Disclaimer: Characters belong to Marvel, no money, etc. These version of them belong to the one and only KJ, whom we all worship.
Notes: AU Mooks, more precisely AU Any Kinda Breath. Thanks, shiny things and baked goods go to KJ, Lise, Kael and Fionny. Feedback would be loved at cosmic1982@hotmail.com.

Where Hope Is Coldest
by Cosmic

Oft expectation fails, and most oft there
Where most it promises; and oft it hits
Where hope is coldest, and despair most fits.
-Much Ado about Nothing, by William Shakespeare

I walk, the night calm around me. It's cold. So very cold. So cold even I'm shivering under my clothes.

And maybe that has nothing to do with the weather.

Nothing's changed. The Mansion's the same as it ever was.

Same as it ever was.

I inhale the cool winter air, the icy coldness prickling in my lungs. Damn it's cold.


All I could hear was him laughing at me, then wheezing, coughing violently.

Sorry, I wanted to say, but he shook his head, shrugging me off with a wave of his hand. It was all right, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

It wasn't like before anymore, even if my heart skipped a beat every time he coughed. He was better now, but I had my reflexes honed by months of holding him close to me, to help him breathe and swallow and live. I had to stop being afraid already. It was all right now.

Inching closer to me, he smiled, eyes twinkling. It had been so long since I'd seen him smile, heard him laugh. Too long.

But there he was, dancing with me in the early spring morning. Hank would kill us when he woke up. Remy wasn't supposed to be out of bed yet, let alone dancing in the chilly air.

Frowning, I suddenly realized how cold it really was. Early spring pre-dawn morning. At least for him. I shrugged my coat off, pulling it around his shivering shoulders and giving him a severe look as he tried to give it back.

Meekly he kept it on, pulling me to another dance with made-up steps and music. And he whispered in three words in my ear, and it was all the music I needed.

"I love you, too, Rem."


Fighting tears, I quicken my stride. Shouldn't have come here. Shouldn't be here. Anywhere but here.

I close my eyes and run, blind to the world, stumbling and falling, hurting my leg.

I bite my lip till it bleeds, breathing by the nose. It hurts to breathe, it's so cold. Is that how he felt?

No, I don't want to know. I don't care.

I just want to get away from this place.

I walk again, not looking where I'm going. Just ahead.

It hurts to breathe and I feel like my lungs are collapsing inside of me, freezing.

Heat radiated off his body, entwined with mine. Hot kisses, cool hands.

I felt his breathing on my neck, hot and sweet and spicy, tangles of hair brushing quickly against my back.

Eyes hungry searching for something in mine, yearning, wanting, needing.

He didn't say anything, just stayed there, looked at me under long lashes with that odd half-smile. His hand, shaking ever so slightly, as if afraid I would crumble by his touch, tracing the line of my jaw.

The cascade of summer came into our room from the open window, bringing in the smell of jasmine, orange blossoms and wildflowers. Sunlight came, tinted by the see-through curtains, coloring his face, lighting his red hair with fire.

Fire in him stopped for a moment, and he shook from the chill of the breeze, barely noticeably, and pressed closer to me, burrowing in my warmth, breathing deeply.

"I'm begging you. Breathe for me. Please, Remy. Fight for me. Just hold on a little while longer. 'til I find the others, 'til we get the hell out of dodge Please. I can't let you go. I can't. You know that. Just take a breath, it's not that hard."

The waves of heat and cold running through me feel distant, unimportant, nothing to be concerned over, as I look out on the lake, the surface frozen solid.

Am I talking about the lake or about myself?

I'm not that sure anymore.

I'm not sure about a lot of things anymore.

I don't stop walking. I continue, choosing one path aimlessly after another.

The rain poured down, but we stood, frozen in place, hand in hand. The serenity of his stillness unnerved me, as he stared out somewhere where I couldn't see. Maybe I wasn't supposed to see.

The moonlight made shadows on his face, the lines looking razor sharp. I knew better. His skin was as soft as silk to my touch.

Brushing my fingers over his cheeks gently, a chuckle rumbled in the back of my throat. The dark stubble on his fair skin tickled me.

He looked at me. Darkness and light seemed to play catch in his eyes. They changed, in moments, in flashes, and then changed again, never staying the same.

I never knew what to expect in those eyes. Now, they were unreadable, buried in shadows.

Taking a few small steps, I leaned in a kiss. He tasted of rain. Sweet and pure and fresh. Cool lips, cool hands. I lost myself in the kiss, falling, deeper and deeper before finally he came up for air. I did the same, breathing hungrily the rainy air, drinking raindrops as they fell from the sky.

"Breathe, you fucking bastard! Breathe!"


"I know."

"Time of death 8:46 PM."

I'm choking on my inability to breathe. The air is still so cold, too cold. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale.

My heart beats whether I want it to or not. It keeps going and going and going.

Eyes burning again, I sit, watching the cut on my leg bleed. Red droplets fall. And my heart pumps more, its goal to keep me warm and alive.

And I try to breathe.



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