I Keep Falling Off The Roof
There is no plot to this fic. It is written entirely for the amusement of one Alan. Er, well, there isn't. Not really. Further notes at the end. Oh. And this fic is not funny. Not really. Sorry.
Ororo, Jubilee, and the X-Men belong to Marvel. No money is being made
from this. Enjoyment may be derived, though. Probably PG13, from some
of the imagery.
It had been one of those days, Gambit decided as he clambered up the trailing vines, intent on reaching the roof. What with this, that, and the other thing, it was definitely time for another long thought session on the roof of the X-Mansion.
He was on the third story when it happened. Something squishy got under his left hand, and he suddenly had nothing to grip on.
The sensation of almost falling sent shock down his spine, and adrenaline galvanized his muscles into action as he clung to the vines with one hand while frantically trying to find anything to hold onto with his other hand. It was hard to do so. Every time he gripped something, it melted away due to the slime on his hand.
His right hand was beginning to cramp, ready to release and send him to a painful existance.
And then he grabbed hold, left hand almost creaking from the strain of holding on. He set his feet into crevices and paused, panting from the effort.
For a moment, he rested. Then he continued up, determined even more to reach the roof for a moment of rest and angst.
This wouldn't be the first time he'd nearly fallen. Usually it happened on the roof. He'd trip, or something would cause him to forget there was a ledge--maybe the image of a stripped and naked Rogue.
And he would half-plunge off the roof. Sometimes he was caught by 'Ro, other times he caught himself. Once or twice he'd been caught by Rogue or Jean.
He pulled himself up over the edge of the roof and rolled onto it with a sigh.
Above him the stars twinkled silently, light having spent millions of years travelling to reach this small and insignificant planet. As insignificant and tiny as he was, according to Her. At least the stars could happily be assured they were dead by the time their light reached Earth.
He had to be alive. Couldn't even fall off the roof right.
A sigh escaped him, the mournful sound echoing into the silent evening.
The tile under his left boot suddenly slid away, skittering and falling over the edge. He pulled his legs up to his chest and sighed again, rolling so he sat, arms wrapped around knees.
As if the movement had been a signal, a cloud of bats swirled out of the sky, dancing around him their high-pitched cries making his ears hurt. As if his headache of before wasn't enough.
Intellectually, he knew it was just their way of navigating. And they really weren't swirling around him because they wanted to suck his blood.
Gambit decided he'd watched too many late-night horror movies with Jubilee as he curled up even more, arms around his head.
Or maybe it was just caution.
Several minutes passed before he realised the sounds were gone and slowly came out of his fetal position. A muscle in his back cramped in protest and he tried to ignore it by lying flat on his back. Which seemed to help, except for the roof tiles digging into his skin through the thin t-shirt he'd pulled on after throwing the armor in a corner of his room.
With a soft mutter, he shifted until the ridges were slightly less painful.
It had been another horrible day. Fighting, arguing, and Her. Always critical of everything. Can't do this, can't do that, shouldn't think at all, Gambit. Yeah.
Clouds suddenly began gathering over him, and he blinked in time to the raindrops which suddenly fell upon him. They were very cold drops, drawing immediate goose bumps everywhere as he lay there, allowing them to drench him as he wallowed.
Really, it was to be expected. First, a crappy day. Then, almost falling. And now, rain. Cold and wet rain. Not that rain wasn't normally wet, but Gambit felt that this rain had a special irritation against him the way it continually pelted him.
Also, there was only the one cloud over him. The rest of the roof was completely dry, starlight shining on the shingles.
Which left only one culprit, really.
He sighed, and almost choked as the rain intensified, sending a flood into his mouth.
A snort came from above him, and he closed his eyes, determined not to give Her any satisfaction.
"Feeling sorry for yourself?"
He gritted his teeth, fighting the words that bubbled in his head, knowing they wouldn't come out right if they came out at all.
The rain began to lessen, then finally stopped, the small cloud blowing softly away.
He might agree with her, but damned if he'd admit it.
She settled next to him, long slim legs covered in a soft pair of grey sweatpants. "You keep coming up here, you die."
He hadn't meant to speak, to respond. It only gave her amusement.
"Wouldn't you rather just accomplish your death quickly? A knife across your wrists, maybe a soft step into the middle of the highway as a truck barrels towards you..."
"Or pills?" He asked, voice acidicly angry.
"Yes. Pills might work. Then you could slip away with no pain." She leaned over to look in his eyes, dark brown inspecting red. "To just exit stage right, though. It's too calm. Too careful. You need action, flare. Dramatics."
He pressed his lips closed, trying to regain that moment before, when the rain was pelting him into an icicle. Idly, he wondered if Bobby liked the rain.
"Almost a way of getting back at us. All of us." She moved back, leaving the soft scent of cinnamon behind in his nostrils. "Because we don't appreciate you, don't like you. Or just don't see you."
"Flash, bang, wham! Excitement as an X-Man falls to his death," she continued, voice directed upwards, as though she watched the stars above them.
"Don't you like making the evening news?"
"Y'should. The flash, the excitement." He closed his mouth on something brittle, wishing he had her easy calm and grace as she watched the stars.
"I prefer peace. Even if it's only the inner sort." She glanced at him again, "You would too, Remy. But you don't let it touch you."
"Touch... Only the dirt, chere." He tried for his normal grin, failing as the lips stretched too far, grimacing. He shivered, imagining that grin frozen in time as his body froze, rigor mortis stealing into the muscles.
"Which is why I rained on you." She said, amusement in her voice. "Or was it just because you were such a pathetically cliche figure... I'm not sure."
"I'm not pathetic."
"You're on the roof."
That logic irritated him, and he rolled on his side, glaring at her. "So are you."
"I live under this roof," she replied, eyes amused.
"So do I."
"Not directly under it, however," She looked away from him, eyes turning distant.
"So you hide under the eaves from all of us."
"I don't hide. I've had visitors."
"Most of them had to phaze through with Kitty, though." He pointed out.
"I have a door."
"And that stopped you?"
No. But he never visited, so it didn't matter. He flopped back and rolled to his other side, facing away from her. Wishing she'd just leave him be.
"I never thought you were one to give up." She said softly, her voice sad.
"You drenched me."
"What," He demanded sarcastically, "X-Men aren't allowed to whine?"
"Do you have cause to?"
She snorted, "So sure. And you think dying a splashy death is a good idea as well."
"I've always wanted to go out with a bang, 'Ro."
"Why not just live, instead?"
"Yes, a life of danger and crime is so boring, Remy."
"Been there, done that, stole the t-shirt." He quipped.
It was her turn to sigh, "Death wishes aside, you really have to stop coming up here."
"Why?" He turned back to look at her.
She looked at him, then up at the stars, "Life is too short."
"That isn't an answer."
"It's all you'll get." She stood, then, and stretched, arms above her head, hands gathering the breeze. "Try to get some rest. And maybe a shower."
"Shower. Yeah." He sighed as she stepped onto a breeze and was gone, wafted away to somewhere else. He seemed to have that effect on everyone.
"If you were to die, it would be something stupid, I bet."
"Stupid?" He rolled to glare at the young woman perched on top of one of the utility boxes. Her bright yellow coat was flapping in the breeze, at odds with the bored look in her eyes.
"Yeah. Y'know, you'd get in someone's way, they'd smash you like a puny little fly."
"I'd die in battle." He snapped, "Saving lives, people around me doing the same."
"Or an explosion," she suggested, "your innards and outters spewed all over the wind, coating the heads and lungs of everyone in a five-mile radius with thin red dust."
"Yeah." She cracked her gum, then grinned. "But you'd love it. All that action, that glory."
He shrugged, "I'm a Hero, aren't I?"
"You sound so sarcastic about that."
"All X-Men are Heroes."
"I ain't." Jubilee stood and twirled a little, her coat making snapping sounds in the rising wind. "I'm just a student. Or Wolvie's pal."
"Man has a thing for young girls."
"And you don't?" She snickered.
"'Ro was a woman-grown. Just... de-aged a bit."
"Uhuh." She snorted.
"Why are we having this conversation?"
"You want to die in a flashy way."
Did he? He rubbed a hand against his chest, suddenly curious to realise he wasn't wet anymore. Flash and light and blood and... death. "I want to be like the stars."
"My light the only thing left of me by the time it reaches the surface."
"Ah. Philosophical tonight, aren't we."
She was mocking him, her tone bored and amused at once. "I'm not allowed to be?" He asked, irritated.
"You're the dude every woman should want, right? Why should you be deep?"
"Right. I'm just the ladies man. Gambit, the gift to every woman alive or dead."
"Or just another pathetic man who can only think with his hormones."
He looked at her, "Then why are you still here?"
"I like imagining your death." She replied, eyes glazing slightly as she looked past him towards the edge of the roof. "A small thing, really. Loose shingle, damp edge... And you slip, falling to land, your body broken all over the ground. Someone will find you eventually, but when? And will they be in time." She grinned, eyes refocussing on him, then giggled. "It's something to think about."
"Oh, screw life." She danced away to the edge of the roof and looked down, "See?"
"It's you, all splattered and dead, just like you wanted. No, I take that back. Like I wanted."
"No one will find you for ever so long, it will always be too late, in the end..."
He stared at her, bothered by the phrasing, but curious. "What are you talking about?"
"I'm just being morbid, but don't you want to come and see?"
He snorted, "Did you bring a mirror?"
"Telescope might work."
Thoroughly confused, he stood and walked over to the edge of the roof. A glance downwards showed nothing but the normal tangle of trees, vines, bushes and lawn. He turned to Jubilee, irritated again, "There's nothing--"
But she was gone, wafted away on her own breeze, leaving behind insistent tugs of wind that trickled around his ankles and pulled him forwards.
He sat down abruptly, bruising his tailbone and wincing as bits of shingle pierced through his pants. The wind skittered away, leaving him wondering at it, then at Jubilee. Moving carefully, he glanced over the edge one more time, not sure what he was expecting. There was again nothing out of the ordinary, and he relaxed.
Moving carefully backwards, he returned to staring up at the stars, contemplating them.
But the mood was gone, and he just didn't feel right anymore. It sucked, but he was going to have to go curl up somewhere else to think.
The climb down went boringly, every handhold and toehold merely taking him closer to the ground and away from the ceiling of stars. Partway down, he pondered going back up, but decided that he really didn't want to. Besides, there might be coffee made by now.
Once on the ground, he began slipping out of the bushes and onto the lawn. And tripping, sprawling face-first into a bush.
It really was rather embarrassing, he decided, putting his hands down and scrambling back to his feet, damps leaves cleaning to exposed skin. He glanced at what had tripped him, and paused, startled.
A boot stuck out from under the adjoining bush, and he moved closer, morbidly curious. The leg it contained was covered in very familiar blue jeans, the material scuffed and faded. He stared, recognising the pattern. The body had fallen, crashing into the bush which had sprung back up and around it, concealing it from view.
Slowly, he moved to where his head would be, and stared into his own sightless eyes. A touch on the forehead he knew so well showed a bit of resisdual warmth in the skin, and he shivered, not understanding at all.
He started to step back, then realised he could no longer feel the skin under his fingers. Or, oddly, the bush pushing its branches against him.
It was if seeing the body had taken away his ability to believe that he was real.
And his hand had just disappeared into his head. Suddenly dizzy, he leaned forward, forehead meeting forehead. A blast of cold air wrapped around him, twisting the night around him, the leaves of the bushes rustling as it blew.
He didn't know when he'd closed his eyes, but they were. Opening them, he winced at the scratches that were announcing their presence along his back and sides. His left leg ached from the knee down, the odd angle it held making him wish he hadn't sat up so fast. He hissed a breath out as he straightened it, muscles and bone protesting their misuse.
Gambit slowly stood, using the bush as a support. His knee twinged, trying to reassert its former odd position, but he fought it straight, hissing in pain.
Wouldn't Cece give him a raking over the coals, he thought ruefully as he began to stagger out onto the lawn. She was always telling him to stay off the roof. And he never listened. Gambit paused, startled. He hadn't fallen off the roof, had he? Reaching up to scratch his shoulder, he blinked. His left hand was slick with something. Sniffing at it, he decided it wasn't blood.
But it was oily, like motor oil. Shaking his head, he decided to leave that for later. Besides, it was best to get ready for Cece's rants while he had the energy. She never cared if you were awake for them.
An image intruded into his brain, of himself, on the roof. He was looking down on his own body, broken and twisted, Jubilee laughing at him.
He shook his head. That hadn't happened. A dream, perhaps. He'd fallen on the way up, after all.
Just the same, he decided as he rounded the corner and headed for the back porch, it might be a good idea to refrain from using the roof for a while. Besides. The kitchen had food in it.
Those further notes: I've been reading way too much Charles de Lint, I think. This really did start out as a silly fic, because Alan likes seeing Gambit fall off the roof. But... It got really weird the moment I decided to bring Storm into it.
So. Sorry it's not as funny as it could be.