the sunrise ritual


I was re-reading all my X-Men titles for research (no, really!) and I realised that there hasn't been a single argument between Scott and Gambit. Not one! Granted, they haven't talked to each other much either. I got to thinking: they have pretty similar backgrounds and complementary personalities. At worst, they hate each other so much they can't even stand to talk to each other. But what if they were (gasp) friends!?! I mean, honestly, does Scott have a best friend around the mansion? And although Gambit and Storm are written in as best friends/confidants, I can't really see her and Remy kicking their feet back on the couch to watch a Rangers game. And, well, this is what my little plot bunnies came up with.

Remy loped into the hangar, six-pack of Heinekens in one hand and an unlit cigarette in the other. It was way past midnight; probably close to three or four in the morning. It was funny how they were both up in time to see the sunrise. They were dayenders for him though, while for Scotty, they started it off.

As always, Scott was puttering around in the guts of the Blackbird. The mansion had two schools on thought on him post-Apocalypse-takeover. Half of the X-Men went on blithely believing that nothing had changed, nothing could change, and nothing would ever change. The other half thought that he underwent a drastic personality switch. Remy sat firmly on the fence. The Scott he knew had always been like this: madly driven, sarcastic, skirting on the edge of wild. He just felt the need to hide it before. Why, Remy never fully understood.

He stood at the foot of the ladder. Looking up led to an unobstructed view of Scotty's denim-clad hienie. Remy shook the ladder. "Hey you."

Scott's head popped out from the depths of the engines. A corner of his mouth lifted upward. "That better be Heineken or you're a dead man, Rems."

"Scotty, vieux, never underestimate a Cajun's ability t'get a woman, cook a mean barbecue, an' find de best brew in town." He shook the ladder again, harder this time. "Now stop inhalin' dem gas fumes an' help me say hello t'de sun, hein?"

Scott slid down the ladder, catching the rag that Rems threw at his face without having to turn his head. He wiped his fingers, watching the other man walk to the hangar doors with a gracefulness that could only be accomplished if one was double-jointed everywhere or had bones made of Jell-o.

The Cajun slapped the switch for the hangar doors. The hydraulics hissed open, letting in a blast of cool night air. He planted his ass on the edge of the floor, putting the sixpack to one-side and his cigarettes on the other. Moments later, Scott was beside him, already grabbing one of the longnecks.

Most of the sky was still dark. Still, the strongest of the stars only barely visible to the naked eye as a result of the pollution and city lights. Remy could see more than the average eye with his night vision, of course. Scott was the opposite but he could already see the darkness start to leech from the horizon. He knocked back half the beer in one swallow.

"Easy, vieux," said Remy with a short chuckle. "Plenty t'go round, hein?" He puffed contentedly at his newly lit cigarette. Herbal ones instead of tobacco, a compromise he and Rogue made around Christmas. "'Sides, wit' all de work you been doin', it's gon' hit you hard."

Scott almost chuckled as well. "My tolerance for alcohol has hit an all time high. I could probably knock back a mickey of vodka and just get a pleasant buzz."

"Since when you need to knock back a whole mickey?"

"I didn't say I have. Just that I could." His smile toned down. "Christ, Rems, don't tell me you're going to harp about trauma and talking about my experience, too. I've been getting enough of that from Jean."

Remy shrugged. "Said nothin' o' de sort." He opened up his first beer and took a sip. "Have been feelin' a bit neglected, though. We don't get time t'hit de town like we used to, hein?" He batted his eyes and puckered his lips playfully. "Don' you love me no more?"

Heavy furrows formed above Scott's glasses. That was a new one; used to be Remy only had intuition to guess at the other man's emotions.

"We kind of need to have a lower profile," Scott said caustically.

"Pah." Remy waved the excuse away. "We hit pool halls an' clubs wearin' our leathers an' shades at night before."

"That was before."

"An' what's now? George Effin' Orwell's 1984?" He pointed the mouth of his Heineken at Scott. "You gonna start keepin' to 'your kind' now like de rest o' dem in there?"

"Get that out of my face," Scott said, pushing Remy's bottle away. "And, no, I'm not going to closet myself, okay? I just… need to think."

"You just need to brood," Remy corrected. "You can't. Dat's my department an' I don't like sharin' my roof."

"That's why I stay in the hangar. Too dangerous on that roof anyway. The shingles always get loose and it's a good hundred-foot drop from your little perch." Scott's smirk came back full-blown. "Pretty heavy price to pay for a dramatic pose, isn't it?"

"Shaddup and drink your damned beer, Scotty."

They finished off two beer each before anyone spoke again.

"Sorry for putting that whole leadership thing on you," said Scott. "When I put the clause in, I didn't really expect it to be implemented."

One of Remy's eyebrows cocked up. "Yeah, you an' everyone else in de team. Worthington had t'be given oxygen, psychotherapy, an' a heavy dose o' Valium when he heard." He would have added a few choice adjectives about the winged mutant but refrained; Scott had the same type of loyalty to the first X-Men as Remy himself did for the Guild.

"You held up all right for a swamp rat," said Scott. "No major scars. No losses."

"No respect. No chance o' gettin' my orders across wit'out Stormy or Rogue t'back me up."

"Your little suave loner act came back to bite you on the ass?"

"Just like your fearless leader act, hein?"

When Scott stiffened, Remy almost wanted to take that back… Almost.

"You're an asswipe, Rems," said Scott in a conversational tone.

"Just 'cause I be de only one who have de brains t'see your act or 'cause I got de guts to tell you so?"

"Nope, neither. You're just an asswipe."


Light slowly washed the sky with greens and pale peaches, just gentle enough for Remy to appreciate the beauty without his eyes watering. The crickets were toning down some, too, their song getting picked up by the birds in the woods. A few more hours and the birds would be drowned out by the people sounds in the mansion and outside; the voices and cars and things getting dropped.

As pretty as New England was this time of the year, he still missed the bayou. Everything was… thicker there. He always thought Scotty could do with a nice long vacation in New Orleans but doubted the man could stand being that lazy. Work, work, work… liked the devil would catch his tail if he stood still for a minute or three. Before the whole Apocalypse incident, it would take a whole lot more cajoling before he could tear Scott from whatever work needed to be done Right Now and only By Him. Today not only marked the first day they did their little ritual after Scott's "death" but also, Remy realised, the first time Scott came at the first call.

"Hey, Rems," said Scott. "You ever test that fight-sim I made up before?"

Remy shook his head. "I wasn't in charge o' de practice runs. Ask Rogue."

"Hmmm." Scoot lipped his bottle thoughtfully.

Remy tilted his head to one side. "Why ask?"

"It was set in the bayou," he replied. "I wanted to know it if was accurate."

"Pointless now."

Scott shrugged. "Maybe." He finished off his beer, set it back in the carton and stood up. "Okay, then. Back to work for me."

Stretching and yawning, Remy said, "I got a hot date wit' my bed, vieux."

Clicking his tongue, Scott said with sorrow, "Feeling your age, are you?"

Remy flipped him the bird. "You at least a year older dan me, Scotty-boy; I wouldn't talk." He, too, came to his feet after picking up the empties. "Don't give y'self an ulcer, hear?"

"I'll try," said Scott as he switched the doors closed and headed back to the jet. Halfway there, he turned around, digging in his pocket. "Almost forgot. Here." He held his hand out.

Remy accepted automatically. It was the key to his Harley. "What's this?"

"Got it tuned, waxed, and made a few mods." Scott shrugged. "I was kind of out of town on your birthday so I had to make it up."

Swallowing, Remy only nodded. Scott did as well, slightly embarrassed. They shook hands, paused, then pulled each other into a backslapping embrace. Finally, Remy spun around on his heel and exited the hangar, leaving Scott puttering away on the jet like the past half-hour hadn't happened.

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