Marvel characters, the shiftworld concept (or the Shadowlands) are Alicia's, and brilliant. Sequel to "Somewhere, Over the Rainbows", and "Under A Blood Red Sky", also by me. Rated PG for content, imagery, and subtle hints of a m/m relationship.
You can read more about the Shadowlands concept and related fanfic at Alicia's Shadowlands archive.

Clouds on the Horizon
by Lise

Under a rock, under a rock, but then, he doesn't fit under a rock, does he? No, his body fit under a rock, under the rock, that looked like such a pretty rock, like a cairn, like a ... a--

The word's tombstone, idiot. You're losing your mind.

"Remy?! My God? Is that you?" A familiar voice rose out of the ruins of the bridge where Remy had been living for the last three days -- was it days? whatever -- and he almost sobbed in relief.

Figuratively, of course. His tear ducts had been acting up since it had happened.

He was still in Seattle, at least he thought he was. There was a strange smell inside the smog, and Remy would have worried about poisoning, except he didn't really care. It still smelled like coffee, for some reason. Maybe he was imagining it, or maybe poison smelled like coffee grounds. His lungs had been torn apart from years of smoking, he'd almost drowned. Poisoned smoke didn't seem to be doing much.

He still couldn't see. Betts was still nowhere to be found. Three shifts, and she was still gone -- going to have to get used to not having her around. He still didn't have any EYES...

Let's focus on the positive. There was a voice just a moment ago. He knew he'd just heard a voice.

A pair of arms crushed him against a warm body happily, and he allowed himself to be pulled into the embrace without questioning who or what it was. He recognised the voice, that was sure enough, and whatever else really didn't matter. It could be Sabretooth, trying to confuse him before the kill, and he wouldn't care.

But wait, he'd killed Creed.

But wait, there were lots of him.

The person holding him was crying into his dirty hair, and Remy hesitated before putting an arm around the person carefully. It was definitely a male, he decided, by the feel and shape of his body. Remy didn't care. There were arms around him again, and they were loving, he could tell that much, and it didn't take a genius to figure out that was more than enough.

He stroked the strong back with one hand, and was a little bit surprised to find how solid it was. This was real, the person beneath his hands. There were arms wrapped around him. There was a very upset man cuddling him close, tears falling onto his head and making his hair damp.

This was real.

Remy finally realized that he didn't know who was holding him. He couldn't see, so he was going to have to find out verbally -- not that words could be trusted, but it was the only way. Remy finally asked, "I know I'm supposed t'know who y'are, but..."

Bobby ran a hand through Remy's hair, feeling the texture of it reverently. He said, "You mean your world never had a Bobby Drake...?"

Remy kept his head burrowed into the man's chest, inhaling deeply, relying on the four senses that still worked. Ah, Bobby. He must be really low on sleep not to have recognised him. How long had it been? Three, four days? (weeks?)

"Sorry, Bobby. S'been a while since I slept." He couldn't fall asleep. He had to watch for shifts. A shift could come at any time, and then he could be dead, and while he didn't really care, he might get another chance to save his daughter, or Jean, or someone, anyone...

Bobby finally let him go, sufficiently reassured that there was a man beneath him -- the man he loved. "I understand. Listen, you sleep, and I'll watch over you."

He pulled Remy against him, trying to pillow Remy's head against his shoulder. Remy sank into the embrace, so grateful for any other arms around him. Since losing his eyes, his ears had been overcompensating, and each shift made a horrible ringing in his ears. Bobby was giving him a slight release from it, and so he took the comfort and the rest easily, not caring who or what gave it. Bobby stroked his head while he slept, and tried not to cry. He was so happy.

He had gotten his Remy back.

You're not going crazy, Drake. You're not. If the world and your life is crazy, how the hell can you call yourself crazy? You know that Remy is buried underneath those rocks. You just put him there. You don't know how he died, except that he got frostbite. A lot of it. And now it's really, really cold.

Under the rocks, over the clouds and far away ... Clouds look like rocks. Or rocks look like clouds. All fluffy and round and--

Those rocks have jagged spikes on them. All blue and shiny and icicles. I did that. Did I? No, I wouldn't have done that.

I love you, Remy. Why'd you have to die again?

"You ... man oh man ... I love you so--"

Remy muttered automatically, "Don' cher."

That's right. They'd agreed not to say it, no matter what, because it was just complications and this was just comfort. Bobby sighed in release, eyes closed, as he climaxed. He held Remy's hand tightly, and whispered, "I'm sorry, Remy, for saying that ... but I do."

Remy wished he could pull his hand away.

It's ice. I must have done it. Maybe I'll make a snowman. You really want to make a snowman, don't you? You want to build a pretty snowman, and give it a carrot nose, except there aren't any carrots, and you want to dig up those rocks and hold Remy close just like always, under the rocks under the rocks and far away...

Take a breath, Drake. It's so cold.

Did I do that?

It must have been a shift. A shift, because it was humming and rolling, and Remy always heard the humming so much and he would have been surprised if he died and it wasn't a shift and I loved him a lot, didn't I? And this was Remy, and a Remy is a Remy is a Remy all over the clouds and far away.

Take another breath, Drake. You're losing your mind.

"So how did you'n your Remy get together, cher?" Remy was laying down on some rags, underneath the bridge they'd started calling their home. They were still in what was left of Seattle, because Remy was trying to deal with how to live blind. His eyes still hurt so much, even though it had been a while. Somehow, the shift had removed his eyeballs, but not seared the blood vessels or nerve endings off.

They hadn't tried to go anywhere else, and Seattle had stayed a relatively permanent fixture in their lives. Somehow, by staying in one place for little while, the surroundings had decided they enjoyed tormenting Remy, and so stayed recognisable as Seattle. Remy hated the city, always had ever since ... well. The Incident, as he thought about it. He wanted out of the cesspool, out of the coffeeshops, out of the everything that resembled Seattle, but he always kept coming back.

And now, of course, he couldn't leave. He probably could have walked for days in one direction, and then a shift would have rolled past, and he'd be back beside the ocean, hearing the waves go in such a way that he'd know it was the west coast again.

Without much strain, Remy heard the ocean, lapping at whatever current manifestation existed of the shore.

Bobby smiled, thinking about his life Before, and started playing with Remy's long fingers. "We just ... well, Scott paired us for training, and then we became close. Of course, you didn't trust the rest of the team, so it was hard getting under your skin, but when I did..." Bobby tickled him, the affection written all over his face.

Remy ignored it, knowing that he wasn't really who Bobby was thinking of. He merely nodded. "An' it was all roses for th'two of you?"

Bobby said quietly, "We were very happy together, Remy."

There was a soft hum, and Bobby pulled Remy tight against his body, making sure the shift zone didn't separate them. It rolled over, and Remy held his breath like he always did when a shift choked him.

A horrible pause, in which Remy couldn't breath because of the border of reality melting --

-- and another second, his lungs were going to explode --

And there was another world. There wasn't much difference between the two. This was more smoky fog, he thought. Remy wasn't sure why he could never breath in a shift until it was over. He'd been thankful for the shift, almost, because it meant he didn't have to answer Bobby's story of happiness with his own.

It hurt to think about Jean.

Bobby was waiting for an answer, despite the shift that might have just killed them. Remy tried hard to ignore the silence, and the almost visible trembling of Bobby's lip when Remy didn't answer him with something sweet and lying. To cover up his disappointment, Bobby finally asked brightly, "Were you involved with anyone?"

Remy said flatly, "I was married."

Bobby blinked, and recoiled a little bit. "You were? Were you two happy?"

Remy unconsciously pulled away from Bobby's snuggled form. He said distantly, "Jean an' me. I guess ... I think she was havin' an affair wit' Scotty, but all in all..."

He let the sentence dangle, unwilling to finish it. He loved Jean. Bobby curled up around him, and said, "I'll never cheat on you."

Remy mumbled, just too low for Bobby to hear, "I miss Betts." There was nothing complicated there. She understood. This Bobby seemed to want to recreate the past, the before-time, and pretend that shifts weren't tearing reality apart, slowly but surely. Betts knew that, Remy knew that. Jean died before she could see it.

Bobby just didn't get it.

You're sitting down, cross-legged, in front of Remy. That's him in front of you. Just overturn the rocks, and you'll see him, you know.

Don't laugh at me, Drake.

Laugh at yourself, Drake.

God, I'm losing my mind. It's such a stony silence.

Bobby held Remy's hand, and gently guided him out of the path of the shift. This one was actually very pretty, with huge yellow flowers on top of palm trees, and a sky that was the color of sapphires on fire. "Are you alright, sweetie?"

Remy sighed inwardly. This Bobby hadn't let up in what felt like eons. And since what he felt tended to be what came true, it must have been eons that he was stuck with him. He thought back to Betts. She would have seen this coming, and killed the crack fiend in his sleep. 'Mus' be gettin' soft in my old age.'

This made him laugh out loud. Bobby turned around, and asked with an offended tone, "What's so funny?"

Remy coughed, and tried to sound normal. "Nothin' cher. Jus' a flashback."

In a haughty voice, Bobby asked, "Of what? You fucking Jean? Or Betts? Or someone else you forgot to mention to me?"

This was new. What the hell was Bobby talking about? Remy answered, "Of 'Lisabeth, yes, but not sex."

"And what did Ms Telepath remind you of this time?" Bobby had dropped his hand, and the air was getting cooler, Remy could feel. If he'd been able to see, he would have seen little lines of frost forming on those pretty yellow flowers, sign of things to come. Bobby had told him about the flowers in detail.

Remy answered, "Jus' how she handled people. An' how I'm th'reason she died." His voice and expression sombred up, and he added, "I wish I could've helped her. Betts was somethin' else."

"Oh, was she."

Remy didn't see the anger on Bobby's face, nor did he see the dangerous look. He replied, "Mmm. I guess."

"Did you love her?"

"Non. Not really. I loved Jean, still do, an'that's that. Jus' like you always loved your Remy." He wiped his forehead with a hankerchief, and said, "Y'know cher, I miss Jean."

"Do you now." The temperature got a little bit colder. It was good that Jean was already dead.

Remy sighed. "I had a daughter, too. An' she's dead, because of me. I couldn' protect her from the shifts."

Bobby looked at the beautiful face in front of him, even with the rag tied around the eyes that would never see again. He stroked a finger down the stubbly cheek, and knew in his heart that this Remy was no different from his. His face was still beautiful. His body was still beautiful. He spoke almost the same...

But this Remy was cold. This Remy spoke of Jean, and Elisabeth, and other people, and didn't love Bobby, and it was all so very unfair...

He'd been over the moon when he'd seen a Remy. He knew that if he could just make things like before, he'd be happy again, so very happy, and not even the shifts would matter. Cable and Logan didn't really believe that he'd find another Remy, but he had, and it was going to be beautiful...

The temperature dropped a few degrees, and the sunless sky began to gather clouds a strange shade of orange, far, far off.

Remy shivered. "Bobby, is that you changin' th'weather, cher? S'gettin' a lil' cold..."

Bobby pulled Remy's head towards his heart, forcing his ear to hear the regular beating there. Hear that, you? That's breaking because of you. Hear that. Bobby whispered, "No, I'm not sure ... I guess it's another shift..."

Remy cuddled against him, drawing warmth from Bobby's body. He stole even body heat. He kept shivering, as the temperature lowered. "At least we're t'gether right now. I hate shiftin' alone."

Bobby whispered even quieter, "I love you. I know you don't want me to say it, but I do. I love you a lot." Remy began to cut him off, and he held him tighter against his chest. He continued, "And you love Jean, and Jean loves Scott in every world but yours, and maybe yours, and we always hurt those ones most..."

Remy had gone rigid in his arms, the shivering too violent to stand. Bobby cuddled him, and his breath was icy in the air. "They say love hurts the most."

Remy could feel his heartbeat slowing, and somewhere in the back of his mind he thought about all the weird and wonderful things he'd never see, and wanted to cry with relief. No more shifts, no more people, no more universe, just to sleep... He thought he whispered, "Now I love y', Bobby," but he wasn't sure. He'd love anyone who fixed this misery.

Jean gone, Betts, 'Ro, his little girl... Ah well.

Was that a hum on the horizon?

Bobby cradled his body tenderly as he died. Remy's last coherent thought was, 'They say y'always hurt th'ones y'love,' and he managed to wheeze out a chuckle. Somehow, it just figured. He and Betts should have gotten married.

I'm staring up at the frostbitten flowers. I don't think I've seen anything more beautiful in my whole life. Yellow, bright as the sun, with crystals of glittery, shining ice trickling down, slowly, slowly forming around such a bright color ... like clouds gently framing the sun. So beautiful, silvery yellow.

The hum was coming again. I close my eyes. Remy was happy, you saw him happy just then.

You saw Remy happy. That was the important part. No more Jean, no more Elisabeth, no more baby, no more pain, no more blackness, no more--

You're losing your mind, Drake. It's floated up to the ceiling, burst through, and gone over the clouds or far away.

Or did you just bury it beneath those rocks?

Laugh at yourself, Drake. That's right.

The worlds are.

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