked on it firmly. He briefly wondered what he was going to find behind it. If Tom Cruise really was here, maybe he had brought Nicole Kidman with him. Logan grinned; he'd always had a thing for red-heads.
The door opened and Logan bit back a sigh of disappointment. It was a woman, all right, but no red-head. Long, curly black hair framed a dark skinned face of exotic beauty. Brown eyes moved over him with a flicker of relief. Her voice was a mixture of accents as she spoke. "Are you Remy's friend from Westchester?"
"Yep. Name's Logan, and since I know you're not Nicole...who are you?" Logan quiered. Well, she was a looker. Not a Jubilee-skrull, however, which worried him. Had Remy finally found a woman to replace Jubilee? That particular worry heightened immediately when she reached out with her left hand to pull him inside and he saw a HUGE diamond solitaire glittering on her finger. He held in a growl. He'd hate to have to rearrange Remy's face to match his...completely trashed pad. Logan surveyed the damage to the foyer, his expression carefully blank. Place looked like Remy had gone ten rounds with Creed - and lost.
"Nicole? What? Nevermind, I don't think I want to know. The name's Sekhmet Conway. Call me Sek, you'll never be able to pronounce it correctly otherwise," the woman now named Sek said, pulling him down the long front hallway. "The panicky man on the phone was my fiancee, Jacob Gavin Jr. Just to give you the short of it - we came an hour and a half ago to tell Remy we finally set the date for the wedding and to make sure that he'd come. Old joke between the three of us - Remy said he'd never believe that Jake could convince me to be his wife unless we handed over the invitation him personally."
"Jake Gavin...the Courier? That means that you're that archaelogist friend of the Cajun's?" Logan asked, his bushy eyebrows raising slightly. "Thought you and Remy..." Well, at least she wasn't with Remy. The worry that gnawed at him for a moment faded to nothingness.
"Never got off the ground. The guy was still angsting over - that woman whose name I refuse to mention because it makes me break out in HIVES - and besides that, Jake knows how to show a girl how much she means to him. In a sweet, corny way." A smile of contentment settled on Sek's face, which then faded back into a frown.
Logan scratched the top of his head, making his hair stick out a bit more. "Okay. So you come to tell him the good news and...he went ballistic?" He grimaced at the state of the living room as they moved through the doorway - completely destroyed.
"Oh NO, he'd already started this when we got here. We walked through the front door, the wide open front door. Remy's usually more cautious then that and we were worried. We headed into the kitchen and..." She stopped speaking as Remy suddenly appeared from the door to the dining room. Sek sighed, her expression shifting into something close to pain. Logan's expression turned into something close to shock. Which was impressive, because he hadn't thought that anything could shock him anymore. Brownie points for LeBeau.
Remy was dressed only in jeans, his well muscled upper body covered with a faint sheen of sweat. A half full bottle of bourbon was clutched firmly in his hand, and he was obviously plastered seven ways to Sunday. That wasn't what was making Logan stare at him in complete surprise. What was making Logan stare at Remy was the fact that the young man had entered the living room skipping barefooted and singing, badly, at the top of his lungs. "I'm a lil' Teapot, short 'n stout! Here is my handle, here is my spout!"
Charging after Remy from the other room came a man who, Logan had to admit, bore more then a passing resemblence to Tom Cruise, from the scruffy looking hair to the finely tailored suit. Jacob Gavin Jr., the normally smooth and suave Courier, was running futilely after the inebriated Cajun yelling, "All right! All right!! You're a teapot! Teapots don't drink bourbon!!"
Remy suddenly stopped, spinning around to face his friend. His accent was heavy as he slurred, "Jakie, I think dat alllll de teapots should drink bourbon. Ish goo' shtuff. Keeps ya from thinkin' 'bout things like blue eyes, 'n black hair like satin..." A small whimper left his throat and he stumbled over to the corner. He crouched, hugging himself and the bottle tightly.
Jake let out a long sigh, then turned to face Logan and Sek. His voice sounded harried as he said, "Tell me you're not the T.V. repair man."
Logan's lips quirked once. "Nope. Name's Logan. How long has he been like this?"
"You mean completely smashed? I don't know, a few hours?" Jake rubbed his head in frustration. He and Remy had not always had been the best of friends, but they were friends. This wasn't like the usually cool thief Jake knew, and it worried him.
Sek moved over to her fiancee's side, squeezing his arm gently. She turned her soft gaze back to Logan. "When we came in, he was breaking dishware in the kitchen. He said the noise kept him from thinking."
"Yeah, he was on this total noise kick. If he just kept making noise, kept singing, kept smashing his used-to-be-nice belongings, she couldn't get into his head anymore. Whoever she is." Jake frowned, bringing his dark eyebrows together.
"He also said something like...'I don't understand why it's not working. I stopped acting the way I feel, so she shouldn't be scared anymore. She should come home..' He said it was a perfectly logical plan?" A puzzled expression rested on Sek's face.
Logan's lips quirked again. So that was what Remy had been thinking. Well, it was a logical plan. Idiotic, but logical. "Don't worry about him. Gumbo's not exactly at his most rational," he said, eying Remy carefully.
"This isn't a Rogue thing, is it?" Jake said, then winced as his fiancee smacked his arm, hard. He glared at her. She glared back.
"You know I hate that name. It was the agreement we all made years ago: I wouldn't develop that device to make her implode from hundreds of miles away if we just never brought up that name again. My father was furious when I stopped work on it. We could have made millions and I would have had fun playing with it. But I stopped, simply because you and Remy promised NEVER to say that name," Sek growled softly.
"Yeah, but I just wanted to know-" Jake protested, before Logan interupted.
"Kids, this don't have anything to do with...the other one. It does, however, have to do with Gumbo being so stupidly in love he can't think straight," Logan said calmly.
"Geez, figured that one out after he smashed all his Wintermere crystalware." Jake said softly.
Just then Remy stirred from his corner, his crimson on black eyes flaring up with drunken delight as they focused in on Logan. He staggered to his feet and walked unsteadily over to the shorter man, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. "Logan! Mon ami! I think you should b'come a teapot avec moi. All yah hafta do is drink alotta bourbon. It keeps de blue eyed imps away - but, I don't want her t'be away no'more. Logan, you think if I stop drinkin', she come back?"
The look of total misery pasted over Remy's face almost made Logan regret what he was going to do next. It was, however, the best thing for Remy. Really. He tilted the drunk Cajun up enough so he was standing on his feet, then ordered gently, "Say nighty-night, Gumbo."
"Nighty-night Gumbo..." Remy cooed softly, as Logan's fist cracked into his chin. Remy stumbled backwards, and then took a header into the floor, out like a light.
The couple stared at Remy for a moment, then Jake burst out, "Well HELL! Why didn't we think of that?"
"Because darling, you can't punch worth a damn, and I just had my nails done," Sek remarked dryly, leaning over Remy. He was breathing evenly, and he might have a bruise on his chin, but he would be fine. Physically at any rate.
"Hm...good point. All right, Logan. I'm going to ask ONE question, and I demand that you give me ONE answer." Jake's line was good. It just the delivery that came across as whiny.
Logan had moved over towards the phone, looking for a few phone numbers. Two, in fact. One for a cleaning crew for this place, and the other for a store that delivered groceries. Remy had both written down. Hm. First smart thing he had seen the Cajun do all day. At Jake's question, Logan's eyebrow lifted, as he rumbled softly, "Really now? Why?"
Jake gulped at the sudden feral glint in Wolverine's blue-grey eyes, but he crossed his arms and stood his ground, "Because I had to listen to a drunk Cajun sing 'I'm a little Teapot' one hundred and three times in the past hour. Off key. That's why."
Logan's lips quirked up at the corners in the barest hint of an amused grin. "Well. All right then. Ask away."
Jake looked at Sek, and together they asked, "Who the hell is SHE?"
Logan took a deep breath. He really didn't know how much Jake and Sek knew about Remy's life outside of the X-Men. Oh hell. They'd find out sooner or later. "You two ever hear the Cajun talk about Jubilation Lee?" he said calmly, moving back over to Remy's side.
The couple blinked together, as they said in unison, "You mean that girl with the...you mean that Remy is...that's 'her'?!?"
"Yep," Logan said, leaning down to pick up Remy's unconcious body. Oof. Remy was going to have to start laying off the jamabalaya. The couple absorbed the knowledge, and a glint of understanding entered Sek's eyes. Logan appreciated it. Jubilee would like this woman..
Jake's eyes had a pleading quality to them. "Please, please tell me you're bringing her back? I never want to hear 'I'm A Little Teapot' again. Never, ever."
The dangerously smug look returned to Logan's face. "Nope...I'm not. He is. Now, why don't you folks get along out of here? I'll sober Remy up."
The expression in his eyes let Sek and Jake know that if Remy was going to sober up, Logan was going to make sure that it was going to be the hard way. They wisely said nothing to that, and left the apartment. Both knew that Logan would either smack Remy around or talk some sense into him. Maybe both. Good. He needed it.
Logan dropped Remy in his bed (Very nice bedroom, too. All black silk and black oak furniture. Very Gambit.) for a few hours of sleep. Logan fixed a sandwich in what was left of the kitchen, let the cleaners in (They gave the place a look around and sighed. Seemed like they were used to this kind of thing. Made Logan wonder what Remy did in this apartment), and ordered several bags of ice. When they arrived, Logan grabbed two of them and headed for the bathroom. He plugged up the black marble bathtub and started running a cold bath.
After making sure the water was good and freezing, he dropped in the two bags of ice, creating an ice bath that would make a polar bear shiver. Satisfied, Logan strode back into the bedroom. Remy still lay sprawled atop his bed sheets, his chest rising and falling quietly. His stubble covered face looked peaceful, but the tightness around the mouth and eyes screamed of silent pain in his dreams. Again Logan regretted what he had to do next. He sighed, and lifted Remy over his shoulder again.
At the jostling, Remy stirred half awake. He realized dimly that he was being carried into his bathroom, and the person carrying him was Logan. He remembered Logan hitting him, that hurt!...and then all thought left him as Logan dumped the thief unceremoniously into the tub of glacial bathwater. Remy forced himself to the surface of the water, yelling as every last trace of drunken stupor left him. "MERDE! IL EST FROID!" (trans. "Shit! It's cold!)
"That's the point," Logan said, settling himself beside the tub. He planted one broad hand on Remy's skull and dunked him back under the water. He waited a few more seconds, then allowed Remy to surface for air.
Remy came up, teeth chattering loudly. "Logan, what de HELL! Why are you in my bathroom tryin' to DROWN me?"
Logan pulled a cigar out of the front pocket of his flannel shirt and stuck it in his mouth, chewing on it thoughtfully for a moment. "You remember getting tanked on bourbon, then skipping around singing while giving your old buddies Sek Conway and Jake Gavin coronaries?"
Remy frowned, running his fingers through wet hair. "Dimly...but dat still don't explain--" He didn't get another word in, as Logan promptly dunked him under the icy cold water. When Logan let him up again, he yelped, "OUI! I remember!"
"Good. That's one of the two reasons I'm here. They were worried about you, gave me a call at the Mansion. I told them I'd take care of you, sober you up. You sober?" Logan asked calmly.
"How de hell should I know? Logan--" Remy managed to mumble out, before Logan's hand descended on his skull and he was underwater again. The Cajun came up screaming, "I'M SOBER! I'M SOBER!" He also added some colorful curses in French about Logan's parentage.
Logan allowed a wry smirk to rest on his face as he held up two fingers in front of the Cajun's flashing eyes. "How many fingers?"
"Deux. But you keep holdin' dem in front of my face, you won't have ANY!" Remy snarled, hands gripping the side of the tub. He would NOT be dunked again.
"You're sober." Logan's smirk widened as he rose, moving away from the bathtub. He grabbed a towel from the rack, and tossed at Remy. The young man climbed out of the tub still shivering and snagged the towel in midair. He started drying himself off as best he could. Icy cold water dripped down his back from his hair and Remy gritted his teeth together as he asked curtly, "'N what's de other reason you're here? Or was it jest t'give me a bath? Too kind, Logan, too kind."
Logan sat himself down on the closed toliet seat, lighting his cigar. He gave Remy a thoughtful look before saying gruffly, "Actually, second reason was...I wanted to ask ya a question."
Remy, in the midst of drying his hair, lifted the folds of the towel high enough so that Logan could see the malice in his eyes. "Logan...dis better be a damned good question." the young man snarled out softly.
"Oh, I think it is. Why is it that you keep datin' girls who look like Jubilee, act like Jubilee, even dress like Jubilee - when the girl you're really pining for is out wandering the backwater states of the U.S.?" Logan asked flatly, folding his arms over his chest as he directed a stony look at the young man.
Remy's mouth opened, then shut again. He draped the towel around his shoulders, as he struggled to find the words, "Well, ya see...I..."
"Want me to tell you what I think?"
"Will it keep me from gettin' dunked into de tub again?"
"De floor is yours."
"I think you're in love with Jubilee. I think you're so in love with her, it's scaring you silly. To that point, you think she doesn't love you, and that's why she ran away - because it scared the bejezzus out of the kid. That's why you've been going around dating these other women in a rather vain attempt to get her to come home again, because you think if you show her that there's 'nothing to be scared of', she'll come back to you." Logan took a puff of his cigar and eyed the young man. "Now tell me I'm wrong."
Remy slumped down beside the bathtub dejectedly, muttering softly, "Well, den I'd be a liar on top of bein' an idiot, now wouldn't I?"
Logan shook his head ruefully. "Gumbo, you've done everything you could to show her she doesn't mean anything to you 'that way', including lying to yourself. So if the reason for her to be afraid is 'gone', why hasn't she come home yet?"
Remy twisted the ends of the towel with his fingers, a wry look working over his handsome face. "Je ne suis pas...I was actually thinkin' 'bout that before I *ahem* had a few too many..."
Logan took another drag off his cigar. "Now there's an interesting question. If she didn't run away because of how you feel about her, then why did she run away?" He raised a quizzical eyebrow at the other man, a calm expression on his craggy features.
Remy frowned softly as he tilted his head back towards the ceiling. That was an interesting question. All right, time to puzzle all this out. Jubilee hadn't run away because she'd found out how he felt about her. A good thing. She still had run away though, and was continuing to do so. A bad thing. Which meant she was still scared. Well, what would scare Jubilee enough that she would run from everyone and everything she knew?
Remy mentally skimmed over everything that he knew even vaguely disturbed Jubilee, then smirked to himself. Of course, what else? Her own emotions. He'd assumed that she'd run away because of how he felt about her. Well, what if Jubilee was dealing with some type of her own emotional trauma? Jubilee would rather have to wear burlap then admit to some sort of emotion. Especially those on the softer side of the spectrum.
So, Jubilee ran away because she was feeling something she was scared of. Then...why didn't she come to Logan, or even him? They were her closest confidants, her family. Hadn't she said more then once that Logan and he were the only ones she told everything to? So the only reason she wouldn't tell either one of them was...if it had to do WITH one of them. Wait, then she would have simply gone to the other one. She hadn't come to him, which left only one other option...
Remy's head snapped back down, as he glared at Logan. "What did she say t'you?" She'd gone to Logan. He knew it.
A knowing grin worked over Logan's face. "Congratulations, Gumbo. You've just re-entered the world of Intelligent Adult Thought." From his jacket pocket he pulled out a much folded note, and handed it over to Remy.
Remy quirked an eyebrow as he unfolded the note itself. "What is it?" He idly pondered charging something to toss at Logan for withholding this information for so long and decided againist it. He'd just started to dry off, after all.
Logan said quietly, "It's a note Jubilee wrote to me before she left. Maybe if I had given it to you six months ago, we all wouldn't have to have gone through all this stupidity. But I didn't, thought it'd be best if you two worked out your own heads. Note that I didn't think that included wanderin' around the country like a gypsy or gettin' drunk enough to start babblin' about teapots." He smoothed down his hair, giving Remy a pointed look.
Remy cleared his throat innocently before reading the note. He blinked, staring at it in abject shock, then read it again. Then again. When he finally spoke again, his tone was disbelieving, "She..she's in love with me?"
Then a flash of anger worked it's way through him, as he growled through gritted teeth, "How could she believe dat I wouldn't understand? Dis has t'be de stupidest thing I ever heard from de girl!"
"A-yup. It's almost as stupid as datin' other women to get the one you want back," Logan said innocently, flicking ash off the end of the cigar.
Remy shot him a dirty look, but then a rueful expression crossed his face. "Yah, looks like neither one of us went 'bout dis de right way."
"As the kid would say, No Duh. Now, what are you gonna to do about it?" Logan asked, lifting one eyebrow.
Remy allowed an innocent smile to pass his lips. "Dunno. Thought you were gonna tell me."
Logan let out a growl. Sometimes LeBeau was just too much of a smartass - probably why he and Jubilee were so damned perfect for each other. "You should go find her, bub. Bring 'er home," he stated, stabbing a finger at the young man.
Remy swallowed for a moment, as he squeezed the ends of his towel. Going after Jubilee meant facing her. Telling her how he felt, opening up and putting himself on the line. Trusting in love, after it had slashed him open so many times before.
Logan read the doubt blooming on Remy's face, fully understanding the sudden flash of fear that grabbed the younger man by throat, so to speak. Logan allowed his gruff voice to soften. "She's not like the others, Gumbo. She trusts ya."
Remy smiled bitterly. "Yah, but for how long? A day? A few weeks? Or meybe she'll jest wait till I'm so in love with her I can't see straight, den decide she don' love me anymore. Leave me in de middle of de Sahara 'cuz she don't trust me. Meybe never did in de first place." Visions of Rogue moved across his mind's eye, and he mentally winced.
"She won't," Logan said quietly. At Remy's dubious look, he pointed a finger. "That's not her style, bub, and you know it. Once you've earned her trust, ya never lose it. She'll follow you through the gates of Hell, because she KNOWS you'll bring her back again in one piece. Don't ask me to explain it; I just know that girl's got the most loyal nature in the world. She let you and me in, Remy...that means forever in her eyes. She won't leave you, unless you want her to. She's gonna love you, want you, and yeah, trust you for..."
"Forever," Remy finished quietly. Something sparked in his crimson eyes, a look of hope. Logan spoke the truth. If she was in love with him...she'd never stop. "Guess den...I'm stuck with her, eh?" he whispered softly, looking at his fingers with a quiet smile.
"For as long as you both shall live, end quote," Logan said quietly, "Now, I ask again, what are you gonna do about it?"
"Gonna bring her home, o'course," Remy said firmly, rising to his feet. He would need to make travel arrangements, get himself packed. Change out of these wet jeans. Shrinkage was a bad, bad thing.
Logan's blue eyes flashed satisfaction. "Good. Now, how you gonna to find her?"
Remy smirked as he threw the towel back at Logan. "I'm going to rub my magical Tiffany Lamp 'n ask de Cajun Genie inside. Think he'll sound like Robin Williams?"
A matching smirk settled over Logan's face as he caught the towel neatly. "Going home to ask your daddy then, eh?"
"Logan, if Jean Luc LeBeau can't track down Jubilee...she's left de planet. 'N even if she has, I'd still lay even odds Poppa could find her. It'd just take him a lil' longer."
"Good luck then, Gumbo.."
"Merci Canucklehead. Gonna need it."
"Not to mention dry undies?"