Somewhere Safe Sounds Good
Rplog-icon Who: Gambit, The Cuckoos
Where: A bad part of town, Gotham City
When: Immediately following Snakes and Shadows
Tone: Romantic, Social
What: After Remy is seriously injured by Trinidad Reyes, he finds a hole to crawl in and does the unthinkable--he asks for help from his friends.

Remy doesn't know where he is.

When he lost a fight to a snake-man, he didn't just give up his safe house, or his pride. He was blinded and injured. Terribly injured. Poison in his eyes. In his face. Something cracked in his chest; something sickening and wrong-feeling. Cuts on his hands and his face from jumping through a broken window. He's a mess.

Operating on a combination of touch, hearing, and memory, he staggers along with his fingers trailing against walls and fences until he finds somewhere fairly familiar. An abandoned building a few blocks from his old safe house. He kicks in one of the basement windows and slithers through it. Right now, the only thought on his mind is to hide. To regroup. Like an animal, he has fled to lick his wounds.

He's crawling by the time he THUDs gracelessly to the basement floor. Sliding along the floor, he finds himself a corner and curls up in it. Then, clutching his coat around himself like a security blanket, he closes his burned eyes and exhales a long breath. "Help... ?" he breathes. Not a shout, but a whisper.

There are many advantages to being allowed into the Cuckoos' inner circle and this is one of the greatest when one is in need. The girls have been exquisitely careful not to spy on Remy, not to listen to the thin silver line of thought and affection that connects them to him, but his distress--the actual request for help--can't be ignored.

|"We're coming."| They can't do much for him without physical contact, it's too hard and too dangerous to get past the obfuscation of his mental patterns, but they can let him feel their presence. |"We won't be long."|

They're already on the move. The car they steal is a fast one, they wrap themselves in an illusion as they speed through the night on the way to Gotham. Their mental field gently encourages the few people on the road to get out of the way, just enough for them to blow through with the pedal down.

For once, they split up as soon as they find Remy's location. That's rare. Sophie slides down through the window while her sisters take off to get what they need to take care of Remy.

"I'm here," Sophie says aloud. Her mental lock on him lets her find him in the dark.

The distant assurance is enough bolster Remy's strength and confidence. He's not mortally injured, but he certainly feels like he is. He scrapes himself together while he waits, straightening up in his corner, wiping the last traces of poison from his face, and adjusting his coat around his body.

He closes his eyes when he hears Sophie's voice, relying on his ears and filtering out the blurred input from his eyes. "You're here," he says, his voice thick and raspy. "I... I'm hurt. Bad, I think."

"It's not good, Remy," Sophie says honestly. |"We're going to try and take some of the pain away,"| they say. |"Shock isn't good for your body."|

"I just need to touch." Gingerly, Sophie moves his shirt aside to get contact that won't poison her as well. |"Let us in,"| the gestalt says gently. It offers warmth and comfort and relief from the pain.

It's not the unspoken promises that persuade Remy to lower his guard. It's Sophie's presence. A touch from one of the few people he trusts. He takes a deep breath, holds it for a few seconds, and releases it slowly. "Okay," he says. "Here goes."

Because raising his walls isn't a conscious effort, lowering them isn't as easy as flicking off a light switch. At the best of times, it takes effort and concentration. Remy wriggles and squirms in place, his brow furrowing as he attempts to slow his heartbeat, calm his mind, and bare himself.

"Dat's de best I can do," he admits a few seconds later, dabbing a drop of sweat away from his brow with a gloved fingertip.

|"It's enough,"| the girls say. They're very skilled at this, though it was never intended to be used to benefit someone like Remy. It takes them longer than it would with a vulnerable mind but they seep in through the cracks in Remy's armour and then go to work.

They know the mind well, allowing them to place small blocks here and there that will interfere with nothing but what they want to exclude. One block for fear, to clear his mind. One for the pain of the poison. One for the broken bones. One for the lacerations. One last block for the shock, to soothe the body and let it rest. Each pain has its own chemistry and requires its own work, so that they can let Remy be fully functional and aware otherwise.

General blocks or numbness are all very well, but they can't let him go around thinking he's not hurt, and they know it wouldn't be good for him to feel anymore helpless than he does. So, it takes time, but more than ten minutes later, they're done. |"That was... complex,"| they murmur.

"I have water," Sophie says, getting right down to it. "We need to get the poison off of you."

"Wow..." It's a statement Remy finds himself making fairly often when in the girls' collective presence. He inhales. Exhales. Again, deeper this time. There's a twinge that reminds him to take care with his injured ribs, but it's not the stabbing pain he'd been expecting.

"Wow. Yeah," he agrees. Not only convinced, but thoroughly relieved, Remy gives himself over fully into someone else's care, an act that would normally be unthinkable. He presents his face and hands, both of which are an angry red from being sprayed with caustic miss. They're also the parts of him that were most thoroughly cut up when he took to bursting through windows. It's clear that he made token attempts to wipe them off. The mess is smeared and smudged, and there are traces of it on the cuffs of his coat and near the hem of his shirt.

"Eyes closed." Sophie's brisk but gentle as she helps. She douses Remy with water and then pats his face dry with something soft and warm. Fortunately, the venom dilutes and washes clean easily. "Eyes open." That would be highly uncomfortable if it weren't for the gestalt's careful work. "Coat off. We'll get it cleaned if you want, but you can't keep it now. Gloves, too. The others are going to get you some clothes and anything else you need--medication and the like." Another benefit of telepathic anaesthesia--not physiologically addictive. "Do you want to tell us what happened?"

Like a child, Remy is lax in Sophie's hands as she washes him up and strips him down. He even makes small, petulant noises when his coat is taken away.

"I got ambushed, dat's what happen," he replies, still pouting. As he explains, he grows stronger. More defiant. A bit angry, even. "Got a safe house a few blocks from here. Had one, anyway. Dere was dis guy waiting for me inside. It was like no matter what I do, I can't hurt him. He summon snakes from nowhere. Den he has snake heads instead of regular head. Dis where de poison come from."

"We can try to find him," Sophie says soothingly. Once she has the poison cleaned away and Remy's things set aside, she settles down with him and lets him lean on her. "But not until we have you somewhere safer." She combs out his damp hair with her fingers. "We should take you back to our apartment."

|"We're almost back,"| the others say. They've been busy. All night pharmacy first, then a hotel, of all places. The hotel because it's easy to get extra blankets, pillows, and food there, and to quickly find clean clothing in Remy's size in the dry cleaning delivery racks... and alcohol. Situations like this call for it, they learned that from Remy. The car--a second one, also stolen--purrs up in the alley and shuts off.

Now that he's purposely lowered his walls and let the girls in, some of that information filters through to Remy. Not sharp images or fine details, but enough for the grizzled thief to send back a sense of approval at Esme and Phoebe's efficiency and thoroughness. There's also a warm sense of gratitude.

Sighing, he slumps against Sophie. "Yeah," he agrees. "Somewhere safe sounds good. And dry. I wanna get dried off." A shiver runs through his body. "Thanks. For everything."

"We brought towels." Esme has a laundry bundle that she drops down first, then she follows it. "Here."

"And some light." The pharmacy pretty much has everything these days. Phoebe turns on an LED camping light but shields it in case it's too bright. "We just need to get you fixed up and then out of here," she says. "I looked, you can't really get out easily."

They get to work and, fortunately, it doesn't hurt a bit. |"We cheated,"| they tell him. |"We know where one of the clinic doctors is."| |"He's easy to find."| |"We're borrowing his ideas while he sleeps."| It's not quite the same as the doctor but it's the next best thing. After a half hour, Remy's bandaged and taped and even wearing clean clothes. Not ones he would have chosen but jeans and a button-down shirt are at least inconspicuous.

When you're blind and helpless, there's not much you can do but trust in helping hands and hope for the best. Every time Remy is given an order, he complies quietly. Open his eyes. Close his eyes. Take off his shirt.

When he's washed, patched up, and properly dressed, he lets out another quiet sigh. This one is more content, though. "I feel much better," he confirms. "More human. Jesus, yeah, lead me to de door. I think I seen enough of dis part of town for a while."

Seeing. That begs another question. "Do you think I'll get my vision back?"

"We think so, yes," Sophie says soothingly. She and Esme help him to his feet while Phoebe finishes gathering the traces of their passing into garbage bags. "The way your skin and eyes look, it's as though the surface were scorched but the damage isn't deep."

"You'd need a proper doctor to say for sure," Esme notes. "But you'll likely have a better idea tomorrow."

"We will take you somewhere if you like." Phoebe's moving something around, then the girls are leading him back to where he came in. "But we understand not going."

"Now." Sophie turns Remy so that he's facing her and she crosses his arms over his chest. "Trust us. We need to lift you out."

The gestalt fades slightly and then one of them, now very strong, lifts him up like he weighs nothing and passes him to someone else above. They're smart and efficient, that's certain. Remy's feet are on solid ground when they're done and the other girls scramble after him.

"Are you hungry?" That's Phoebe, it's so easy to tell when the gestalt is snuggled up to his thoughts. Her hand finds his and she squeezes. "Can you eat?"

Trust. Blind, unwavering faith. Putting yourself entirely into someone else's hands, knowing in your heart that it's for the best. These are new concepts for Remy, but they please him. He smiles and returns the handsqueeze, attempting to convey this thought. His end of the exchange is far from perfect, though.

His stomach burbles unpleasantly at the thought of food. "I probably should," he admits. "But de thought makes me feel all queasy. Maybe in a bit."

His eyes might be foggy, but the rest of his senses are keen. He tugs on Phoebe's hand, leading her toward the parked car. He's following the scent of gasoline and the faint heat radiating from the engine. "I just wanna go somewhere safe. Can I sleep dis off at your place? I'm..."

Afraid. Vulnerable. Exhausted.

"...yeah," he finishes lamely, giving Phoebe's hand another squeeze.

|"We won't leave you,"| they promise. |"Whenever you're better, you can go."| Esme's arm slides around him as they help him into the car. Back seat, where he gets one sister on either side, curled up against him. Now that he's safe enough, they let him feel how worried they were about him. |"Whatever you need."|

Sophie's driving. She takes them through Gotham, headed for their small apartment. "I'll make you something when we get home," she says. "You'll feel better after you eat and rest."

A sense of closeness and family goes to war with Remy's darker feelings and he comes out of it smiling. Supported by two of the girls, he relaxes himself, both body and mind. "Thank you," he says again. Gingerly, he wraps his arms around Esme and Phoebe, careful to avoid putting pressure on his injured torso. "I was worried about me, too. I'm glad you heard me. Dis two times you save my life now, you know."

|"We're not counting,"| they say. |"But we're happy we were there."| |"Even happier you asked for help."| They know him well enough to understand what kind of a concession that is--probably more unnerving than being ambushed and nearly killed in his safe place.

Sophie pulls the car into an alley in a poor neighbourhood. The sounds of a busy night on the streets echo in the distance but right here things are calm. A tiny speck of peace. It's likely their presence and interference has something to do with that.

"Let's go up." "We're taking the fire escape." "There's an old woman who sits out in the hall late sometimes." The fire escape is slightly rusty but sturdy, the window opens all the way to make entry easier. It's obvious from the step down that they use this entrance all the time.

Inside, the apartment feels small but it smells like someone's home. Vanilla, clean laundry, baking, all those good smells. |"Come lie down."| There's a little wriggle from the gestalt and then Remy has a good idea of the lay-out of the place--almost like seeing it. One room. Bed, sofa, chairs, tables, kitchen, bathroom, closets. All orderly, as though Sophie would allow less.

The Cajun does a fair job of navigating the fire escape. He travels by rooftop, climbs walls, and uses a lot of ladders. It's old hat for him.

He's has spent enough time in small apartments like this to know the general layout. Though he accsionally bumps his shins, he does a fairly good job of navigating his way to the sofa. As he explores, he takes in a deep breath, savoring the homey scents in the air. "Smells nice," he says, pleased by this small detail.

Slowly, gently, he lowers himself into a sitting position. Though he's no longer in any pain, he's smart enough not to aggravate his existing injuries.

The girls don't speak but their thoughts are a constant hum that they share with Remy. They wonder where Laura is, hang up one of her hoodies--after checking it for blood and rips--with an affectionate sigh, pile more pillows on the bed for him, turn it down, someone opens up the computer to search the internet for the thing Remy described, someone else is putting together something for him to eat based on preferences skimmed out of his thoughts, his coat is put aside to be laundered and mended, the pockets rifled and the contents carefully laid out on the coffee table in front of him for his inspection.

It's like being dunked into a slowly churning bath of domesticity and happiness with soft overtones of watchfulness and concern. Someone--Sophie--puts a drink in his hand. Remy understands that there's no smoking in here because Laura's senses are so delicate.

And just like that, Remy's home.

He knocks his drink back quickly and sets his glass down on the coffee table. The hum of the girls' thoughts and the buzz of activity around him is pleasantly distracting. A wide smile stretches across his face.

He's asleep a few seconds later. The safeness. The closeness. They're enough for him to relax his animal-like need to be alone and in control of his surroundings. His injuries and exhaustion have caught up with him, but when he passes out, he still has a smile on his face.

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