AND THEY BEGAN TO BE MERRY (con't from part a with all disclaimers & notes)
5) [colloq] short for SHOCK ABSORBER
Sugar melts faster when stirred in a counter-clockwise direction.
It wasn�t a superstition; I�d actually mentally tallied how quickly it
dissolved over the past few weeks. I think, in my case anyway, handedness
was the key. Right-handed people tend to stir counter-clockwise thus
offering more control.
Cream, on the other hand, disperses at the same rate no matter which way you
stirred. I wasn�t too sure about that finding since I didn�t take cream in
my coffee and Remy hadn�t been here long. I stirred seven cups of his coffee
clockwise and the other seven counter-clockwise. All fourteen had five
tablespoons of cream in it; real cream not just milk. His cholesterol must
be through the roof, what with the amount of grease and fat he lets through
not to mention his cigarettes.
�Thanks,� Remy said, taking his eyes off the cutting board for a second as I
handed him his cup. He chopped meat, onions and parsley with quick, sure
slices. It was amazing he didn�t cut off his fingers.
�I thought you only cooked now and again,� I said. �Since when did you
become the human food processor?�
He quirked an eyebrow up. �When you start getting amazed at me cooking, you
gotta get more sleep.�
I shook my head and turned away. �Where�s Rachel?�
�She�s sleeping on the couch, right where you left her.� The humour was
starting to leech out of his sarcasm. �Right where she�s been the last five
times you asked where she was. I don�t think she�d be able to go anywhere
even if she was awake seein� as how she can�t even crawl yet.�
Pressing the throbbing vein at my temples, I walked over to Rachel anyway.
Yes, she couldn�t crawl yet but accidents happened all the time. She could
smother in the pillows, for one. Or even have an allergic reaction to an
insect bite. You can never be too paranoid around babies.
There was a loose thread on the pillow between Rachel and the floor. It
jerked around as she breathed on it, like an arm flailing for help. A bright
red thread against the backdrop of her pale skin. Was she going to break out
in freckles when she got older? Or have to slather on SPF 3000 in the
summertime and bemoan the genes that gave her such sensitive skin? Or was
her hair going to darken along with her eyes. They were still blue now;
well, blue as I understood it.
�Here.� Remy dangled a thick sandwich in front of my nose. �To fill you up
until I�m done.�
�I�m not that hungry,� I said, not wanting the Jerking Thread Show to end.
�Watch the slap, Scotty-boy.� Taking my free hand, he curled my fingers
around the sandwich. �Eat.�
When he was certain I was actually gripping the sandwich, he went back to
puttering around the kitchen. Leave a guy alone for a year and he comes back
as a male June Cleaver. He cooks, he cleans, he folds laundry badly. He even
whistled while he worked. If I had the energy to, I�d�ve gone wacko two
�Ororo asked me to ask you if you thought you were sure you wanted to teach
again this soon. She said legally, you can have paternity leave for another
couple of months and even after that, Xavier can get his accountant to--�
�I can teach fine.�
�That�s what I told her. Ow! Shit!� A pot and a plate clattered to the
floor. I was half-way out of my crouch when Remy waved me down. �I got it.
Hope you like ceramic shards with your dinner though.�
�It adds a certain texture. And the aftertaste is great�
�Just like Mom used to make.�
Little bursts of light flashed from behind the counter. Remy was probably
charging the shards instead of digging them out. Hope that dish was
undercooked; the last time Remy charged food, we ended up with steaks that
could double as hockey pucks.
�Hmm,� said Remy ominously. �What do you think about take-out? I heard
there�s a great Vietnamese place just down in Salem Centre. The kid can eat
�The kid eats anything that isn�t bolted down. And those she gnaws on.�
�Screw this,� I heard him mutter just before a large flash of magenta and
orange turned dinner into ash. �Her old man could pick up a few lessons.
About eating, I mean.�
�Remy, you�ve stuffed a year�s worth of food down my throat ever since you
arrived. I�m beginning to think you�re really Mystique disguised as Remy and
that Mystique is really an Italian grandmother disguised as a naked blue
woman and I think that visual is going to make me up-chuck this sandwich.� I
placed the half-eaten sandwich on the coffee table.
Tutting like the grandmother I compared him to, Remy threw his defunct
kitchen supplies in the sink and started rooting around for the phone book.
The phonebook was the ultimate multitasker in this house. It was a booster
seat, a placemat, a lap table, a paperweight, a pillow--you name it, the
phonebook did it. Occasionally, it even helped us out with dinner. The
phonebook was an even more essential object than boxes.
6) Med. A disorder resulting from ineffective circulation of the blood,
produced by haemorrhage, severe infection, disturbance of heart function,
etc., and characterised by a marked decrease in blood pressure, rapid
pulse, decreased kidney fuction, etc.
�Anyone home?� Marie literally flew in, sending the door banging against
the wall. Rachel started at the thick twang of the doorstop but she was
denied first dibs on the newest playmate. Remy got to Marie first, grabbing
her hand and getting half-dragged over the counter as a result.
�Miss me, river rat?� he asked, content to dangle where he was.
�Like a stomach-ache,� she replied, giving him a brilliant smile.
My sinuses itched at the sight. I put my coffee down so I could close my
eyes and squeeze the bridge of my nose just under the visor. By the time I
opened them again, Marie was at my side. She was still in her leathers with
her hair tied back into a stumpy ponytail. Since when had she cut her hair
Grinning, Marie poked a gloved hand into Rachel�s fist. �You�re a right
little porker, aren�t you, sugar?�
She tickled Rachel�s tummy and tapped her scrunched up nose. I held her
other arm to make sure that she didn�t accidentally swat Marie�s face. Marie
didn�t lean any closer, though, turning instead back to Remy.
�We�ve got your groceries in the kitchen,� she said. �And the Professor
wants to see you about something.�
Remy tested his concoction with his finger, humming as he sucked on the
sauce. �What now?�
�That�s the impression I got,� she replied. Rachel was still gripping her
finger like it was a chunk of wood and she was lost at sea. She was pulling
it mouthward, too, but I placed my own finger there instead. Rachel
immediately lost all interest in the new strange-smelling, alien-textured
chew toy in her right hand.
Her hand now free, Marie patted Rachel�s cheek as she kept talking to Remy.
�Go on, I�ll make sure your souffl� doesn�t explode.�
The in-joke was lost on me but it sent those two into hysterics. Rachel blew
a spit bubble out of the corner of her mouth.
�Yeah, me neither,� I answered.
As soon as the door closed behind Remy, Marie turned her earnest face
towards me, completely ignoring Remy�s instructions to watch the pot until
it boiled just right.
�How�re you doing?� she asked, her eyebrows in the perfect 150-degree angle
indicating compassionate worry. Oh, barf.
�I�m fine,� I said, knowing she wouldn�t believe me. �I can go back to
teaching, I�ve had lesson plans since last week, and I�m positive that I
don�t need another six months of paternity leave.�
She chewed on her lower lip, brushing back her bangs. The gesture threw me
back four years. It was just after the Stanton Island incident and Marie
tiptoed around the mansion, still unsure of her place and her personality.
She kept her head down and her bangs would fall forward which would only
remind her of her ordeal so she kept brushing them back behind her ears.
From then on, I knew she was uncomfortable when she played with her bangs.
�Scott, we�re just worried about you,� she said. �We want to make things
easier for you, that�s all.�
�I�m *fine*, Rogue.�
Damn it, I made her flinch. �All *right*, Cyclops,� she said, taking a few
steps back and crossing her arms. �I�m sorry, I cared.�
Rubbing the bridge of my nose again, I said, �I appreciate it, Rog-- Marie,
but I�ve been to enough counselling sessions and parenting meetings. I will
swear on anything you can name that I�m normal again.�
�You? Normal?� She chuckled. �Now that *is* strange.�
�Funny.� I tried not to return her smile, difficult to do around Marie now.
When she was happy, the whole mansion was high; she was pissed off, you�d
better be too. Her personality was that much stronger than before.
Unbuttoning her gloves, Marie sauntered to the kitchen-- I shit you not, she
sauntered. Where did she learn to saunter? I bet Remy taught her to saunter,
the fuckmook. Man, Logan was going to slice six inches of that swamp rat�s
flesh off the minute he caught him. And I knew exactly which six the
Wolverine had in mind. Rachel was never going to saunter like that. Rachel
was never going to see another male.
And that train of thought deserved to be stopped right where it was.
�How was practice?� I asked, tipping my chin at Marie�s leathers.
She rolled her head around her shoulders, her vertebrae popping and making
Rachel blink in surprise. �Hank�s got us testing our upper limits. That�s
all we�re been doing the past week. I feel like I�m writing finals or
something. But on the up-side, we found out that I can bench press a tank.
See if that doesn�t come in handy the next time we need to rebuild.�
�There�s not going to be a next time,� I said resolutely. �Not if the
Professor implements the security measures I suggested.�
Marie winced. She was drying a dish, rubbing the dishcloth around its
circumference. I was pretty sure it was dry by now, but she kept on rubbing
it. �That�s the other thing. We were discussing your proposal just this
morning. Don�t you think it�s a little� extreme? I mean, we�re a school
first, right? You�ve got stuff in there that look more like a military
�They attack us like we�re a military base,� I explained, �Why shouldn�t we
defend ourselves like one?�
�Scott, I�� She shook her head. �Scott, I can understand why you feel we
have to be this extreme but can�t you see that this might make it worse?
We�ll be feeding their misconceptions instead of assuaging them.�
�Are you willing to bet the lives of the kids on assuaging the public?� I
shot back. �We have a high concentration of mutants here. Forget that half
the staff are norms; they�ll focus on the fifty-seven of us who aren�t.�
Marie slammed the dish she as so conscientiously drying back in the dirty
sink. �But you�re suggesting that all sixty-five of us live in a cage!�
�At least we�ll be alive.� Rachel squirmed in my arms. No matter how I moved
her-- rocking her on her back, carrying her upright, swinging her gently up
and down--she tried to wriggle free. Her nose and cheeks were red with
frustration. I gritted my teeth, trying to ride her tantrum out.
Over in the kitchen, Marie had her chin jutted out. I could see shades of
Logan in the way her eyes narrowed and a bit of Magneto in the hardness
around her jaw. �That ain�t livin�, Scott,� she said, bracing her hands on
the counter so hard that it bent. �If we implement your security measures,
we might as well be building government reservations around ourselves.�
God, why couldn�t she see? �You came a little too late in the game, Marie.
Everything changed the second they blew up our home. You couldn�t possibly
know what it was like after the attack.�
Her jaw dropped. The counter strained under her fingers. �Don�t you be
pulling that bullshit on me, Summers! This is my home as much as it was
�You had a funny way of showing it.�
�Fuck you!� The counter snapped, plywood and Formica cracking like a twig.
Marie jumped back from the damage but she kept her eyes on me. �You think I
didn�t want to come back sooner? Ask your precious Remy why we were gone for
a year. Ask him why I had to beg, plead, and dance on a freakin� pin to even
talk to him about the States but the minute you sneeze sideways, he swims
across the Atlantic to help you.�
Rachel did not like the noise but for some strange reason, I couldn�t walk
into our room. My legs were frozen on the hardwood. A half dozen boxes
disguised as coffee table were all that were keeping me from tilting to the
I was panting. So was Marie. So was Rachel, great heaving breaths that were
too big for her little, cotton-wrapped chest. I could see Marie compose
herself, physically put her �self� back together from whoever had broken the
countertop and shouted vulgarities at a man who was her elder and teacher a
short three years ago.
�But you�re not even seeing it, are you, Scott?� Marie�s voice was softer
now and she couldn�t look me in the eye. �You can�t see him, can�t see any
of us trying to support you. You�re like� you�re like one those Greek
columns now. Sure they�re solid rock, and sure they look strong but if they
don�t have any support all you have to do is tap them at the right place and
they�ll tip over.�
I shifted Rachel back upright, tucking her head into the crook between my
chin and my shoulder.
�Don�t tip over on us, Scott. We can�t lose you, too.�
�I�m not going to quit the school,� I muttered into Rachel�s hair.
Did Marie absorb some of Pietro�s powers, too? Because I swear in the time
it took for me to blink, she was beside me, close enough to touch were
either of us the type to reach out and touch someone.
�There�s more than one way for you to leave us,� she whispered up to me.
�Don�t you leave us, Scott. We need you now more than ever.�
Rachel sniffled, wiggled her bum once, and promptly chanted, �Ah, ah, ah,
ah,� as loudly as possible.
�I leave for five minutes and the world goes to pot.� Remy was suddenly
beside her--what was with everyone appearing and disappearing?--pulling
Rachel gently from my arms. I let go with great difficultly; my arms, like
my feet, seemingly glued into place. I don�t think I�ve had Rachel more than
a foot away from me since� since�
�You go on back to the mansion,� I heard Remy tell Marie. His voice was
fuzzy, lost in the static the filled the space between my arms and Rachel�s
slight weight. �I�ll clean up in here.�
�Remy, I�m sorry, I didn�t mean to--�
�Hush, Marie-ma-sheri. Don�t worry �bout it; I�ll slap him up for you.�
He kissed her hand. I used to kiss Jean�s hands. Her fingers were like her
nails, long and shapely and ticklish around the knuckles. Kissing her hand
was like caressing her legs and all her hair even went up.
Like a kick to an old stereo, Remy�s voice exploded in my ear even though he
couldn�t have shouted. �Scotty,� he said. �You look like shit, boy. I told
you all these weeks of not sleeping was gonna catch up to an old man like
you. Next thing you know, I�ll have to buy Jell-o in bulk. I draw the line
at changing your diapers though. I seen the mess the kid makes in hers; I
don�t even want to think about yours. Tell you what: I�ll hire a nurse for
you. Hell, I�ll hire three and make them wear vinyl uniforms, real tight
He was still yapping on and on to Rachel as I lay on the bed. How did I get
on this bed? It smelled new. Jean and I left our old mattress in the mansion
for the new biology teacher. We never had a chance to break this one in.
Remy�s footsteps receded but his voice didn�t. Neither did Rachel�s baby
noises. �You�re a lucky little girl. Even if you didn�t have a whole
houseful of aunties an� uncles wanting to spoil you stupid, you got yourself
the best daddy in the world. A lotta people who got two parents ain�t as
�So, let�s make a deal, just you an� me, ma ti sheri. You hush now, an� go
to sleep, an� don�t worry about a thing. �Cause your daddy�s going to take
care of you. And I�m going to take care of him. And everything�s going to be
all right, you�ll see.�
With Remy�s words still reverberating in my head, I turned over and slowly,
thoroughly, quietly went to pieces.
A/N: This title and many other are from the New Testament, Gospel of Luke,
15:22-24 -- �But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best
robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.
And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry.
For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.
And they began to be merry.� And we all thought 12 years of private school
was a waste! ;)
I have been informed that I should explain Remy & Marie's adventures the
time between �Cradling the Cactus Tree� and this fic. All righty then, I�ll
see what the kids come up with.
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