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Chasing Sparrows

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


Chapter 4

"Baisez -" Remy shoved the phone book off the rickety desk and onto the floor where it slid to join the newspapers, printouts and other books. Rubbing his face wearily, Remy listened to the nearby sirens. He hadn't known there were so many schools in New York. "And so many called 'Xavier's' eh?"

There were at least two or three in every burrogh of the city; there was Xavier's Preparatory School on the west side and Xavier's Montoressi uptown. St. Xavier's run by the Jesuits and Xavier's International School where the Chinese diplomats sent their children. Remy had visited every one.

He'd passed by playgrounds and watched fresh-faced white girls bound along playing soccer, he'd loitered on sidewalks and seen bus loads of suspicious black kids lounge their way through another day, kids in blue plaid polyester uniforms, kids in jeans and two-hundred dollar Nikes. And human, every one. No kids with green hair, no kids with webbed hands. No special school just for mutants.

"No surprise, la chienne was just lying to Remy." Remy sighed, pulling on his coat. He needed to find some money and see if Rachel and Slice were at their corner today. He was going to make them have fun if he had to kill them first. "Dey go and open a school for queer kids, Ouai, but not for mutants."

It wasn't a good day for money. Most of the wallets Remy managed to pull were full of small bills - or nothing at all. Grumbling about the economy, and the bright sunlight, Remy organized his take and went to find the kids.

He hadn't seen Rachel or Slice for a couple of days but Remy wasn't worried just yet. Leaning against the crooked lamppost he lazily rolled a cigarette then blew smoke at the clear blue sky. They were just making sure that he knew he wasn't important, didn't have any say in their lives, wasn't someone they depended on. So Remy didn't worry and casually loitered in the area to see if they'd show today.

"eh - Bonjour, Rachel." Remy said, smoke gusting out of his nose in a sigh of relief as she came up to him with a shy smile and a brightly striped stockings under a pair of far to short shorts.

"Bonjer, Remy."

"'Ow about we all call in sick eh?" He suggested with a grin, tipping his head to Slice who sidled up casually after his sister. "Take de day off. Go to de park?"

Slice was doubtful but Rachel gave him a desperate look and he gave in with a sigh and a smile. Remy paid the hot dogs they bought along the way to the small, local park, and the purple and pink icy Rachel wanted, using his hard stolen money before it even had a chance to warm up his pocket. That was the deal with Slice; nothing for free, and if he wanted to buy them food and fun instead of taking Rachel off to a cheap hotel room it was still going to cost him. Because anything else would be charity and Slice didn't do charity.

But the sun was free, the air was free and if anyone looked at them funny while Remy coaxed a teenage girl dressed like a whore and a boy dressed like a desperado into playing on the jungle gym with his own exuberance, none of them noticed.

They played Frisbee - 'Ah, look w'at Remy found, eh?' - until they were too tired to stand, then chess until the afternoon warmth pulled them back to the grass.

"Ah - non - no more upside down for Remy, 'less you want to see dat purple ice again?" Remy, shirttails hanging into his face and his narrow belly bare to the fall sun swayed on his hands, heels kicking lazily in the air, before he flipped neatly back to his feet. With less grace, Slice mimicked him, hat falling away and blond hair shining.

"Show me!" Rachel bounced onto her hands and spilled back onto her knees as she lost her balance. "C'mon, Remy - show me how!"

"Ouai, cherie." Remy laughed and grabbed her ankles as she threw herself back onto her hands. Her ankles were thin and the bright striped stockings torn at the knee, revealing a bit of blue downy fur. She wobbled on her hands as he held her upright. "Stretch up, bebette, don' be scared, Remy got you."

All the fun was scared away by sudden, mocking laughter. Rachel jerked, tumbling down as Remy pulled away to avoid her shoes. His head snapped around to glare at over at the noise through his glasses.

"Got yourself a pretty pussy," the boy grabbed the crotch of his pants and leered at Rachel. They were all boys, not worth Remy's time, not in his mind but Slice lunged for them, sputtering curses. Remy lunged after, 'cause Slice didn't move like he knew what to do with his fists. There was a little dance, him holding Slice back while the kids - some wearing uniform ties - danced around them both wailing like cats and calling 'kitty, kitty'.

"Sister needs you now, en?" Remy grunted as Slice lurched again. "Remy take care of dese boys."

He shoved Slice to Rachel who clutched at him and stalked the kids who suddenly looked a lot less brave at the crooked grin on Remy's face. He flicked a card out, letting most of the charge burn off in pink smoke. "Der more dan kittens here to scratch you."

"Remy is a big kitty," he snarled and slung the card at the group; the firecracker pop made them all shriek and scatter. Remy straightened up with a mocking crow of satisfaction, grinding the last of the pinkish smoke out with his foot. The yellow and red of a school tie caught his eye, dangling from the strap of a backpack dropped at the base of a nearby tree. His grin widened and he sauntered over to the abandoned schoolbags. They were the boys and losing their homework and - Remy pawed through the bags, finding an Ipod - their toys was a small, pleasant revenge.

His grin failed when he found Slice and Rachel, hearing her before he saw her, feeling her sobs like his own.

"Cher -" he dropped the bags at her feet, sinking onto the wooden bench. But she shoved him away, leaning into Slice.

"You're a pimp aren't you!" She wailed, face screwed up like the kid she was. "Just - wanna - wanna have my p-pussy!"

"Non!" Remy recoiled. "No, cher. Remy jus wanna - "

"- be friends!" She shoved at him, all the hurt in her finding the wrong target and even if Remy knew it he still felt it. "Go away! Friends? You wanna play with kids, huh?"

"Non! Non! Dat ain't it, cher and you know it! Remy got no hots for young girls!"

"Go on," Slice muttered with an unhappy glare when Rachel only shoved him again and Remy slipped off the bench to be away from all that misery. "Just go on will you? Jeez. Like we can't take care of ourselves."

Remy wanted to be responsible and Remy wanted to say the right thing but what came out, sharp and hurt, was, "Ouai, cher, Remy believe dat - when you not living in a back alley!"

"Go away! Go away!" Rachel leapt up and shrieked. "You make it worse! Trying to be nice to me! And then some - s-s-some old man fucking me! Petting his 'pussy'! I don't wanna have fun! I don't wanna have friends! You just go away!"

All that pain, he knew it wasn't for him but it hurt like it was. And Rachel was pulling attention with her yelling and wailing. Slump shouldered, figuring maybe he'd catch them later, Remy walked off, scowling hard enough to scare the pigeons. He wished he hadn't driven the boys off, because he could use a target for all of Rachel's anger boiling inside him. He rolled a smoke with shaking fingers, hating the world to make a girl feel like that. Hating that he had to feel it too.

There had to be some other way, something more than the streets and being a freak; hell if Remy knew what it was.