Fandom: X-Men (movieverse AU)
Pairing: Gambit/Cyclops (pre-slash)
Word Count: 3,331
Notes: Written for the apocalyptothon. And this is movieverse, as I don’t know the comics at all – sorry about that. (And thank god for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, or I wouldn’t have a clue about Gambit :) Their ages are a bit *wavy hands* - and I’m afraid I didn’t stick to the prompt 100%. Forgive me? Beta by the fantastic prochytes.
Summary: After the Event, Scott isn’t really Cyclops any more, and Remy isn’t Gambit. But they might find something else - even standing in the wreckage, something might still be saved.
“It is a pity, non?” said Remy, as he stood on the roof of the cab.
Scott stared at him, and then looked down. The water was slowly creeping up the sides of the bulldozer, although it would take a while to get to them, and besides, his people were on their way. They were in no danger.
That wasn’t really the point.
He reached out a hand, cautiously, and touched the sleeve of Remy’s jacket. He noticed there was dirt on his own knuckles, and blood. Must have scraped his hand on something. Remy was dressed in his customary black, and Scott reckoned it hid far more damage than his own scabbed knuckles. Remy had worked harder than anyone. He’d sent the message, he’d called them in, after all, and although it had been hopeless – Scott had known it would be, from the first word, and the Professor had thought so too, Scott could tell – it hadn’t mattered. The Professor had smiled and sighed quietly and shaken his head. He’d looked up then to Scott, to Logan, and he’d said, “You’ll have to go, of course.”
Logan had shouted and blustered, claimed he had more important things to do, declared this a waste of time, and the Professor had waited him out. Scott had wanted there to be more of a reason given, it was true, but he wasn’t about to ask, not in front of Logan. It wasn’t often he agreed with him so whole-heartedly, but he wasn’t about to admit that either. Logan was a good distraction sometimes. All the time, maybe. And except when he was trampling all over Scott’s territory and business, which was often (never again, because Jean was dead, dead again, dead for always) he could use him as a foil.
“We’ll lose him if we don’t go,” said Professor Xavier, gently, “And I don’t want to lose another one. Not even one.”
Scott looked away. The Professor could still read his thoughts, his grief, but he didn’t have to see the Professor’s own. Each and every soul snuffed out lessened his world-net of minds, he felt their cries as they died. At least Scott hadn’t faced that. He hadn’t been there, when Logan had needed to… When Jean had died. He wished he had been. He wished that every day.
Physical death was easier, Scott thought. At least the remnants of it. Discarded husks of people he could deal with.
And so they’d gone. Not just he and Logan, but also Bobby and Ororo – and others too. A regular school outing. And all for what? To save one man, who didn’t even ask to be saved? The Professor was dreaming. But Scott had tightened his jaw, and he’d said ‘yessir’ because the alternatives were worse. Someone had to dream. Was still dreaming, and that was something, because it surely couldn’t be him. Following orders, he could do, even half-assed ones, and he was grateful really. That Professor Xavier gave him anything to do at all.
It was funny, Scott thought. Because he’d changed his mind when he’d gotten here. Perhaps it was stuff like this that did matter. Holding back the tide.
“I’m sorry,” said Scott, as he grasped Remy’s jacket, wool damp and prickly under his touch. Remy flinched, but Scott didn’t let go. He didn’t have the words, so he had to… He had to show him somehow.
Scott never had words for the things he felt, he’d never been someone who could come up with a glib phrase, or a compliment oozing sincerity. Not like Remy. That was his stock in trade, his raison d’être if you like, and that was as much French as Scott was ever likely to know. But it didn’t mean he didn’t care, and he wasn’t entirely sure that other people really got that about him. He wasn’t sure how to prove it to them either.
Perhaps that was because the Event hadn’t affected him anywhere near as much as other people. Most of his family were Gifted, after all. And it wasn’t as though most of his friends weren’t mutants too. Good old Scott, he could keep going through it all, because it doesn’t matter to him, he’s not losing anything, it doesn’t much matter that he’s watching the world die. What does the world mean to Scott Summers? He’s cold, right? A robot. It won’t bother him.
He can follow orders. That’s what he can do.
He’d met Erik Lehnsherr once. Magneto. And the man had smiled at him, but Scott hadn’t thought it was a kind smile. He might have wondered what it meant, except that Lehnsherr had curled that smile almost into a sneer and asked if he liked following orders like a good little soldier. The Professor had lifted his hand and grasped at Lehnsherr’s arm, saying, “Now, Erik, leave the boy alone.”
But even the Professor hadn’t refuted the accusation.
Scott wondered if Lehnsherr regretted anything. He’d gotten the world he wanted, that was for sure, but there was that old tired saying, be careful what you wish for. Somehow Scott thought that Lehnsherr hadn’t asked for this.
After the Event, there had been panic and outcry, but it hadn’t lasted long. Governments had tried to claim that it was some kind of weather-based phenomenon, and conspiracy nuts had had a field day. Some mutants were killed, because they’d been blamed for causing the changes that were happening all over the world, but it hadn’t been many. Because the changes hadn’t taken long, and their recipients had only lasted a day or two longer. As revolutions go, it had been quick. Painless even. Well, that was a lie.
The Professor claimed that Erik hadn’t meant to do what he had done. That he’d been trying to turn the world’s heads of state into mutants, but not to send out the wave of energy around the world that had actually resulted. Scott wasn’t sure he believed him, but he wasn’t about to argue with the Professor. If he started to do that, things would fall apart. He had to believe in something, right?
Remy’s cheeks were pale and still, even as his dark hair shifted in the wind. There was a tang of smoke on the air, and the heavy damp smell of rot and weed. Scott’s knuckles stung. It was all unpleasant, and mundane, and very real. He held on to Remy’s sleeve, wondering what else he dared say. It seemed like he was constantly hanging on people, always waiting for orders; he wondered what Remy would want him to do, if he asked. If Remy was capable of asking for anything at all. The X-Jet would be here soon, despite the lack of replaceable fuel, and Scott might have argued about that, about the waste of resources, but it wasn’t up to him. He wasn’t completely sure he’d have argued anyway. He liked Remy.
Being here, with dark brown water swirling at his feet, Remy unmoving under his fingers, Scott could feel it, his own grief for Jean, for everyone who’d died, in the set of Remy’s muscles, in his stillness. This was Remy’s personal hell, and the Professor had sent Scott to drag him back out of it. He didn’t know why. He wasn’t the right kind of man for this job. Ordering Remy to do anything had always worked out about as well as you might expect. Because he wasn’t Scott. He wasn’t the good little soldier. Nowhere near.
Even before the Event, Scott remembered Remy. He’d drifted in from somewhere, another stray picked by the Professor, he’d supposed. A little older than most, not as old as some. He’d been more assured than the average student at the school though, a cocky little bastard. And smooth. He’d run a poker game, and a book on anything from the Kentucky Derby to local college football. The Professor hadn’t broken it up, but the operation had seemed to fold, all on its own. Scott had wanted to ask about that, but wasn’t sure how – had it been Remy’s own choice? Had someone else interfered? Logan had found the whole thing darkly amusing, Scott knew that, so it wouldn’t have been him.
Scott had watched Remy though, after that, to keep an eye on him, he’d thought, but it was more than that. Remy was everything Scott wasn’t, he was quicksilver with a sly, slick tongue; he was elegance and grace, he was… He wasn’t closed, and cut off, and sealed away from the world behind glass and quartz. He was fascinating. And then there was the basketball court.
Remy had blinked his innocence at the widely murmuring crowd, for amusement, Scott was sure. He must have known. He must have. He was too old not to know the strength of his own power. And he’d thrown the basketball deliberately wide, so when it exploded, the court was damaged, earth showered everywhere, and Kitty had screamed, but there hadn’t been any other consequence. But it’d showed them all, hadn’t it? What he could do. And he wasn’t asked to play basketball again either.
Scott remembered Remy in the baggy shirt and shorts, pale and thin - it hadn’t suited him. He’d looked vulnerable and young. Delicate. Scott had wanted to tuck him away somewhere, and protect him. He’d stared at the long column of his neck and he’d wanted to throw his arm around it, for his fingers to splay over the pulse point, to press into his skin. It had been an odd impulse, fleeting, but he’d never forgotten it. He supposed the Professor hadn’t forgotten it either.
Things were different since the Event. They all did what they could. Mutant powers were all very well, but there weren’t enough of them to go around. Civilization was a delicate machine that Lehnsherr had taken a hammer to and smashed into tiny pieces; they were living in the ruins. As Scott held on to Remy’s sleeve, imperceptibly putting pressure on it, he wondered what Remy had done after the Event. Came here, perhaps. Probably, even. Perhaps he’d tried to do what he could, perhaps he’d tried to help people, or even succeeded. It was a magical place, after all. Scott would not have been surprised to find more than a city’s fair share of mutants here.
Back home, Scott had been part of the disposal operation.
Humanity had turned into all sorts of things, and then their mutations had killed them in all kinds of ways. Some could and did rot, some were turned to stone. Others had become twisted things, or wooden, or metallic, or crystalline. Some had dissolved away like Senator Kelly, but they were the easy ones. For all the rest there was Scott.
He was a weapon. He’d always known it. What else was he good for? They were standing in the ashes of the world, and Scott had just made it a little more obvious. His team-mates had gone looking for others of their kind, while he’d cleared the areas they would need to live and work in. The Professor had told him where, and he’d stacked the bodies like cordwood in the streets, and then he’d destroyed them. He’d opened his eyes and they’d burned. He was sick to his stomach at the smell of burning flesh, smoke and the acrid vapour of burning chemicals. It didn’t matter, because it all fell away and into dust. Humanity was the black shadow against the wall. Pompeii had nothing on Scott.
So when Remy had called, Scott hadn’t protested when the Professor had told him to go. He’d been confused, and uncertain, but he hadn’t wanted to argue. It would be good, rescuing something for a change. He might have known he wouldn’t succeed.
There was a streak of dirt on Remy’s forehead, Scott noticed. It looked stark and out of place. Remy was usually so well groomed.
“Remy?” he asked, eventually, hoping for a response, “We did everything we could.”
Scott winced inside, could he be any more banal? But what else could he say?
“I know you did, my friend.”
And the carved statue that felt as solid as stone under his touch, shifted, half-turning, the movement as jerky as clockwork, as gritty as an unoiled wheel. Scott could see a fan of dark lashes against skin that was too pale, the lowered head, the nape of a neck glimpsed through curtains of dark hair, and he wanted to touch, to soothe, because he was useless with words, he always had been. He kicked something, and realised that it was Remy’s staff, discarded at their feet like flotsam, and that wasn’t right either.
Cautiously, Scott moved his fingers, that he couldn’t seem to make let go, and shifted them, sliding along fabric, ignoring the catch on unidentifiable substances, on unseen damage. Remy didn’t even wince, he barely acknowledged anything at all. Scott trailed his hand up, past Remy’s elbow, skating across a surprisingly muscled upper arm, rested for a second on his shoulder, before skittering like a large and clumsy spider to its resting place, warm across Remy’s neck. Even here, where the skin was thin and sheltered, his hand was warmer than Remy’s flesh, and the thought that Remy might be in shock crossed his mind. Mutants were not taught to think of themselves as ordinary, but for all Lehnsherr’s posturing, Scott reckoned they were still some kind of human. Shock was a human thing, and Remy was closer to human than most – he hadn’t shut himself away.
It was crazy. Here he stood with his fellow mutant, in the midst of terrible disaster, and he found… He found he was happy. It was an odd kind of happiness, he knew it was full of Remy’s tragedy - there was Jean’s death somewhere underneath as well, and all the bodies, all those hundreds of bodies, and those billions of others that even he couldn’t decently cremate… He knew all that and it didn’t matter. He could help here, help Remy, even in such a small way. His hand on Remy’s neck flexed, not a caress, no, but a pull, an inexorable tugging. Gently toppling, Remy fell, succumbing to Scott, allowing him to draw him closer, and it was incredible, it was a privilege. Scott could feel his heart thumping, and his stomach fluttering, as he pulled Remy into the hug.
“For warmth,” he whispered into Remy’s ear, his hair tickling his lips, his visor still a hard barrier, but one he could ignore if he closed his eyes.
Remy’s hands raised then and wrapped around his back, and Scott caught his breath. The simple gesture of comfort meaning so much more.
“Elle était belle. Ah - she was beautiful,” he said, his voice hoarse, and Scott nodded, his head dipping lower, clutching Remy closer.
Over his bent head, if he opened his eyes, Scott knew what he would see. All of Remy's lovers and friends, his family, his roots, everything that had made him the man he was today. It was all being destroyed. Not in the Event, like everybody else, no, but here in the flood, swirled away into dark brown water.
They'd tried to save her, but it had been too great a task, and they were too few. Piotr had tried to shore everything up, and Scott had blasted down debris and trees and anything else to try and make defences. Bobby had frozen what he could, but the heat had been inexorable, and the water had kept coming.
New Orleans was drowning. Ororo had arrived too late. The storm had almost passed them by, but the levees had still broken. Even the Vieux Carré, the old French Quarter, with its famous rues and spiderwork balconies, even here the water had come. It was built on the highest ground around, and it was the last to go, but even here…
Remy lifted his head, and his face was set and bleak. And then, as Scott held his breath, waiting for the punch to the face, or whatever else would help Remy right now, he did a strange thing. He leant forward and gently kissed him on one cheek, and then the other. Scott felt pressure on his visor, as Remy leaned forward, touching their faces together, but he didn’t flinch away. He found he was holding his breath, and his hands tightened on Remy’s neck, he didn’t want to let go, and he didn’t even know why.
“Ah, the things I could have shown you,” said Remy, and his eyes raised up to stare at the empty windows, scarlet silk fluttering from their open shutters.
“You still can,” Scott said, hurriedly, his words tumbling over themselves, and Remy smiled.
“It’s too late for that. But I appreciate your efforts, cher.” There was a glitter in Remy’s eyes, not of tears, no, but Scott rather thought – anger. He felt the flutter in his belly intensify, his anxiety notch up. If he failed now, the Professor would be disappointed in him, and Remy… Scott wouldn’t see Remy again, somehow he knew that, instinctively.
“Show me it all,” he demanded, loudly, jarring in his intensity. “I want to know. Someone else should remember, not just you.”
“It won’t be the same,” said Remy, but his expression was arrested, his gaze much less far away.
“Then tell me everything too, tell me the stories,” said Scott, and he could hear his voice had gone high and thin with strain. “I’ve never… I’ve never been able to… I’ve never let myself be…”
He didn’t know how he could explain.
Remy pushed back and Scott let go of him, knowing it was ridiculous how bereft it made him feel. And then as Scott’s hand was dropping to his side, Remy caught it, sliding his fingers into Scott’s, and he grinned, not quite his old grin, full of mischief and devilry, but it was close. Scott thought it more attractive than ever, for the hint of sorrow curled in the corner of his lip. He caught his breath in a sudden burst of want. And then swallowed, as revelation hit him over the head. Way to go, hero. How could he have been so oblivious?
Remy wasn’t Jean, he wasn’t serious, or sensible; he wasn’t conscientious. He wasn’t insane. He was just a little bit dangerous, and wild, and daring, and glorious, like the world he lived in – in fact, he was so far from being Jean, that it might just be an explanation. He was everything Jean wasn’t, and Scott wanted that, wanted Remy so badly his teeth ached with the urge.
Instead, Scott carefully squeezed Remy’s fingertips and said, “Show me.”
And Remy laughed. He picked up his staff, and used it and his strength, a touch of his kinetic power, to leap away from the bulldozer’s roof, as it exploded beneath them. The floodwater had risen to near the top anyway. The X-Jet would be here soon, Scott knew that, but there would still be time. Remy pulled Scott with him, and as he leaped and clung to the best of his ability, Remy laughed, and laughed again. They jumped from balcony to window to roof, and back again, wandering where they would, through abandoned rooms and salons. Remy led him through glimmering ballrooms, and down sweeping staircases. There was wood and crystal, shimmering curtains and sparkling chandeliers, smoky back-room parlours and sumptuous boudoirs. Scott lost track of where they were, or what storm damage looked like, glass underfoot, and shattered wooden frames. All he could see was glory - red velvet and marble, diamonds that glittered in Remy’s memory, as he talked and gestured.
Remy led him through all that was magnificent in New Orleans, just one last time, and Scott drank it in, grateful beyond measure. Through it all, he held Remy’s hand, and refused to let him go.