Author: Curt Kenobi
Fandom: X-Men (draws from X-Men: The End, Heroes and Martyrs)
Summary: Remy’s early years are vague at best. But everyone has a mother. And, even when forgotten or unknown, everyone has a beginning to their story.
Disclaimer: Remy and all recognisable characters involved with him are all Marvel’s (but damn, I’d like to have Remy LeBeau – not for profit, just for some fun ;) ) Only one that belongs to me is his maman Alix/Roxanne.
Alix would never forget how surreal stepping out of the catacombs into the velvety pre-dawn of Paris was. She crept the stairs leading from the tunnels she had woken up within four months before, the stone solid and cold under her bare feet, dazed, wrapped in Sinister's wife's blanket. Hesitating a couple steps from being completely back into society – humanity, civilisation, reality – Alix glanced back, wanting to wish her saviour thanks, but he had vanished as suddenly as he had come. Turning back toward the street, purpose locked itself firmly into Alix's mind as she took a deep breath and let her fears go with it. With that, her mind clicked firmly into that cunning survival mode with a vengeance.
Most of the shops were still closed – from her many years of being a denizen of the dark and twilight hours, she reckoned it to be somewhere round four or five in the morning, closer to the latter.
She needed clothes. She needed currency. And she needed to get the hell out of Paris.
Quickly, Alix took to the nearest alley, eager to get from the street's lights and curious eyes she was sure to draw. Safely amongst territory she'd always know well, she wandered down a-ways, finally stopping when she came across a low-end clothier's. She picked the back door's lock – a trick a boy had taught her one night, maybe ten years before. His name had been Remy. Alix thought that he'd likely been arrested or killed by now. She had never gotten to thank him; his moment of kindness, of teaching a young girl new to the life a lesson to keep, it had saved her numerous times. Stealing she came by easily enough. With what she had often thought of as her feminine charm, she'd been able to get into no small number of rich people's rooms, but sometimes – sometimes one just needed the hands-on method. Picking locks was a skill, an indispensable one at that.
The shop was quiet, and she found the back door took her straight in the shop, as opposed to into a storeroom. The big storefront windows unnerved her and she eyed just a shade short of frantically for the storeroom. She caught that there was a room behind the cashier's counter. Good enough: that made it basically one-stop shopping. Grab an outfit, grab the starting cash from the drawer or the petty cash probably under the counter. She would garner more from pockets on the street as she headed towards the airport.
Alix padded over to the counter quickly, avoiding being in direct view of the windows. There was even a key left in the register. She pressed the button to open the register without a sale – knowledge courtesy of a seduction of a shop manager or employee or several – cupping her hand over the register tape's feed to mute the sound and catching the drawer as it opened so it didn't shoot out. Her nerves were so shot – she didn't need more reason to be jumpy. She smiled and slipped the cash from their slots. Silly shopkeeps, she admonished, amused, pulling the key chain from the drawer and flipping to the larger key obviously for the lock on the cabinet below.
What wasn't so amusing was, as she unlocked the lock, the storeroom door opened. She whirled about – lock in hand – to be face to face with a stock boy. He couldn't have been more than fifteen, with a splotchy baby-face under a mess of brown hair. She had been so focused on trying to stay calm and focused herself that she had forgotten to pay attention to her personal radar. The boy gave a small shout and dropped the bundle of clothes he had been carrying out to the floor.
"H-h-how did you get in here? You're not supposed to be here! What are you doing?" It was almost amusing how his voice cracked. He looked her over, obviously unnerved and confused by what exactly this woman was doing standing in the closed shop in what looked like little more than the old quilt wrapped about her.
Alix was now completely alert to the boy's emotions. They were a mad swirl of fear and responsibility, shock, confusion and pity. …That wouldn't do, a prideful part of her railed. She hated being pitied.
"Hello. Hey. Young man – don't be afraid of me; calm down." She consciously pushed a feeling of calm acceptance on him. "Manipulation of emotions," he'd said. Well, let's see. She felt the change in how the boy felt in her mind as he relaxed due to her suggestion.
"Why are you here?" he asked again. "How did you get in here? I'm the only one that's supposed to be here – I'm only here to make the boss happy; he's always bitching that I never do my job. What are you doing here?"
He was growing agitated again and Alix sought to distract him, sought to find a balance between physical distraction as well as continuing her mental ones. "What's your name, chér?"
He blinked. "Remy," replied the boy. "Remy Lefebvre."
Another Remy. Well, maybe he'd be as much of a saviour. "Remy," Alix greeted gently, telling herself that if this boy would only go along and succumb to her influence and just not fuck this up for her, she'd name her child for him. The boy still had a guarded look, and Alix pressed the feeling of trust and acquiescence further. "Remy, please. Think nothing of this." As she spoke, her words precise, she noticed that his eyes had glazed. "Do you understand this, Remy?"
"Oh, yes, ma'am. It's not a problem."
She was getting somewhere. Privately, somewhere inside her a cheer went up, as simultaneously a shudder at how easy – and powerful – this was. "You are so kind, chéri. All I need is enough to get me set and I will be gone. Just helping a woman in need, n'est-ce pas?"
"But of course."
"And there's no harm in that, chér. Now, go – do your job. I'll soon be gone. Like I was never here." Hope to God this works. She pushed harder on a sense of purpose – of productiveness and duty – and hoped it would overshadow any emotion in reaction to her presence. She didn't really think that emotion manipulation was as far-reaching as manipulating minds. Much more temporal, emotions. But she could hope. If she diminished the emotion directly associated with her, maybe…maybe he might just forget her.
As he walked past, she lifted a key on the lanyard dangling from his pocket. He went to put out the stock he had pulled, and she quickly pulled cash from the safe beneath the counter with that key. She then selected a plain outfit of a white too-large blouse and brown twill trousers, a matching jacket and a pageboy cap. The money disappeared into the inner pocket of her jacket and her long auburn waves disappeared, twisted up and tucked into the cap. All the while she kept projecting on the shopboy: work, work, focus, focus. It was tiresome, she realised. Just a moment longer. And then she slipped back out the back door, young Remy still hanging up blouses and purses.
No sooner out the back door, Alix retched onto the ground. Such a concerted effort to misdirect someone emotionally wiped her out. She leant back against the bricks of the building, wiping a sleeve across her mouth and gathering herself.
Dear God, or anybody Above, watch over me. She hadn't prayed truly in quite some time, but she was now. Hopefully her fervent earnestness now would make up for years of straying.
Alix swallowed, pushed off the wall, and headed into the day.
Walking purposefully but inconspicuously down the streets, Alix's mind had slipped into a space she felt comfortable in. All she saw as people had begun to populate the walks were potential marks, means to an end – that end being financing her escape from this place to somewhere far, far away.
Alix halted in her tracks, a deer in psychic headlights. Grand-mère.
"Give an old woman a chance for farewell, chére." Alix swallowed, moving once again. She couldn't risk it – couldn't chance Sinister finding her because she paused for a sentimental goodbye. It wasn't—
"I see you out of France, ma chére. You can see me, just a moment."
Grand-mère, though mysterious and cloistered, had always been there at Alix's need, whether she sought the old woman out or not. Besides, the woman had a sense about the future of things, and maybe she'd impart something more concrete for Alix's desperate fortune than she had ever before.
The old woman known to the wayward and…"different" urchins of the Parisian streets simply as Grand-mère had a reason to seek them out and counsel them: She too was "different." Ever since she was a young girl herself, she had seen things that could and came to pass, and heard and spoke to others without words.
What shesaw were not absolutes, but rather…high likelihoods. But that was the reason she saw such: because, if so desired or needed, she could sway that likelihood in a new direction. (Hence her lifelong quest to quietly seek out those whom were different, those whom life might abandon from nurture and to the wilds.)
Unfortunately, though, some things – some things are simply fated.
As she felt young, troubled Alix's mind fix on her garret, a memory seared unbidden through her mind: one of her first meetings with Alexandrie Delacroix.
"You've a deep destiny line, my dear. Deeper and clearer-cut than most, and many do not have it all. …Odd, though."
"What's that? That someone like me is – 'divinely favoured'?"
"The Powers That Be do not discriminate their choosings based on the life of one, but rather their essence, my child. You'd do well to keep that in mind. …No, dear, it is odd your destiny line runs so clearly, when your life line reads so shortly."
"I suppose I'll accomplish great things before succumbing to the hazards of the trade." So flippant – defiant to mask her unease. A double-sided trait: she never would outwardly fold against any odds, but conversely, her bravado in herself was not as fixed, and it shone through the cracks. "All in a girl's work." That wry smile of hers had faltered as she realised the old woman saw through her – those blind eyes saw through the pride and viewed only the uncertain girl underneath the streetwise woman she had to present.
"I suppose so," Grand-mère had muttered. "Never underestimate the abilities of a person, especially one life has moulded in hardship and destiny."
That was the problem, though. Even with a gift such as Alix's – the talent she had to feel the nature of a person – even so, people always underestimated. It's just what people did.
Moments later, there was a tap at the door and Alix let herself in. As she came forward, she tried – as she always, always had – to block her mind. Alexandrie was not reserved about the fact she disliked the woman's ability to see through her façades mainly because of how loudly her mind was contradicting her. "I'm fine," was completely blown apart when her mind was still reeling from a night of being misused.
"How are you, ma chére?" Grand-mère asked as Alix took a seat. As she sat, all her forced walls sort of deflated. Not in defeat, but wearily.
"You already know, Grand-mère, I'm sure. Spare me from the details." There was a pause, and a blossom of something—
"Can you do that, Grand-mère? Can you take away the memories? You told me that you couldn't once before, but si'l te plait" —her voice broke, something like a sob escaping— "Si'l te plait. …Si'l te plait?" Alix couldn't hide the tears. Even though the old woman didn't see them, Alix still felt hot with shame at breaking down.
"My child, you know that I cannot. And besides, I can see you already have begun so yourself."
"Brick walls don't hold forever, Grand-mère. What they guard isn't gone; it's just hidden. …Like me."
"Sometimes they hold longer that expected, child. …You shall have other things to occupy your mind—"
"And something that will always remind me of it!" She slammed her hands down on the table between them, rattling the teacups and pot. "If this comes to pass, how will I ever be completely rid of those memories, hehn? How, Grand-mère? I think it likely I won't!"
Alix's hard breathing and sniffles were all that split the air for nearly two minutes. When Grand-mère spoke again, it was quiet, and pointed.
"…Do you remember what I once told you, Alexandrie? About yourself."
Alix snorted derisively. "That I was a whore destined for great things."
"That you had a destiny. I told you: it does not matter who you are in this life, Alexandrie. What matters is that there will be something important to the world contributed by you. You may never know it, my child, but there will be. Of this I am certain."
"What good is that then? What? I'm still just a means to a fucking end!" Memories flashed formlessly across her mind and she recoiled, falling deathly silent. Grand-mère felt it – saw. As Alix halted, she came round to her side and took her in a hug.
"Hush, child. Hush."
It lasted only a moment, and nothing defined truly had scarred her mind, but the emotion of it all felt like it had nearly drowned her. It was terrifying. Alix came back to herself, held by Grand-mère, gently rocking back and forth.
"What am I going to do?" the broken whisper was undirected, forlorn.
"You will do what you know how to, Alexandrie. You will survive. You will surprise yourself."
Grand-mère pulled away and Alix wiped furiously at her streaming eyes and running nose with her shirtsleeves.
"And…?" Alix didn't really know what she was asking, but maybe she'd get answers to questions she didn't know she had.
"A boy. I see that, but his fate is up to you, my child." A wrinkled, dry hand patted her cheek in reassurance. "Now go. France is not where you shall stay. I don't know where, but you will. Au revoir, Alexandrie, my child."
"Au revoir, Grand-mère." The tears came again as she embraced the hunched old woman in goodbye; this was the last they would see of each other, she knew.
"Never forget the gifts you have, child. You know their potential now: exercise it."
"Oui, Grand-mère." The old woman walked her to the door, and Alix took a breath as it closed behind her. Chin up, back straight. She was gone.
"Where does one go if they wish to get lost?" she asked herself aloud, waiting in the English airport. Somehow, she'd made it. If asked, she couldn't recall just how she'd gotten here. She just knew that she was in England now, and had picked a good deal of cash, credit and IDs along the way. She probably had given away something in cash and the trade she knew to numerous drivers to get here, too. She had reverted completely back to just a basic existence, like when she was a child. It was about getting to the next day, getting somewhere safe. Now she was at an uncomforting standstill, cash and credit still on her, but down to one ID she had snagged. It was of a woman who looked fairly much like her. Roxanne Montague was the woman's name, not that it mattered. But Alix liked the name, Roxanne….
She cast her "sixth sense" out wide, the emotions of everyone about her battering her, but she couldn't risk not being on edge.
"Where does one go if they wish to get lost?" Places rolled in and out of existence on the departure board.
"Well, ma'am," some middle-aged American man who'd come to stand nearby said with a chuckle, "I usually choose Las Vegas or New Orleans, myself. But right now, I'm looking to get back to Austin."
New Orleans. She liked the sound. And not long after, charming and still not know just how the world she managed it, she'd found herself inbound to just the place.
(The lyrics in the page break are from "Momma Sed" by Puscifer.)
-->Next: Part Five