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Chasing Sparrows

Remy LeBeau's arrival in New York and his discovery of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters

 

Whistling, Remy strolled down the crowded New York streets, table tucked under his arm. The air was hot and smelly, the people rude and he had a death sentence hanging over his head. The last though, was nothing new and Remy didn't give it a passing thought. The hair dye and the cap - he scratched at it again - should keep him suitably invisible as long as he kept a low profile.

All around him the buildings, and the people, were comfortably sleazy. He'd never been to New York before but Remy had lived almost all of his life in places like this. The traffic was heavy as all the cubicle drones headed home or to the local bars and the fall sun was beginning to set. Remy squinted in the dull orange light, even behind the dark glasses it bothered him.

Juggling the table, Remy rolled a cigarette and he was just getting it lit when movement out of the corner of his eye caught his attention.

"Hey, mister -" The young voice wavered between fear and false seduction. Remy's mouth thinned as the girl sidled onto the side walk from a the stoop of an abandoned hotel. She was young and frightened. "- you look like you could use a friend. I can be friendly."

The lanky thief's mouth ticked up as she up to him. Closer he could she was jailbait and pretty in a pale kind of way with huge cornflower blue eyes and stubborn turn of her chin that the streets hadn't beaten out of her yet. She was also a mutant with that milk pale skin streaked by powerder blue, faintly iridescent stripes like a fantasy kitten. "Yes? Remy new to dis lovely city. No friends me."

She smiled at him and canted a hip more confidently at his interest. The pink haltertop was tight and low and revealed the small curves of her pale breasts. She'd be popular enough with all the old men who dreamed of young girls and Remy's stomach clenched with anger and pity. "I can show you something then. If - if you like - "

She trailed off uncertainly and Remy kept his smile to himself. She needed to work on her street patter, too much of the well bred schoolgirl showed through. He didn't think she'd been on the streets for more than a month or two and probably less. Now that he was paying attention, he could see the boy on a nearby corner in his dropped jeans and low cap watching them. Her pimp was as young and uncertain as the girl and Remy couldn't help but be sorry for them both. They were both hungry, he could see it in their eyes, and desperate and afraid. He didn't have any doubts that they'd both end up with someone older, more experienced and crueler soon enough. That was the way of things and there wasn't anything Remy could do about it.

Remy tried to turn away but the sink of despair on their faces - he couldn't leave. He'd been there and known that same crushing helplessness and anger. He'd watched too many people turn their backs. Instead he tossed head with false cheerfulness. "Ouai, cherie. Remy could use a friend and maybe you too eh?"

He held out his hand but she slipped under his arm to press against his side. This close he could smell the cheap perfume and practically taste her fear. Remy kept his smile bright and oblivious. "'Ow about some food first, cherie?"

The girl tried to look casual but he could feel her tense with eagerness against him. Remy had eaten at some of the best restaurants in the world - but tonight was Kentucky Fried Chicken bought with the last of his scammed money. They sat in the dented plastic booth and Remy divided his attention between the crowds outside and the girl across from him gobbling down greasy chicken, potatoes, salad and - he'd insisted - the brownie dessert.

"W'ats your name, cherie?" He asked gently when she'd slowed down a bit.

Those startling blue eyes lifted to his for a moment, even her pupils seemed to be a particularly intense shade of violet rather than the more normal black. Remy wondered if she saw the world differently than everyone else.

"Randi." She said blushing.

"Ah - Randi it is then, cherie."

No more her name than the little pink halter or the stretch red velvet skirt were her clothes. "'Ow about you show Remy around the city?"

She looked surprised, the bit her lip. "I - thought you might want to see something else. Something more - private?"

Remy smiled gently and put a gentle hand on hers. "Remy told de truth, cherie. He's new here and wants to know the city. Mebee we walk a bit eh?"

Randi's face crumpled with warring fear and hope and Remy's hand shivered slightly on top of hers. Skin to skin, he could feel her conflict like it was his own. She was afraid to believe that was really all he wanted. "Remy can make it worth your time eh? He knows - you're a working girl."

"How much?" She mumbled, clearly embarrassed.

"Forty dollars - an hour of your time, cherie. Show Remy around dis big city."

Randi nodded so eagerly her flyaway pale hair fell into her eyes. Remy leaned back with an smile. He didn't have a cent on him, after their dinner, but he'd change that by the end of their ramble.

Randi wasn't the best tour guide for the city - Remy found out with gentle, indirect questions that she hadn't been here very long herself. Instead they explored the nearby city blocks together, walking along some of the fancier streets and pressing their greasy fingers to the glass. It was worth every stolen penny to have Randi tugging with normal adolescent impatience at his hand as they went from place to place; looking at the skyscrapers or the newest display of high fashion in a window.

But it couldn't last forever and Remy's cheap SRO had a 10 p.m. curfew. Their steps slowed as they came back to the familiar corner with the Kentucky Fried Chicken, the crooked streetlight and her pimp - waiting restlessly.

"'Ere Randi." Remy pulled out a billfold he'd stolen during their stroll and opened it to find about sixty dollars in mixed bills. He handed her forty of them. "And you tell him you did your bit eh? No need to tell him w'at I wanted, cherie. De pimps don't care - so long as dey get der money."

"He's not my pimp." Randi said defensively. "He's - he's my brother."

Remy nodded.

"My name is Rachel." She said suddenly and defiantly, glaring up at him. "Not Randi. Rachel."

"Bon Notte, Rachel." Remy said with a genuine smile. He bowed extravagantly over her hand, he could feel her real pleasure and her relief. As he straightened up though, her misery returned. The night wasn't over and Remy couldn't hold back the cruelty any longer. She tried to pull away but he held her a moment longer.

"Be careful, Rachel. Remy said seriously. "Dis not a good t'ing you're doing. Make dem - make dem wear rubbers at least eh? And -"

But she jerked away, angry at him for reminding her of her fears. She ran off, towards her brother, yelling over her shoulder. "You just mind you're own fucking business!"

Remy let her go. He couldn't offer her much more than what she had, he had to remember that. He had no place to stay, no more money than he could steal and no future.

TBC