TITLE: A New Path Through Familiar Woods
FOLLOW-UP TO: Coming Home & Doubts and Worries.
SERIES: I've come up with a name for this story arc. ::grins:: I'm calling it the "Tragic Kingdom" arc. Coming Home is the first in this arc. Doubts and Worries is the second story. This one, A New Path Through Familiar Woods, is the third.
AUTHOR: Scorpio
ARCHIVE: Want. Take. Have.
CATEGORY: Darkfic, angst, AU
RATING: R (for adult subjects and violence)
WARNING: Violence
NOTE: This story takes place about one week from the ending of Coming Home. Bobby and Remy are still in Los Vegas.
DISCLAIMER: Marvel Comics and Stan Lee owns the X-Men and Raven Darkholme. Donny, Chrome and Louis DuLac belong to me.
SUMMARY: Old friends and acquaintances reveal themselves and offer new options and paths to walk even as Bobby and Remy struggle to come to terms with each other and their individual pasts.

A New Path through Familiar Woods
by Scorpio

Louis DuLac was an utterly forgettable man. Of average height and build, he had medium brown hair that was cut into a neat, but plain style, that framed regular features on a rather plain face. He was neither too thin nor too heavy. His clothing was neat, clean and pressed, however it was hardly the height of fashion. In fact, his medium gray suit appeared to have come directly off the rack from any number of inexpensive men's fashion chain stores and was as unremarkable as the man himself. He had no distinguishing marks, no personal quirks, nothing to set him apart from anyone else.

Which is probably one of the reasons that Louis DuLac was such a highly valued Council Member of the New Orleans Thieves Guild. His unremarkableness... and his retentive mind, quick wit and absolute devotion to the Guild.

A beta-class mutant with the mild ability to blend into the background and induce a short term fogginess of memory to those he targeted, Louis came from a long distinguished line of Guild Thieves. Sponsored by his own father as a young boy, he had risen through the ranks over the years, until he held a seat on the Council itself. And now, Louis DuLac found himself being summoned to a private meeting with the head of that self same Council, his old boyhood friend Jean-Luc LeBeau.

He was met at the door by Jean-Luc's pretty blonde daughter-in-law, Mercy. She flashed him a bright and cheery smile full of even white teeth and then leaned up on tiptoe to press a kiss against his cheek.

"Welcome, Uncle Louis. Come on in. Can I take y' coat?"

Louis smiled down at the young woman gently and shrugged out of his topcoat. Flashing him another blinding smile, Mercy took it from him and carefully folded it over her arm.

"Merci, p'tite. Y' lookin' as stunnin' as ever. Y' a bright ray o sunshine an' light up dis ol' house more 'en any chandelier ever could." 

Mercy giggled slightly even as her cheeks flushed light pink with pleasure. Hooking her coat free arm through one of his own, she steered him down the hall towards Jean-Luc's private study.

"Oh Uncle Louis, y' such a charmin' flatterer, y' are. My momma warned m' about men like, y' self. She even had a special word fo' y'."

Louis grinned down at her and raised one eyebrow up.

"Oh, is dat so, p'tite? An' wha' would dat special word be now?"

Mercy's bright eyes flashed with mischief.

"I b'lieve dat da word she used was scoundrel."

They had reached Jean-Luc's study and Mercy knocked on it gently while Louis fiegned shock and hurt. At his friend's muffled reply to come-in, Mercy swung open the door and they stepped inside.

"Moi? A scoundrel? Surely y' jest, p'tite."

Glancing up at Jean-Luc, Louis winked at his old friend and caught an amused smile in return.

"De p'tite be tellin' de truth ol' friend. Y' are a scoundrel."

Louis mock glowered at Jean-Luc and his friend merely chuckled.

"Oui, but t' just come out an' say it like dat."

Mercy giggled again and leaned up once more to press another kiss on Louis' cheek.

"Don' worry Uncle Louis, it all part o y' charm. Women like scoundrels. How y' t'ink I ended up married t' Herni LeBeau? A more d'lightful scoundrel y'll never meet."

Her rich laughter hanging in the air like the after-shimmer of silver bells, Mercy LeBeau winked at her father-in-law and turned to head back to the main part of the house so that the two old friends could have their meeting. Unable to repress the gleam of pride in his eyes, Louis gestured after his niece.

"If y' ask me, de real scoundrel be dat lowlife dat her mere took up wit'. I never did like dat man t' begin wit' an' den he had de nerve t' take m' baby sister all de way up t' N'York. I'll never b' able t' tell y' how glad I am dat Henri went up dere an' stole dat girl's heart only t' bring her back home t' N'Awlins where she b'long. Mebbe when dat lowlife fin'ly keels over den I can get m' sister back too. Oui?"

Jean-Luc watched the quick flash of old hurt and remorse sweep over the face of one of his oldest friends and sighed.

"Dat would be tres bon. I haven' had de pleasure of Marie's company fo' far too long."

Louis sighed and sat down in one of the comfortable overstuffed leather chairs as he silently watched Jean-Luc pour them both a glass of fine aged bourbon. He allowed his thoughts to drift to his sister and the hurtful words they had shared when she chose to leave her family and the Guild for the man who would one day become Mercy's father. In Louis's opinion, fathering Mercy was the only thing that the man had done right in his life.

Jean-Luc pressing a glass into his hand, pulled his thoughts out of the past and back into the here and now. With a slight smile of thanks and a nod, Louis accepted the glass and watched as Jean-Luc took the chair next to him.

"I know dat y' have business on de Wes' Coast an' dat y' had planned t' leave in t'ree days time. I was hopin' dat y' could make a slight change t' y'r plans an' make a side trip t' Los Vegas first."

One eyebrow arched up in silent inquiry and he gestured for Jean-Luc to explain.

"Remy's dere an' I have a job fo' him. It's not de type o job dat de Guild normally take, but it is de type o job dat Remy specialize in."

Louis frowned. He hadn't seen Jean-Luc's youngest boy in a few years, but he knew what Jean-Luc was saying even if he didn't spell it out in plain words. Remy was given all of the jobs that the Guild felt that they couldn't turn away as a matter of honor, but were far too dangerous to hand over to anyone else. In situations which would have gotten any other Guild member killed outright, Remy LeBeau had not only survived, but had succeeded brilliantly.

Louis looked up at his long time friend and could easily see the pain, sorrow and worn regret behind the smooth mask of power and control that Jean-Luc wore as a matter of course. He could only imagine the inner fear and worry that his friend must suffer knowing that one day he would eventually send his own child up against odds that were just too great to overcome. That Remy would pay for that mistake with his life. Louis silently vowed to himself that when, if... if that day came, he would be there to offer support to Jean-Luc LeBeau.

"Mais oui. Wha' d' I need t' tell Remy about de job?"

Warm water fell in a gentle spray over Remy's skin, washing away the soapsuds and the dirt in equal measures. Unfortunately, it couldn't wash away his worries and concerns no matter how much he wished that he could watch them swirl around only to disappear down the drain. Instead, his mind churned and whirled around his problems, chewing on them over and over until he felt as if he had indigestion.

On the surface, things seemed to be going smoothly. He was staying in a nicely appointed suite in a wonderful hotel smack dab in the middle of one of the more entertaining cities on the entire planet. The man that he had been flirting with for the last few days was even now out getting them tickets to see a show that had gotten nothing but rave reviews. Later, they were going to meet for dinner and then off to the show. Afterwards, they would head down to the casino where Remy planned to make a killing at the Blackjack tables.

Just below the surface, things were tense and strained. It was only a matter of time before something had to give. Remy could only hope that when it did, that the pieces would be easy to pick up and that his life would not be left in utter shambles.

He could no longer deny his growing attraction to Bobby. The man was supremely confidant and strong, ready to face any challenge that came his way. And yet, at the same time, he was oddly hurt and vulnerable like a lonely child who'd somehow lost his purpose in life. What was more, Remy wasn't just attracted to the package that Bobby presented. Not that Bobby's brooding good looks and his rock hard attitude wasn't sexy, but Remy also found himself drawn to the grieving young man who cried in the night and whispered tales of horror and pain in a choked voice.

To make matters more complicated, it was getting pretty obvious that the attraction was mutual. Bobby wanted him. As a friend and as a bed partner. On one hand, that idea was exciting and thrilling. Remy was very tempted to just slide into Bobby's bed bare-assed naked one night, but he wouldn't. The reason that he refused to give into his physical desire to have sex with Bobby was a simple one, yet very important nonetheless. Remy wasn't sure if it was him Bobby wanted, or his long lost lover from the alternate reality.

As much as Remy wanted to comfort the man and as much as he wanted to be a part of Bobby's heart, Remy refused to be a substitute for his double. He couldn't and he wouldn't try and replace that other Remy LeBeau. He felt that both he and Bobby deserved more than that.

That, of course was his biggest worry. That when Bobby looked at him, he didn't really see him, but rather that he saw the ghost of his dead lover. He had silently come to the decision that he would make sure that there would be no way that Bobby could mistake him for that other Remy LeBeau.

A chance comment from Bobby the other night after a particularly bad nightmare had given Remy the idea of how to do that. Bobby had mentioned as an aside that the other Remy had taken great pains to keep his face clean shaven because of someone named Michelle. He wasn't certain yet who Michelle was or why she had such a strong influence on that other Remy, but that didn't matter at the moment. What had captured his imagination was that if Bobby's long lost lover had gone clean shaven then he would stop shaving. Not altogether, but maybe a goatee? Just enough that one little glance would shatter the illusion that he was that other Remy.

He had even briefly considered cutting off all of his hair so that he couldn't be mistaken from the back as well, but he quickly discarded that idea. For one, it seemed a bit drastic. If he decided that he didn't like the goatee then all he had to do was shave it off, but it took a lot more time to regrow hair back. Besides, for all he knew, that alternate reality Remy wore his hair short.

The stray thought that Bobby might not be interested in him any more if he no longer looked like that other Remy briefly floated through his mind. As if summoned by magic, a new wave of worries and anxieties fluttered madly in Remy's stomach.


continued >>

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