The final story. Let the healing begin.

Snow Sleet and Spring
by Lise

Friday night, again, down in the laundry room. Hank watches his whites go around and around, sits down in the ugly chairs, when he hears behind him, "Hank? I have to -- I have to tell you something. The real reason that Warren and I happened."

That has to be a Bobby, and that means that Hank can't fuck this up. A carefully blanked over face nods gently. This could mean something, anything, and if there's any way Hank can encourage this communication, he will do it. "If you wish, Bobby."

"--I had to dilute what I was feeling. Like, an antidote to everything that was in my head."

"I see."

"And -- and I don't think that I hate him. It just reminded me, is all."

Still gently. "Of what?"

"I don't know."

Bobby's everything was about control, his posture, his face, his tone. But today, Hank could see breaks in it, more than cracks -- whole fragments of his mask were crumbling into little pieces, and if Hank squinted, he thought he might see the crumbled shards on the cold, tiled floor.

He's not sure if he should press the advantage, but it's a chance maybe, to heal, and so -- Hank says, quietly, "He reminded you of how Remy was?"

Bobby chuckles, harsh, cold -- numb. "They were as different in bed as two beautiful men could possibly be."

Hank wants to cringe, but his iron-fisted control holds. Keeps going at it, quietly. Bobby needs him, whether he'll admit it or not. "Perhaps, though, the comparison."

Thoughtful face. That's right. "No, I don't think so. I just think -- it reminded me."

Hank doesn't answer, because obviously there's nothing here that Bobby can pin down and put into words. He's looking thoughtful, he looks, composed. Hank lets himself relax a little bit, open up to the fact that maybe Bobby's doing better.

And a sudden sob from his best friend, from the strange man who's been so -- alien, since recent events, it startles him. With his guard down, it makes him jump so much that he blurts out thoughtlessly, "Bobby, what's going on?"

"I -- don't know." Sob. A little sniffle, and then his face is mostly calm again.

Hank stares into Bobby's face, and his heart fills. "Robert, you know, I love you as dearly as a friend, and as family, possibly could. But you -- frighten me."

Honesty. It's about time, and still, Bobby isn't ready for this. Another gasp, and he's bent over his lap, unwilling to look anywhere, because everything reminds him. There isn't anything in this life, and nothing in Warren, and nothing that makes sense--


His face is hidden, and no noises reach Hank except breathing a little more rushed than normal, and every few seconds, a bark, a moan, a tearing thing.


No answer, then, a ragged gasp. Silence.

"Bobby, please. Please. Look at me."

His friend doesn't move. Doesn't lift a finger. Keeps his eyes veiled, behind the hands pressed tightly to his face, those silent, unwavering hands. But he murmurs through the guard, strangely -- everything is strange -- normally, casually...

"Hank, would you have slept with me?"

Hank freezes, and opens his mouth. Lets out a flood of, of silence. There's silence in both courts. Neither of them can move. Neither of them can find the strength.

Bobby shifts, and it catches Hank's sad eyes immediately. He hopes Bobby will turn around, a sign, a hint, a granule of something that shows no, he's not lost completely. Bobby's arms curl around his knees, pulling himself tightly into a quiet little bundle of prenatal gasping.

Finally. "Bobby. Bobby. Just -- Bobby."

It's a plea -- Hank's begging -- that doesn't fall on deaf ears, but for the life of him, the death of Remy, and the whole goddamned world, Bobby just, can't seem to move.

Eventually, and with a certain kind of grace, Bobby stops the flood, and sits up with an embarrassed little grin. "I'm sorry, Hank. I just-- I."

Hank nods, and murmurs, "My friend. There is too much grief, sometimes, to take it all in."

Bobby stares at his hands, again, and replies, "I can't keep doing this, can I?"

And there's nothing for Hank to say but, "No, Robert. You can't." But it's the first time in ages that Hank actually wants to smile.

Back in the room that held far too many memories for Bobby to ever be truly comfortable there, things take a turn for the better. Bobby himself sits on the bed, holding a picture that they took sometime when they were happy. He's smiling. So's the other guy in the picture. Nothing like cigarettes matter.

A voice behind him says, "It is not right, Robert."

He turns, to see Storm standing in the doorway to his room. He sits up, and says, so tired, "What isn't?"

"Grieving this way."

Bobby looks away, down at the floor, at the curtains they'd picked out together, at the wardrobe that still smelled like his lover's cologne. "I don't know what you're trying to say."

She moves into his room gracefully, the swish of her skirts pounding against his ears. He tries to focus on the sound, in order to forget that Remy had left his clothes all over the room, that one time, and Bobby had to pick them all up before the--

His thoughts trail off, the anger and hurt and resentment gone out of him. She stands in front of him, and says gently, "He would not have wanted this, Robert."

He stares at his hands this time, avoiding her probing gaze; he can't look her in the face, it's too soon. She sighs, when she realizes he isn't going to answer, and continues. "You and I might not be as close as I would like, Robert, but I knew Remy. And he would not have wanted this."

Bobby sits up straighter, about to open his mouth in retort, when she cuts him off with a gentle, "It is all right to speak his name, you know. It keeps him alive, inside our hearts."

He sags back down, onto the bed they laughed over, and put ugly blue sheets on, and -- everything about their bed seems more important now. He answers, "I just, wish."

That Warren hadn't seen those sheets, that he was still here and alive and whole and -- all the things in his heart, he wishes, they're all trying to well up and make him cry.

She tries again, gentle hand on his shoulder. "You did not fail him, Robert, much as I know you believe it deep down."

That makes him look at her, startled to hear something so deep down and hidden rise to the surface through the mouth of someone else. "I know I didn't, 'Ro."

She smiles at him sadly. "No, you do not." He opens his mouth to argue with her, but she squeezes his shoulder tightly. "I miss him, Bobby. I miss him every day, just like you."

There's a little nod from Bobby -- all the answer he can give, thinking about all those things they will never do. No more trips, no more gasping in the middle of the night. No more of so many things.

So many things he can never do, again.

Ororo watches his face, and lets a tear out, for both of them and for the loss of a dear friend. A dear person, someone who was a good man, in the end, and who cared, and who had friends to miss him when he departed. Someone worth caring for, now that he is gone. She smiles sadly again, and says, "Robert. I know you made him happy."

And he looks up, and sees -- really sees her face, the sadness, the emotion. Ororo is suffering; Remy's loss isn't precious just to him, there are other people that still need to grieve. He looks her in the eyes, and can't help himself -- his throat closes, and the burning behind his eyes starts to sting again, just like it had been doing ever since his breakdown in the laundry room ... Ever since -- Remy, had died.

But he speaks around the lump in his throat, trying to offer her what comfort he can. Choked, quiet, he says, "So did you, 'Ro."

She smiles at him, and he feels the sunshine out the window perk up a little bit. She answers him simply, "I know."

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