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In the Future

Stories by J.B. McDonald

"...To Make a Crippled Child Walk"
When Remy takes his son Lazare on a motorcycle ride, the whole family's lives are changed forever by a tragic accident.

elsewhere in Alykat's World:

"The Hours After"
When an X-Men-related battle leads to family tragedy, Bobby reconsiders his refusal to stay with the team. Part of a larger series. Alternate reality.
(at (un)frozen)

Long the butt of Bobby and Hank's practical jokes, Scott plots his own kind of revenge. Sillyfic.
(at (un)frozen and Stars & Garters)

"Midnight Twinkie Run"
Bobby and Hank revisit their old custom of making Twinkie runs at midnight, also continuing the tradition of hot-wiring the X-leader's car to get to the store. Sillyfic.
(at (un)frozen and Stars & Garters)

"Miss April's Stars and Garters"
During an all-night cram session for class, Hank discovers something Bobby's stashed away. Part of a larger series.
(at (un)frozen and Stars & Garters)

"New Maids, Old Jobs and General Torment"
Jubliee starts a new job at the local K-Mart, and Bobby stops by to visit and torment her. Sillyfic.
(at (un)frozen)

At first grumpy and depressed about the events of the past year, Bobby puts his life in perspective when he meets a woman who's had a worse year than him.
(at (un)frozen)

"A Special Kinda Birthday" - Bobby works extra hard to put together an extra-special birthday present for Remy, all the while trying to keep his efforts a secret. Written for Kaylee's birthday. Slash. Mooksverse.
(at (un)frozen)

"Summer Daze"
A 12-year-old Bobby and his best buddies Jack and Danny wile away a summer's afternoon. Part of a larger series. Alternate reality.
(at (un)frozen)

"Water Lines"
After a near-disastrous first meeting, Bobby and Jamie find that they have the makings of a beautiful friendship -- and maybe a lasting relationship. Slash.
(at (un)frozen)


Web sites: Due West of Nowhere, McDragon's Lair

Growing Up A Superhero
...To Make A Crippled Child Walk

A year has passed since that autumn day. And every morning I remember it as though it had only happened the day before.

He doesn't seem to mourn his loss. He used to. Now, though...

It's good to see him outside, playing. Even from two stories up and quite a distance away, I can hear his laugh and his calls to his teammates. But if it doesn't haunt him, it will always haunt me. For, you see, it was my fault.

Fall, one year before.

Rogue laughed at something one of the students shouted, then walked quickly into the family room.

"Mom, tell Lazare he can't go with us," Sydney-Eve said, glaring down at her little brother. Michael, his shiny black wings tucked close to his body, shifted uncomfortably behind Sydney-Eve LeBeau.

"Laz, Sydneve an' Michael are gonna go do teenage stuff," Rogue said, smiling. "Won't you come an' help me finish the dishes? Then we can have ice cream."

Lazare started to pout, glaring at his thirteen-year-old sister. "When I'm a teenager," he said finally, stomping out of the room, "I'm gonna do lots of things with them."

Rogue nodded understandingly and ushered the ten-year-old into the kitchen.

"Wha's dis 'bout bein' t'irteen?" a deep, resonant voice called. Remy LeBeau strode into the kitchen, circling the table to wrap his long arms around his wife, Rogue, and kissing her soundly.

Lazare sighed with the weariness of youth. "You guys," he said, looking away and squirming in the kitchen chair as his parents kissed.

Remy grinned and turned to the boy. "Wha's dis I hear 'bout you not goin' wit' Sydneve and Michael?"

"They won't let me because they think I'm a baby," Lazare said, glaring at his thoughts.

"Well, babies can't ride motorcycles wit' deir papas, can dey?"

Lazare looked up, hope lighting his dark eyes. "Oh, could I, Papa? Could I ride the Harley with you?"

"We see what your mot'er say," Remy whispered, circling around to the back of Lazare's chair. "'Member what we practice?"

"Oui," Lazare answered, nodding happily.

"Okay, puppy-dog faces, den," Remy said, and looked longingly at Rogue over his son's shoulder. "'Member t' ooze charm," Remy whispered into his child's ear.

Lazare's attempted puppy-dog face got serious as he tried to ooze charm, looking instead like he was in great pain.

Rogue put her hand over her mouth, trying to keep from smiling. Her son's sandy blond hair contrasted sharply with Remy's own dark tresses as both fell over Lazare's solemn face.

Remy smiled seductively over Lazare's shoulder, his red on black eyes smoldering. Rogue felt a familiar blush creeping up her cheeks at his look, and she quickly switched her gaze to the checkered towel hanging from the sink.

"I think we're doing it," Lazare whispered loudly.

"I t'ink so, too," Remy answered in a low, mildly suggestive voice. Rogue's head whipped back around, but the notes had been much too subtle for Lazare to pick it up.

Fine lines creased around Remy's unique eyes as he smiled slightly. His hair, now shimmering with gray strands, slid down his face, casting shadows over the sharp planes of his jaw. Rogue sighed with the realization that she would never be able to turn down that man.

"All right," she sighed at last. "Lazare, you can go for a quick ride with yoh father on the Harley."

Lazare whooped happily, leaping up from his chair and running as fast as he could to get his jacket. Remy smiled slowly, moving with great grace to where Rogue stood, and taking her hands in his. "T'anks, mon amour," he whispered, kissing each hand in turn. Rogue was blushing when he looked up.

"Ya'll get outta here," she said, pulling her hands free. "Laz is gonna vibrate out to the Harley without you."

Remy chuckled at the thought and walked with feline grace to the front door, where his son already stood.

"Ya'll be careful, y'hear?" Rogue called, her drawl getting more pronounced as she shouted.

"Careful as de angels dat watch over us!" Remy called back.

Rogue laughed as she stood in the doorway, watching father and son move quickly toward the garage. "Who said angels were careful?"

Remy shot a mischievous grin that could have meant anything over his shoulder.

Rogue laughed and turned around, heading back into the house.

Remy chuckled as he felt his son's young arms tighten around his waist, his small body pressed closely against Remy's. The cars ahead finally pulled out of the stop, and Remy checked his rearview mirror to be sure there was no one behind him. Seeing the road was clear, he let the Harley sit still for long moments, until the last car had almost reached the middle of the intersection. Remy kicked the Harley into motion, racing forward while the engine roared loudly beneath him.

Lazare squealed happily, thin arms tightening reflexively. The Harley raced into the middle of the intersection--

And Remy's stomach tightened sickeningly. Blood red eyes saw the U-Haul coming fast, much too fast to stop, and he wrenched the bike to one side to avoid it, already knowing that he was too late. Praying fervently, he tipped the Harley, hoping the truck was high enough to slide over him and his son. Instead, it caught on the polished metal and dragged the Harley with it.

There was no more fighting to save anything after that. It happened too quickly, and Remy couldn't even tell what was up and what was down. All he was aware of was that the fragile arms clinging to his waist were suddenly gone.

It seemed an eternity before the spinning stopped. Remy blinked several times, and was aware that time had passed between his blinks. Too much time.

Above him, around him there was metal, warped and twisted horribly. His thinking was fuzzy, but one thing was clear: Lazare wasn't holding on to him anymore.

"Just hold still," someone said, and there was an arm reaching through a hole in the maze of chrome, touching the top of his head gently. "Hold still, the paramedics are already on their way."

Remy tried to speak, but it was such an effort. He looked up, toward the voice, and felt something oozing near his neck: blood. Remy licked his lips, fear lancing through his body. Where was Lazare? Was he bleeding, too? Was he dead? The world swam dangerously, and when Remy finally fought his way back to consciousness a new hand was reaching through, and a new voice was speaking to him.

"Can you hear me? We're going to get you and the child free, but we need your help. You have to stay conscious, all right?"

Remy thought he nodded, but couldn't be sure.

"What's your name? Tell me your name."

It must have taken him longer to form the words than he thought, for the man repeated the question, far more insistently.

"Remy ... LeBeau," he finally managed, though he wasn't at all sure that was his voice.

"Okay, Remy, just hang on for me. Remy? Remy! Remy, is this boy yours?"

Remy breathed laboredly, feeling the man's hands coming through the metal at a different place. Something was fitted over his mouth, and he tilted his head up to see. "'S Laz ... 's he 'live?"

"Laz? The boy's name is Laz? He's alive right now, Remy, but we need your help. I can see you're a mutant, Remy. I saw your eyes. But is the boy a mutant? Do we need to know anything special to help him?"

"Non," Remy croaked. "Laz..."

"He'll be fine. Remy. Remy! Remy, answer me!"

Remy's eyelid fluttered open, though it was hard. The man was screaming at him, one hand holding the mask on Remy's face while the other touched wherever it could reach.

"Remy, there's a woman here to help. She's going to lift the truck, and we're going to get you out. All right? You have to stay conscious for us, Remy."

"'Right," Remy said, trying to breathe deeply. Something hurt him, but it came only dimly through the protective haze his mind had erected.

"On the count of three. You're going to keep breathing -- that's your job. One. Two. Three."

The man grunted and Remy's pain suddenly intensified, then there were hands all over him, sliding him out of the metal. The sun had almost set, and with a tremor Remy realized he'd somehow missed more time then he'd thought. The world spun, and he was lifted and straightened and was rolling, with people all around him talking to each other, and the man who had held the mask still there, running alongside and yelling at Remy to stay awake.

Remy didn't know if he was entirely successful. In fact, he was pretty sure he was failing. One moment he was being wheeled along, and the next he was inside a room that moved--his brain told him he should know what it was, but he couldn't remember--and then he was being pulled out of it and was racing through hospital corridors, people still yelling at him and calling his name.

Remy thought of Lazare, and wondered what had happened to his son, and then the world went black for the final time.

"Hey, Bets," Rogue said as she entered the room. "Have you seen Remy or Laz? Ah just got the most awful feelin' 'bout 'em a bit ago."

Betsy looked up from her book, shaking her head. "Sorry."

Rogue bit her lip and twisted the wedding ring on her finger. "They left two hours ago to go for a ride. Ah'm startin' to get worried. Remy's normally so careful 'bout bein' back in an hour."

"Why don't you go do a flyby?" Warren asked softly, seeing her fret.

"Thanks, Wings," Rogue smiled. "Ah think Ah will. Put Sydneve to sleep for me?"

Betsy smiled and nodded. "Sure, Rogue. Go find the boys."

Rogue turned and sprinted up the stairs, flying down the hall and twisting past a student. She landed just outside her own apartment door, going inside and grabbing for her flight jacket before snatching gloves off the nightstand and flying back out the door. Invulnerable as she was, she still got cold.

Rogue was almost out the front door when Angelo, who had heard Besty, Warren and Rogue's exchange, came running into the hall. "Rogue! Come quick, before you go!" he snapped, urgency in his voice.

Rogue turned too fast, slipping on the smooth wood floors. Without a thought she hovered a moment and put her feet back underneath her, never even realizing she did it.

Rogue followed Angelo back into the den, where the news was playing live, on location.

"It seems," the newswoman said as lights flashed around her, "that the paramedics have gotten the truck driver out, now. Yes, you see, there he goes. The other two people are still pinned beneath the carnage, only one of them conscious." The newswoman turned and looked straight at the camera. "For those of you just joining us, a U-Haul lost control on the hill down 11th street. Bystanders say that his breaks appeared to stop working. The light at the bottom of the intersection turned green, and three cars got through before the U-Haul came roaring through the red light. A motorcycle was the last automobile, and it collided with the truck. Once again, one of the passengers is a mutant. His distinguishing feature is red on black eyes. If anyone has any medical information that may be pertinent to his recovery, please contact us at eight-hundred, three three three, nine one nine one."

Rogue's hair slapped into her face as she twisted, flying out the door.

"They're having some trouble with the truck, it appears. They're going to have to take it apart by pieces, for it has the other two men trapped beneath--oh! It, ah, it appears another mutant has joined the fray! Can you see her, Milo? She's flying -- there! Landing, now, by the wreck."

Rogue heard the words dimly, and paid them no attention. There was a mess of metal, white and silver. The pavement was slicked with oil, gas, and blood. A paramedic glanced up as Rogue approached, but then went back to talking quietly and insistently with the man trapped under the mess. The paramedic had himself wedged under the steel, his arms reaching far beneath to hold onto something there.

"Miss, you'll have to step aside," a policewoman said, walking toward Rogue.

Rogue ignored the other woman, glancing around. "Ya'll can't move that truck? That's the problem?" she asked, assessing the situation quickly.

"Miss, we'll handle it. If you'll just please--"

Rogue turned, green eyes flashing. "These men have a better chance of a full recovery the faster we can get them to a hospital, right? Then we need to move that truck. How much do you want it moved to keep from hurtin' 'em?"

A paramedic cut between the two women, turning to Rogue. "You can lift it?" she asked swiftly.

Rogue nodded.

"You're sure? Stupid question. All right, come over here. We need it lifted four feet and no farther. This is Gary. He'll tell you when to stop."

Rogue nodded grimly and put her hands under the white metal, looking at Gary.

"All right," Gary said, watching the paramedics who were now congregating around the two men. "Lift. Higher. Good, slowly now. Higher. Hi -- stop!"

Rogue froze, afraid to turn and look at what they were doing with Remy and Lazare. Finally, though, she twisted to see.

Remy was being slowly pulled free. Blood smeared his face, and the paramedic who had been talking insistently to him before was holding an oxygen mask on Remy's nose and mouth. Another paramedic wriggled under the massive machinery himself, trusting Rogue to be able to hold it up while he freed something that had Remy's leg caught. There was a count of three, then Remy was swiftly moved to a stretcher. Four paramedics ran with him as they loaded him into an ambulance. The sirens started up, blaring as the ambulance took off, carrying the wounded and barely-conscious man.

More paramedics swarmed the metal still, some even crawling under as far as they could go.

"It's no good," one finally said, walking up to Gary and standing close enough for Rogue to hear. "The chrome of the bike is wrapped around the kid."

"Iffin ya'll could get somethin' else to hold this up," Rogue grunted, "Ah could un-wrap the metal."

The new paramedic eyed her.

"Jesus Christ, Chris!" the first paramedic called. "This boy is about to die! Let her help!" A female medic walked swiftly up, pointing toward a police officer. "We need your car. Jam the front end under this truck, and maybe it'll hold."

The officer, a very young man, grinned and started his car. He drove it forward slowly, metal screeching on metal as he forced it past Rogue and underneath the truck. Rogue let the truck go gently, after the car was turned off.

The car buckled beneath the massive weight, and then held.

Rogue breathed a sigh of relief and flew to where her son lay beneath the wreck. "Show me what to do," she said, furiously suppressing that it was her child laying there, and not some person she didn't know.

"We need this metal, this metal, and this chrome unwrapped. Carefully," someone said.

Rogue nodded and did so, very slowly.

The paramedics crowded around once more, pushing Rogue out of the way. "Dammit," one of them snarled. "We still need this stuff broken off. If we release the pressure there now he'll bleed to death."

"Get some torches," another paramedic said tersely. "We'll have to melt through it."

Rogue's stomach twisted as she stepped back, giving the men and women room to work. Finally, there was a count of three. Lazare, utterly still, was moved onto the stretcher, metal still wrapped around and in his body.

"Who are you to these men?" a paramedic asked, watching Rogue's reaction.

"Wife and mother," she said faintly.

"Follow us to the hospital."

Rogue nodded and leapt into the air as the ambulance doors closed and they started off.

Angelo and Enchantment got to the hospital first, Enchantment looking around nervously. Rogue blinked twice to be sure it really was the eighteen-year-old girl and not Amanda, the woman the girl had been cloned from.

"How are they?" Angelo asked as Enchantment walked up and put her arms around Rogue.

"Ah don't know," Rogue answered painfully, hugging the girl back. "They're both still in surgery."

Angelo nodded as though he had expected that. "How are you?"

Rogue looked at him blankly.

"Have you eaten?" Angelo tried again. He turned to Enchantment before Rogue even answered, ordering, "Chant, will you get some food from the cafeteria for Rogue?"

Enchantment nodded tersely and turned, almost running down the hall and back to the elevator.

"Ah don't need food," Rogue said quietly, as Angelo pushed her back into a chair. "Ah ain't hungry." Her green eyes were unfocused, seeing something in her mind's eye, and then she blinked and looked up at Angelo. "Where's Sydneve?"

"She's with Michael. They're having a sleep-over in the den," Angelo answered quickly. "Warren and Betsy are chaperoning. Sydneve is fine."

Rogue nodded and looked away, down the hall. After a long moment Angelo sat. "Ah shouldn't've let 'em go," Rogue said at last. The words were quiet, not really meant for other ears. "Ah should've known. Ah got that sixth sense thing from Carol, Ah should have--"

"That only works an instant before an accident," Angelo said quickly, taking Rogue's hands in his and looking at her intently. "You couldn't have known. There was no way."

"Ah always felt odd 'bout mah kids ridin' the Harley. Ah should--"

"There is no use beating yourself up over this, Rogue," Angelo said, speaking louder now. "'Should have' isn't going to help Remy or Laz. You need to be strong right now."

Some of those words sunk through, and Rogue fell silent.

Enchantment arrived a few moments later with food; pizza and salad. They set it on the end table beside Rogue, but she ignored it all. Enchantment sat on the floor at the older woman's feet, taking one of her hands from Angelo and holding it tightly. Rogue still didn't entirely respond, but her fingers closed gently around Enchantment's small hand.

Dr. Frank Drago was tired and weary, but he walked into the waiting room with a smile on his wide face. "Mrs. LeBeau?" he asked the five people huddled in a small group near the chairs.

A woman rose from the center of the group. She was of average height, and curved deliciously. Red hair spilled down her back in unruly curls, marked by a vibrant white stripe straight down the middle. Green eyes were filled with worry, and she had shredded what appeared to be a bandanna. Her blue jeans were tight, hugging her thighs and flaring out over the top of well-worn western boots. A burgundy flannel shirt was tied at her waist, the sleeves rolled to her elbows.

"That's me," she said, and the words rolled with a sultry southern accent.

"I'm Dr. Drago. Your husband is stable, though still in ICU. I don't expect there to be any permanent damage."

The group as a whole seemed to sigh with relief.

"An' Laz? Mah son?" she asked, and stepped forward again. There was a tearing sound, and what was left of the bandanna gave way in her hands.

Dr. Drago eyed the cloth uncertainly and took a step back, glancing down at his clipboard. "Lazare Zacharie-Christian LeBeau is his name? I'm afraid I'm not the doctor in charge of his surgery. You'll have to wait until Dr. Tigre comes out." Frank smiled in what he hoped was a reassuring way. "You may visit your husband when he wakes up."

The woman nodded and Frank turned, leaving the waiting room before the questions could start. It would take a few days to be sure about the man, and he hated giving false hope even when it seemed certain.

The words still rang in her ears. "We won't know the extent of the damage for several days." "Back was broken." "Lucky he's so young." "Nerves were severed." "Lower back." "Surgery."

Rogue swallowed harshly and smiled back at Raquel, Bobby, Enchantment and Angelo, all there for emotional support. She walked away from the small group, down the hall, following the orderly into rooms that people were rarely allowed into. The orderly stopped, opened a door to let her in and then left.

Rogue's heart thumped in her chest as she looked at the bed and monitors all around, all hooked to a tiny form lying too still on the perfectly made bed. Sandy blond hair spilled across the overly-fluffy pillow. They had washed Laz's hair and body, cleaning away oil and blood. A red, angry mark traveled up his face, rubbing away the skin near his eye and half his eyebrow before disappearing under a white bandage that seemed too big for the child's head. The bandage looped around, covering his other eye entirely. His nose and lips were torn, though no longer bleeding. His body was covered, but the skinny arms that were above the blankets were skinned painfully in some places and sported rows of neat stitches in others. Another bandage covered one hand and wrist, suspicious looking metal pieces stuck in it at odd angles. Tubes and tangles of things were all around the boy, machines nearby beeping and clicking and humming.

Slowly Rogue walked to her son's side. Gently, she touched his ear, the one place that didn't seem to be badly mangled. She knelt, not knowing if he could hear her but humming anyway. Her voice broke, and she smoothed his hair away from his face. A tear landed on the pillow near Lazare's head.

"Miss? Visiting hours are ending. He'll sleep through the night, and you can come back in as soon as you want in the morning. You can even be here when he wakes up."

"Ah'm stayin'," Rogue said quietly, but firmly. Her fingers brushed across Lazare's forehead, smoothing away stray locks of hair.


"Ah'm stayin'," Rogue said again, letting an edge creep into her voice this time.


Rogue glanced back at the male nurse, who was frowning at his clipboard.

"I'll get you a bed," he said at last, and left the room.

Both LeBeaus had been awake for several days. Amazingly enough, Remy had escaped with relatively minor injuries. His ankle was badly sprained, and there were a few torn muscles in his shoulders and arms, but the only massive problem was his knee, which had been wrenched. He was undergoing surgery to re-attach the ligaments, and the prognosis was good.

Lazare had already been in surgery twice more by the next week. He regained consciousness sporadically, and when he did he complained that his legs felt swollen. It was a solemn doctor who met with Rogue after the second surgery.

"Your son's back was broken," the young Hispanic doctor said into his papers, "as you know. We've already started the corrective surgery, but..." He petered off, and Rogue briefly considered ripping the words out of his skinny throat.

"But what?"

"The nerves were badly damaged. The likelihood that he'll be able to walk again is slim."

Rogue swallowed hard and looked away.

"Mrs. LeBeau," the doctor said softly. "It isn't ... It's not just a slim likelihood. The nerves were severed. He will never walk."

Rogue shook her head and stood, picking up her purse and heading for the door.

"Mrs. LeBeau? Mrs. LeBeau, please--"

"If you say another word," Rogue said quietly over her shoulder, "Ah may have to come over there and rip yoh scrawny head off yoh scrawny neck."

He was silent.

Rogue left the room.

Hank shook his head, rubbing his eyes behind his glasses. When Rogue had called and told him the situation he had flown down. When he'd seen for himself what the doctors had done for Lazare, he knew there was little more he could do.

But he had the Shi'ar equipment. So Lazare had been flown back to Westchester, back to the underground lab Hank had worked in for so long.

And by the end of a grueling week, Hank had told Rogue the same things everyone else had told her.

Lazare wouldn't walk. There wasn't even the remotest chance. Rogue had been so quiet for so long that Hank was afraid she wasn't listening. She was nothing if not obstinate. But then her fingers had released the arms of the chair, leaving prints embedded deeply into the wood, and she had buried her face in her hands and cried.

Remy had been there that day. Walking with crutches, his knee in a brace too bulky to go under his pants, he had made it to the meeting and sat next to Rogue, holding her.

Hank left them to their grief. He stopped in the hallway, watched his feet. Heard a voice to his right.

"Something's really wrong, isn't it Hank?"

Hank turned and looked through a doorway at Lazare, who lay in bed watching him. "Yes," Hank said softly. "But I think you should talk to your parents."

The next words stopped him from turning away, the words and the very serious look on the child's face. "I'm not going to walk anymore, am I?"

Hank thought about lying. He thought about turning and walking away. He thought many things, but he walked into the room and sat down on the bed. "No," he said softly, "you're not."

Lazare looked away and nodded. "It was a fun ride, until the end," he whispered.

Hank nodded.

"Will I have a wheelchair, then?" The young voice cracked, and Lazare wouldn't meet Hank's gaze.

"Yes. Any kind you like. And we'll teach you how to use it."

Lazare nodded. "Can it be orange?" he whispered.

"I think your mother would let you have an orange wheelchair," Hank answered.

"Can I have an orange wheelchair, Momma?" Lazare asked then, looking up.

Rogue stood in the doorway, in front of Remy. Her face was still red from tears, her eyes puffy, but she smiled and nodded. "Ya can have any color ya want."

Lazare smiled tremulously. "Maybe the kind with the big wheels, like the racers have?"

"Oui, we get dat for you," Remy said, and maneuvered into the room on his crutches.

"Then that'll be fun," Lazare said, smiling wider though his eyes were suspiciously bright. In the next moment he was crying, and both parents were across the room. Rogue bent to hug him, moving him as little as possible in the white bed. Remy reached down, holding his son's hand because he couldn't get any closer.

Hank stood and silently left the room.

"But it hurts."

"I know. Try anyway. One more time."

"I don't want to. I'm tired."

"One more time."

"I want to go play."

"Just one--"

"He said he doesn't want to," Rogue snapped, turning away from the window and striding to where Lazare was, on the floor, his physical therapist sitting next to him. Deftly, Rogue bent and scooped him up, putting him back in the wheelchair and pushing it to the elevator. She took him downstairs and outside, where Lazare asked if she would please leave him with Sydneve and Michael.

Rogue did so, then, when he insisted he didn't need her, she went back up the stairs.

The physical therapist and Remy were still in the open room, sunlight pouring through the large windows covering one wall.

It had been months since the accident. Remy's knee was almost healed; he still had a brace, but it wasn't nearly as massive as the other had been. In a few more weeks he would be on his own, without even the cane he used now to get around.

"Chere," Remy said quietly, and Rogue knew what was going to come next. She knew Remy didn't approve when she overrode the therapist, but she didn't care.

"He was hurtin'," Rogue snapped, then turned her flashing green eyes on the slight woman standing in the window. "Ya can't expect him to go on hurtin'."

The woman was quiet, looking out the window at the children playing beyond. "There he is," she said softly, motioning with her chin.

Rogue walked slowly to a nearby window and looked out. Sydneve and Michael were outside, throwing a Frisbee. They included Lazare in the game quickly, always careful to aim where he could reach. He missed catching it, and they waited impatiently while he wheeled himself over and picked the disc back up. Rogue's jaw tightened. They shouldn't be making him do that.

"What do you see when you look at him, Remy?" the therapist asked in a soft voice.

Remy glanced toward her, but she refused to meet his gaze. Finally, he shrugged. "M' son. In a wheelchair." Rogue watched as his eyes tightened painfully. Despite all they had said, Remy still blamed himself. Rogue was starting to believe she wasn't at fault, and Sydneve's original belief that if she hadn't been so mean to Laz he wouldn't have made Remy take him was now banished. But still Rogue could see the shadows in Remy's eyes.

"And you, Rogue? What do you see when you look at Lazare?"

Rogue blinked and looked back down. She put a hand up to the cool windowpane, touching his image. "Mah baby trapped in a wheelchair forever," she whispered.

Angie nodded. "Know what I see when I look at him?"

Both Rogue and Remy looked up.

"A boy. Filled with life, and vitality, relishing each day as it comes because he can. Because he's still able to breathe. Because he didn't die. Because he can use his arms and upper body, because he can feed himself and someday -- maybe even someday soon -- will be able to clothe himself. I see a boy adapting to life in a wheelchair with the ease of the young. I see a child who will grow and develop naturally, able to do these things that I ask of him because he's young, and strong, and able." Angie turned then to face Remy and Rogue, and Rogue dropped her gaze. "And then I look at you two. And you're killing him."

Remy looked back out the window.

"You tell him there's no need to learn to help himself. You say that if it's hard, he doesn't have to do it. In everything you do you show him he's different than others, you show him that he doesn't have to work because he can't, because he's hurt. You tell him to shy away from things that might be slightly difficult. You cripple him. He isn't crippled. But in a few more years, if he doesn't learn to help himself, he will be."

Rogue closed her eyes and leaned her forehead against the glass. Outside she could hear Sydneve, Michael and Lazare playing, whooping as they moved onto another came. Inside she could hear Angie's retreating footsteps, and the quietly closing door.

"She's right," Remy said, almost silently.

Rogue regulated her breathing, and didn't answer. She couldn't answer. "I can't see him hurt," she said finally.

"Mebbe we shouldn't come to Laz's physical t'erapy anymore," Remy answered. Rogue heard him shift his weight, heard the floor creak as he moved around with the help of his cane.

Rogue took a deep breath and opened her eyes. Outside, Sydneve was chasing Lazare while Michael hid behind a tree. All the children were laughing. The wheelchair hit a rock, and tipped, spilling Lazare out into the yellow winter grass. Rogue stiffened, started to go to him. Remy's hand on her arm stopped her. "He can do it," Remy whispered.

Rogue's hands turned to fists against the glass as she watched Lazare prop himself up on his elbows. Sydneve had fallen over the tipped chair and lay some distance away on her back, laughing. Lazare twisted, looking around, then pulled himself back over to his wheelchair and pushed the thing back up. He turned, said something to Sydneve that made her laugh harder. Then he pulled himself up the front of the chair, grabbed the back of it, and pulled himself until he was leaning over the arm. He rested for a moment, panting, then twisted his upper body until he sat down, hard, in the seat of the chair. Carefully, he picked each leg up and put them back where they belonged, then gripped the wheels and pushed himself toward where Sydneve lay in the grass.

Rogue breathed again, and consciously relaxed her fists. "Do ya think she's right?"

Remy didn't have to ask who 'she' was. "I t'ink dat if we let her do her job, Lazare gon' be jus' fine."

Rogue nodded and squeezed her eyes closed, then turned away from the window and walked out of the room.

Fall, almost a year later

"Go, Ange!" Instead, Ange lost the ball. I groaned with everyone else on our team, then put my hands to the big wheels of my chair and started forward. It was my turn to play.

I'm good at basketball. I'm really good when I play against other people in wheelchairs, but playing against the people who can run and have both hands free makes me better. It makes it harder, that's for sure. Someday I hope that I'll be able to play on real teams in the Olympics with other people. Okay, so I don't actually know if they have a sport like that, but I think they do.

I'm fast in my wheelchair. Really fast. I've only had it for a year, but I like it. It's orange, just like my momma promised, and my bratty sister (who can sometimes be really cool) painted yellow flames on the frame for my birthday.

"Laz! You forgot your gloves!"

I turned back and saw Michael standing on the sidelines, holding my fingerless gloves. I wheeled back to him and put them on (they help for grip), then smiled up at Michael. Behind him stood Angelo's school, filled with windows. I looked quickly across them all, and saw what I was searching for. My papa was standing in his bedroom window, watching. I waved to him, and saw him wave back.

I wonder what happened to the Harley. Papa hasn't ridden in it since the accident. I know he blames himself, even though it wasn't his fault. It wasn't anyone's fault. I certainly don't blame him. I've tried telling him that, but he won't listen. He just smiles at me like I'm a child and I know nothing. Ha.

"Laz! Come on!"

I turned away and started toward the court, grinning. "Okay, okay, I'm coming. Keep your pants on, Ange. Please." I hope my papa comes to see me play sometime. Not just from a window, where he can pretend like he doesn't see my wheelchair. And I hope he doesn't always blame himself.

Even from here I can see the bright orange wheelchair with its overly large wheels. I turn away from the window and head for the door, picking up my wrench on the way. Never again will I hurt either of my children like that. I'll drive sedate little cars, the kind you see mothers with twelve children in. The kind that surround you in safety and don't bend like liquid around your body when something hits them.

I would give up anything for my children. The least of that is the Harley. I've done enough damage to last them three lifetimes; I won't risk doing more.

I crippled Lazare. That must be enough.


Take my bones, every muscle, every fiber and nerve in my body, and find a way to make a crippled child walk.
--"To Remember Me" by Robert Test--

Notes: Thanks to Sascha, Maelie, and Mica. They're all my favorite people. :D
"To Remember Me" can be found in my lair (, if you'd like to read the whole thing. I recommend it.
Feedback: it's not just a good thing, it's a ... well, good thing.


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