"Hey Remy, want to play? It's always funner with more people?" Bobby smiled while passing the multi-colored money around the board.
Hank shook his head. "More fun, not funner, my grammar impaired friend. Yes, Remy, why not join us? You can help me stop the Monopoly guru from cheating."
"I don't cheat! I'm just that good!" Bobby stuck out his tongue in a childish manner.
Remy shrugged. "Why not." He took in the board as he crossed his legs and got comfortable on the floor in front of the coffee table. He looked at the colored squares with street names, dice, cards, and money with confusion. When he glanced at the corners of the boards he saw 'Free Parking' and 'Go to Jail'? Now he was sure there was no way he was going to figure this one out. "Alright, y' are going to have to tell me how to play, I don't get it."
Hank showed no surprise. It was common knowledge that Remy's childhood was lived mainly on the streets of New Orleans. Last time he checked, homeless people didn't play Monopoly on a regular basis. Before he got the chance to explain he was interrupted by loud laughing.
"No Way! You don't know how to play Monopoly? What planet are you from?" Bobby shrieked and threw his hands into the air.
Remy tried not to act hurt, he knew Bobby was a little high-strung, so he just went along. "Non, I never played before. I've heard of Monopoly, so I must at least be from this planet."
"Oh Man! What kind of childhood did you have, never playing Monopoly. I have never heard of anyone never playing this game. Heck, it was a requirement in my family to play every Christmas! Even my dad was forced to play." Bobby was laughing so hard he didn't notice Remy had stood up in anger, until the top hat bounced off his forehead.
"Forget it!" Remy yelled and stomped out of the den towards his room.
Bobby rubbed his forehead. "What's his problem? Can't take a joke?"
Hank sighed. "You better be happy he did not charge that game piece. What you said was very insensitive and very uncalled for. I am quite sure you are aware he grew up on the streets. Sometimes Robert, I wish you would grow up."
"Oh shit!" Bobby put his hand over his mouth, slowly realizing what he did. "I totally forgot." He stood up and ran towards the door. "I'm going to go apologize."
Bobby knocked on the door, again. He had knocked three times and there was no answer. "Remy, please, can I come in. I'm sorry."
Bobby let out the breath he was holding. "Remy, I just want to talk. I want to apologize."
Bobby was fed up, he was going to get the chance to say he was sorry to something other then this door if he had to bust it down. "Remy, I'm coming in. I hope you're decent." He waited for a minute, but when there was no answer he walked in. Remy was laying on his bed with the covers wrapped around him like they were the only thing saving him from drowning. "Remy...."
Remy rolled over onto his side, his back to Bobby. He didn't want to talk to him. "I told y' to go away."
Bobby sighed. "I just wanted to say I was sorry for what I said. I totally forgot that you lived on the streets. I just didn't think before I spoke."
Bobby heard the angry mutter from the bed. This wasn't getting better. "I just never met anyone that hadn't played Monopoly. Me and all my cousins played so much that we started making our own rules. Heck, I figured that Monopoly was a required class for everyone in 3rd Grade."
"Sorry didn't go to school, must have missed it."
Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! "I got my first Monopoly game when I was five, I was pretty good at it by the age of six. I taught most my cousins to play, maybe I can teach you too. Then maybe you can teach me to play poker, there always playing that on the streets. Bet you learned how to play that pretty young." Bobby cringed at his own words. Idiot! Think before you speak, thats how you got into this mess.
Remy fought back his tears. He wasn't sure if they were from the hurt Bobby was causing with every word he said, or the pure anger he was feeling towards the man. Before he could stop himself, he had rolled over and started to yell at Bobby. "Y' want me to teach y' my childhood games? How 'bout, find your next meal in a dumpster so y' don't have to suck some guy off for money to eat? How bout that one? I learned that one pretty well by six. I'm sure I could teach y' and all your stupid cousins." Remy stopped when he realized what he just said. He promised himself never to tell anyone in the mansion. He wanted them to get to know him for who he was, not because they pitied him for what he was. The only person he had ever told was his Stormy, the only one that seemed to have an understanding of what his childhood was like. He quickly turned his back to Bobby again. "Go away, NOW!"
Bobby stood there in shock of what he just heard. Not knowing what else to do or say he backed out of the room, closing the door behind him. He slid down the wall in the hallway trying to process what he just heard. It can't be true, he is just trying to get back at me for what I said. That's it! He is messing with my head. That had to be it! He stood up and brushed off his jeans with a smile. He's just messing with me. As he turned to leave he heard something crash against the door. He listened closely and could swear he heard something. Crying. Oh Christ, he's crying. He's really upset. He has to be lying. He ran down the hall to go to the one person that would know. She would be able to tell him.
Bobby stood at the door of the loft waiting for Ororo to answer the knock on the door. He seemed to be doing this a lot tonight. Knocking and waiting. He was about to stick his head in the door when it opened. He wanted to return the smile the beautiful white haired goddess gave him, but came up short.
"Hello Robert. You were the last person I expected to be on the other side of this door, especially with the look of sadness on your face. What is wrong my friend?" Ororo waved him in. "I was in the middle of watering my plants, would you like to talk while I finish?"
Robert nodded and followed her to the greenhouse area of the loft. He was always amazed at the virtual jungle she had growing in the roof of the mansion. He usually was in awe of the lush room, but today it did not seem to hold his attention. "Ororo, I need to ask you about something Remy said."
Ororo's attention was instantly peaked. She loved her brother as much as if they were truly blood. "What did he say?"
Bobby looked at the floor. Talking to her about Remy doing favors for men was like talking to his mother about sex, it was a little strange. "Well, I asked him to play Monopoly with me and Hank. When he told me he didn't know how to play I kinda made fun of him. I tried to apologize, but I just made it worse. He got really mad at me and told me that he used to...do things...for men when he was a child. He's just pulling my leg right?"
Ororo gave Bobby a scowl. She knew he must have really upset Remy for her brother to tell him something like that. Remy was never open about his days on the street with anyone. She knew Bobby would have been the last person Remy would choose to share his nightmare of a childhood with. "Bobby, you have to understand that his life was very different from yours. He was alone and homeless. He had to survive anyway he could. That just happened to be the only thing he could do to live."
Bobby shook his head. This was not what he wanted. He came up to the loft for her to tell him Remy was lying, not to confirm that Remy was really telling the truth. "Dear God, Ororo, he was sucking men off for money. Why didn't he find some other way to survive? Why not just go to a shelter, or an orphanage or something? They would have found him a family!"
Ororo patted Bobby on the shoulder. "You are truly naive, Robert."
"What?" Bobby was stunned. What kind of answer was that.
Ororo sighed and sat down in a chair in the center of the vast gardens. She waved Bobby to the other. "Robert, children from the streets don't just go to an orphanage and have a blissful time until they are adopted by a wonderful family. You have watched too much television. Children of the streets learn quickly that orphanages and shelters are places to avoid. He would have been locked down in an institution and mistreated all the same. The way he lived, he had his freedom, and was at least paid for what he did, in an orphanage he would have been forced."
Bobby slumped in his seat. All this time he had never known, his teammate was suffering and never let on. Things he and the others had said flooded into his head. Things, that if he would have known Remy's past, he would have never said. He quickly stood. "I have to go talk to him. Why didn't he ever say anything?"
"Robert, sit!" Ororo stopped her teammate with a chilly wind. She waited until Bobby complied and took his seat again. "That is the reason he never confided in you. He knew you would pity him."
"It's not pity."
"It is not? You have never tried to make friends with Remy until now. Never wanted to talk, know his past, be there when he needed someone. Now that you know a few of the horrors of his life you want to offer all those things. That is pity, Robert. You will not make my brother your charity case. That is not what he needs." Ororo stood. "I will go talk to Remy. Make sure he is sound. Keep this to yourself, the others do not need to know. I am sure Remy is cursing himself for telling you as it is."
Bobby nodded as the goddess walked past him to the door. Suddenly he found it urgent to know one more thing. "Ororo?"
"Did it ever get any worse? He didn't, you know..." Bobby felt like a coward he couldn't even say it.
"Did he ever sell his body?" She saw the small nod from Bobby. "Yes. In the beginning he refused, said it gave him a little control to be able to say no. One of his customers didn't take no as an answer, and took what he wanted. After that he had nothing to protect, his innocence was lost to him." Ororo turned away from Bobby to hide the tear that escaped her eye. She stroked the door frame absent-mindedly. "The story he tells everyone about been adopted after picking Jean Luc's pocket is just a candy coated story he tells everyone. The truth is he offered his body to him and was taken home. His adopted family was always afraid to talk to him, touch him, show their true love, thinking that it would remind him of his past. He craved there unconditional love, but never received it because of his childhood. That is why he doesn't tell anyone. He just wants to be loved for who he is, not pitied."
Bobby turned to say something but noticed Ororo had already left.
Bobby found himself wondering the halls always walking towards Remy's room. When he realized his closeness he would turn around, wandering the other way, only to end up in the same place again. He finally thought he was being ridiculous. He can talk to Remy without showing pity. He could at least reassure the Cajun his secret was safe, so he wouldn't worry. When he reached the door he found it to be cracked ever so slightly. Hearing Ororo's voice he decided not to interrupt. He took a quiet seat next to the door. He told himself he wasn't eavesdropping, just waiting. He knew it was a lie.
"Remy, are you alright?"
"Guess the brat told y' huh?"
"You cannot call him a brat, you are younger then he. Yes, he spoke to me. He told me that you were angry about a game."
Bobby heard the hitch in Remy's voice. He could already tell Remy was upset by the sound of his voice. He felt his stomach turn when the sobbing began. He heard Ororo's comforting words, he could not make the whispers out, but knew there intent. Bobby found himself leaning towards the door when Remy's voice drifted through the door again.
"I knew he would do that. Make fun of me for never playing. But I wanted to play, just once. I used to watch families through their windows. Watch them play games like that. They were always so happy, having so much fun. I just wondered what it was like. To have fun. To be happy."
"Remy, I am sure he is truly sorry for what he said. Robert is just immature. He did not mean to hurt your feelings. I really think he would like to be your friend, to help you. Just give him a chance to know you, the real you."
"Non Stormy, he'll never understand. I used to envy him. He was and had everything I dreamed of as a child. He had parents, a home, family, even stupid board games. He was able to have a childhood, hell, he's still playing the child. He had it all and he complains like he had it rough. Says his father was a bigot, his mother was overprotective, his house was too small, he had no siblings, even that he had meatloaf for dinner too often. I would have killed for just one night in a home like that! Just one! He had it and still has it. Until he understands what he has, he will never understand what I never did."
Bobby closed his eyes and felt the tears roll down his cheeks. Damn, he was right. All this time he had almost the perfect childhood and he had the nerve to wish for another one. He slowly and quietly pulled himself up the wall and headed back down the hall. He gave up on talking to Remy, he knew he would never be able to connect to the Cajun. Not now.
He sat down in the den chair with a huff, staring at the Monopoly board sitting in front of him. He picked up the top hat and rolled it in his fingers watching the light glitter off the chrome piece. He took a deep sigh and looked at the clock. Seeing it was still early he picked up the phone and slowly dialed the familiar number.
"Hey!...Yea, Mom. it's me...No, nothing's wrong...Why'd I call?...Because I can."
Go! Call Your Parents!