Part 1: Chapter 7
Remy allowed himself to sleep an extra two hours, skipping his usual morning workout for the second day in a row. He knew he’d regret it later, because for some reason, as Dr. Hank McCoy, resident geneticist, tried to explain, due to the kinetic energy he had running through his body at all times, he had a lot of pent up energy that if left alone would cause him to be fidgety and irritable. Things like extra-long workouts, spontaneous basketball games and having sex kept him at an even keel, so to speak. It was also the reason why even though his body always felt warm to the touch he often felt colder than someone of his size and athleticism should.
At a quarter to eight, he was at his desk, and had gone through all of his phone messages and emails. So far, there was no word on the sect of Purifiers responsible for the deaths of the fifty two serpentine mutants of West Virginia and also Sammy was still missing as of seven a.m. though they weren’t completely finished with the security disks yet. He tried to ignore the math, but couldn’t. If Sammy had eaten lunch with Lisa yesterday, then he would be missing for anywhere between fourteen and seventeen hours, but if he had not eaten with her, it would be closer to nineteen.
Picking up the phone, he was ready to dial Emma’s extension, but then he saw her coming towards his desk. She was dressed in a cap sleeve dress, a to-the-elbow short coat, patterned and hemmed nylons and three inch high heels with a silver toe and a silver spike heel. She helped herself to a corner of his desk, even moving some of his paperwork, and her dress slid up her thighs showing more than necessary. Sex appeal was Emma’s middle name – actually, by contrast, it was Grace – and she very much knew it. By now, most of her colleagues were used to it.
“Did you not go home last night?” Remy asked her, in direct regard to the way she was dressed, as if for a hot date and not work. Yeah, he was used to her sexualized clothing, but that didn’t mean he ignored it.
She smiled, just slightly, as she glanced at him. Though she would readily admit he always looked attractive, no matter what he was wearing – or not wearing, though she could admit sadly she’d never seen him in a total state of undress – he was the one who looked as if he might have spent the night in the office. Or spent the night anywhere that wasn’t conducive for sleeping, anyways. His eyes looked slightly bruised underneath and they were more heavily lidded than usual. “I might say the same thing to you,” she said, adding, “Though I had much more fun than you did, by appearances.”
“Touché,” he said, realizing he should have made sure his wits were sharp before trying to start something with her, even if it was in jest.
Satisfied with that, she got around to the reason for her visit. “Thanks for the pictures. You could have put a warning in the inbox; I almost lost my breakfast.” Emma had an infamously weak stomach and pictures of fish scales, which some of them appeared to be moldy, at any time were bad enough, but much worse at six o’clock in the morning.
He shrugged, turning away from her to cough. “Don’t thank me. Anna sent them.”
Emma rolled her eyes. She knew who sent them, the email obviously told her so, but she also knew it was under Remy’s direction. However, she didn’t want to get into it with him, if for any reason because he was obviously ill prepared and not up for their usual banter. “You sound like crap, by the way.”
Remy nodded and turned away from her to cough again, “It sounds worse than it is.”
“I’m sure it does,” she responded, getting as warm and fuzzy as she ever got. Switching gears, she said, “I passed the email and the evidence number on to Jean, but I doubt a scientific analysis will be more helpful than my psychological one.” Of course Emma would think that way.
“Which is?” Remy asked and wondered if he was already starting to feel irritable because he hadn’t gone for a run the last two mornings.
“We can’t be entirely sure Sammy is the one who put them there, but I’m sure it’s not lost on you that Sammy is relatively the same color as the scales were. We won’t know definitively until Jean lets us know, but either he or someone took his scales and put them in a box or someone, perhaps him, put scales in a box that resembled his.”
Remy thought about that for a moment, and said, “But what would be the implications of either action?”
“If they’re his, and he did it, self-mutilation. He is acting out on what he hates about himself most. His physical appearance. If he did not do it, think of the most likely source – his mother. Maybe Sammy sheds them and she saves them.”
“But why?” he asked, as he turned away from her and sneezed. “Excuse me.” To him, it was the same as saving hair clippings, teeth or fingernail clippings – weird and disgusting.
“It brought you to her door, didn’t it?” Emma responded mildly, knowing what he was thinking . “She got the attention she desires.”
“Okay, but what if they aren’t his?” He sneezed again. “Why the hell would Sammy have some other fish scales under his bed? Comparison reasons?”
“He’s twelve, right? Maybe he likes those better for whatever reason.”
“Why not take a picture of them?” Remy asked, rhetorically.
She stood up and said, “I think the fact that he’s twelve might explain it. I’m going to rearrange my schedule today, making myself available to you.” It was her way of saying that she knew he would need help with this case, and also that it interested her. “I’ll get us a conference room. In the meantime, gather up your rookies and fill them in so they aren’t completely useless.”
Remy might have said a lot of things, but today, at least, he was grateful for her help. “Yes ma’am,” he replied. “See you at nine.” It was when he expected to meet in the conference room.
In lieu of calling his two rookies, he sent them each a text message that told them to read the email he sent them. Then he attached the Sammy files from the flash drive, as well as the email Anna Marie had sent to Emma last night and sent it all. He figured they could figure out the important parts to read before nine.
Black ankle-high tactical boots on thin carpet alerted Clay’s presence. His voice was slightly tense, as he said, “Morning. How’s your cold?” Remy could tell without looking up that Clay was not in the best of moods. Remy could also figure out why.
However, he ignored it for now, and replied, “Hanging in there. How was the game?”
“Fine. They won by a field goal.”
“Good,” Remy said.
Clay didn’t waste any more time. He usually didn’t when in a mood. “You should have relegated the Sammy case to someone else. Or at the very least have called me.”
“Maybe so,” Remy replied. “But I didn’t.” He knew Clay was not upset because he felt slighted, but because he was worried and felt guilty for seeing his son’s game instead of doing his job. “We don’t have a lot of time to argue about it.”
Clay understood this, perhaps even more than Remy did, considering his Ryder was close to Sammy’s age and Clay couldn’t imagine him being missing for almost a full day. In all honesty, and maybe it was a criticism of his and Bridget’s parenting skills, Ryder wouldn’t last half a day without them. Heck, his other two sons might not either. “What would you have me do?”
“We’re going to meet with Emma at nine. Someone should have analyzed those security discs by now. To see if he took the subway, or God forbid, a plane.”
“Any idea where he might wanna go?” Clay asked.
“That’s where Lisa would come in handy. If she were reliable.”
Clay nodded, rubbing a hand over his jaw. “Well, there has never been a father in the picture, but that doesn’t mean he might not have figured out who it is.”
Remy shrugged, hoping it wasn’t that serious. “I was kind of thinking – or hoping - an aquarium.”
“That’s where Dr. Frost will come in handy. I’ll go see about those discs.”
“We have to visit Red today, too,” Remy said, more as a reminder to himself.
Clay nodded. “If we don’t keep our word, we’ll look like pushovers. Maybe have one of the rookies go instead.”
“I wouldn’t trust them without you or I present.”
“Well, we have some time yet. Sammy is priority one.”
The only reason Kurt Wagner was early for this meeting was because he had walked with Anna Marie. In fact, at eight forty five, they were the only ones in the conference room closest to Emma’s office. He yawned openly and slid into a chair, his lanky body always resembling more of a cartoon jester than a Nightcrawler, in Anna Marie’s opinion. But perhaps, his code name referred to the fact that he was nearly invisible at night with his shadowy blue and purple skin and his curly black hair. He also had pointy, elfish ears, a pointed nose and chin, and only three digits on his hands and feet. His feet were so abnormally shaped, in fact, that he had to have special shoes made, or else he could only wear really large flip flops. He had a tail, too, one that was just as dexterous and suitable for climbing as his fingers and toes were. Sometimes, it flicked back and forth, similar to her cat Ginny’s tail when she was watching a bird outside the window. If she hadn’t known him for almost four years, she would be terrified of him.
Kurt put down his traveler’s coffee mug and yawned again. He was nocturnal, and so, early mornings were hard for him. Powering on his iPad, he found today’s email from their superior agent and pulled up the files on Sammy Pare. He didn’t make time earlier to give it more than a glance, and frankly, he thought it would be a waste of his time, anyways. But he left it open. Turning to Anna Marie, he asked, “Doesn’t it seem to be a little late to be having this meeting? I mean this kid has been gone almost a day already.” He may not have read it thoroughly, but he was intelligent enough to understand what had transpired; details could be easily obtained when they were necessary. It was the main idea, the thesis of every situation that was important.
Anna Marie shrugged; she knew where Kurt was headed with this, yet another critique of Agent Remy LeBeau. He was never this bad when they worked under Logan. But then, Remy wasn’t a scary little hairy man who could tear your skin off without using his adamantium claws. Physically speaking, Remy was probably stronger than Kurt, he was taller and not as lankly anyways, but Kurt, as a teleporter, was surely much faster. She could imagine a physical fight between the two would never happen though, if for no other reason than the two of them were not rednecks; and so, they resorted to barely concealing their dislike for the other.
On the contrary, Logan would pick a physical fight with anyone. And, unlike Remy and Kurt, he didn’t give a damn about speed, he’d wait all day in shadows you didn’t see and catch you when you were feeling the most self-confident. Logan had told them he had done just that to Remy, among others, a few years before them, and that was something Kurt had never forgotten. Patience and humility had been Logan’s points, Anna Marie knew. But, Kurt had learned that Remy was a cocky asshole who certainly needed to learn both traits. Never mind the fact that Kurt also needed to learn them.
Kurt honestly didn’t need Anna Marie, or anyone, to answer; he was ready with a reply. “Regardless of past behavior, I think every missing kid case should be treated with the utmost importance.” He had a German accent and so his ‘W’s’ sounded more like ‘v’s’ and he had a thickness to his words that sounded, to Anna Marie, like he always knew what he was talking about.
From the time she met him, she marveled at the confidence he had in his intelligence and had respected him for it. She wasn’t aware at the time that his confidence in his intelligence was overcompensation for his lack of confidence about things like his appearance. Even so, once she had realized it, she was even fonder of him, seeing his vulnerability as human and something she could relate to. But, now, he was always critical. She might have said that Ms. Lisa Pare didn’t call until at least seven hours after the fact, but she didn’t. She said instead, “I agree all missing kids are important. Did you finish that report you were working on for that class of yours?” She had learned from an early age that a fine way to get someone to talk about something else was to ask them a question about themselves.
“My ancient religions class?” Kurt asked, always pleased to talk about himself and his eventual master’s degree. “Yeah. Yesterday. It was a very interesting topic. Relating Jesus Christ to other god-like figures before him.” Kurt was a devout Catholic, and no matter how many contradictory religious classes he would take, his convictions just became stronger. His faith was probably his strongest characteristic.
She nodded, picking at her nails. As a semi-practicing Southern Baptist, who liked her Jesus as a friendly face and not as a lecturing point, she did not like religious discussions at all. She figured Jesus wouldn’t want people to fight over what version of Christianity was better or more right than the next. Everyone had their reasons for choosing one over the other, and there wouldn’t be so many if it weren’t alright with Him. Her parents would have disagreed fervently, saying God didn’t want any religion that picked through the Holy Bible and only took from it what they wanted. Mr. and Mrs. Caldecott never saw that that was the very thing they did when they hated people because of their religion, or where they were from, the color of their skin, their genetic makeup or their sexual orientation. Just one of the many reasons she left home at eighteen and never looked back. “That’s good,” she replied, not looking up from her fingernails.
“You know,” he said, ignoring her again, “This time of year especially it isn’t wise to pick at your fingernails. The winter weather makes them brittle enough.”
She had tried the fingernail polish trick, the putting money in a jar trick, the tying a red string around your finger trick, but nothing had ever worked for her. She always picked her fingernails and the skin around them when she was bored, nervous, or saw something worth picking. “Don’t you think I’d stop if I could?” she asked, slightly annoyed with him by now. She usually got along with Kurt wonderfully. Until they had both been assigned to Remy, anyways.
“Yes, I think you could – if you wanted to. Which I’m surprised you don’t, normally, you’re very strong willed.”
Ignoring him this time, because she hated it when he psychoanalyzed her, she looked at her pale-pink painted fingernails. She had painted them last night because they would match the pink in her beige, floral printed scarf and compliment the green blouse she wore today nicely. But now, the tops would all have to go. Taking the thumb nail she was grateful to have, she scraped the tops off each nail so they resembled each other in wear and tear.
“Where are they?” Kurt said, seeing the time on his iPad. He could be very impatient at times, when it came to waiting on people he didn’t particularly like. He huffed, ready to go on with something indignant.
She said, “Please don’t start, Kurt.”
He busied himself with the Sammy files, then, maybe deciding he should obtain a few details.
By the time the meeting started, the time was almost three past, which Kurt did not overlook. Agent Clay Quartermain had not yet joined them, but they got started without him. As per usual, Dr. Emma Frost took charge, even though it wasn’t technically her case. Remy didn’t seem to mind, though Kurt suspected he secretly did. She stood at the front, just casual, though she was dressed to the nines. Clasping one hand over the other, she began with a synopsis of the events that had transpired over the last twenty hours.
Kurt didn’t need to listen to her tell them about something he could read about. Emma occasionally looked at Remy for confirmation about a detail here or there and he would simply nod, as if he couldn’t be bothered with talking at the moment. He sat to her right, and from his striped blue and white button shirt, thick gray sweater, khaki colored pants, large-faced silver watch, and his collar length brown hair with a pen behind his ear he looked to Kurt just like one of those models in a magazine. Obnoxiously handsome and totally brainless.
Kurt couldn’t help but notice other people’s attractiveness, and he also noted their sense of vanity and confidence. Remy had both, was secure in how he looked, and hardly needed to show it off. Emma, on the other hand, with her made-up face, perfectly coiffed dyed hair, fake nails and the rumor that she’d had plastic surgery was a tell-all to Kurt that no matter how beautiful she was, she did not have the same level of confidence that Remy did.
He pulled himself from his analysis of their levels of confidence, because it appeared she was winding down, and tried to listen as she went on in her chilly and professional tone about Sammy’s possible locations. She said now, mostly to Remy, “This would be an appropriate way to bring Lisa to our turf.”
Remy said, “I would personally like to avoid her as much as possible.” He sounded as if he had spent the evening yelling at a Saints game, but Kurt didn’t find that to be a reasonable explanation as to why he hadn’t said much.
Instead, he found his comment selfish and uncalled for and said, in his usual ‘I’m smarter than you’ tone, “Now, she’s the mother, right?”
Remy glanced at him and didn’t hide the ‘where the fuck have you been’ expression. Emma ignored both of them, actually shifting her body slightly towards Anna Marie, and said, “Yes, Lisa is Sammy’s mother. And I disagree. Remy, you should be the one to re-interview her. This is your turf. Here, she’s more likely to be uncomfortable and more truthful. And if I were to interview her she would be more hostile than usual.”
Remy nodded, but didn’t look thrilled. He muffled a cough against his wrist, and said, “I’ll call her later then.”
Agent Quartermain entered the room with a folder and with his long strides he went over to where Remy was sitting and balanced on the balls on his feet, and said something quietly to him. Remy nodded and took the manila folder from him. He looked inside and Clay stood up. To Emma, and he had not yet acknowledged the rookies in the room, which bothered Kurt, he said, “We have an image of Sammy taken at LaGuardia. Time stamp on the photo is almost nineteen hours, yesterday. Doesn’t appear he took a flight so far, though.”
“Do we have someone going there to see if they can find him?” Emma asked.
“Yes ma’am,” Clay replied. “I volunteered to go with them, considering Sammy and I know each other.”
Emma nodded, “That would be best. When do you leave?”
“As soon as I’m done telling y’all what’s going on.”
“Good,” Emma replied, as if she had the power to decide that for him. She added, “I want Lisa here ASAP. If Sammy is found, I want to witness their reunion. I would like this reunion to be the wakeup call she needs that something needs to change in their relationship.”
Clay nodded, and said, “I’ll do y’all a favor and call her on my way out. Tell her we need to talk to her a bit more without giving anything away.”
Emma nodded, “Yes. Standard stuff, tell her nothing new, prompt her to come here and maybe that will scare her a bit. Don’t even reassure her that Sammy is alright, that is if she even asks. Most likely, she’ll ask who she will be speaking to.” She glanced in Remy’s direction.
Clay left with a nod and the meeting shifted topics. Emma took a seat, and it was Remy’s turn to talk, since The Green Clan wasn’t in her expertise, but his. However, unlike her, he didn’t stand which also bothered Kurt.
After a brief explanation of The Green Clan, and what their expected activities were, he told them what was needed today. “A simple raid. They already know we’re coming. Because of this, we’ll want to take precaution. In case they’ve decided to change the status of our relationship with them.” He meant in case they changed their minds about accepting his gesture giving them forty eight hours to get rid of the MGH.
Kurt’s critical tone once again: “Why would you tell them when you were coming? That seems like a lack of judgment on your part.”
Remy could hear the woman who had raised him, Mattie, saying: If you don’t have anything nice to say, chile, it’s better to hold your tongue lest it spite your face. He couldn’t exactly say just nothing, so he simply ignored him. “Find out if they put it all up their noses, so to speak, or did something smart and turned a profit.”
Kurt laughed, and said, “You’re actually condoning they sell the MGH that they’ve acquired illegally?”
“It’s either that or use it,” Remy said, with a shrug, doing his best to keep his composure.
Kurt looked at him incredulously. “I am not sure those are the only two options. It seems to me if they were willing to listen to you and accept the forty eight hour deadline, they would also be willing to not do anything else illegal.”
Remy attempted to remind himself that Kurt was still inexperienced, but was quickly losing his cool, and knew his lack of exercise this morning was not to blame. “In theory, yeah, that makes sense. But this isn’t one of your classes, Wagner, this is real.” He did his best to sound calm and rational, as if he were simply telling Kurt what the weather was outside.
Kurt bristled at that, hating to be told that school was not real, and replied with, “Real or not, you could probably benefit from taking or re-taking a few classes. How can you expect to assimilate these mutants if you don’t even understand the severity of an action? Or right and wrong? You can’t possibly lead them to any sort of understanding if you don’t understand it yourself.”
Emma stepped in, and said, “Boys, please. Take them out for show and tell at another time. Kurt, what Remy is telling you is that the members of The Green Clan cannot be expected to leave the MGH for us gift wrapped with a note telling us they’re sorry for their illegal actions.” She glanced at Remy and with those pale blue eyes, sent him a look.
Remy cleared his throat, getting her ‘grow up’ message loud and clear, and said, “I was giving them a chance to come to the understanding that taking MGH was dangerous. Which is something they understand better than legal versus illegal. I never said selling it was right, I said it was smart. It’s a way for them to provide for themselves.”
Anna Marie, who had been completely silent the entire time, spoke up and changed the subject. “Do you think they’ve changed their minds? Do you think they’ll offer resistance?” She was concerned with the ‘taking precautions’ part.
“I don’t think they’re that foolish, but better safe than sorry, right?” He continued with, “We can only hope that they realize this was a once in a lifetime chance, because I’d rather not put any of them in jail.”
Emma said, “We will continue this discussion later today, when we decide who’s going where. But, for now, Remy, you should meet with Dr. Grey before Lisa gets here.”
Remy simply nodded and left the room.
“As for you two,” Emma glanced at Anna Marie and Kurt after Remy had gone, “I want you to read up on The Green Clan to familiarize yourselves with who lives there and how potentially dangerous they could be. I want to make sure we know exactly what to expect if things should go awry. I want possible scenarios, lists of their powers and abilities, and a brief synopsis of how they’ve handled things in the past. Have the report in my inbox by two p.m.” In the order was a silent reminder, to Kurt, that all of the reports they would read were written by Agent R. E. LeBeau.