Remy LeBeau gave a happy little sigh as the cab rounded the corner and the familiar apartment building came into view. Finally, his trip was going to be over. Three days on a train, one holdup overnight at a train station because of bad weather, and then another two days on the train, plus the cab ride from the station to here, he was damn well ready to get up and move around again. Add all of that on top of the confinement he’d been under these past months and it equaled up to one seriously edgy Cajun. The whole thing would’ve been a hell of a lot easier if he’d just been able to fly out here like he wanted. Lifting one hand, Remy brushed it carefully against his head, against the bandage that covered what would soon turn into a shining scar on his forehead. Flying after a concussion wasn’t exactly advisable. He’d been forced to give in and take the ever-so-slow train while very carefully trying not to leave a trail that could be followed.
All of that fell away, though, as the cab finally pulled into the parking lot. Everything faded underneath the fact that he was here. This place had been his goal for days and days now. Months, really. This was the one place he wanted to come to. The one place he wanted to be. It was what had kept him going and kept him strong.
Paying the driver, Remy climbed out of the backseat and drew his duffle bag up, holding it over one shoulder without any of the twinges that had been there even a few weeks before. He took a look up at the building in front of him and his lips curved unconsciously in a soft smile. A familiar sensation washed through him and he was amazed that he had never recognized it before for what it was, this amazing sensation of coming home. He’d never noticed it and yet he realized it’d always been there. At some point without him realizing it, this building, and more specifically the person inside, had become home to him. More so than anyone or anywhere else in his life. Nothing had ever felt more perfect or more right as it did to make his way inside and up the familiar staircase, up to that same landing and to a door that he knew was always open to him, even if no one was currently on the other side. He knew he was always welcome within those walls no matter what happened or what he’d done. In there was love and acceptance, caring and understanding, and someone who had stood by him no matter what. It may have taken a hellish six months for him to realize it, but the certainty of it was in him now, firm and solid, and he knew he’d never lose that.
He was so focused on that one face that he’d been wanting to see more than anything that it was truly a surprise when the door opened in front of him and he found, not Spencer, but Logan standing there. Still, there was only one brief pause for shock on either side and then both men were moving, wide grins stretching wide. Remy dropped his bag in just enough time to find himself caught up in a familiar hug so tight his ribs protested, yet he only laughed and tightened his own hold around Logan’s neck. “Bon Dieu, mon ami, it’s good to see y’!”
Logan’s arms tightened until Remy was sure damage might be done. He didn’t have to say anything, though. That tightness was brief and then Logan was letting him go and pulling back to grin down at him. “Son of a bitch. It’s really you.”
“De one and only, cher.” Remy’s grin grew cheeky and smug, that same grin that had always made Logan laugh at him and now was no different. Scooping up his bag, Remy bumped his shoulder against one of his closest friends and he stepped inside without needing any sort of invitation.
It only took about ten seconds for the question he’d known was coming. “Where the hell ya been?” Logan asked him in his usual blunt, straightforward way that did nothing to cover up the caring and concern that were there for those who knew how to listen. Remy had always known how to listen. He’d always heard the caring underneath Logan’s gruffness.
Remy’s answer was a simple one. “Sinister.” Here, with Logan, he knew no more had to be said. Logan would understand. He wouldn’t jump to the wrong conclusions like others might. A sharp pang cut across Remy’s heart and he shoved it down with practiced skill. No point in thinking about that. No point in listening to that voice that whispered through his dreams “…no home here…no home with the X-Men…” He had a home here, and he had a family here with Spencer, with Logan. They would know better about him. They’d know he hadn’t spent these past six months willingly with Sinister. They would understand, with just that name, all the things he didn’t want to have to say. The things he wasn’t quite sure he could say yet, even to them.
And he was right. Understanding flashed in Logan’s bright blue eyes followed quickly by rage. Rage that Remy knew wasn’t towards him, but for him. Logan had always been the protective one. The thought of anyone hurting people he cared about was enough to piss him off. He didn’t push, though. He could read Remy just as well as Remy could read him and he knew that pushing it would do no good, would in fact do more harm than good, and so he let it go. What he said next wasn’t any less painful, though. His simple words hit Remy like a blow. “Should’ve known the girl’s a lying bitch. She told us she found you dead out there.”
There was no need to say who the ‘she’ was. Remy knew. He appreciated more than he could say that Logan didn’t actually say her name. Though mention of her hurt, it was nothing in comparison to how he knew he’d feel if he had to hear her name, had to speak directly of her. That was a hurt that he had fought so hard not to think of for six damn months. Remy pushed it all down like he had so many times lately and he forced it all into that little box in his head where he kept the painful things. Things that would break him apart. Compartmentalizing, Spencer had told him once. Remy didn’t really care. It was his only way to survive sometimes and he’d perfected the ability.
Pushing it down left him open to more important things, other thoughts that slipped in as the pain cleared from his mind, and Remy’s eyes suddenly traveled sharply around the apartment. Things that he’d brushed off in the joy of seeing his friend were now coming to the forefront and were adding together with the knowledge that everyone had thought he was dead—the picture that was building now was enough to have him frozen. She’d told them that he was dead, and from the way Logan looked and how he’d reacted, everyone had believed it. Meaning, Logan had believed it. With Logan here, Remy knew that could only mean one thing; Spencer believed Remy was dead. That thought hit Remy harder than anything. He’d been holding out hope this whole time that maybe people had just thought his was missing, that no one had said anything to Spencer because Remy knew that Logan wouldn’t come worry the man if he didn’t have to. But they’d all believed he was dead and Remy knew what Logan would’ve done then. They’d planned for this.
“Where’s Spencer?” Remy demanded. He knew how rough he sounded just as he knew Logan would understand. Spencer was somewhere, thinking Remy was dead, had probably thought that for months now, and Remy couldn’t let him go on thinking it for one moment longer than he had to.
A shadow passed through Logan’s eyes that had Remy going cold. That coldness only got worse when Logan spoke. “He’s on a case. I’m supposed to pick him up from the airstrip in about an hour.”
The words were calm and normal, nothing to set off any alarms, and yet all of Remy’s internal alarms were screaming. It wasn’t the words so much as the way they were said, the look on Logan’s face as he said them, and the part of Remy that knew Spencer well enough to know that nothing was ever this simple or easy. Those things had worried—no, not just worried, afraid—and he asked the one question he knew would bring answers he wouldn’t like, but that he had to know. “How bad, Logan?”
That shadow crossed through Logan’s eyes once more. For one split second Remy could see Logan actually hesitating to answer, which only made him more afraid. Then he saw Logan let out a small sigh and his shoulders slumped slightly in defeat; he knew there was no way of keeping this from Remy. What was the point? He’d see for himself soon enough. Squaring his shoulders again, Logan hooked his hands in his pockets, a pose Remy knew meant that he was bracing himself for some shit. “Bad.” He said bluntly, one word confirming Remy’s fears. Then he went on and if Remy had thought any of the previous words had been like blows, it was nothing compared to the pain and fear that knifed through him now. “I been doing my damndest, but there’s only so much I can do. I aint ever seen him like this. He don’t eat unless made to, he don’t sleep until exhaustion drops him in his tracks. He don’t even really talk anymore, either. Not unless it’s for work. Half the time when he’s at home, he aint even visible anymore.”
“He’s flickering?” That was the word they used to describe Spencer's powers. Though technically his power was invisibility, they’d always called it flickering because of the way his image flickered when he’d first been learning his power, and the way it still did when he was tired or stressed. Emotions are always strongly tied into a mutant’s powers and if Spencer wasn’t calm, he generally flickered instead of smoothly vanishing from sight.
Logan nodded. “Yep. Not as bad as before, but still, bad enough.”
Bad enough? Wait… “He flickering at work?”
He didn’t need Logan’s nod to get the answer to that. It was written all over the man’s face even before he blew out a frustrated “Yep.”
“Fils de putain!” Remy spat out the curse. Things were worse than he thought! “And y’ let him go to work like dat? How de hell has he managed not to get caught yet?”
“Hell if I know. And—let him?” Arching one brow, Logan shook his head. “We are talking about the same kid here, right? I don’t let him do anything. Even when I put my foot down, he just gives me that damn dead look he’s got and waits till I’m done to just go on an do what he’d planned on anyways. I try, but dammit, he’s not the easiest person to take care of.” Logan’s tone showed clearer than words just how hard he’d tried to take care of Spencer and how hard it had been, and Remy knew the truth of that better than anyone. He knew how fiercely independent Spencer was and how life had made him that way. Spencer had always been the person to take care of others and not the person to get taken care of. It had left him so damnably self-sufficient that he had a hard time accepting help from anyone at all—except Remy. Remy was the only person who Spencer truly allowed to take care of him and though it might be wrong, Remy enjoyed the hell out of that.
He liked that he could take care of Spencer. Liked that Spencer allowed it, would allow no one else to help him the way that he let Remy help him. He liked knowing that he was wanted—needed. No one had ever truly needed him the way that Spencer did. No one had ever trusted him like Spencer did. No one had ever let him be there, let him hold their hair while sick, let him cradle them close after a nightmare, let him worry about them and care for them and all those little things that Spencer sometimes pretended not to like but would make him get this warm light in his eyes that showed just how surprised and pleased and loved it made him feel. Spencer would protest, sure, and try to claim independence as he always did, but even as he did all that he’d still be leaning against Remy, letting him help, trusting that Remy would know what was best and that he’d take care of him. That trust was heavy and wonderful and one of the most constant and important things in Remy’s life.
“Rem.” Logan’s voice cut into Remy’s thoughts. The softness of it surprised him, had him blinking his eyes to clear them and then looking closely at his friend. There was warmth in Logan’s eyes, a familial love that both acknowledged and that needed no words, and something else that left Remy’s throat tight. “I don’t know the hell you been through, an I sure as hell don’t want to just dump stuff on you when you just got back. I know you got every right to want some time to heal up from all your shit and you’ve earned it, by my guess. But you gotta prepare yourself for what you’re gonna see. It aint gonna be pretty, an fixing it aint gonna be easy, but you’re the only person who stands a chance. Something in him died when he lost you.”
“Den we’ll bring it back to life.” Remy said firmly. He wasn’t going to ‘come back from the dead’ just to lose the single most important person in his life. Especially not after these months had made him realize exactly how important Spencer truly was to him. Everything else be damned. His own trials, those weren’t important, not in the face of this. Remy had always done better when he could push his own problems down and help someone else and there was no one who brought out that protective and caring side of him more than Spencer did. Remy knew his own problems would heal, given time, simply by being here and with people who he loved and who loved him. Face settling into firm lines, Remy straightened up and squared his shoulders, taking on that stance that Logan had seen so many times when the Cajun set himself on a path he was determined that no one would take him off of. “Y’ said we got an hour till he gets in? Den we got some shopping to do and t’ings to arrange. Whether de boy likes it or not, he’s going on vacation soon as he gets home, and I aint letting him outta m’ sight until he’s back in shape.”
They were waiting at the airstrip when Spencer and the team exited the jet. Remy waited until he saw the only person he cared to see coming down those stairs, and then he pushed open the car door and stepped out. Then he just stood there, watching and waiting, eyes locked onto the slender figure of the most important man in his world. He swept his gaze over Spencer and wanted to cry out. Shout to Spencer, to the people around him, to the world. Logan had said he was bad, but nothing he’d said could’ve prepared Remy for this. His Spencer was broken. No, not just broken. Shattered. He was completely and utterly shattered and how the hell did no one else see this? How could they let him work like this? Even from this distance, Remy could see just how dangerously underweight Spencer was. How his cheekbones stood out so sharply in that too thin face, how his eyes looked bruised from lack of sleep, how he held himself and moved like every single step was going to be the one to finally break him apart and send him crumbling to the floor. He was thin and, to Remy’s eye, almost translucent in some ways. Oh, not honestly see-through. He wasn’t flickering. But there was a transparency to him that one who knew him well could see, more like a loss of vibrancy than anything physical. As if his very soul was flickering, not just his body, and sweet God it was terrifying to see. Spencer was fading away.
He could see the instant that Spencer's eyes landed on him. They went to Logan first, obviously expecting him to be there, and then focused right on Remy. But instead of surprise or happiness or any of the countless other things that Remy had expected to see in those dark eyes, pain flashed bright in them before they closed. Remy watched as Spencer drew in a shaky breath and slowly squared his shoulders like he was bearing up underneath this immense, invisible load, shouldering a weight no one could see or even begin to understand. When his eyes opened again they were empty and shuttered, all the emotion in them hidden far away where no one could see, and with a blinding jolt Remy understood exactly what was going on here. Spencer thought he was hallucinating. It made his heart ache even more than it already did as this brought home just how bad things had gotten. Beside him, he felt Logan tense, felt the man’s surprise, and he put a calming hand on the feral’s arm to let him know to stand down, that he had this under control. There was only one real way to handle this quickly—and quickly was exactly how it needed to be handled. He couldn’t let Spencer hurt any longer than he had to. Remy lifted his chin and smiled broadly at the group exiting the jet and he called out, not to Spencer, but to the team. “Hey dere, everyone. Don’t y’all just look like y’ had a hell of a case?”
Striding forward, Remy went to the person closest, Emily, and he greeted her with a warm hug just as he had ever since the first time he’d met this sweet, fiercely protective woman who loved his Spencer like a sibling and who had threatened to gut him if he ever caused Spencer any harm even as she’d hugged him like they were long lost friends. Anyone who cared for Spencer that deeply had automatic respect in Remy’s books.
Emily hugged him back, shock bright on her face when they separated, but it was all tempered by the honest happiness on her face. “It’s really good to see you.” There was more underneath those words, a message of wonder and happiness that told him she was curious about what happened but thrilled to see he was alive and well. Remy briefly squeezed her arm and smiled to let her know he heard both what she did and didn’t say. Then he turned his attention to Spencer.
The emptiness in Spencer's eyes was cracking. The debate there might’ve gone unnoticed by others, but it was clear as day to Remy. He could see exactly what was going on behind those dark chocolate eyes. Spencer had thought he was seeing things when he saw Remy—had most likely seen him before, judging by how he hadn’t startled at it at all—and Remy could see him trying to figure out if he was just hallucinating badly enough that it was starting to involve the team, or if there was really a chance that what he was seeing was honestly real. That his Spencer doubted himself so much was just another blow to Remy’s already aching heart.
Remy ignored the others, now, grateful that none of them were demanding the answers he knew they were aching to know. They held their questions and stood back silently as Remy took a single step towards Spencer. He saw Spencer take an involuntary step backwards and then, surprising Remy even more, Spencer flickered slightly, an obvious sign to his distress. Remy hadn’t seen him flicker like that in public since those early days when they’d first been getting to know one another and Spencer had been just getting used to his powers. But he did it now and didn’t even seem to realize that he had. His eyes were wide and focused totally and completely on Remy and the walls inside of them were coming down little by little as reality was starting to sink in. As hope grew. He didn’t believe, not yet, but he wanted to. It was easy to see just how much he wanted to.
One wrong move here, one wrong word, and he knew he would shatter his fragile friend. Spencer was like a thin piece of glass right now and Remy didn’t know if even he would be able to put Spencer back together if he broke apart.
Remy took another small step forward and he lifted his hand, pulling his sunglasses off so that he could meet Spencer eye to eye, nothing between them. He let down his own walls and let Spencer see the emotion in his eyes as clear as day. “I’m real, cher.” Those were the most important words, he knew. The one thing he needed to convince him of before anything else could happen. “Y’ aint crazy. I’m really here. I’m sorry it took me so long to get back to y’, mais I couldn’t get away. I’m here now, though.” He kept moving forward as he wove a gentle spell with his words, his low voice wrapping around Spencer backed by the push of his charm, bundling the young man up not only with his tone and words but with the sensation of his charm that he knew Spencer would recognize. Spencer was surprisingly resistant to Remy’s charm power; he would recognize it, though. He’d know what that sensation was and Remy had a feeling that his charm, more than anything else, would be a factor in convincing him. Spencer had once told him that nothing else in the world felt like the warm blanket of Remy’s charm wrapping around his mind. It didn’t inspire the insane lust that it could trigger in others, or even make Spencer more amenable to doing what he wanted as it could do to others when gently used. To Spencer, it was warmth and love, a sensation that he said was pure Remy, and Remy had grown used to using it around him in lieu of words sometimes, just a silent sensation that told Spencer that he was loved.
He used it now to let Spencer know that he was here and that he loved him. That this was real. He just hadn’t expected it to work so well, or so quickly.
Shock hit Spencer's eyes when the first tendrils of Remy’s charm wrapped around him. For one brief pause it felt to Remy like the whole world was holding its breath. Then he saw Spencer flicker—once, twice, three times. He braced himself, ready to move quickly, to chase him down if he tried to vanish and flee. That didn’t happen, though. Instead, Remy saw as the shuttered look in Spencer's eyes seemed to vanish between one breath and the next. One blink of his eyes and the barriers that had been there to hide his emotions were gone. Love, grief, pain, joy, shock, all of it was right out there in those dark depths, right there for everyone to see, months and months of grief suddenly clear. “Remy?” Spencer's voice shook with the emotion that he’d been suppressing for too long. Remy didn’t get a chance to answer. He saw Spencer's body bunch and he knew what was coming. He didn’t try to stop it—indeed, why would he?—he just opened his arms wide and braced himself for the familiar leap.
The impact of Spencer's body against his was nothing like it should’ve been. There was almost no weight to it. Remy didn’t even rock backwards when Spencer slammed into him. Pushing those thoughts aside for later, he focused now on wrapping his arms around the man he’d been absolutely terrified he might never see again.
Spencer's arms were around his neck and their bodies were pressed tightly together until not even a breath could’ve fit between them. Remy wrapped his arms around Spencer's waist and pulled him in, pulled him up just an inch or two until Spencer was on his tiptoes and there was the familiar feel of Spencer's face pressing right in against the curve of his neck just as he’d done so many times before. How had he never thought about how perfectly they fit together before? Spencer's body was up against his and it was as if they were made to be this way, fitting together like two pieces of a puzzle.
He heard the gasping sound that Spencer let out against him and he squeezed a little tighter even as Spencer's form flickered a few times in his arms. They said nothing. Really, what words needed to be said? What words could encompass this? Though both could talk more than most, were in fact known to chatter on endlessly, they said not a word now. They just clung tightly to one another and absorbed the presence of the only person that mattered to either of them in that moment. No one else existed. Nothing else was important. It was Spencer and Remy, Remy and Spencer, the whole world right there in this small circle of two. Remy turned his head in and buried his nose in Spencer's hair and let the familiar scents finally wash away the sterile, medical smell that had burned his nose these past six months. He held Spencer close, drawing in his warmth, breathing in his scent, and Remy felt like he was finally drawing in a real breath for the first time since he’d escaped from Sinister.
How long they stood there, he didn’t know. He didn’t care. Spencer clung tightly to him, his whole body atremble, and there was no way in hell that Remy was going to move until Spencer was ready. He’d stand here all day and hold him if he had to. He kept a tight grip on him and anchored Spencer in the way he knew the younger man needed. He gave him the solid strength that he needed to feel whole. To feel real. When Spencer gave a small, shuddering sob, he tightened his arms even more. “Remy.” He felt the soft puff of air as Spencer breathed that word against his neck. “Remy.” Again, stronger this time. It wasn’t a question, wasn’t a request for attention. Just one word, just his name, said with a joy and wonder and grief that said so much more than a thousand words could’ve. All of what Spencer felt was bundled up into that one word. Spencer had a thousand different ways to say Remy’s name but none had ever carried as much love as this one did.
A shudder ran down Spencer's body. They were so close, it shook through Remy, too. More tears burned against his skin and dripped down to soak the collar of his shirt. They wouldn’t stop anytime soon, he knew. He needed to get Spencer out of here before they truly started to flow. That was the only thing that could’ve moved him right then. Getting Spencer out of there, taking care of him. But he wasn’t going to let Spencer go to do it. Spencer wasn’t the only one who had grieved these past months. He wasn’t the only one to have hurt.
Sliding one hand up, Remy cupped the back of Spencer's head, moving it just enough that he could press a kiss against Spencer's hair. “C’mon, mon cœur.” He murmured against Spencer's hair. “Let’s get y’ home.”
“Remy.” The word was a whimper this time, soft and low.
Remy pet at Spencer's hair and shushed him. “I aint going nowhere. I’ll be right dere with y’, don’t y’ worry. Y’ just hold on tight an I’ll get us home.”
Even as he gathered Spencer closer, Remy knew that where they went didn’t matter. Home wasn’t a place they were going to. Home was here, right here in the circle of Spencer's arms. Him holding Spencer, Spencer holding him. The rest was just extra. Shelter, possessions. None of it mattered. Home was right here with the person who had been a part of his life for so many years and who had always been there, always a part of him, a firm presence in his life for so many years now that he couldn’t even imagine a life without this. He was Spencer's and Spencer was his and that right there was all either one of them needed. Holding one another tightly on the chilly airstrip with their friends looking on, the two clung tightly and the both of them knew that, though it had been a hellish six months, it didn’t matter anymore. They were both finally home.