Truly, Madly, Deeply
By Rebop


And I said fly, oh my sweet angel,
Fly unto the sky,
Fly, oh my sweet angel
Forever I will be by your side.

I obviously was a lot more worn out than I thought; I slept through the rest of the day and all night. Woke up twice; once to pee, once ‘bout two am. Jono was always there; keeping a watchful eye like a sweet gargoyle. I can’t tell you how safe and loved that made me feel. He had occupied himself as usual by reading; writing and that ever present Walkman. I now think it’s a permanent part of his head. He always gave me a Jonothan smile when I opened my eyes and a “ ‘ello ducks!” sent via telepathy.

I had a surprisingly restful sleep; haven’t had such a nightmare free one in ages. When I woke up very early in the morning, I felt really good and so happy. Jonothan had curled up next to me, clutching a pillow, damn headphones still on. I brushed some long, chestnut hair away from his face, and then nibbled on his nose. It always stops my heart when those big, brown angel eyes flutter open. He gave me a warm, fuzzy look.

* ‘Eh, Rem. * His mental voice was very soft and heavy with sleep. * Mornin’. *

I grinned wide, suddenly full of the devil. “ Hey, Boo. Let’s go for a swim.”

*Huh? * Jono is always pretty groggy and zombified when he first wakes up, it’s one more damn cute thing about him. I took advantage of this defenseless haze. I yanked the headphones off and stood, grabbing him. Before he could really react, I picked him up and slung him over my shoulder, Tarzan style.

* Remy, can I ask what the hell yer doing? * Jonothan was starting to wake up.

“Jus’ headin outside.” I walked out to the balcony, and took a deep breath of the fresh morning air. It was going to be a beautiful day, and I felt so good just being alive.

*Would you mind putting me down, then? * Jono asked in a very reasonable tone.

“Non.” I chuckled, and then climbed the balcony railing. Without warning, I jumped. It was only two stories, but Jono gave a startled yell.

I landed lightly on my feet in the sand. “Nice scream dere, Jono. Kinda high and girly.”

*Oh pardon. Ever so sorry. * The heavy sarcasm in his voice cracked me up. * Next time yer take a dive off a building with me in tow, I promise to deliver a more dignified, manly yell. *

I ran for the ocean, laughing as I went. Jono’s tone became quite conversational.

* So, love, I’d like to ask yer. Have yer lost yer mind? *

“Yup. Long time ago.”

*Thought so. * I reached the water, and splashed through the blue/green waves, getting out about chest high. Jonothan let out a very long, very put upon sigh.

*Yer gonner throw me in, aren’t yer? *

“ ‘Fraid so, sweet.” And with that, I gave him a big heave and flung him in the ocean. It was a good toss too. Jono hardly weighs anything and he was quite a sight, arms and legs all stretched out. He hit the water like a cannonball, there was a huge splash. I roared with laughter, and it got even worse when he emerged, dark hair plastered to his face. He slowly wiped his eyes, which were twinkling with amusement.

*Yer so fucking dead, Remy LeBeau. *

He made a pretty respectable lunge at me, catching me by the waist and pulling us both under water. We had us a fine time then, dunking and splashing each other. Jono got dunked the most, as I tickled him, getting an unfair advantage. He is so damn ticklish too, it’s absolutely hilarious. He’s got this irresistible froggy ol’ belly laugh; it sounds like a ratty motorboat. I could listen to it all day.

We couldn’t stay out too long as neither of us had any sunscreen on. I’m a redhead, and a nasty sunburn is something I dread. I’m not sure if Jono is susceptible or not, but I don’t think he wants to find out. Wouldn’t mind smearing aloe all over him, but I’d rather do it under pleasanter circumstances.

I was getting incredibly hungry anyway. I fished my bathrobe out of the water, as it had gotten yanked off as we wrestled around. It was all that I was wearing too; I love having clothing an optional requirement. I can tell my nudist leanings shocks Jonothan a bit, not that he’s said anything. But he’s also getting a bit more liberal about states of undress himself.

Robe safely under one arm; I grabbed my lover again. This time I hoisted him up and carried him to the house piggyback. And he tried very hard, but I heard a telepathic giggle or two accidentally escape him.

One feature I absolutely love about this place is the outdoor shower. It’s just a little concrete platform under some old mangroves; the showerhead is just attached to a tall pipe. The water is nice and warm, I immediately got under it to rinse the salt and sand off. Jonothan finally summoned up enough courage to strip off his shorts and tee shirt, all the while looking like he expected a troop of Girl Scouts to march through. Then again, with Jono’s luck, that just might happen.

There was something free and very pagan about this; after Jono loosened up a bit, we played around with the soap and I washed his hair. I behaved myself this time too, although I did try the “Drop the Soap” game once more. He’s still not falling for it, however. Damn.

After showering, we wrapped ourselves in towels and went inside to get dressed. I figured Chamber would draw the line at me cooking breakfast naked. There’s just something plain weird about it, anyway. As well as dangerous. Hot cooking oil can do some heavy damage.

God, I was starving! My appetite comes and goes, and I was in a ravenous mode. I really needed to start eating on a regular basis too; my body still hadn’t recovered from Antarctica. I also burn energy at a high rate; it’s a side effect of the kinetic charge. It can take a lot out of me, after a big battle I can drop six to ten pounds easy. My weight had gotten better since encountering Jono, but my old spandex uniform would still bag.

I immediately started to chop up some stuff for a big omelet; Jonothan watched the proceedings with an interested air.

*Yer want me to make yer some coffee, Rem? * he asked, oh so helpfully.

Oh boy. How the hell could I get out of this one without really hurting his feelings?  I managed to come up with a big, fat lie.

“Dat’s awful nice of y’ cher, but I feel like some orange juice dis mornin’.’” (I really was dying for a cup of Joe, but that was all I could think of.) “Maybe y’ can crack some eggs into dat bowl over dere.” That seemed harmless enough.

Jono beamed at me, pleased to be useful. *Sure thing, ducks. How many? *

“Oh, five, six. Want a big omelet, me.”

*Yer got it. * He went and opened the egg carton.

I got a little absorbed in what I was doing for a moment. When I turned around, I suddenly thought I was witnessing a Three Stooges short. Jonothan had apparently never cracked an egg in his life, and none of them were cooperating. I watched the proceedings with the fascination you reserve for car wrecks; you don’t want to look, but you just have to anyway. The first egg had hit the floor, the second had somehow exploded, and the third got half in the bowl, half out. I suddenly realized if I didn’t step in soon, little chickens would have needlessly sacrificed their lives and I would have to figure out a way to make an egg-less omelet. Jono was hugely embarrassed, but I gave him a big kiss, which cheered him up some. Then I made him clean up the mess.

Still had more than enough eggs, so I had a nice, big breakfast. Jono sat and kept me company while I ate, that’s yet another endearing thing that he does. I would think it would be incredibly boring to just sit and watch people eat when you can’t. Plus, I would be as envious as all get out. Jono says he doesn’t really think about it much anymore, he doesn’t have an appetite. God, that child has lost so much, even the simple pleasure of food.

After breakfast, we did the dishes together, singing along to Bob Marley and Jimmie Cliff on the radio. Jonothan has a very interesting ‘voice’ too, rag and bone edgy, like a young Tom Waits. He told me he never sang much with his old band; they thought he sounded too weird. Those fools didn’t know a good thing.

Jono only broke one glass, and after we finished, I went and wrote another letter to Poppa. It was so much easier this time around. The only tough part was deciding what to say about Jonothan and me. I finally opted to wait and tell him face to face. Frankly, I was a bit sick of making earth-shattering revelations, although in this case I was hoping it was going to be just a slight surprise. I told Pere we’d arrive a while before Christmas, and the thought of going home again made me get all emotional. I love N’awlins despite the heartache it’s caused me. It’s still my home, and the exile has been a terrible curse. It was definitely dangerous to go back: there are both Thieves and Assassins that want my hide. But Pere seemed to think if I lay fairly low there would be no trouble. And I really wanted Jono to see it, experience it. I knew he would love the place as much as I did.

After I finished writing, I decided to drive into Freeport and mail it right away. I went to look for Jonothan; I found him sitting on the deck with his journal, scribbling away in his heavy, sprawling print. I admit, I’d love to peek in it; I have the curiosity of a cat. But I would never actually do it, just like Jono would never read my mind.

I asked him if he wanted to come with me and he hesitated. Jonothan isn’t keen on crowds of people, and I really don’t blame him. Now that I’ve been out with him in public, I’ve been astonished on how many folks just rudely stare at him. I know that they are just being nosy; but it’s hurtful. Jono bears it with considerable grace, but it would just wear anyone out after awhile.

So I let him off the hook, told him he didn’t have to go if he didn’t really want to. He looked very grateful. * Well, I’d rather stay here if yer don’t mind, Rem. Maybe I’ll beach comb or something. *

“Jus’ stay out of trouble baby, dat’s all I ask.” I didn’t think any crisis would befall him just picking up shells. I messed up his hair, and then bent down to kiss him. I was pleased to see that he doesn’t flinch at all any more when I get near his face, in the beginning, he’d always wince a little. He’s come so far in so little time.

It was funny; as soon as I drove away from the house, I started to miss him. I’ve been a loner all my life, so this was an entirely new feeling. I had it so bad too, my chest actually started to ache. How the hell had this happened to someone like me? Made me want to laugh and tell everyone about how in love I was. What an amazing, wild emotion. No wonder they say you go crazy.

I didn’t linger in Freeport long; I conducted my business at the mail service and left. Then I stopped at the open-air market to get some supplies; namely bread and lots of eggs. I also treated myself to a nice big cup of steaming hot coffee, with lots of cream. It was heaven.

The market was wonderful, full of just about everything you can think of, as well as good gossip and laughter. I love this kind of place, makes me think of home. I bought more food then I could possibly eat, and chatted with some of the locals, enjoying their lazy, Caribbean accents. Then, just before I went back to my car, I saw this one stall. It was run by this wrinkled old gent who had a wide smile full of gold teeth. He was selling used guitars.

I really enjoy showering my lovers with gifts; I can be embarrassingly over generous at times. I’ve held back with Jono though, that big blow out we had in New York made me questions my motives a little. I had been really hurt at the time, but most of it had been my own damn, stupid fault. I didn’t give him any kind of warning at all, just dumped a big pile of money in his lap. I didn’t consider his pride, or that he might see it as trying to buy his affections. I was just so eager to please him; plus I wanted to make sure that whatever happened between us, he would be okay. I didn’t want him to have to run back to Xavier’s mutant stable, which had obviously been doing him no good.

However painful, I learned a lot of things about my lover that night. It certainly gave me a lot of respect for him. Jonothan stood right up to me, no mean feat. I have a very strong personality, and can run right over people if they let me. And Chamber halted me dead in my tracks. I also realized just how much he loved me then, although neither of us had worked up the nerve to say it yet. And he certainly wasn’t after me for the money, which made him a rare bird indeed.

So I actually found myself debating about buying him a fifty-dollar guitar. Then I thought, the hell with it, I’m getting it for him whether he likes it or not. I spent a pleasant fifteen minutes or so bargaining with the gent and his gold teeth. I got him down to forty-seven fifty. I had no idea if the thing was decent or not, I know next to nothing about musical instruments. I hoped the thought would count.

When I got back to the house, I didn’t find Chamber in either the living room or kitchen. I put my groceries away; then went to look for him.

I found him bonelessy draped over a deck chair, fast asleep. He was lying on his stomach, one hand curled up near his face, a long leg hanging over the side of the chair. Of course, the damn headphones were on, and a book had fallen open on the floor. I was a bit surprised at first to find him napping, and then I remembered it had been me who had slept the last two days away. Jonothan had recently put up with a tremendous amount of my crap; had kept a watchful vigil, so no wonder my poor baby was all tuckered out.

At first I was going to leave him be, but I kept staring at him, smiling. I gazed at those loose, coltish limbs and big feet, that mass of hair hiding his sweet face. He seemed so delicious and so totally, utterly fuckable that I suddenly wanted to do just that. I went back into the house for a minute, put the guitar on the bed, grabbed the lube. I chided myself a little for all the wicked thoughts I was having, but not much.

When I got back to the deck, he had rolled to his side. I knelt down beside the chair and just drank him in for a moment. I could see that his eyes were moving under his lids: he was dreaming. I drifted down to his slender torso; his black tee shirt had hitched up a little, exposing all that smooth skin and the most adorable little innie belly button. I had to chuckle when I noticed a tell-tale swelling in his baggy shorts, my lover was having himself a good dream indeed.

I decided to start having me some fun too. I very carefully picked up one of his hands; he has long fingers and big knuckles. I began to suck slowly on his index finger, relishing the taste of his skin. He didn’t wake up, but my action definitely registered; he stirred slightly and arched his small hips. I grinned as that swelling became more pronounced.

I released his hand, and very gently picked up the edge of his shirt, pulling it even higher. Keeping a close watch on his face, I delicately undid his shorts, pulling down the zipper. His eyes stayed closed, so I eased the shorts down his thighs. Then I found the elastic waistband of his boxers, slipped those down as well. His cocked jumped out, hard and swollen, the head a very faint pink. A tiny droplet of precum moisture dripped down the side; I licked my lips in anticipation. Along with his ass, Jono has a perfect dick, not too big, not too small; I love to take him in my mouth. Just looking at his penis made my own newly risen hard on start to ache.

But I waited to attack; I wanted to play a little more. I snuck another peek at his face. He was still amazingly asleep; soft black lashes fanned pale cheeks. I carefully started to lick his exposed stomach, letting my tongue glide over that taut little belly, dipping into his navel. I nibbled and placed feather light kisses, and I finally heard a low moan inside my head. His eyes opened, and he looked totally confused for a few seconds.

* Remy- what the hell-? * His ‘voice’ was dazed and croaky.

I flashed him a most wicked grin. “ Rain check, cher, rain check.”

*Oh. * He blinked a few times, and then the dark brown eyes crinkled. * I see yer already been busy, love. *

“Yah. Saw y’ lyin’ dere, lookin’ good enough to eat, so I decided to be de Big Bad Wolf and do just dat.” I slyly traced a circle with my tongue on his bare skin, making him shiver. “ And you had already started de party without Remy, y’ bad child. Must have been a dynamite dream too, cher. About moi, no doubt.”

I got a low, very sexy chuckle in return. * Yer sure about that, my darling? Might have been about Antonio Banderas. *

“ Jono, you lie, you lie like a rug.” I tortured him a bit with my tongue, tasting fragrant skin, feeling the fevered warmth with my lips. I licked the area above his pubic bone; made his cock shiver and him squirm. “Admit dat y’ lyin’, babe.”

* I’m lying. * Jonothan said softly, running a hand through my hair. There was a heat in his eyes. *Really only dream about tall, sexy Cajuns with auburn hair. *

I laughed. “And I only dream of British Goths with big cow eyes.” I yanked off his headphones. “ Dey ain’t hooked up electronically, though.” I got a laugh in return, then an astonished gasp as I suddenly pulled both his shorts and underwear completely off. I turned him around a little, threw his legs over my shoulders. I kissed and bit the insides of his thighs, blew hot breath against his scrotum. Jono groaned loudly, his cock pulsed in response, clear fluid slicked down the shaft. I lapped awhile at his balls, causing him to shudder violently. Pubic hair tickled my nose, and I smelled a nice masculine heat, combined lightly with baby lotion.

* Ohmygawd. * Chamber murmured I smiled, and then flicked a tongue up the length of his penis. I was rewarded with more squirming, a little wilder this time. I tasted the salty precum, licked my lips.

“ So cher, y’ want Remy to make y’ go all crazy?” I whispered softly.

Jonothan was shivering. * Oh yes, Remy, please. *

“You English folks are so damn polite.” Without any warning, I grabbed his narrow hips tightly and took his cock into my mouth. Jono gave a moan so deep and erotic that my own hard on throbbed in my pants. I was distracted for a few seconds, then I got down to business. I covered his penis with saliva, nibbled and bit the head for a while, probed the slit. Then I took the whole length deep into my mouth, sucking hard. I opened my shields, felt his arousal and ecstasy. I groaned a little myself.

I started a rhythm and he responded to it by thrusting his hips up. I stopped him, holding him down, making him my prisoner. He sobbed in sweet agony as I punished his cock, which had gotten even harder. I glance up at his face; his eyes were shut tight, his head thrown back, his fingers clutching the chair mattress. He was almost there. I managed to take him even deeper in my throat, and that was the end of it. A jet of hot semen filled my mouth and Jono’s cry of release banged through my head. His body went rigid; back arched, muscles in sharp relief.

I drank down all his seed, then released his softening dick. As he lay there, still trembling, I flipped him over, running my hands down his back. I wasn’t going to give him much time to recover; I was too on the edge myself.

“Gonna fuck y’ now baby, I want y’.” Jonothan moaned in agreement, making me even harder. I fished the lube from my pocket, got a real generous portion on my hand. I roughly spread his legs wide, getting a soft whimper from him. I slid a finger inside, then two, stretching him some. He cried out at the penetration, and then there was a shuddery sigh. I felt his muscles begin to relax with my probing and I loved his tight heat.

I soon couldn’t stand it anymore; the sight of that small, pretty ass, legs open and willing, luscious entrance begging to be fucked was almost too much. I stripped off my shorts in record time, smeared lube thickly over my cock. The act of touching myself made me moan.

Erection gleaming with lube, I positioned myself, then carefully entered him, just the head of my penis. I stroked his graceful back, felt the bumps of his spine.

*Oh, Remy… * Jono’s mental voice was almost inaudible.

“Y’ ready, baby?” I was now violently trembling, too.

*Oh God, yes! Fuck me Remy, fuck me hard.” Didn’t need any more urging. I thrust inside him, half lying on his back. It was like being gripped liked a chamois glove, so incredible. I cried out when I sheathed my entire length; his inner muscles clamped down hard, almost undoing me. I suddenly realized I wasn’t going to last too long. So I thought the hell with finesse, let’s just get good and nasty. I began a fast, punishing rhythm; each thrust into his beautiful body an electric thrill. Jono made some animal noises in my head, which made me even hotter and wilder. Then he began to push against me, forcing me even deeper.

“Mon Dieu, Jono!” I managed to gasp; it felt so damn good. I sneaked a hand down between Jonothan’s legs, and found his penis. It was still slick with spit and cum, hot and painfully engorged once more. He whimpered and I fisted him without mercy, coaxing hoarse cries of pleasure.

We basically went at it like two completely crazed minks for another minute or so. It was so wonderfully raw, and I loved every sweet and dirty second of it. All that fear and tension I had recently was forgotten, I just felt so alive. I’m sure I was grinning like a maniac.

Then Jono’s inner muscles spasmed hard, and that was all she wrote. I heard myself shouting, even though it felt like I wasn’t making a sound. My orgasm shot through my entire body, I managed to hold on to it and sent it to my lover. Jonothan went mad for a second, there was aching, sobbing mental scream, and a thick spurt of cum ejaculated over my hand. I experienced his climax and it took my breath away. Jono cums so very hard; it’s like being slammed into a brick wall. I collapsed on top of his back, panting and gasping.

We both just lay there for a while, shaking like crazy. Eventually I slipped out of him, sat my bare butt on the deck. I pulled Jono into my lap; he straddled my waist, facing me. He was as floppy as an old rag doll, and I wasn’t much better. I looked into his amazing chocolate eyes, and they beamed back at me. We both were immensely pleased with ourselves for a minute or so.

“Hey dere, Boo.” I said when I was able to find my voice. I kissed his dear, thin face. * ‘Ey, Rem.  * He answered, rubbing his long nose against mine. *Remind me to ask for one of them rain checks more often. Wow. *

I hugged him tight, enjoying the feel of his slender body tight against me. I rocked him for a bit, my eyes closed, thinking all the while how much I loved him. And I also silently thanked him for banishing that ugly stuff to the back of my head where it belonged. I was okay again, in control, and now everything was alright.

I suddenly realized I was drenched in sweat; my shirt was plastered to me. Jono wasn’t much better, he doesn’t sweat, but he was pretty sticky from me and other bodily fluids.

“You and me one big damn mess, baby.” I said with a chuckle. “Should definitely hit the showers.”

Jonothan gave me a reluctant expression. * Aww, do we have to? * He nuzzled my neck. *  I love the way yer smell after sex, sweetheart. If I could bottle it and sell it as cologne, I’d make a bloody fortune. * A huge mental laugh. * I’d call it ‘Cajun Climax’. *

This broke me up. “ I’d love to see de ad campaign.”

A sly look from Jonothan. *It would feature Antonio Banderas, of course. *

I gave him a well-deserved swat on the behind. “What’s dis Antonio Banderas shit all of a sudden?”

He snickered. *He’s obviously good for pissing you off, Rem. *

“Brat.” I managed to stand and, holding on to Jono’s bare fanny, pulled him up with me. He wrapped his long legs around my waist, and he put his arms around my neck. I carried him to the bedroom, monkey fashion. He rested his head on my shoulder, hummed a contented little tune. All was definitely right in my little world once more.

I had actually forgotten about the guitar, but Jonothan spotted it immediately. As I set him on the floor, his eyes got real big, and I felt very happy. “Well, will y’ look at dat! Wonder who dat could be for?”

*Me? Really? * Jono looked like a kid at Christmas.

“Duh. Don’t know who else round here is rumored to have musical talent.”

Jonothan instantly scrambled on the bed and grabbed it. * Aw, Remy, yer shouldn’t have! Thank you! * He sat cross-legged and immediately started to tune it. I flopped on my stomach next to him, feeling mighty pleased with myself. “ Y’ like it cher? I’m sure it ain’t much, found it dat market, and dis guy was sellin’ ‘em used and-”

He put a finger to my lips, shushing me. * I love it. It’s the best present I’ve ever gotten. You’re a real sweetheart, Remy LeBeau. * He bent down and pressed his face to mine. There was so much love shining in his eyes; it took my breath away for a second. All this for a stupid forty-seven fifty guitar. God knows what would happen if I ever get him a Lamborghini. Probably wouldn’t have the same effect, though.

He fooled around with it for a few minutes, looking like he knew what he was doing. He was quite an adorable picture too, hair all wind tunnel wild, just a tee shirt on. He plucked out a few chords, and his eyes crinkled happily. “Oh, she has a lovely sound. Any requests? *

I don’t know why, but I decided to give him a little shit. I drew on my vast knowledge of the Blues, thinking of something sure to stump him. “ Ok. How ‘bout ‘Hey, Hey Baby’ by Big Bill Broonzy?” I smiled wide, thinking that there was no damn way. Jono cocked one thick, dark brow at me, giving a pretty good “Fuck you, Remy” look. Then he started to play that cheap guitar, coaxing out an amazing version of that old Delta blues tune. He knew all the words, and his cracked, deep ‘voice’ would have made Big Bill proud. I was stunned. I had imagined that Jono had some garage band skills, nothing like this. Jonothan Starsmore may not be able to dance, can’t really swim so well, and his coffee will most certainly kill you, but Lordy, can he play! I was in awe, and my heart started to hurt a little, too. He truly has a gift, and this is yet one more thing the X-factor has taken away.

However, he didn’t seem sad at the moment, he was enjoying himself immensely, rubbing my nose in it a little. When he finished, I looked appropriately sheepish.

“Uh…dat was really somet’ing, cher. Y’ know y’ way around a six string.”

Jono chuckled. *Yer gonner have to do better than Big Bill Broonzy, ducks. * He idly started to play another tune, very slow and sorrowful. I didn’t recognize it.

“Dat somet’ing y’ wrote, cher?”

A snort. * Don’t I wish! This is called “Sweet Jane”. * I must have looked blank. * Yer know. Lou Reed? Velvet Underground? Nico? Andy Warhol…? * He shook his head, eyes twinkling. * Yer have a spotty musical education, love. How can yer know Big Bill Broonzy and not have a clue about Lou Reed? Yer need some help. *

“My musical education is jus’ fine, t’anks very much. Ain’t gonna start listening to all dat ‘depressing, woe is me, my life totally sucks’ stuff y’ pipe through those goddamn headphones twenty-four seven.” I stroked the soft brown hair on his right leg. “Play me a number dat you wrote, honey.”

Chamber got all embarrassed. *Well, Rem, yer realize that what I wrote is depressing, woe is me, my life totally sucks shit. I was such a bloody poseur. Wore far too much eye shadow back then as well. *

I gave him a big grin. “I’ll make an exception in your case, ‘cuz you so cute.”

A big sigh. * All right then. Try not to laugh too hard. Wish I had the strength to say no, but I have a hard time refusing a beautiful, half naked man anything. *

“I’ll have to remember dat whenever I want to borrow money.”

Jono laughed and rolled his eyes. Then he nervously started to play again. * This is called, “Walking Wounded”. * he said after a moment.  The tune was just as dark and haunting as “Sweet Jane”. The lyrics he sang made me feel shivery, like standing alone in the rain:

‘ It’s been a year and a day since you left,
Empty room and empty bed,
I’ve fallen in love with my own pain,
And the voices ringing in my head,
Martyrdom doesn’t suit me,
The act is getting tired,
Need to stop hating myself,
Stop walking the razor wire.

I’m Walking Wounded,
I need a healing touch,
Lay your Shaman’s hands on me,
Set all my ghosts free,
Make me believe again,
I’m really much too young,
To feel so fucking old.’

I’m not the best judge of music, and more than a little prejudiced, but the song was so powerful. Maybe the lyrics weren’t terribly original, but combined with Jonothan’s aching, gravedigger voice, everyone would have been mesmerized. I was filled with so many emotions: love, pride and such profound sadness.

When he had finished playing, Jonothan seemed fairly mortified. I grabbed the guitar out of his hands and pulled him close. * I take that since yer not laughing that yer thought it was ok? * Jono said after a moment. I gently kissed him.

“More den ok. Honey, y’ blew my doors off! Had no idea my sweet baby was such a talented cuss.”

* Really? * Chamber radiated happiness at my praise.

“Yah. Not only are y’ cute and funny and smart and sexy as all get out, I bet y’ can also play me a mean version of  “One Bourbon, One Scotch and One Beer”. Couldn’t ask for more, cher.”

He brushed rough fingertips against my face. * Thank you again for the present, Remy. I love yer. * He bumped my forehead, and then he sat up and grabbed the guitar again. *So, yer want to hear a little John Lee Hooker? Yer got it. *

And hell’s bells, he cranked out a version of that song that would have made the dead rise up to shake their tail feathers.

The next couple of weeks were just pure bliss. I honestly had no idea that people could be so happy. I also figured that Jono and I, being difficult types, would start to drive each other crazy after awhile. But we didn’t, we just got on like a house on fire. I was especially surprised at myself. I can get real aggravating and restless staying in one place; I usually need a lot of stimulus to distract me. But this deep feeling of total contentment came over me, something I had never experienced before. I still got tense, and had nightmares once in awhile, but all my other usual tics and annoying quirks vanished. I relaxed, I could breathe; I managed to not get on Jono’s last nerve. I began to slowly but surely come to the amazing conclusion that I maybe had finally found what I was looking for.

The days sort of drifted into each other seamlessly; I forgot whether it was Tuesday or Thursday. I could have cared less. We established this lazy, aimless routine. We went to bed late, got up late, took long swims and walks on the beach. We poked around tide pools, and took decadent naps in the big hammock outside the house. When it rained, we read the interesting, slightly mildewed collection of old books we found stacked haphazardly on the shelves. We played cards and backgammon, chess and a pretty cutthroat version of Monopoly. I made messy, extravagant meals, ate ice cream for breakfast if I wanted. And I discovered that even though Jonothan can’t brew a cup of coffee, he really makes a fantastic pot of tea. He made me a cup of Earl Grey every morning, full of milk.

We laughed, we joked, told stories, got silly with each other. Best of all were the sweet, endless hours in bed. We found all kinds of ways to make love, with passion, with abandon, with gentleness. Sex was fun, and I cherished every moment of closeness.

It began to dawn on me that I now had a friend as well as a lover. This was a first. I not only loved Jonothan, but I liked him as well. I wanted to listen to his opinions, see the world through his eyes. He was good company, endlessly interesting.

Of course, it  wasn’t perfect. There were some squabbles now and again. But it was never serious, kind of the ‘ I wish you would pick up your goddamn towel’ variety instead. We also didn’t feel the need to cling to each other like kudzu vines; we gave each other breathing space. I wandered around the island now and again, and Jono had a certain mangrove he liked to sit under and play guitar or write in his journal. He also vanished mysteriously once in awhile, I assumed to practice his martial arts moves. I didn’t see any real improvement, not that it mattered.

We took a few trips. One day, we flew in to Nassau to see a fantastic steel band contest, and despite the crowds, Jonothan loved it. Another day found us at this little racetrack in Freeport. Jono was now “officially” twenty-one, and he was thrilled to go there. And I made the mistake of deciding to show him the ropes, be a bit of a know-it-all. Jono patiently listened to me yammer on for quite a while. When I was done expounding, he quietly said, * Well, Rem, I don’t think I’ll just place a single bet on the field. I prefer to do it across the board. And do yer think the track looks a trifle cuppy? I imagine the chalk will do well anyway, he seems pretty one paced. *  He then laughed and touched my jaw, which was hanging lower than usual. * I should have told yer love, that me Gran helped me learn to read with the daily racing form, and I made regular trips with her to see her bookie. So who do yer fancy in the third, then? Naughty Nellie or Wild In the Streets? *

I’m going to cast this in stone: never, EVER underestimate Jonothan Evan Starsmore. He was very gracious about it all too, took me out to a very expensive dinner with a small portion of his winnings. Good thing too, as I was lucky to get out of there with my shirt.

Then one day we decided to go scuba diving. I was sort of amazed it took us so long to get around to it; the waters surrounding the Bahamas are the most spectacular in the world. The water is as clear as glass; the reefs team with life. We rented a nice little powerboat and some gear, and headed out to the southwest side of Grand Bahama Island. That’s where the Northwest Providence Channel is, an area of reefs and deep chasms that go two miles down. There are blue holes and shipwrecks, all waiting to be explored. I was going to be careful during Jonothan’s first dive though, nothing too ambitious. Just go underwater and have us a look-see.

As usual, it was a gorgeous day; the ocean was a million shades of blue. As we traveled along in the boat, the wind whipped through our hair. Jono seemed both very excited and very nervous, I was just plain excited. I kept thinking back to my thirteenth birthday, when Poppa took me to Tahiti. He taught me how to dive there, and my first glimpse of that undersea world will stay with me forever. I hoped that Jonothan would experience the same wonder that I did.

We anchored at what looked like a good spot. I was rarin’ to go. Jono had gotten very quiet, however. He looked great in the wetsuit we had gotten him in Freeport, quite frankly, pretty sexy. Especially his butt. I got to admire it a bit as I helped him strap some weights to his belt. He was rather fidgety, and I suddenly heard a slight mental sigh.

*So, Rem…d’yer think we’ll see any, um, sharks? * His tone was elaborately casual.

I smiled to myself. So that was it. “ We might, cher. Dere’s lots of sharks in dese waters. Also barracuda, moray eels…”

* Oh.* A slight pause. * But there won’t be any real big sharks, right? *

I really tried not to laugh. “Well, dere could be.” Then I saw a spark of real panic in his eyes, and I felt bad for teasing him. “Jonothan, sharks, dey usually don’t bother divers. Dey leave y’ alone if y’ leave dem alone.” I ruffled the mop of chestnut hair. “Plus, honey, if any ol’ Great White started to mess with y’, y’ could jus’ blast ‘em into a fish stick.”

Jono, I could tell, was now terribly embarrassed. * True. Don’t mean ter sound like a candy ass, Remy. It’s just that I saw “Jaws” on telly when I was real little, and it scared the piss out of me. All them teeth. For about a week after, I wouldn’t go to the bathroom. I was convinced the bloody shark was going to get me when I sat on the toilet. *

I couldn’t help it, I broke up. I would give anything to have seen Jono as a kid, he must have been something. Real skinny, messy hair in his face, skinned knees and a very stubborn expression. I hugged him hard. “ I love y’ Brer Rabbit. And we really don’t have to go if y’ don’t want to.”

 He shrugged. *Remy, it’s about time I got over being scared of a big rubber shark. Plus, I want ter find out what yer been raving about for the past few days. *

I grinned. “Den let’s get dis show on de road, baby.”

We finished getting suited up, Jonothan, of course, needing no aqualung. I hoped I had put enough weights in Jonothan’s belt, as he floats like a toy duck in a tub. We slipped into the water, and started for the world below, Jono hanging on to my own belt.

One nice thing about diving with a telepath, we could still ‘talk’, as Chamber can receive thoughts as well as send. And I’m sorry; I really couldn’t stop myself from teasing him as we swam towards the reef.

*Dum, dum, dum, dum, dum, dum dum dum… * I mentally projected the “Jaws” theme.

*You ‘orrible bastard. * Jono tried to sound pissed, but his eyes twinkled behind his facemask.

Chamber soon forgot any irritation with me though, and all about the sharks too. And I relived that wonderful day with Pere in Tahiti.

A lovely, alien world, with bright coral and elegantly waving sea fans, and anemones blooming like a field of flowers surrounded us. Here and there, fish flickered like vibrant living jewels, their hues from some psychedelic palette.

Jono was instantly enraptured, and I was reminded of exactly how young he really is, just barely nineteen. He acts like such an old soul the majority of the time, so it tickles me to no end when a gee whiz teenager takes over. I heard this excited, hyped up voice in my head, and everything was ‘bloody fantastic’ and ‘absolutely brilliant.’ Jonothan had forgotten to be cool for a while.

I had read up a little on some of the fish we might see, a good thing as Chamber barraged me with a million questions. We spotted damselfish, their heads looking like they had been dipped in a pot of ink, and a formation of sergeant majors, black military stripes on their silvery bodies. There was a vast school of blue chromas, the color of their scales almost blinding. Here and there were little wrasse, streaks of paint weaving through the coral. Best of all was a queen angelfish, making its stately way through the water. The brilliant greens and blues on its body made me think it had escaped from a Peter Max painting.

Jono was absolutely delighted with it all, and it made me feel so good sharing it with him. Probably the same way Poppa felt during that trip to Tahiti.

We got so wrapped up in everything I almost forgot about the time, not good. I realized I was going to run out of air soon, so I swam over to Jono, now totally absorbed in watching a big conch crawl its way across the sand.

*Jono-cher- we need to… * whatever else I was going to say was forgotten as I suddenly saw something swimming towards us. A very big something. I felt a tremor of both fear and wonder go through me.

*Remy? *  Jonothan looked at me curiously, and then saw the expression in my eyes. His own got huge. * Fuck. It’s a shark, isn’t it? *

*Non. * Chamber slowly turned around and my empathic sense picked up a blast of pure terror from him.


I sent a calming vibe. * It’s okay Jono, it ain’t gonna hurt us. It’s a Manta ray, dey jus’ eat plankton, dey don’t hurt people. *

* Jesus. It’s as big as a fucking house! *

And it was as big as a fucking house, at least twenty feet long from wingtip to wingtip. I imagined that seeing one this size was quite a rare occurrence. It made its slow, grand way towards us, prehistoric and utterly magnificent; its vast white belly gleaming in the deep cerulean water.

Jono had totally calmed down when he realized that we weren’t going to be eaten.

* It’s really quite beautiful, ain’t it, Rem? * There was a throb of awe in his voice.* Kind of looks like a strange angel, flying through the water. So peaceful. Think we could get a closer look? *

I checked my watch; I still had about fifteen minutes of air left. I nodded in agreement, and I saw a flash of excitement in my lover’s eyes. We swam up to the behemoth, and up close it was even more fantastic. I could see why sailors long ago believed in sea monsters, we had one before us in the flesh.

Then Jono surprised me by swimming right up to it. I didn’t think he was in any danger; Mantas don’t have any poison barbs in their whip like tails like some rays. Plus, I heard they were pretty docile creatures. At this size, the ray certainly didn’t have much to worry about.

Chamber reached out and carefully touched one enormous wingtip. I ‘heard’ a pleased chuckle from him, and I smiled inside.

And the something absolutely miraculous happened.

My shields were slightly open, and I sensed an overwhelming burst of emotions from Jonothan, stunned surprise followed by amazement and such happiness it made me almost dizzy. I tried to ask him what was going on, but he ignored me. He swam up to the creature’s big head, twisting around to facing it. The Manta slowed, and they actually stared at each other.

I’ve seen some pretty astonishing things in my life, and I have gotten fairly jaded, but my heart skipped a few beats when I finally ascertained what was happening. Somehow, Jono and the ray were communicating. The creature allowed my lover to touch it’s horned head, to run his fingers down it’s immense, rough skinned back. It became an otherworldly pas de deux, both of them floating in the water, Jonothan stroking the Manta like a cherished lover. And Jono’s ecstasy was mind bending; I lost myself in it for a few seconds.

His emotions were so passionate and strong that I almost didn’t detect the other presence. When I did, it sent a chill down my back. My empathy detected a very faint echo of interest and curiosity, it was from the ray. And there were other feelings as well, but so alien that it made me panic. I quickly locked up my shields, remembering a vow I had made long ago to never to use empathy on an animal again. I got control of myself, and saw that I only had five minutes of air left. We had to get back to the boat.

I hated to do it, but I had to put a stop to this. I swam over to Chamber and touched his arm.

*Cher, I’m so sorry, but we have to go. *

Jonothan stared at me like he had no idea who I was; it was like he was in a trance. This scared me, and I ‘spoke’ to him very forcefully, shaking him a little.

* Jonothan, we HAVE to go! I’m almost out of air! *

Much to my relief, he snapped out of the stupor. * Oh…Remy…sorry. Of course…* He looked at the ray, and there was immense sadness in his telepathic projection. * Goodbye…* I felt a weird thrill as the ray seemed to understand him, starting to swim away from us. As a farewell, Jonothan brushed its underbelly with his fingertips as it passed over our heads.

We swam back to the boat without a word; I had about a minute to spare. I was trembling as we climbed on board, I heaved off my gear as quickly as possible. Jono just stood there on the deck, silently staring at the ocean. His behavior was now really frightening me. I removed his facemask and fins; it was like undressing a mannequin. I got him to sit down and wrapped us up in some towels. His skin was actually cool the touch, very unusual. Jono usually feels like he has a high-grade fever. His pupils were very dilated. I swallowed hard, fear coursing through me. If I had somehow brought him to harm, I would die.

I patted his cheek gently, trying to get him to focus. “Cher, snap out of dis! Y’ scaring de shit out of me!” The pats didn’t work, so I gave him a hard shake. “JONO!”

This did the trick, he blinked, and it felt like he was returning from some far off place. * Remy? *

I heaved a huge sigh. “ Baby, are you okay? Felt like I lost y’.”

* I’m fine love, really. I’m sorry to have worried yer. * He touched my face. * Something really amazing happened to me, Rem. *

I was able to smile. “ I kind have figured dat, sweet. Seemed like you and dat humongous devilfish had y’selves a little chat.” I brushed some damp hair from his face. “What did y’ talk about?”

He hesitated for a moment. * It was the most wonderful, beautiful thing, Rem. When I touched her, I felt this presence in me mind. I really opened my shields, and boom! I had no idea I could DO such a thing, use telepathy on something that wasn’t human. Why on earth didn’t Emma or Xavier tell me? *

I thought for a second. “ Maybe because dey can’t, cher. Psi’s aren’t all alike. You might be able to pick up wavelengths dat dey can’t.”

* Why couldn’t I detect it before? *

“Powers are funny tings. I’m still learning’ ‘bout mine. I’m guessing’ you were so relaxed and happy down dere dat you were jus’ open to it. Y’ been so miserable and depressed for so long, y’ might have been missing’ some pretty subtle signals. *

Jonathan slowly nodded. * That must be true…my God; I’ve been missing so much! *

I began to smile. “So tell me about mademoiselle Manta.”

* It’s-it’s so hard to describe. It wasn’t the way you and I talk. And her thoughts aren’t thoughts exactly. But I understood her anyway. I could see the world the way she does, and her senses and perceptions are so very different. Did yer know that the ocean has a smell? Lots of different smells, actually. And I could hear the other fish through her, and feel these living vibrations from even the coral! Her world is so vast and so complicated, we really see so little Remy. For a moment I didn’t know where she, the ocean or I ended, we were connected somehow. * His big brown eyes grew bright with tears. * I know it sounds so bloody corny, but it was one of the most fantastic things that has ever happened to me. * He hugged me tightly around the neck.

I held his thin, now shivering body close. “Ain’t corny at all. Boo, I t’ink it’s wonderful.” And it was. I realized what an enormous revelation this was for Jonothan. So far his mutant experience had been nothing but terrible pain, heartache and misery. He had paid far too high a price for the quirk in his DNA. To suddenly discover that his powers could give him pleasure, could open up a new world, what a joy! And I somehow knew that he had reached a big turning point, and things would be so much better for him from now on. I felt a surge of total happiness.

Chamber sighed in my mind, and then he looked into my eyes. * Wish more than anything I could have shared it with yer, love. * He cocked his head. * Hey, d’yer think yer empathy would work that way?*

The happy feeling I had instantly vanished, replaced by a cold knot. “ ‘Fraid it only works on humans, cher.” God, I loathed lying to him again, but there was just no way I was going to talk about it. I managed a wavery smile. “Looks like y’ be de only Dr. Dolittle ‘round here. Jus’ do me a big favor though. If y’ start talkin’ to dolphins or somet’ing, don’t get into de crystals and incense and New Age crapola. Would drive me crazy. *

Jono laughed, than groaned. *Rem, if that happens, and I start calling meself Jonothan Livingstone Seagull, promise you’ll just shoot me. It would be a mercy. *

I cracked up.” Couldn’t do dat babe. And it won’t happen. I’d give y’ too much shit.” I kissed his face. “Now let’s get our butts home. I t’ink dis took a lot out of both of  us.”

Jono surprised me by suddenly jumping up and dancing around a little. *Actually I feel really, really good right now. Maybe I can drive the boat back. *

I gave his rear end a slap. “Not on your life. Sorry cher, but you’d be de first in history to hit an ice burg around de Bahamas.”

Jonothan laughed and pulled me to my feet. * Yer got a point. Unfortunately. * He hugged me tightly. * I love yer, Rem.*

I kissed him hard. “ And I love you, Jonothan Livingstone Seagull.”

And for those who were wondering what Jono said at the race track:

 *Well, Rem, I don’t think I’ll just place a single bet on the field. I prefer to do it across the board (Place three equal bets to win, place or show.). And do yer think the track looks a trifle cuppy? (Loose and dry.) I imagine the chalk (the favorite) will do well anyway, he seems pretty one paced. (A horse with get up and go.) *

Continue to Part 6

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