Part 2: Chapter 25
It was four thirty by the time they returned to Westchester and the entire compound had a hushed feel that made it seem almost like they were silent out of respect for Cora. There were obviously people working, but it didn’t have the same hustle and bustle that the other shifts had. Kurt helped Remy and Jean take Cora’s body to a laboratory that would be suitable for the duties of a forensic pathologist. Anna Marie had taken Willa to Charles Xavier’s mansion, the X-Mansion as it was lovingly referred to, on his insistence. Willa was placed in a psychic sleep, also on Charles’ insistence, and laid to rest for a while in one of his immaculate guest bedrooms.
Jean switched on some equipment to get it fired up and placed a short terse call to Hank, informing him she’d need his help. He was at Charles’ giving Willa an examination while she slept. It was clear to Kurt, even without the advantage of empathetic powers that she wanted to be left alone with Remy and the body. Turning to his superior, he asked, “Is there anything I can do?”
Remy looked down at him, seeing the fear, the sadness and the determination on his face. “Yeah,” and with a pat to the upper arm, that was not companionable, because they weren’t, but was warranted, he said, “Go get drunk.”
Kurt simply nodded; Remy’s kindness hit him harder than he thought it might and he decided to get out of there before he embarrassed himself.
Left alone now with Jean and Cora’s remains, Remy felt the overwhelming desire to either hit something or cry, but he did neither. Instead, he just remained quiet, and wasn’t surprised to feel Jean’s emotions stick to him like sugared gum sticks to the teeth. She was a torrent of anger and sadness, and he knew part of it was meant for him. He dug his thumb and forefinger into his eyes, and said, “Just say your piece, already. Get it over with.”
She didn’t have a brother, but if she did, she knew the relationship would be like the one she had with Remy. Younger or older, though, she was unsure. And she knew he felt the exact same way about her. “How could you? You infuriate me. You do this all the time, with little regard to anyone else.”
Well, that was saying a lot. Remy decided not to comment on her analysis of his selfishness. Instead, he just listened as she continued.
“It’s not even the point that this isn’t my department. That I’m hardly skilled in something this sensitive,” her clinical speech was rapidly dissolving into something far angrier, but she tried to hold onto her point. “You know, it’s not even that I never wanted this job and you know it.”
His response was flippant, because, what could he say; he was angry too. “So, what is your point then?” And, truth be told, he was spoiling for a fight. It was certainly better than the alternative.
“She’s not some little cherub, Remy,” Jean spat out, and it took him a moment to understand she was referring to Cora. “I can’t stand when you do this. Some pitiful thing happens to a pitiful person and there you are, trying to save them, and expecting everyone else to jump at your say so.”
Remy wasn’t ready to admit any fault, or any truths in what she had said. It felt better to just throw out insulting barbs and expect Jean to deal with it. In fact, maybe that was exactly what Jean was saying. Preposterous, he told himself, as he replied rudely, with, “Oh, so I should have called you first? Wait, I did that.”
Little brother. Had to be little brother, she had time to think before saying, “No. Ororo called me. And you’re still missing the point, as usual.”
“Then enlighten me, Doctor Grey.”
“Stop being a complete asshole,” Jean said, teetering so close to furious she felt like screaming and then crying. “You can’t look at all these people as something to be pitied, or you’ll drown. Trust me. And you can’t make me do the same.”
His composure slipped at the word ‘drown’. He swallowed, hard, and said, “I’m not making you do anything.”
Jean just shook her head. He was still missing her point and she couldn’t think of a better way to get it across. And Remy continued, “So, as usual, I’m the selfish asshole and you can’t take your own advice.”
“No,” Jean said, not trying nearly as hard now, “You just have an irritating saint-complex. And, frankly, I’d rather you not involve me in your unwinnable battles.”
Dr. Hank McCoy walked into the room then and even without his animal senses he knew something was clearly amiss between his two favorite empaths. Jean’s body stance was tight and rigid and Remy, with his hands on his hips, looked the ever-petulant child he often was when feeling angry and slighted. And if body language weren’t enough, Hank had heard them discussing each other’s personality flaws with abandon usually reserved for those who were actual blood siblings.
“Jean. Remy. Let us put this matter aside, you are good neighbors, and I have had fun at both your parties,” What seemed like an attempt at humor was lost on both of them, but Hank was using his rampant cleverness to basically say ‘I love you both, but stop being petty children’. He continued, “However, I think the more urgent matter is stopping our squat Saskatchewan friend for he is en route to interrogate our new, and hopeful, young resident in his trademark fashion.”
Remy’s dark, tired eyes flicked with alertness and anger and he realized he should have left five minutes ago. Jean could practically hear Remy think: Why did it always take forever and a day for Hank to get to the goddamn point? Jean felt for him then, immediately and automatically, because Remy was in no condition to deal with Logan right now, let alone drive the twenty minutes to Xavier’s, and said, “Do you want me to wait for you before starting any of the forensic work?”
Remy kissed her on the temple, his way of saying he was sorry, the way that would irritatingly always work for him, and said, “I need you to wait for me.”
Remy wasn’t the only one that needed Jean to wait for his return. She, herself, would need the time. Already, her resolve was slipping, her walls beginning to crack and her green-gold eyes filled. Remy’s unwinnable battles, his saint-complex, as she called it, angered her tremendously because she knew it was similar to the way she felt at times. And yet, the difference was, she hadn’t signed up for it. She hadn’t chosen to be a martyr for this cause. She was tired of seeing the dead. “Shit,” she whispered and ripped off her gloves, habitually placing them into the red biohazard bin though they had touched nothing hazardous, before slumping into a chair and covering her face with her hands.
Hank was there in an instant, kneeling down in front of her, saying as usual exactly what was necessary, albeit this time without any of his usual run-around. “Jean, talk to me, my dear. Talk it out.”
“I’m a doctor who spends most of her time playing a scientist. I don’t, I won’t – Hank, I can’t handle the dead.”
“Yes, my dear, you are a doctor and you are a scientist, and admittedly very good at both. You also happen to be what this young girl needs. And if that is an examination of her body, then so be it.”
“No. No, no, no,” Jean said, refusing to look at him and refusing to let go completely. But she was close. “I can’t cut her open knowing what I know about her.”
And what do you know? For sure, Jean. Not what you got from Remy’s mind.” He had heard their arguments before, and Remy deifying the dead was not a new thing. Nor was Jean reading his mind to try to empathize with what he’d seen. Jean had called Remy a martyr, but Hank knew it was true for both of them. Except Jean spent more time reaching out to those she loved most, and not someone she had labeled as ‘pitiful’ as Remy often did.
Jean finally met his eyes, gathering her reserve, understanding what Hank was asking her. She took comfort also in his furry hands holding her own tightly, warmly. “I suppose I know nothing. Not yet.”
Hank smiled slightly, and said, quietly. “I understand you want to take Remy from his pain. But it should not mean you add to yours. Let him think what he will of this tragedy. But you must think as a clinician, a scientist.”