Wearing Thin (Piecewise)
by Cherry Ice

Early August, scarlet and gold. Last fading light of the sun heavy in the air and the chirp of crickets hanging lazy over everything. His wings are dead weight in the heat and humidity and he flutters them slightly, stirring up a breeze. Remy, sprawled across a patio chair, shifts faintly in thanks. His eyes are half-closed and there's a faint sheen of sweat on his skin.

Xavier is sitting by the drive, writing in a leather-bound journal. His face is intense, and there is no blanket covering his legs.

There comes the roar of a motor and the protest of tires. Warren raises his head, just a little, just enough to see over the veranda railing. It's Logan's motorcycle in the driveway, only that's wrong because the motor is growling, it's snarling and Logan always takes good care of his bike.

It's just idling there in the driveway and Logan is straddling it, unmoving. Xavier is still staring intensely at his journal, just as if there were no girl perched behind Logan on his bike. She swings off and around and kisses Logan on his exposed nose. The helmet obscures his eyes.

Her boots click-clack, click-clack as she makes her way across the pavement, and it rings with the grumbling of the engine. Xavier is studying his notes with extreme concentration, but she takes his face in her hands and tilts it towards her. He looks right through her, but then her shadow flickers and the far-away in his eyes fades to nothing.


"A friend of Logan's," he says, and smiles, " is a friend of ours."

There's a chill in the air, like fog in the humidity, and Warren shivers. Realizes the growling of the bike is gone and finds is standing in the middle of the drive, Logan gone. Looks to Remy, but finds his chair empty. Resolves to ask him tomorrow if he noticed anything wrong.

After all, Logan doesn't usually wear a helmet.


Betsy isn't home when he calls. He finds Remy on the roof, because Remy disappeared on him and that's where everyone goes to hide. Warren sits on the peak of the roof with the moonlight shining off his wings, and Remy dangles his feet off the edge, lost in the shadows but for the red glint of his eyes and the cherry on his cigarette.

Remy starts at shadows, and Warren doesn't ask anything at all.


Breakfast is usually a rushed affair, a jumble of student voices (watch this! Billy, give me your bread) and teacher warnings (toast in the toaster, Billy, I don't care that Sarah can cook it, we do not eat food off other students!).

People run around each other and at each other and through each other and Scott reads the paper and Jean hums as she boils the kettle and Remy watches it all from the stairs with a wry grin twisting his lips.

Warren, with his wings over the chair back, talks with his accountant on the phone and glares at them all but doesn't leave.


The sky is bright and clear and Warren quarters an orange at an empty table and discusses stocks without a single interruption.


The clouds are pregnant with rain, low and swollen and threatening. The marble of the fountain is warm beneath him because the water has long since dried up. He sits cross-legged with his palms pressed to the stone; stares at the yellowing grass and tries to remember when Storm was due back.

There's a leather-bound notebook open on the pavement. He thinks it may be Xavier's, the one he was studying as Logan growled up to the mansion.

The pages flip in the wind, and he looks away. The heavy, shadowy, scrawl is faded in the sun, until the teeth on the darkness disappear into the paper.

She sits on the veranda railing and swings her legs.

"What are you?" he asks.

"I'm Michelle, silly," she says. Giggles. "If you want to know how I met Logan, you'll have to ask him yourself."

He would, but no one's seen Logan for weeks.


"Remy." He catches the other man's hand in the hall, and wants to tighten his grip until the fingers inside his snap and break.

"You should leave," he says. Pauses.

Remy's eyes are faded, the colour of dried blood. "I know," he says. Slips his fingers from Warren's and turns his back before the loss registers.

"When did we start hating each other?" Warren asks, because he can clearly remember the hatred, remember the anger and the frustration and the need to lash out, but can't remember where it came from or what started it all.

Remy pauses, then shrugs and walks away. "Whenever makes sense in your head, mon ami."

It doesn't matter. They were never close anyway.


"We never see Remy lately," Scott says, and Warren looks up from his three- day old paper. Something niggles -- Remyleavingfightdon'tunderstand -- but then Jean shakes her head sadly.

"Remy's been depressed lately," Jean pronounces.

Michelle sits on the counter behind and mouths the words a half-second before they fall from Jean's lips.


"He's going to leave, you know," she says, and shadows slide black across her hair. She's leaning against the Professor's bedroom door, and her music is creeping out along the floor. "You should think about what that means to you."

It means -- Means Meansyouwon'thavetobreathhissmoke,upontheroofwhereyousitandstareatthe stars. Meansyou'llbealone. Meansyou'llneverknowifhetasteslikecigarettesandbourbon.

He hits her and the thoughts stop.

She wipes her mouth and smiles. "You'd be pretty together," she says. "Think about it."

He shakes his head and carries on.


He calls Betsy. Dials her number and waits for it to ring, and never notices that his left hand has pushed down the button on the cradle.

There are seventeen messages on his machine, and he deletes them all unheard.

He knows there's something he needs to talk to Remy about, but he can't seem to remember what it is. Maybe -- maybe he'll just ask Remy the next time he sees him. Remy will know what's wrong, what it is that's bothering him.

And he would, he would have, knows he should, but the next time he sees Remy, he just wants to knock a few teeth out of his (pretty little) mouth.


They're sitting in the lounge, two of them sitting at a table meant for ten. The air conditioning stopped working four days ago, so the window is wide open and a hot breeze drifts in. His hands are sweating and the cards slip in his fingers.

She's got her head cocked at her cards, but she's not really looking at them. There is no sheen of sweat on her forehead, and she smiles. "I love our little games," she says, and draws a card from the top of the stack. "Telepaths are easy."

He looks out the window. The grass passed yellowing a week ago. He feels like that inside, all brittle and dry and drained.

"If it were possible, I'd say you were completely null," she says. Flicks through her cards. "I bet that girl of yours can't even form the smallest of bonds with you. No wonder she's not returning your calls."

He can see Remy outside, staring at the sky. He is all sage and sandstone.

"It won't be much longer," she says. "You make him feel very unwelcome here." She lays her cards face up on the table, and her eyes are a study of innocence.

Warren looks away from Remy and spreads his cards.

Michelle's eyes tighten as she looks from her cards to his. "Why would you do that, Warren? Why would you mistreat someone you love?"


Warren doesn't want to think about it.

Wants to think about journals rotting on the lawn and where the students went and why they still have food and the fact that Jean's stopped washing her hair; not Remy's fingers dancing a rhythm on the shingles and the way his hair brushes the arc of his neck as he laughs.

He lies awake at night, staring at the laughing shadows and feeling the rasp of stubble against his neck, calloused hands against his wings.


Jean's lying across the couch with Scott's head in her lap. They've been there for a day and a half, and she's still running her fingers through his hair. It's getting dark but the only light in the room comes from the television, and the only noise is the hiss of dead air.

"He's gone," Michelle says, and Warren jumps. One of his feet is bare and the carpet is brittle beneath his heel. She's sitting cross-legged on the TV with the laughing shadows wound in her hair. "I hope you're happy."

The screen is a miasma of black and white.

He is.


There's something wrong.

It slithers at the back of his brain, like a snake undulating through his conscious thoughts, and Warren can't pin the coils.

He should be happy. He is happy. He's happy because Remy -- Remy with his infuriating smirk and lying eyes -- is gone.

(Something inside of him is screaming.)

He's perched on the peak of the room, bottle in hand. There's no moon to glint off his wings in the cold night air, so the shadows crawl the feathers instead. It's almost comforting. Half the whiskey is gone, and the pitch of the roof seems much steeper than it did half an hour ago.

There's a shadow humming on the edge of the roof, a lilting, aimless melody, and for a second Warren thinks it's Remy, Remy who sits with him and stares at the moon except the moon's been gone for a long time now; and when the figure turns there isn't the red glint of his eyes or the glow of a cigarette, just too-pale skin and eyes that are lost in the night.

He misses Remy.

He shakes his head and takes another pull from the bottle. The not-quite- melody hangs in the air and crawls up the tiles and through his skin. It's everywhere but his head.

"Don't you ever get tired of these games?" the shadows ask him from the hole that is Michelle's mouth.

He's so fucking tired. He's just --

He misses Remy.

He misses Remy. Remy --

"Left because of you."

Because --

"You wouldn't face it, Warren. You didn't want to deal with any of it, did you?"

With Remy's anger and passion and lips and --

"So you built up these walls and you blocked--"


"--him out and you're here celebrating because he's gone and you don't have to deal with it anymore, don't have to face it and let --"


"--anyone in."


This is all Warren's fault, and he knows just how to make it better.


And he does.

He'll find Remy. And he'll bring him back.

And everything will be right again.


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