Growing Up A Superhero
...To Make A Crippled Child Walk
A year has passed since that autumn day. And every morning
I remember it as though it had only happened the day before.
He doesn't seem to mourn his loss. He used to. Now, though...
It's good to see him outside, playing. Even from two stories
up and quite a distance away, I can hear his laugh and his
calls to his teammates. But if it doesn't haunt him, it will
always haunt me. For, you see, it was my fault.
Fall, one year before.
Rogue laughed at something one of the students shouted, then
walked quickly into the family room.
"Mom, tell Lazare he can't go with us," Sydney-Eve
said, glaring down at her little brother. Michael, his shiny
black wings tucked close to his body, shifted uncomfortably
behind Sydney-Eve LeBeau.
"Laz, Sydneve an' Michael are gonna go do teenage stuff,"
Rogue said, smiling. "Won't you come an' help me finish the
dishes? Then we can have ice cream."
Lazare started to pout, glaring at his thirteen-year-old
sister. "When I'm a teenager," he said finally, stomping out
of the room, "I'm gonna do lots of things with them."
Rogue nodded understandingly and ushered the ten-year-old
into the kitchen.
"Wha's dis 'bout bein' t'irteen?" a deep, resonant voice
called. Remy LeBeau strode into the kitchen, circling the
table to wrap his long arms around his wife, Rogue, and kissing
Lazare sighed with the weariness of youth. "You guys,"
he said, looking away and squirming in the kitchen chair as
his parents kissed.
Remy grinned and turned to the boy. "Wha's dis I hear 'bout
you not goin' wit' Sydneve and Michael?"
"They won't let me because they think I'm a baby," Lazare
said, glaring at his thoughts.
"Well, babies can't ride motorcycles wit' deir papas, can
Lazare looked up, hope lighting his dark eyes. "Oh, could
I, Papa? Could I ride the Harley with you?"
"We see what your mot'er say," Remy whispered, circling around
to the back of Lazare's chair. "'Member what we practice?"
"Oui," Lazare answered, nodding happily.
"Okay, puppy-dog faces, den," Remy said, and looked longingly
at Rogue over his son's shoulder. "'Member t' ooze charm,"
Remy whispered into his child's ear.
Lazare's attempted puppy-dog face got serious as he tried
to ooze charm, looking instead like he was in great pain.
Rogue put her hand over her mouth, trying to keep from smiling.
Her son's sandy blond hair contrasted sharply with Remy's
own dark tresses as both fell over Lazare's solemn face.
Remy smiled seductively over Lazare's shoulder, his red on
black eyes smoldering. Rogue felt a familiar blush creeping
up her cheeks at his look, and she quickly switched her gaze
to the checkered towel hanging from the sink.
"I think we're doing it," Lazare whispered loudly.
"I t'ink so, too," Remy answered in a low, mildly suggestive
voice. Rogue's head whipped back around, but the notes had
been much too subtle for Lazare to pick it up.
Fine lines creased around Remy's unique eyes as he smiled
slightly. His hair, now shimmering with gray strands, slid
down his face, casting shadows over the sharp planes of his
jaw. Rogue sighed with the realization that she would never
be able to turn down that man.
"All right," she sighed at last. "Lazare, you can go for
a quick ride with yoh father on the Harley."
Lazare whooped happily, leaping up from his chair and running
as fast as he could to get his jacket. Remy smiled slowly,
moving with great grace to where Rogue stood, and taking her
hands in his. "T'anks, mon amour," he whispered, kissing
each hand in turn. Rogue was blushing when he looked up.
"Ya'll get outta here," she said, pulling her hands free.
"Laz is gonna vibrate out to the Harley without you."
Remy chuckled at the thought and walked with feline grace
to the front door, where his son already stood.
"Ya'll be careful, y'hear?" Rogue called, her drawl getting
more pronounced as she shouted.
"Careful as de angels dat watch over us!" Remy called back.
Rogue laughed as she stood in the doorway, watching father
and son move quickly toward the garage. "Who said angels were
Remy shot a mischievous grin that could have meant anything
over his shoulder.
Rogue laughed and turned around, heading back into the house.
Remy chuckled as he felt his son's young arms tighten around
his waist, his small body pressed closely against Remy's.
The cars ahead finally pulled out of the stop, and Remy checked
his rearview mirror to be sure there was no one behind him.
Seeing the road was clear, he let the Harley sit still for
long moments, until the last car had almost reached the middle
of the intersection. Remy kicked the Harley into motion, racing
forward while the engine roared loudly beneath him.
Lazare squealed happily, thin arms tightening reflexively.
The Harley raced into the middle of the intersection--
And Remy's stomach tightened sickeningly. Blood red eyes
saw the U-Haul coming fast, much too fast to stop, and he
wrenched the bike to one side to avoid it, already knowing
that he was too late. Praying fervently, he tipped the Harley,
hoping the truck was high enough to slide over him and his
son. Instead, it caught on the polished metal and dragged
the Harley with it.
There was no more fighting to save anything after that. It
happened too quickly, and Remy couldn't even tell what was
up and what was down. All he was aware of was that the fragile
arms clinging to his waist were suddenly gone.
It seemed an eternity before the spinning stopped. Remy blinked
several times, and was aware that time had passed between
his blinks. Too much time.
Above him, around him there was metal, warped and twisted
horribly. His thinking was fuzzy, but one thing was clear:
Lazare wasn't holding on to him anymore.
"Just hold still," someone said, and there was an arm reaching
through a hole in the maze of chrome, touching the top of
his head gently. "Hold still, the paramedics are already on
Remy tried to speak, but it was such an effort. He looked
up, toward the voice, and felt something oozing near his neck:
blood. Remy licked his lips, fear lancing through his body.
Where was Lazare? Was he bleeding, too? Was he dead? The world
swam dangerously, and when Remy finally fought his way back
to consciousness a new hand was reaching through, and a new
voice was speaking to him.
"Can you hear me? We're going to get you and the child free,
but we need your help. You have to stay conscious, all right?"
Remy thought he nodded, but couldn't be sure.
"What's your name? Tell me your name."
It must have taken him longer to form the words than he thought,
for the man repeated the question, far more insistently.
"Remy ... LeBeau," he finally managed, though he wasn't at
all sure that was his voice.
"Okay, Remy, just hang on for me. Remy? Remy! Remy, is this
Remy breathed laboredly, feeling the man's hands coming through
the metal at a different place. Something was fitted over
his mouth, and he tilted his head up to see. "'S Laz ... 's
"Laz? The boy's name is Laz? He's alive right now, Remy,
but we need your help. I can see you're a mutant, Remy. I
saw your eyes. But is the boy a mutant? Do we need to know
anything special to help him?"
"Non," Remy croaked. "Laz..."
"He'll be fine. Remy. Remy! Remy, answer me!"
Remy's eyelid fluttered open, though it was hard. The man
was screaming at him, one hand holding the mask on Remy's
face while the other touched wherever it could reach.
"Remy, there's a woman here to help. She's going to lift
the truck, and we're going to get you out. All right? You
have to stay conscious for us, Remy."
"'Right," Remy said, trying to breathe deeply. Something
hurt him, but it came only dimly through the protective haze
his mind had erected.
"On the count of three. You're going to keep breathing --
that's your job. One. Two. Three."
The man grunted and Remy's pain suddenly intensified, then
there were hands all over him, sliding him out of the metal.
The sun had almost set, and with a tremor Remy realized he'd
somehow missed more time then he'd thought. The world spun,
and he was lifted and straightened and was rolling, with people
all around him talking to each other, and the man who had
held the mask still there, running alongside and yelling at
Remy to stay awake.
Remy didn't know if he was entirely successful. In fact,
he was pretty sure he was failing. One moment he was being
wheeled along, and the next he was inside a room that moved--his
brain told him he should know what it was, but he couldn't
remember--and then he was being pulled out of it and was racing
through hospital corridors, people still yelling at him and
calling his name.
Remy thought of Lazare, and wondered what had happened to
his son, and then the world went black for the final time.
"Hey, Bets," Rogue said as she entered the room. "Have you
seen Remy or Laz? Ah just got the most awful feelin'
'bout 'em a bit ago."
Betsy looked up from her book, shaking her head. "Sorry."
Rogue bit her lip and twisted the wedding ring on her finger.
"They left two hours ago to go for a ride. Ah'm startin' to
get worried. Remy's normally so careful 'bout bein' back in
"Why don't you go do a flyby?" Warren asked softly, seeing
"Thanks, Wings," Rogue smiled. "Ah think Ah will. Put Sydneve
to sleep for me?"
Betsy smiled and nodded. "Sure, Rogue. Go find the boys."
Rogue turned and sprinted up the stairs, flying down the
hall and twisting past a student. She landed just outside
her own apartment door, going inside and grabbing for her
flight jacket before snatching gloves off the nightstand and
flying back out the door. Invulnerable as she was, she still
Rogue was almost out the front door when Angelo, who had
heard Besty, Warren and Rogue's exchange, came running into
the hall. "Rogue! Come quick, before you go!" he snapped,
urgency in his voice.
Rogue turned too fast, slipping on the smooth wood floors.
Without a thought she hovered a moment and put her feet back
underneath her, never even realizing she did it.
Rogue followed Angelo back into the den, where the news was
playing live, on location.
"It seems," the newswoman said as lights flashed around her,
"that the paramedics have gotten the truck driver out, now.
Yes, you see, there he goes. The other two people are still
pinned beneath the carnage, only one of them conscious." The
newswoman turned and looked straight at the camera. "For those
of you just joining us, a U-Haul lost control on the hill
down 11th street. Bystanders say that his breaks appeared
to stop working. The light at the bottom of the intersection
turned green, and three cars got through before the U-Haul
came roaring through the red light. A motorcycle was the last
automobile, and it collided with the truck. Once again, one
of the passengers is a mutant. His distinguishing feature
is red on black eyes. If anyone has any medical information
that may be pertinent to his recovery, please contact us at
eight-hundred, three three three, nine one nine one."
Rogue's hair slapped into her face as she twisted, flying
out the door.
"They're having some trouble with the truck, it appears.
They're going to have to take it apart by pieces, for it has
the other two men trapped beneath--oh! It, ah, it appears
another mutant has joined the fray! Can you see her, Milo?
She's flying -- there! Landing, now, by the wreck."
Rogue heard the words dimly, and paid them no attention.
There was a mess of metal, white and silver. The pavement
was slicked with oil, gas, and blood. A paramedic glanced
up as Rogue approached, but then went back to talking quietly
and insistently with the man trapped under the mess. The paramedic
had himself wedged under the steel, his arms reaching far
beneath to hold onto something there.
"Miss, you'll have to step aside," a policewoman said, walking
Rogue ignored the other woman, glancing around. "Ya'll can't
move that truck? That's the problem?" she asked, assessing
the situation quickly.
"Miss, we'll handle it. If you'll just please--"
Rogue turned, green eyes flashing. "These men have a better
chance of a full recovery the faster we can get them to a
hospital, right? Then we need to move that truck. How much
do you want it moved to keep from hurtin' 'em?"
A paramedic cut between the two women, turning to Rogue.
"You can lift it?" she asked swiftly.
"You're sure? Stupid question. All right, come over here.
We need it lifted four feet and no farther. This is
Gary. He'll tell you when to stop."
Rogue nodded grimly and put her hands under the white metal,
looking at Gary.
"All right," Gary said, watching the paramedics who were
now congregating around the two men. "Lift. Higher. Good,
slowly now. Higher. Hi -- stop!"
Rogue froze, afraid to turn and look at what they were doing
with Remy and Lazare. Finally, though, she twisted to see.
Remy was being slowly pulled free. Blood smeared his face,
and the paramedic who had been talking insistently to him
before was holding an oxygen mask on Remy's nose and mouth.
Another paramedic wriggled under the massive machinery himself,
trusting Rogue to be able to hold it up while he freed something
that had Remy's leg caught. There was a count of three, then
Remy was swiftly moved to a stretcher. Four paramedics ran
with him as they loaded him into an ambulance. The sirens
started up, blaring as the ambulance took off, carrying the
wounded and barely-conscious man.
More paramedics swarmed the metal still, some even crawling
under as far as they could go.
"It's no good," one finally said, walking up to Gary and
standing close enough for Rogue to hear. "The chrome of the
bike is wrapped around the kid."
"Iffin ya'll could get somethin' else to hold this up," Rogue
grunted, "Ah could un-wrap the metal."
The new paramedic eyed her.
"Jesus Christ, Chris!" the first paramedic called. "This
boy is about to die! Let her help!" A female medic walked
swiftly up, pointing toward a police officer. "We need your
car. Jam the front end under this truck, and maybe it'll hold."
The officer, a very young man, grinned and started his car.
He drove it forward slowly, metal screeching on metal as he
forced it past Rogue and underneath the truck. Rogue let the
truck go gently, after the car was turned off.
The car buckled beneath the massive weight, and then held.
Rogue breathed a sigh of relief and flew to where her son
lay beneath the wreck. "Show me what to do," she said, furiously
suppressing that it was her child laying there, and not some
person she didn't know.
"We need this metal, this metal, and this chrome unwrapped.
Carefully," someone said.
Rogue nodded and did so, very slowly.
The paramedics crowded around once more, pushing Rogue out
of the way. "Dammit," one of them snarled. "We still need
this stuff broken off. If we release the pressure there now
he'll bleed to death."
"Get some torches," another paramedic said tersely. "We'll
have to melt through it."
Rogue's stomach twisted as she stepped back, giving the men
and women room to work. Finally, there was a count of three.
Lazare, utterly still, was moved onto the stretcher, metal
still wrapped around and in his body.
"Who are you to these men?" a paramedic asked, watching Rogue's
"Wife and mother," she said faintly.
"Follow us to the hospital."
Rogue nodded and leapt into the air as the ambulance doors
closed and they started off.
Angelo and Enchantment got to the hospital first, Enchantment
looking around nervously. Rogue blinked twice to be sure it
really was the eighteen-year-old girl and not Amanda, the
woman the girl had been cloned from.
"How are they?" Angelo asked as Enchantment walked up and
put her arms around Rogue.
"Ah don't know," Rogue answered painfully, hugging the girl
back. "They're both still in surgery."
Angelo nodded as though he had expected that. "How are you?"
Rogue looked at him blankly.
"Have you eaten?" Angelo tried again. He turned to Enchantment
before Rogue even answered, ordering, "Chant, will you get
some food from the cafeteria for Rogue?"
Enchantment nodded tersely and turned, almost running down
the hall and back to the elevator.
"Ah don't need food," Rogue said quietly, as Angelo pushed
her back into a chair. "Ah ain't hungry." Her green eyes were
unfocused, seeing something in her mind's eye, and then she
blinked and looked up at Angelo. "Where's Sydneve?"
"She's with Michael. They're having a sleep-over in the den,"
Angelo answered quickly. "Warren and Betsy are chaperoning.
Sydneve is fine."
Rogue nodded and looked away, down the hall. After a long
moment Angelo sat. "Ah shouldn't've let 'em go," Rogue said
at last. The words were quiet, not really meant for other
ears. "Ah should've known. Ah got that sixth sense thing from
Carol, Ah should have--"
"That only works an instant before an accident," Angelo said
quickly, taking Rogue's hands in his and looking at her intently.
"You couldn't have known. There was no way."
"Ah always felt odd 'bout mah kids ridin' the Harley. Ah
"There is no use beating yourself up over this, Rogue," Angelo
said, speaking louder now. "'Should have' isn't going to help
Remy or Laz. You need to be strong right now."
Some of those words sunk through, and Rogue fell silent.
Enchantment arrived a few moments later with food; pizza
and salad. They set it on the end table beside Rogue, but
she ignored it all. Enchantment sat on the floor at the older
woman's feet, taking one of her hands from Angelo and holding
it tightly. Rogue still didn't entirely respond, but her fingers
closed gently around Enchantment's small hand.
Dr. Frank Drago was tired and weary, but he walked into the
waiting room with a smile on his wide face. "Mrs. LeBeau?"
he asked the five people huddled in a small group near the
A woman rose from the center of the group. She was of average
height, and curved deliciously. Red hair spilled down her
back in unruly curls, marked by a vibrant white stripe straight
down the middle. Green eyes were filled with worry, and she
had shredded what appeared to be a bandanna. Her blue jeans
were tight, hugging her thighs and flaring out over the top
of well-worn western boots. A burgundy flannel shirt was tied
at her waist, the sleeves rolled to her elbows.
"That's me," she said, and the words rolled with a sultry
"I'm Dr. Drago. Your husband is stable, though still in ICU.
I don't expect there to be any permanent damage."
The group as a whole seemed to sigh with relief.
"An' Laz? Mah son?" she asked, and stepped forward again.
There was a tearing sound, and what was left of the bandanna
gave way in her hands.
Dr. Drago eyed the cloth uncertainly and took a step back,
glancing down at his clipboard. "Lazare Zacharie-Christian
LeBeau is his name? I'm afraid I'm not the doctor in charge
of his surgery. You'll have to wait until Dr. Tigre comes
out." Frank smiled in what he hoped was a reassuring way.
"You may visit your husband when he wakes up."
The woman nodded and Frank turned, leaving the waiting room
before the questions could start. It would take a few days
to be sure about the man, and he hated giving false hope even
when it seemed certain.
The words still rang in her ears. "We won't know the extent
of the damage for several days." "Back was broken." "Lucky
he's so young." "Nerves were severed." "Lower back." "Surgery."
Rogue swallowed harshly and smiled back at Raquel, Bobby,
Enchantment and Angelo, all there for emotional support. She
walked away from the small group, down the hall, following
the orderly into rooms that people were rarely allowed into.
The orderly stopped, opened a door to let her in and then
Rogue's heart thumped in her chest as she looked at the bed
and monitors all around, all hooked to a tiny form lying too
still on the perfectly made bed. Sandy blond hair spilled
across the overly-fluffy pillow. They had washed Laz's hair
and body, cleaning away oil and blood. A red, angry mark traveled
up his face, rubbing away the skin near his eye and half his
eyebrow before disappearing under a white bandage that seemed
too big for the child's head. The bandage looped around, covering
his other eye entirely. His nose and lips were torn, though
no longer bleeding. His body was covered, but the skinny arms
that were above the blankets were skinned painfully in some
places and sported rows of neat stitches in others. Another
bandage covered one hand and wrist, suspicious looking metal
pieces stuck in it at odd angles. Tubes and tangles of things
were all around the boy, machines nearby beeping and clicking
Slowly Rogue walked to her son's side. Gently, she touched
his ear, the one place that didn't seem to be badly mangled.
She knelt, not knowing if he could hear her but humming anyway.
Her voice broke, and she smoothed his hair away from his face.
A tear landed on the pillow near Lazare's head.
"Miss? Visiting hours are ending. He'll sleep through the
night, and you can come back in as soon as you want in the
morning. You can even be here when he wakes up."
"Ah'm stayin'," Rogue said quietly, but firmly. Her fingers
brushed across Lazare's forehead, smoothing away stray locks
"Ah'm stayin'," Rogue said again, letting an edge
creep into her voice this time.
Rogue glanced back at the male nurse, who was frowning at
"I'll get you a bed," he said at last, and left the room.
Both LeBeaus had been awake for several days. Amazingly enough,
Remy had escaped with relatively minor injuries. His ankle
was badly sprained, and there were a few torn muscles in his
shoulders and arms, but the only massive problem was his knee,
which had been wrenched. He was undergoing surgery to re-attach
the ligaments, and the prognosis was good.
Lazare had already been in surgery twice more by the next
week. He regained consciousness sporadically, and when he
did he complained that his legs felt swollen. It was a solemn
doctor who met with Rogue after the second surgery.
"Your son's back was broken," the young Hispanic doctor said
into his papers, "as you know. We've already started the corrective
surgery, but..." He petered off, and Rogue briefly considered
ripping the words out of his skinny throat.
"The nerves were badly damaged. The likelihood that he'll
be able to walk again is slim."
Rogue swallowed hard and looked away.
"Mrs. LeBeau," the doctor said softly. "It isn't ... It's
not just a slim likelihood. The nerves were severed. He will
Rogue shook her head and stood, picking up her purse and
heading for the door.
"Mrs. LeBeau? Mrs. LeBeau, please--"
"If you say another word," Rogue said quietly over her shoulder,
"Ah may have to come over there and rip yoh scrawny head off
yoh scrawny neck."
He was silent.
Rogue left the room.
Hank shook his head, rubbing his eyes behind his glasses.
When Rogue had called and told him the situation he had flown
down. When he'd seen for himself what the doctors had done
for Lazare, he knew there was little more he could do.
But he had the Shi'ar equipment. So Lazare had been flown
back to Westchester, back to the underground lab Hank had
worked in for so long.
And by the end of a grueling week, Hank had told Rogue the
same things everyone else had told her.
Lazare wouldn't walk. There wasn't even the remotest chance.
Rogue had been so quiet for so long that Hank was afraid she
wasn't listening. She was nothing if not obstinate. But then
her fingers had released the arms of the chair, leaving prints
embedded deeply into the wood, and she had buried her face
in her hands and cried.
Remy had been there that day. Walking with crutches, his
knee in a brace too bulky to go under his pants, he had made
it to the meeting and sat next to Rogue, holding her.
Hank left them to their grief. He stopped in the hallway,
watched his feet. Heard a voice to his right.
"Something's really wrong, isn't it Hank?"
Hank turned and looked through a doorway at Lazare, who lay
in bed watching him. "Yes," Hank said softly. "But I think
you should talk to your parents."
The next words stopped him from turning away, the words and
the very serious look on the child's face. "I'm not going
to walk anymore, am I?"
Hank thought about lying. He thought about turning and walking
away. He thought many things, but he walked into the room
and sat down on the bed. "No," he said softly, "you're not."
Lazare looked away and nodded. "It was a fun ride, until
the end," he whispered.
"Will I have a wheelchair, then?" The young voice cracked,
and Lazare wouldn't meet Hank's gaze.
"Yes. Any kind you like. And we'll teach you how to use it."
Lazare nodded. "Can it be orange?" he whispered.
"I think your mother would let you have an orange wheelchair,"
"Can I have an orange wheelchair, Momma?" Lazare asked then,
Rogue stood in the doorway, in front of Remy. Her face was
still red from tears, her eyes puffy, but she smiled and nodded.
"Ya can have any color ya want."
Lazare smiled tremulously. "Maybe the kind with the big wheels,
like the racers have?"
"Oui, we get dat for you," Remy said, and maneuvered
into the room on his crutches.
"Then that'll be fun," Lazare said, smiling wider though
his eyes were suspiciously bright. In the next moment he was
crying, and both parents were across the room. Rogue bent
to hug him, moving him as little as possible in the white
bed. Remy reached down, holding his son's hand because he
couldn't get any closer.
Hank stood and silently left the room.
"But it hurts."
"I know. Try anyway. One more time."
"I don't want to. I'm tired."
"One more time."
"I want to go play."
"He said he doesn't want to," Rogue snapped, turning away
from the window and striding to where Lazare was, on the floor,
his physical therapist sitting next to him. Deftly, Rogue
bent and scooped him up, putting him back in the wheelchair
and pushing it to the elevator. She took him downstairs and
outside, where Lazare asked if she would please leave him
with Sydneve and Michael.
Rogue did so, then, when he insisted he didn't need her,
she went back up the stairs.
The physical therapist and Remy were still in the open room,
sunlight pouring through the large windows covering one wall.
It had been months since the accident. Remy's knee was almost
healed; he still had a brace, but it wasn't nearly as massive
as the other had been. In a few more weeks he would be on
his own, without even the cane he used now to get around.
"Chere," Remy said quietly, and Rogue knew what was
going to come next. She knew Remy didn't approve when she
overrode the therapist, but she didn't care.
"He was hurtin'," Rogue snapped, then turned her flashing
green eyes on the slight woman standing in the window. "Ya
can't expect him to go on hurtin'."
The woman was quiet, looking out the window at the children
playing beyond. "There he is," she said softly, motioning
with her chin.
Rogue walked slowly to a nearby window and looked out. Sydneve
and Michael were outside, throwing a Frisbee. They included
Lazare in the game quickly, always careful to aim where he
could reach. He missed catching it, and they waited impatiently
while he wheeled himself over and picked the disc back up.
Rogue's jaw tightened. They shouldn't be making him do that.
"What do you see when you look at him, Remy?" the therapist
asked in a soft voice.
Remy glanced toward her, but she refused to meet his gaze.
Finally, he shrugged. "M' son. In a wheelchair." Rogue watched
as his eyes tightened painfully. Despite all they had said,
Remy still blamed himself. Rogue was starting to believe she
wasn't at fault, and Sydneve's original belief that if she
hadn't been so mean to Laz he wouldn't have made Remy take
him was now banished. But still Rogue could see the shadows
in Remy's eyes.
"And you, Rogue? What do you see when you look at Lazare?"
Rogue blinked and looked back down. She put a hand up to
the cool windowpane, touching his image. "Mah baby trapped
in a wheelchair forever," she whispered.
Angie nodded. "Know what I see when I look at him?"
Both Rogue and Remy looked up.
"A boy. Filled with life, and vitality, relishing each day
as it comes because he can. Because he's still able to breathe.
Because he didn't die. Because he can use his arms and upper
body, because he can feed himself and someday -- maybe even
someday soon -- will be able to clothe himself. I see a boy
adapting to life in a wheelchair with the ease of the young.
I see a child who will grow and develop naturally, able to
do these things that I ask of him because he's young, and
strong, and able." Angie turned then to face Remy and Rogue,
and Rogue dropped her gaze. "And then I look at you two. And
you're killing him."
Remy looked back out the window.
"You tell him there's no need to learn to help himself. You
say that if it's hard, he doesn't have to do it. In everything
you do you show him he's different than others, you show him
that he doesn't have to work because he can't, because he's
hurt. You tell him to shy away from things that might be slightly
difficult. You cripple him. He isn't crippled. But in a few
more years, if he doesn't learn to help himself, he will be."
Rogue closed her eyes and leaned her forehead against the
glass. Outside she could hear Sydneve, Michael and Lazare
playing, whooping as they moved onto another came. Inside
she could hear Angie's retreating footsteps, and the quietly
"She's right," Remy said, almost silently.
Rogue regulated her breathing, and didn't answer. She couldn't
answer. "I can't see him hurt," she said finally.
"Mebbe we shouldn't come to Laz's physical t'erapy anymore,"
Remy answered. Rogue heard him shift his weight, heard the
floor creak as he moved around with the help of his cane.
Rogue took a deep breath and opened her eyes. Outside, Sydneve
was chasing Lazare while Michael hid behind a tree. All the
children were laughing. The wheelchair hit a rock, and tipped,
spilling Lazare out into the yellow winter grass. Rogue stiffened,
started to go to him. Remy's hand on her arm stopped her.
"He can do it," Remy whispered.
Rogue's hands turned to fists against the glass as she watched
Lazare prop himself up on his elbows. Sydneve had fallen over
the tipped chair and lay some distance away on her back, laughing.
Lazare twisted, looking around, then pulled himself back over
to his wheelchair and pushed the thing back up. He turned,
said something to Sydneve that made her laugh harder. Then
he pulled himself up the front of the chair, grabbed the back
of it, and pulled himself until he was leaning over the arm.
He rested for a moment, panting, then twisted his upper body
until he sat down, hard, in the seat of the chair. Carefully,
he picked each leg up and put them back where they belonged,
then gripped the wheels and pushed himself toward where Sydneve
lay in the grass.
Rogue breathed again, and consciously relaxed her fists.
"Do ya think she's right?"
Remy didn't have to ask who 'she' was. "I t'ink dat if we
let her do her job, Lazare gon' be jus' fine."
Rogue nodded and squeezed her eyes closed, then turned away
from the window and walked out of the room.
Fall, almost a year later
"Go, Ange!" Instead, Ange lost the ball. I groaned with everyone
else on our team, then put my hands to the big wheels of my
chair and started forward. It was my turn to play.
I'm good at basketball. I'm really good when I play against
other people in wheelchairs, but playing against the people
who can run and have both hands free makes me better. It makes
it harder, that's for sure. Someday I hope that I'll be able
to play on real teams in the Olympics with other people. Okay,
so I don't actually know if they have a sport like that, but
I think they do.
I'm fast in my wheelchair. Really fast. I've only had it
for a year, but I like it. It's orange, just like my momma
promised, and my bratty sister (who can sometimes be really
cool) painted yellow flames on the frame for my birthday.
"Laz! You forgot your gloves!"
I turned back and saw Michael standing on the sidelines,
holding my fingerless gloves. I wheeled back to him and put
them on (they help for grip), then smiled up at Michael. Behind
him stood Angelo's school, filled with windows. I looked quickly
across them all, and saw what I was searching for. My papa
was standing in his bedroom window, watching. I waved to him,
and saw him wave back.
I wonder what happened to the Harley. Papa hasn't ridden
in it since the accident. I know he blames himself, even though
it wasn't his fault. It wasn't anyone's fault. I certainly
don't blame him. I've tried telling him that, but he won't
listen. He just smiles at me like I'm a child and I know nothing.
"Laz! Come on!"
I turned away and started toward the court, grinning. "Okay,
okay, I'm coming. Keep your pants on, Ange. Please."
I hope my papa comes to see me play sometime. Not just from
a window, where he can pretend like he doesn't see my wheelchair.
And I hope he doesn't always blame himself.
Even from here I can see the bright orange wheelchair with
its overly large wheels. I turn away from the window and head
for the door, picking up my wrench on the way. Never again
will I hurt either of my children like that. I'll drive sedate
little cars, the kind you see mothers with twelve children
in. The kind that surround you in safety and don't bend like
liquid around your body when something hits them.
I would give up anything for my children. The least of that
is the Harley. I've done enough damage to last them three
lifetimes; I won't risk doing more.
I crippled Lazare. That must be enough.
Take my bones, every muscle,
every fiber and nerve in my body, and find a way to make a
crippled child walk.
--"To Remember Me" by Robert Test--
Notes: Thanks to Sascha, Maelie,
and Mica. They're all my favorite people. :D
"To Remember Me" can be found in my lair (http://tentative.net/JBMcDragon/),
if you'd like to read the whole thing. I recommend it.
Feedback: it's not just a good thing, it's a ... well,
good thing. email@example.com
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