|What: Remy prepares a surprise for the girls; they talk about the future.|
It wasn't easy for Remy to extract himself from the tangle of soft, blonde bodies piled up in bed without waking any of them. Not only because the cuddlepile tends to be pretty thorough. It also tends to be pretty comfortable. So, with much effort and more than a little reluctance, he slips out of bed very early in the morning, being careful not to disturb the girls in the process. He locates clothes by touch, laces up his boots, grabs his coat, and slips out of the apartment.
He returns a short while later with heavy grocery bags in his hands. What follows is a feat of stealth that rivals any he's performed while stealing caches of gems or priceless works of art. He takes over the kitchen and starts cooking breakfast without making a sound.
Within a few minutes of his arrival, he's sliced peaches and candied ginger, mixed up a batter, and has tiny peach upside-down cakes baking in the oven. Croissants, butter, jam, and a soft, white cheese are arrayed on a platter next to a bowl of strawberries and cream. The remains of a dozen oranges have been tossed in the sink, squeezed out for a pitcher of fresh juice.
Remy doesn't make his first clatter until he starts working on a batch of his Vietnamese coffee. BANG. Having already poured his hot water, he fumbles the empty pot from his hands and drops it against the stovetop. "Merde," he curses under his breath.
A giggle drifts out of the tangle of sleepy girls. "It smells good." |"And we can hear you thinking,"| they remind Remy. One of the girls--probably Sophie--slides out of bed and patters over to see what he's doing. One of the two left behind grabs the other to use as a pillow. That'd make them Esme and Phoebe respectively. For all her moods and prickles, Esme likes getting her sisters to herself and doesn't bother to hide being territorial about them.
"What's the occasion?" Sophie pushes back her messy hair and tugs her oversized T-shirt down so it's not rucked up over the little shorts she has on underneath.
The Cajun smiles as Sophie slips up behind him. Careful to keep hot pans and sharp knives aside, he reaches out, wraps an arm around her shoulders, and pulls her in for a hug. "You're the occasion," he says. "You're just..."
He trails off and a long, silent moment passes. With no one to hide from, he's discarded his tinted glasses. His eyes are still a little scratchy, but they're more than clear enough for him to seek out each of the girls in turn. Gratitude. Comfort. Happiness. As clever as he is with words, he chooses to convey these emotions through their mental link.
"You're good to me," he finishes quietly. "So I wanted to be good to you."
"You are." Sophie stands on her toes and kisses his cheek, then snuggles him carefully. "But we'd like you be good to yourself and stop getting hurt." |"We don't like it,"| the gestalt says. It rarely sounds so young. |"Especially when you don't take the time to recover before doing it again."|
"So what are we having for breakfast?" Sophie is trying not to poke around in his mind for the recipes.
If Remy was going to make some noise, at least he chose a good time. Everything is just about ready. While the coffee drips, he snags up a kitchen towel and pulls the little cakes from the oven. The hints of peaches and ginger the girls were smelling now fill the apartment. As the cakes are inverted and extracted from the teacups they've been baked in, they're set out on a second platter that's already equipped with spoons.
"I'm going to try and be good," he promises, and for once he seems to mean it. "I'm tired of bein' banged up, too. Anyway, since you're all my sweet things, I make us sweet things for breakfast. Peach upside-down cake. Strawberries and cream. Croissants with jam. And stuff to drink."
Definitely pleased with himself, he gestures at the spread. Despite serving items suited to individual plates and portions, everything has been prepared family-style.
"Ooh, strawberries." Yes, that's Phoebe stuck under Esme. She wriggles loose, ignoring the grumbles, and rolls off the bed to skip over. "We're keeping you," she announces imperiously as she slips into a seat at the table.
|"Of course we're keeping him,"| Esme thinks grudgingly as she drags out of bed. |"He's like the cat in the song. He'll just keep turning up if we don't."| There absolutely no malice in her thoughts, especially because she worms her way into Remy's arms to hug him while she's thinking it.
"It looks lovely." Sophie is definitely impressed. "I can't believe you keep track of it all so easily. I'm still bad at that."
The sheer impertinence of the girls' thoughts and words might offend most people, but it elicits a rich, rolling chuckle from Remy. He gives them each a hug, a ruffle, an affectionate smooch on the forehead. "I'd love to be kept," he admits. "It's good to be around good people. Makes me feel good."
It's a simple statement. Almost childish. True, though. "And she's right," he continues, winking as he pours juice and coffee for everyone. "If you kick me out now, I just keep showing up on de doorstep."
Without further ado, he breaks a piece off of a croissant and lathers it with a mixture of honey and blackberries swirled together. "Dis was all easy, anyway," he admits. "Dere's a nice French bakery not far from here. And I get de fruit from a lil' stand a few blocks away. Dese people do all de hard work."
"You should be around people," Esme says bluntly, taking a sip of juice. "The right people," she adds. "It's good for you."
"It was so strange when we got in the world and realized that people were separate," Phoebe says, imitating Remy with the croissant. "Not just the psionic shielding on our technicians."
"She's right." Sophie sniffs curiously at a cake--they pick up all kinds of strange little mannerisms from Laura--before trying a bite. "It was nightmarish. We already felt so lonely without Minde and Celeste and then to find out that the whole world was more alone than us was terrible."
"Most people don't know any better. Never have, never will." Remy takes a bite of his croissant and chews slowly, his brow furrowed as he thinks on how best to explain this concept. "S'like me," he says after a moment, using the remaining bit of his pastry to point at himself. "Before I joined minds with you, I didn't know what it was like. I bumped into telepaths before, but I never let anybody in until you guys. After I did..."
He trails off. This is a concept he doesn't have words for, in French or in English. The lines across his brow grow deeper. "I like being seperate," he says, speaking slowly, as if he's explaining this to himself as much as to the girls. "But there's this feeling when we're all linked together. Like I belong to something important. I'm a part of something complete. And I don't feel lonely anymore." The last bit is said with a smile.
"We know what you mean," Sophie says for all of them. |"And not because we're cheating,"| the gestalt adds. |"It's good to know what it is to be -together-."| |"We don't even need to read minds to feel that way with some people."| |"Like you, or Lian, or Laura."|
"We were surprised you let us in," Esme says after feeding Phoebe a strawberry. "Happy, but surprised."
"Not even happy because you have a very useful mind," Phoebe says. "But because we could already tell it was important to you."
"But you do have a useful mind," Sophie teases, leaning over and putting her head on Remy's shoulder.
Remy grins and chuckles, leaning his head against Sophie's briefly. "I like to think I have my uses. I'm glad you agree." He reaches out to snag a strawberry of his own, pulling it from the bowl. "I was a lil' surprised I let you in, too," he admits as he licks cream from his fingers. "I just had dis feeling, I guess. I trusted you, and I wanted you to know it. To know me, so you could trust me. Plus, I wanted to see if it was even possible."
Not only possible, but comfortable. He takes up a spoon and dives into one of the cakes, making sure to get balanced portions of everything. Just before he shovels it into his mouth, he makes one more quiet admission. "And it makes me happy, too."
"Will you teach us the things you know?" Sophie wants to know in that tone that says she's speaking for the girls while they're eating. "Especially the fighting things?" <And the stealing things,> Esme interjects, making Sophie roll her eyes. "We want to be better at that."
Rather than stuff the bite of cake into his own mouth, Remy swoops his spoon around and feeds it to Sophie. "Of course I will," he replies, grinning at them. "A lot of it is more about patience den anything else. The stealing, I mean," he explains. "Patience and practice. I was actually going to get some of my tools when all de crazy stuff happen and I get in dat fight. I make de trip again soon. We can spar anytime, though. I show you my lil' tricks dat keep me alive."
Sophie makes a surprised little noise as she's fed and the others giggle.
"We can spar, you can sit down, sir," Phoebe says in her best bossy tones.
"Yes, because we want to practice as our other selves," Esme explains. "We need to practice when we can't hear each other or steal from the minds of our opponents.'
"And we could hurt you terribly... even like this right now," Sophie says. She reaches over and puts her hand on Remy's. "You are hurt. But you can watch and teach us."
Remy immediately opens his mouth to argue with them, but he's smart enough not to pursue it. Not only are they right, but he knows it and they can read his mind. "Okay," he concedes. Still, he's not happy about it. Glumly, he shovels up another spoonful of cake, this time into his own mouth. It's good enough that even he can't keep pouting. "Ugh. I need to get better," he grumbles good-naturedly. "But... I guess when I'm better, I go home."
From the look on his face, it's clear that Remy hasn't given this much thought. What Happens Next? His brow furrows back into pensive 'V' shaped lines. He glances up at his girls. "I like it here, though."
"You're never really away from us if you don't want to be," the girls say. "You can always reach for us." "And you can come back here." Home is a rather amorphous idea for the girls. There's the place they keep their things and their people. And then there's the gestalt. Being settled would be dangerous for everyone.
"You keep safehouses," Sophie says thoughtfully. "This is just another one." "That Laura uses too." "We should get a bigger one." "Safer." "So we can all come and go."
"Now dere's an idea," Remy says, stroking his stubbled chin. "I know a couple places dat would work. I just never needed dat much space. We'll go check 'em out sometime."
Apparently satisfied with this, he scoops up the last of the strawberries, finishes them off, and sighs happily. "Dat was fun. I don't get to cook for other people very often. And dere's leftover cake and croissants for Laura," he points out.
"If you cook for Laura, she will like you," Phoebe says with a giggle.
"I like the idea of having a nicer place," Esme says, somewhat unexpectedly. "Before the agents arrived in New York, we were talking about buying a house. And getting a cat."
"We have Laura now, we don't need a cat," Sophie points out. "And it's not good to have a home like other people. It'll just get taken away. But somewhere less like a normal house, maybe."
"We could keep more stuff there," Phoebe notes as she starts to clear dishes. "And train there."
"De place I'm thinking of could be all of dat, probably," Remy says, standing to help Phoebe clear away breakfast. "It used to be a machine shop, so it's mostly one big, open room. Dere's a loft and a couple of offices we could do whatever with. I win it in a card game a few years ago. Just never needed it, so I leave it alone."
As he helps tidy, some things are being set aside. One of the cakes. A couple of the croissants, with small pots of butter and jam and honey to go with them. Some of the cheese, which has remained untouched. As an afterthought, he reaches into the fridge, pulls out some cold roast beef, and adds it to the pile. The entire array is arranged on a plate, wrapped in plastic, and labeled 'LAURA.'
"As far as somebody takin' it from us, I dare 'em to try," Remy growls.
All of a sudden, Esme and Phoebe dissolve in giggles and Sophie scowls. "Hush," she protests. Whatever it is--it's hilarious. Even Sophie has to stifle a giggle.
Phoebe is laughing too hard to talk but Esme points accusingly at her sister. "You have no idea," she gasps, "how excited Sophie is about getting to organize it."
Sophie turns bright pink and covers her face with her hands. "Shut up!"
Now Remy's laughing too, but it's a warm, unmocking sound. Without pulling her hands away from her face, he gathers Sophie up in his arms and gives her a hug. With her arms tucked against her, she's completely wrapped up by him. It's a protective, almost possessive gesture. He's still chuckling, his chest shaking as he cradles Sophie close.
"Don't worry, p'tit," he says, leaning his cheek against her blonde hair. "I give you de keys today, if you want. You can do whatever you like, as long as you save a corner for my motorcycle and de lift. And a lil' somewhere for me to put my tools."
"Well, I could get started..." Sophie allows. |"There will be lots of room for you,"| the gestalt assures Remy. |"And Laura."| |"Because it wouldn't be right without you."|
Remy gives Sophie another squeeze, then lets her go. He dismisses their concerns with a wave of his hand. "Of course we all be dere. And like you were saying, dere'll be room to train. Stash our gear. Have our friends over for slumber parties."
He turns around and leans back against the counter, looking all three of his girls over at once. Not quite mature enough for a father figure. Too familiar for an uncle. Lacking the rivalry one would see from most older brothers. Still, he looks upon them with the eyes of all three. "I think Laura's warming up to me, too. I hope, anyway."
"You're not bleeding," Esme says honestly. "So she's warming up to you." |"She has a point."| |"And we're starting to smell like you."| |"So she'll come around for sure."|
"Can I have the keys?" Sophie bounces over the back of the couch to get to the wardrobe. She tosses off her sleep shirt and shorts to get dressed. "I want to look now."
These are all points that Remy can't argue with, though he does let out a snort of laughter. While he's seen an awful lot (all) of the girls while they've been rooming together, he still tries to be respectful when the opportunity permits. He turns his back while Sophie gets changed, leaning against the couch she just used as a springboard. "I'm just glad she didn't boot me out on sight," he admits. "De keys are in my coat. On de big janitor ring in one of de pockets. I can't remember which ones, though."
"I'll figure it out." Sophie gets a pair of shorts and a hoodie on, then throws on her boots.
"You're never going by yourself." Esme looks up from her coffee. "Sophie!"
"Why not? You'll be right with me anyway." Sometimes, even the one in charge needs some space. Sophie rummages through Remy's coat and comes up with the keys. "I can do it."
"I don't like it." Phoebe looks miserable.
"It's practice. We need to practice," Sophie says firmly. "I'll check it out and then we can meet up and go shopping."
"Why not compromise? I go with you, give you a ride, show you around." Remy's already hauling himself back up. Lucky for him, he got dressed hours ago. Worn jeans and a t-shirt. He's one coat away from being good to go. He crosses his arms over his chest and exchanges glances with his girls. His gaze lingers longest on Sophie. "Dis way nobody's alone, yeah? Unless you want to be alone, p'tit."
|"It's good for us,"| she reminds her sisters. |"We're not apart, just not in the same place."|
"You can come, yes. That's probably wise." Sophie's got no problem with taking some help. She's just on some agenda going--part of which is space but the rest of which is unclear. "I'll send pictures as soon as I have them. I can use your phone, yes?" She asks Remy as she tosses hers to Esme.
|"You're probably right,"| Esme says grudgingly. |"We do need the practice."|
Activity In 3 J 05:40 PM
"Sure," Remy replies. He grabs up his coat, swings it around his shoulders, and settles it comfortably into place. Then he makes his rounds, giving Esme and Phoebe each a one-armed hug and a goodbye cheeksmooch. "Be good, you two. We'll see you soon."
Then, winking at Sophie, he jerks his head toward the door. "C'mon. Let's ride."