"Cheese? Mustard? Chips?"
"Check, check and check."
Hank packed the rest of the food in the basket and handed it to Jean. "That should be everything. I have one more item I will add to my menu, but I must retrieve it secretly to secure it's hiding place from prying eyes." He gave the red head a toothy grin.
Jean just shook her head. "Twinkies. Will you two ever grow up?"
Hank gave Jean a false look of horror, then winked. "Never think of it!" They both turned towards the kitchen door when it opened and Logan walked in.
"Sorry Jeannie, I can't get him out of his room." Logan shrugged.
"I wish he would at least try to be part of this family. The only time any of us see him is during missions and danger room sessions. After that he just shuts himself away." She picked up the basket that Hank had helped her pack. "I guess I will meet you two outside. Thanks for trying Logan."
"Anytime Red, sorry I couldn't convince him. I could always threaten him." He raised his eyebrow. If she gave him permission he would go up there and drag the Cajun from his room.
"No Logan, we cannot force him, that wouldn't do much good." With that Jean walked out to the picnic. They would have it every year at the same time just to celebrate being a family. This year it wouldn't be the same without Remy.
"Remy is not coming?" Hank had worried about Remy being so withdrawn since his return. He had apologized to Remy for his actions on several occasions, but it never seemed to matter. He knew that his betrayal hit Remy harder then the others. They shared a bond that few in the mansion even knew about. He felt awful about the trial and leaving him behind. He had no excuses, but he was truly sorry. To hear Remy was not coming to the family picnic was hard to except.
"Nope. The kid says he doesn't want to come. He's had a hard time coming back, Blue. I don't blame him too much. He's afraid to get hurt again." Logan shrugged, what else could he say or do.
"If he is afraid to reconnect with the group then why has he returned to the mansion? It doesn't make sense. He cannot stay locked up in his room the rest of his natural life!"
"I asked him the same thing and he just said he owed us. I have no clue what the hell....Hank, are ya alright?" Logan could see the anger on Hank's face. He knew he had just triggered Hank's anger towards Remy, he just didn't know why. Hank and Remy always had some odd bond that the kid never seemed to have with anyone else. It had been strained because of the trial and betrayal, but it was still there.
Hank bit back his anger. He couldn't blame this on Remy, not entirely. He knew a lot about Remy's past and upbringing, and it was mainly to blame. Even with that knowledge he couldn't help be angry with Remy for being so foolish. "I would have thought the young man would have grown out of that by now!"
Logan raised an eyebrow at the doctor. "Grown out of what?"
Hank just shook his head. "I will tell you later. Where is he? I need to speak with him."
Logan pointed his thumb over his shoulder. "Should still be holed up in his room." Logan stopped Hank as he past him to leave the kitchen. "I'm holding ya to that, ya know."
"Holding me to what?"
"You're going to tell me whats going on between ya two." Logan did his best to make it sound more like a threat then a request. He saw Hank nod reluctantly. Before he released Hank he gave him one last warning. "Take it easy on the brat, he's had it hard enough lately."
Hank didn't bother knocking on the door. He was too angry for manners. He opened the door to Remy's room and stepped inside. "Remy?" He looked around the room and found the Cajun curled up on the open window pane staring into the field below.
"What do y' want Henri?"
Hank didn't let Remy's somber tone phase him. He marched over to the window and glared at the young man perched on the pane. "Why are you not joining us on the picnic?"
Remy sighed. "I already went through this with Logan, I don't want to go."
"You do not want to go or you are afraid to go? This is ridiculous Remy, you cannot spend your time locked in this room. It is unhealthy, mentally and physically..." Hank stopped when he saw Remy roll his eyes and stare off into the field again, obviously ignoring his doctorly advice. "I just don't understand why you are keeping us at a distance. We have all apologized, and we all truly are sorry. I don't know what more you want from us. We want you to be a part of this family again, but you are making it very difficult."
Remy glared at the doctor. "Who says I want to be a part of this family? I'm not setting myself up again!" Remy huffed and looked out the window again. He had said too much already.
"Setting yourself up? For what Remy? Are you afraid we will betray you again? Is that it?" Hank put one large hand on Remy's shoulder and turned the young man around to face him. "You must allow us a second chance. We are giving you one."
Remy shrugged off Hank's hand angrily. "I don't want a second chance, I know I don't deserve it. That's not why I'm here."
Hank's anger flared again. He hated when Remy was stubborn and foolish. "Yes, I know why you are here. Logan told me. You believe you owe us. I thought we talked through this when your were younger. We do not own you Remy. When are you going to learn that just because someone gives you shelter does not mean you are their slave? You do not have to pay the X-men back for being your family. We will do that for free. We did before and we will continue to now, if you give us the chance."
"I don't know Henri."
"It's alright. I will not force you to join us at the festivities, but I want you to think about why you are here. I do not think you should live here..." Hank saw the fear creep into Remy's eyes and he shook his head. "Let me finish. I do not think you should live here if your only reason is to pay a dept to your misplaced loyalty. I want you to stay here because you want to be here. No other reason."
Remy couldn't argue. He didn't want to. He just nodded, silently agreeing to think it through.
"Good. Well, I am going to venture down to the picnic. I hope you will join us later. I know Jean and Logan are very disappointed you decided to stay in your room. I also feel you will regret missing the joyous occasion later as well." Hank grinned at Remy, hoping he would take the bait.
Remy couldn't help but smile back, there was always something contagious about Hank's happiness. "And why would I be regretting it so much?"
Hank playfully ignored answering the question until he was almost out the door. "Well not only would you be missing my extraordinary company. I was just on the way to pick up my hidden stash of Twinkies, and if I remember correctly, a box of Ho Ho's some how got mixed in with them. I don't know who is going to eat those horrid things since you will not attend." Hank smiled and shut the door. He heard Remy's chuckling and a little hope warmed his heart.
Hank joined the others at the picnic with a huge stack of Twinkie boxes. He playful dropped the boxes onto an empty picnic table and smiled at Bobby, who was staring at him from the water. He knew he just started the annual fight between him and his good friend. The day would be filled with Bobby's attempts at stealing Hank's stash, and Hank would defend his precious snacks. Of course all the others would get stuck in between, which always added to the fun. He picked up a box of Twinkies and the single box of Ho Hos and retreated to the lake side, where the majority of the team was enjoying the sun and water.
Not one to enjoy swimming, due to his thick pelt, he plopped down next to Logan on the dock. Logan was drinking his normal poison of beer and smoking a cigar while basking in the sun. Three things Hank never understood about Logan. The Canadian's healing factor did not allow him to become intoxicated by alcohol or nicotine, nor did his body tan because of it. Even though he would find Logan practising all three on a normal basis. Well he might as well indulge his bad habits as well. He ripped open his box of Twinkies and began eating the sugary treats making sure to make his indulgence known. He just had to wait for Bobby to make his move.
Logan laughed and shook his head. He knew this ritual could get ugly. Someone would normally get hurt, or at least pissed off at Hank and Bobby by the end of the picnic because of this little war they fought. Logan himself thought it added to the togetherness of the picnic each year. No matter what happened he could count on this picnic and the boys Twinkie war. He glanced down at the now half empty box and noticed the Ho Hos underneath. "Ya think just because it's chocolate Bobby won't go after it?"
Hank gave Logan a look of confusion., then his eyes went wide with acknowledgment when Logan tapped the box of Ho Hos. "Ah, no. Robert nor I would ever eat those horrible imitations of Hostess treats. Those are actually for Remy. I did not want them to become innocent casualties in this little dispute."
"So ya don't see eye to eye on your sugar fixes huh?" Logan laughed. He had to admit he liked Ho Hos better then Twinkies as well, if he was forced to choose. He normally tried to stay away from both, way too much sugar for his palate.
"I tried to break him of his fixation of the terrible things, teach him that Twinkies are superior, but he just wouldn't convert. I thought I had him on the strawberry ones, but they stopped producing them, so I lost my advantage." Hank smiled as the memories. He glanced up at Remy's window at the mansion which was barely visible from the dock. He frowned to make out the shadowy figure still sitting on the window pane.
Logan swivelled to see what had caught Hank's eye. "Guess ya couldn't talk him into coming down here either. Every time I think I figured that boy out, he throws me for a loop again. Ya seem to know him pretty well. He has been here almost five years and barely connected with anyone. How did ya manage to be his friend since day one?" Logan hinted at the conversation Hank promised him. He wanted to know their connection. He knew there was something there, but he could never figure it out. If there was one thing he hated, it was not knowing what's going on.
"I have known Remy a lot longer then everyone else, that is all. I understand why he has some of his peculiar habits."
"I hope ya don't expect to get off that easy. I want the full story." Logan lit another cigar as he stood from the dock edge. He waved his head towards the empty deck chairs near the boathouse. It was away from everyone else, but close enough they wouldn't suspect anything. He wasn't sure what Hank had to say, but he was sure it wasn't anything everyone needed to know, or they would have been told already.
Hank took the hint, grabbed his snacks, and followed Logan to the deck. He didn't think he should be telling Logan, Remy had asked him to keep it between them and Ororo. Though, telling Logan the story of Remy's childhood might help him understand the Cajun a little better, and that was a good thing. Remy trusted Logan. He convinced himself that if Logan were to ask Remy for the story, he would get it, so it was alright for him to be the teller. "I will tell you, but you must understand this is something Remy does not want the whole team to know."
Logan snorted. "Like everything else in his life?"
"No, Logan, I really mean it. This is nothing that effects his performance with the team."
"Alright, I won't tell anyone. Not even the Cajun if ya want."
"That would make me more comfortable with this yes, thank you. So do you want the short version or the full length novel?" Hank smirked at Logan. He was hoping he would choose the short, but knew better.
"Give me the novel. It's a nice day outside and the others are occupied. Might as well take advantage." Logan felt like a gossip, he couldn't wait to hear about Remy and Hank.
"Well you better grab another beer then, it is not a short story." He watched as Logan jumped down from the deck and picked up a smaller cooler. "Hey! Grab another box of those Twinkies for me, and those chips."
"Blue, if ya want the damn table of food then come get it yourself!" Logan walked up the few step up to the deck with the cooler of beer and food in hand. He throw the box of snack cakes and chips on the table and pulled out another beer for himself. "Alright, tell me a story, and tell me in English, not doctor."
"Once upon a time..." Hank laughed when he heard the grumble from Logan. "Alright, Alright, when I graduated medical school I was very young by the standards of the medical profession. There were very few places that would except a 17 year old into residency. After weighing my handful of choices I decided on Tulane Hospital in New Orleans. They specialized in children with emergency needs, along with the typical ER cases. Knowing that I always had a job available to me here at the mansion, I thought it would be a good experience to work with the children as well as the adult cases.
On my last year of residency we got a call...
*~*~*~*~*~*~* 15 yrs. ago. New Orleans Mercy Hospital *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
"We just got a call in from dispatch. A police officer is bringing in a child from a warehouse fire. He is on his way now. They say the boy is not injured, but is panicking. I thought maybe someone would wait outside just in case the officer needs help."
Hank nodded and smiled at the blonde nurse everyone called Mary. She was his favorite. There was no attraction, but she was the kindest nurse on staff. There were several nurses and doctors in the hospital that he trusted and enjoyed working with. There was also those choice few that he couldn't believe passed there medical exams, let alone held a job working in a pediatrics hospital.
"I'll meet him out front. Can you prepare a room close to the desk. If the boy is scared he will need constant supervision." He picked up the chart with the information on the child in route to the hospital and headed towards the front doors. Looking over the papers there was little information the cop gave them. Just that the boy was found in an alley close to a building that mysteriously caught on fire. The child seemed to be about six years old and though there was not visible injuries, he seemed to be in shock.
He stood outside, in the surprisingly, empty parking lot of the hospital. It was late at night and everything seemed to be quiet that night. He watched in surprise as squeal of tires broke the silence. A police car, with sirens blaring, pulled up quickly into the lot, clipping the curb as it drove in. The vehicle stopped abruptly in front of the entrance with a screech of rubber against asphalt.
Hank was about to walk up to the car when the officer quickly stepped out of the door with a rifle. The policeman seemed to be oblivious to the doctor, who was now stepping back. With a look of terror the officer pumped the rifle and ripped open the back driver's side door to the squad car. The back seat seemed to be empty from Hank's point of view, so he could not understand exactly what was going on. Hank watched in confusion as the man pointed the gun towards the seat and demanded that the 'monster' get out of his car.
That's when Hank's acute hearing picked up the cries of a child from the car. He sprung into action. He could not believe a police officer would threaten a child, no matter how hostile. He ran to the passengers side door and attempted to get the policeman to talk to him. "What is going on? Put the gun down! That is a child!"
The officer didn't take his eye off the small boy in the back seat, the gun stayed aimed. "This ain't no kid. It's a god damn vampire!"
Hank looked at the officer in disbelief. He knew that the people in the area were more superstitious then most, but this was ridiculous. He knelt down so he could see in the window of the vehicle. He saw the small boy curled up in the seat, shaking violently. The boy was obviously scared, but was no threat to anyone other then himself. Hank stood back up to look at the police officer over the roof of the car. The man had not moved. "Listen, if you put the gun away I can remove the child from your vehicle. I just need you to step away."
"It's a fucking demon! Y' can't take it in the hospital. It'll kill everybody!" The officer leaned in closer with the gun, pointing it only inches from the boys head. "I should put it out of it's misery."
"No! Stop! You can't just shoot him. I will get him out of the car, we will deal with it from there. Please." With that Hank opened the back passenger doors in hopes that if he was in the line of fire the cop would withdrawl. The second he opened the door the boy went into a frenzy. Trying to get away from the new stranger that entered the car, only to run into the other one with a gun. Trapped, the boy coward down in the floor board. The boy curled up into a ball and began rocking while chanting "Take me back." over and over. Hank was at a loss of what to do. He wanted to go inside and get help, but was afraid to leave the child alone with the officer.
Then suddenly he heard sirens coming towards the parking lot. Hank was relieved to see another squad car pull up. The female officer quickly confronted the other cop and made him step away. She pushed him back from the car and shut the door quietly behind them. She then signalled to Hank that he had the lead to get the boy from the car, as she calmed her colleague down.
Hank hoped that it would be easier to move the boy out and into the hospital now that the threat was removed. Looking into the car he saw the boy was beyond panic. He was beating on the windows and the cage trying to get out. The moment Hank leaned into the car the boy stopped and pressed his back into the now closed door. The doctor could hear the boy hyperventilating and saw the blood on his forehead from running into the cage barrier in panic.
Hank reached out his hand to the small boy in a friendly gesture, only to cause a small yelp and recoil from the boy. "Listen, I need you to come with me. I will not hurt you."
"NO! You have to take me back! He'll punish me if you don't take me back!" The boy pushed further into the door, never looking at the man in front of him.
Hank noticed that the boy kept his eyes to the floor, which was frustrating. If he could see the boys eyes he could tell how deep into shock the boy had fallen. He was desperate. He could see that the original officer on the scene was getting agitated, the other cop would not be able to hold him back much longer. He hated to play on the boys fears, but he had to do anything he could to get the child away from the car. "If you come with me I promise you will not be punished. You were brought here to me. Now please, come on out so we can go inside."
The boy whimpered and glanced up at the doctor, only to quickly look away. He slowly moved down onto his stomach, placing his forehead to the seat, as if bowing to a god. "I'm sorry. Don't punish me, I didn't know."
Hank was frozen in shock, he had gotten his first glance at the boys eyes. They were like nothing he had seen before. Red and black, like a demons. He now understood where the policeman was getting his claims. Hank knew better though, the boy before him was not a demon, or a vampire, he was most likely just a mutant. He never expected to run into a mutant, especially not one so young. Now he didn't know what to do. The situation was like nothing he had dealt with.
He quickly shook himself out of his thoughts when the yelling between the officers suddenly increased. He had run out of time. He gently put his big hands under the boy and pulled him towards him. When he picked the child up into his arms the boy went rigid and began to panic again. Before Hank could calm the boy in his arms, he went limp, passing out from the excitement. The doctor held the boy tight to his chest and ran into the hospital. A feeling of dread began to built in his gut. He could already tell this boy had been through too much in his small life, he could only hope that he could help him to heal.