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Chapters
Prolog
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Epilog
 
 
 

Paradox Law - REVIEW THIS STORY

Written by Valerie Jones
Last updated: 03/23/2007 01:26:56 AM

Chapter 24

Jean stared out the windshield at the empty expanse of sky. She was seated directly behind Scott. Her peripheral vision gave her a good view of their strange new companion. A few minutes ago, she might have said "prisoner", but now she would almost swear she saw anticipation in his gaze. His heavy shields gave her no access to his mind or feelings, but his stance did not betray any hostility. In fact, he seemed oddly comfortable with them.

"Whatís your name?" she asked quietly.

In the pilotís seat, Scott turned to look over his shoulder at them, but held his tongue. The boy glanced down at her, his dark eyes strangely luminescent. After a moment, his mouth quirked into something both wry and sad. "I canít tell you."

Jean frowned. "Do you know what your name is?"

Obviously curious, Beast turned sideways in the co-pilotís seat. The boy didnít seem to notice as he watched Jean.

"Yes."

"Oh." Jean felt her cheeks redden, but she pressed on. "Then, do you have a mutant name I can call you?"

"No."

Hank cocked his head. "Perhaps when you tire of ĎHey, you!í we can invent one."

To Jeanís surprise, the boy cracked a smile. It lit his face for a moment, revealing a warmth and a penchant for mischief she would never have guessed was there. But then the expression faded once more into that strange longing as he turned to stare out at the sky. For the first time, she found herself considering him attractive. She was pretty sure he was a bit younger than her, but it couldnít be by much, and he had a smile that made her palms tingle.

She quickly rubbed her hands on her skirt to extinguish the sensation. "Um... maybe we should tell you where weíre going."

"I know where weíre going." He continued to stare out the windshield.

Jean and Hank shared surprised looks. "And how is that?" Hank finally asked.

The strange eyes snapped to him and Jean held her breath. On the boyís other side, Warren watched them all with ill-concealed concern. But all the boy did was shake his head helplessly.

"Well then, maybe we should introduce ourselves." He sounded like he was trying to be chipper, to smooth over the uncomfortable moment. He motioned to Scott. "This is our fearless leader, Scott Summers. A.k.a Cyclops. The origin of the name is self-evident, I believe." Scott threw him a dirty look, which Hank blithely ignored. The boyís lips quirked as if he were trying to decide whether to play along. Finally, he nodded.

"Next," Hank went on, "we have the lovely Jean Grey, a.k.a Marvel Girl." Jean flushed despite herself and looked away. "I, of course, am the ever-so-bubbly and boisterous Beast. Or Hank McCoy, if you prefer. Thatís Warren Worthington the Third," he waved at Warren, "the high-flying Angel, and way in the back is Bobby Drake, better known as Iceman. Stand up Bobby, so we can see you." Bobby waved half-heartedly.

Jean watched as the boy took everything in. He seemed very interested in each of them, studying their faces intently, as if he were somehow comparing them to some other standard.

"What did you mean when you said we were going to ruin everything?" Hankís voice had grown solemn, though his curiosity was still evident.

The boy blinked at Hank, and Jean felt a wave of that black despair that had engulfed him before. He closed his eyes as if against some overwhelming pain. Jean was appalled by the feelings of loneliness and loss. "It doesnít matter now," he answered in a whisper as a small knot of fear began to form in Jeanís stomach.

"Youíd better sit down." Scott glanced over his shoulder at the boy, apparently unaware of the conversation. "Weíre beginning our approach."

The boyís head jerked up. Jean watched as his expression closed in on itself. Silently, she cursed Scott and his talent for bad timing. For such a wonderful guy, he was sometimes terribly insensitive.

Without further comment, he moved back to his seat and strapped in. He didnít have any trouble with the complicated four-point harness, Jean noted with interest. But then, heíd also obviously been trained with his powers, and they didnít have a clue how. In all honesty, though, she thought he would be a great addition to the X-Men if they could convince him to trust them. It was just a gut level reaction, but she was coming to believe her intuition.

She sighed and laid her head back against the rest, bracing herself against the deceleration, as the plane dipped through the hidden hangar door and settled onto the runway. The roar of the engines was incredibly loud in the enclosed space, but she kind of liked the rumble she could feel through her entire body. Eventually they rolled to a gentle stop, and the engines cut back to idle. She looked back at their guest.

"Ready?"

He nodded, released his harness and stood. Jean joined him along with Bobby as they opened the side door and climbed out. The boy stopped a few steps from the plane and looked around the hangar. His hands clenched and unclenched at his sides, giving Jean the impression he could barely stand still. What little she could sense from him was a whirlwind of raw emotions that tore at her heart. Then, without warning, he took off runningóstraight for the lift doors.

Remi ran with his heart in his throat and his stomach tied in knots. The sheer familiarity of the hangar, after so much alienness, was more than he could stand. Without consciously willing himself to, he swept the house above them in search of a certain mind. He found it where he expected to, and felt the surprised response. There was nothing he could say in words to explain himself, not a coherent thought he could send to Charles Xavier. All Remi knew was that he had to see his father. He hit the button on the lift, hardly able to breathe as he waited for the doors to slide open. He was distantly aware of the X-Men running after him, but their shouts cut off abruptly as the door closed at his back.

Telepathically, he heard Jean send a warning to Charles, but he didnít care. Jean hadnít labeled him as a threat. She seemed more worried about Remi than anything.

The doors opened again on the mansion rec room. Remi could only stare for a moment, but then he darted out of the elevator and ran for the East wing. The door to his fatherís office was the second down. He hit it without slowing, never considering that it might have been locked, and burst into a room filled with books, and with memories of love.

There he stopped, as Charles Xavier slowly put down the file he was reading. He stared at Remi with both curiosity and surprise, but after a moment found his voice.

"Please, wonít you come in?"

Remi felt like he was frozen in place. He could hardly breathe for all the feelings that crowded in his heart and climbed up his throat, seeking release. He wanted to scream and laugh and cry, all at the same time. He could only stare in silence as his father slowly wheeled himself from behind his desk and approached. He stopped a short distance away and extended his right hand towards Remi.

"Hello, Iím Charles Xavieró"

He never got to finish. The conflicting forces that held Remi in their grip shattered beneath the power of the simple gesture of a hand reaching out. With a sob that tore his throat, Remi threw himself into his fatherís lap and buried his head against his chest. Instinctively, he reached for the telepathic embrace that had so often comforted him as a child, and at the responding touch of his fatherís mind, began to pour out all of the horrors of the past weeks. Not just the destruction of his world or the deaths of his friends, but also the overwhelming burden of a single child responsible for changing the course of the world. All the things he had forced into the back of his heartóemotions and reactions that he had not been able to afford at the timeócame boiling out. Remi clung to his father with desperate strength, and after a momentís recoil of shock, he felt that mind engulf him in reassuring warmth. The familiar hands were on his back and in his hair, holding him tightly as he cried. And slowly, in the pit of Remiís stomach, a tight knot began to unravel inside that comforting embrace.

Charles was nearly swept away by the flood of emotions and images coming from the boy in his lap. He could make little sense from the jumble, save that the boyís name was Remi and that he had been through a terrible time that somehow involved the X-Men. Charles kept seeing familiar faces flash by, but in settings that sent a chill of apprehension through him.

Scott and Warren burst through his door at a dead run, skidding to a stop in the middle of the room and staring at the scene with twin expressions of confusion and surprise. Had he not been so preoccupied with the wave of information coming from Remi, he might have found them rather humorous. Instead, he gave Scott a reassuring nod and waved them both away. Reluctantly, the two left without comment. Scott was even so thoughtful as to close the door behind him and Charles sighed, bending over the form that continued to sob brokenly. The rush of images was fading, giving Charles the chance to try to sort out what heíd seen.

As best he could, he tried to start at the beginning and put the events in their proper order. What he saw astounded him. Charles stroked the grimy red hair of the boy in his lap absently as his mind screamed in denial. This could not be happening. This boy could not possibly be his son. The future could not be so bleak. But he had met the Shadow King before, and something deep inside told him that the world he saw in Remiís mind could indeed come to be if that monster held the power to make it so. He stared at the ragged remains of humanity, fighting desperately for a few more days of freedom, felt the sickening mindtouch of the Shadow Kingís minions, and watched as people that Remi loved died at his hands.

But how could it be? There were so many tangles in Remiís memories that he remained confused despite himself. He simply couldnít follow the convolutions of this time paradox that had shaped and then so brutally re-shaped Remiís life. He felt like he was missing some vital piece of the puzzle that would make everything clear, but the harder he searched for it, the more elusive it seemed. He chased through the memories in desperation. Somewhere, there had to be an answer. Something that would make sense out of the overwhelming images.

For his part, Remi seemed willing to open up any memory that Charles wanted to see. His need for contact was so great that Charles had the feeling he would have done almost anything to keep hold of the touch in his mind. But at least his sobs were easing now. Charles could feel him relaxing slowly as the tension drained away. Eventually, he sat back on his heels. He wiped his nose and brushed away the last of his tears with the cuff of the over-large shirt he wore and stared up at Charles.

"I think I have to show you Gambit," he said in a surprisingly calm, though snuffly, voice.

Charles searched for a reference for the name. Gambit was an X-Man when Remi had been a child. He was... an older brother? That wasnít exactly right. But he did have something to do with Remi, the paradox and the shifting futures, Charles was sure.

"Of course. Whatever you think is important," he agreed. Remi nodded, and Charles felt his hurt as he watched the boyís face settled into an expression of sad determination. Charles kicked himself mentally. Fool! This is your son! You should be able to say something more personal than that! For Remiís sake, if nothing else.

Remiís eyes flew wide as the thought was relayed to him through their link. Charles felt the blood rising in his cheeks, but forced himself to meet the otherís gaze. "Iím afraid I havenít got the faintest idea what, though," he admitted.

Remi smiled faintly. "Thatís O.K., Aban." Charles could feel his relief, though the hurt didnít fade completely. Still, for the moment, Remi really didnít care that this was not the father who had raised him. This Charles was close enough.

Smiling a little at the analysis, Charles reached down to take Remiís hand. Whether he accepted this boy as his son or not, it was clear that he needed every ounce of affection Charles could summon for him. "Now, show me Gambit."

To his surprise, Remi opened a large box in his mind that Charles had, until that moment, been unaware of. He felt Remiís momentary panic as he struggled to keep the contents of the box completely separate from himself. But very soon Charles was too caught up in the life of the X-Man Gambit to notice much else. The pieces of the puzzle fell into place with terrible finality, leaving Charles too overwhelmed for words. Now he understood, and his heart ached with the knowledge of both what he had gained... and what he had lost. He could no longer deny that Remi was his son. He had seen too much of the life they had had together and, from Remiís perspective, had seen himself lose and then find the child that had been the light of his heart.

Feeling dazed, he helped Remi return the memories to their storage place. Then they simply sat and stared at each other. Charles could not have spoken coherently had his life depended on it, but for the first time he had to opportunity to study Remi and try to place him with the memories that whirled around inside his head. He stared at the aristocratic features, marred by pain and exhaustion, and was immediately guilt-stricken.

"You should be in bed."

Remiís expression said that that was a phrase he had heard out of his fatherís mouth before, and Charles was inexplicably shaken. This was all far too real.

Remi levered himself slowly to his feet. "Where should I--?"

Charles turned his wheelchair toward the door. "Here, Iíll show you." He had no idea how to ease the boyís pain, which left him feeling helpless and frustrated. But at least he could meet the physical needs.

Much later, Charles found himself sitting quietly beside the sleeping form of his son, unable to tear himself away just yet. Remi was curled up on the bed, his fingers knotted in the corner of the pillow. His features had smoothed out in sleep, erasing the lines that pain and experience had left. Charles was amazed by how young he seemed suddenly. How innocent. He sighed and tucked the covers in a bit more tightly.

He had been sitting there for more than an hour, reflecting on the amazing circumstances that had brought Remi to him. Even now, he didnít know how to feel. His heart went out to this child, as it would to any child who had been through so much. But to find love for a son... that he wasnít sure he knew how to do. And yet, there was a tiny voice inside that whispered to him. A feeling that, if anyone or anything tried to take Remi away, they would find themselves facing the full fury of the worldís premier telepath without hesitation.

He sat in silence until a tentative knock sounded at the door. Jean opened the door part way and peeked around it. Her roving gaze took in both himself and Remi.

"Professor, are you all right?"

With a final look at Remi, Charles turned and wheeled himself to the door. "Iím fine, Jean."

She stepped aside doubtfully as he moved into the hallway. "Who is he?" She closed the door with a soft click.

Charles tilted his head to look up at her. Everything he had learned about the future tumbled through his mind as he wondered what he should tell her.

 

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