Day Zero: Thursday
The Match

Emma Frost frowned at Logan's nonchalant reaction as he sat at the kitchen table, smoking a cigar and playing solitaire late at night. She had just brought up his intolerable behavior toward Rogue, and he had, in effect, brushed her off.

"Logan," she tried again. "You do know she's fuming."

"Good," he mumbled around the cigar.

She waved off some of the smoke. "At YOU, Logan! Not Gambit!"

Logan eyed her while still looking over his cards. "He deserved it."

"She made the bet!" Emma pointed out yet again. "She's the one who put that on the table."

"Like I'm supposed to let him see her like that."

"It was her night clothes, Logan. Not her underwear." Emma crossed her arms. "Though the way you're going on about it, you'd have thought it was going to be naked."

That finally got his attention. He growled at her, matching it with a deadly glare.

She tapped her foot impatiently. "She decided to play poker with him because she had a crush on him. It's the first time she's shown interest in anyone since Bobby. And about time, too."

"If you expect me to agree with you, doll, you might as well give up now."

"Oh, come on!" She sat down across from him, sacrificing a tiny bit in dignity to put them on equal footing. "He's also the only one creative enough to get around her mutation."

"Just keep talking." Logan played down another card. "Give me another reason to skewer him."

Emma grinned. He'd played right into her gambit. "I've got a better idea."

He grunted, indicating she should continue.

"Imagine this." She trailed one finger across the table while imagining it herself. "Gambit completely at Rogue's mercy for a month. She is fuming, remember."

Logan narrowed his eyes. "And how do you intend to pull this off?"


Logan's eyebrows shot up. "You were there, right? You saw her get stomped into the dust on the poker table."

Rogue was a decent poker player, even a good one, but she had been no match for the Prince of Thieves. He'd wiped the table with the three opponents before Rogue, and took in quite a pot. Rogue had figured she'd lose, so she made sure she bet something that might get his attention anyway: a look at her nightclothes.

Emma, Jubilee, Kitty, and even Ororo pitched in to help her find the perfect set that wouldn't get Logan's claws out and that would attract Remy's interest. They'd found a lovely burgundy lace negligee that hinted instead of displayed.

Logan had Remy up by the claws when he found out.

So Rogue had lost the game and the opportunity. And in the way of illogical teenage girls, she blamed Gambit.

If Emma could get the two together for that long and appease Logan's ideas of revenge, then she would be way ahead of the game in matching up the charming Gambit with the elusive Rogue.

"We'll train her," she insisted to Logan's skeptical expression. "You've been playing for a century, more or less, and can teach her the game and strategy. And I'll teach her all I know about people reading, tells, and bluffs. Give us a year and no one'll be able to beat her."

Logan scratched his chin thoughtfully. "Rematch, huh?"

Emma smirked. "A month of slavery for the Ragin' Cajun. What do you say?"

"I think..." A slow, wicked grin spread across Logan's face. "I like it."

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Logan had no problem meeting Emma's challenge.

He corralled the angry Rogue, who had taken to beating the mess out of his punching bag in her off hours, and fed her a few lies about not knowing that she had put in that bet, figuring Gambit was up to his usual stuff. She didn't believe him, but she wasn't supposed to. She was just supposed to calm down enough to listen to the plan.

She did.

She blinked. Her green eyes widened and her mouth formed a small 'o.'

"You think it'll work?" she asked him, all innocence and beauty.

Did Emma really think he'd ever leave his girl to a guy like Gambit?

"Yeah, kid. We'll have you playing like a pro."

Rogue was in.

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Rogue had no problem sacrificing her Social Life to poker training for twelve months. Which meant the Social Life entered poker training—seeing they were a little less thrilled with the thought of losing her.

Jubilee was a natural. No one could determine anything around that crackling bubble of gum Logan kept telling her to remove.

Kitty was always too serious, but Emma liked to leave scorekeeping to the otherwise untalented (in poker, that is) phaser.

Siryn tended to squeal too much, but she could pull off some marvelous bluffs, even getting the other players to fold when she carried a total mismatched set that would've been high card at best. (Her high card was a ten).

Dazzler was exceptional with her technical skill, but the quieter she got the better her hand. Her real poker face only kicked in at Full House or better.

Rhane would've been a nice partner, except she ate all the refreshments. So they made her bring her own.

All in all, Emma had a nice crew to work with and soon Rogue could read the expression off a stone. Logan taught them the skills, and Rogue was a natural. Eventually, it would be Jubilee and Rogue playing their final chips with Emma and Logan.

It wasn't until all parties had lost out consistently to Rogue that they deemed her ready.

In all that time, they kept Gambit unaware by feeding him the female attention of aforementioned social life. Dazzler even got his name out of him (Emma did not want to know under what circumstances): Remy LeBeau. Emma felt a bit aggrieved at this development, seeing as this whole thing was a matchmaking plot for her, but it was worth the gambit.

She threw Rogue to the wolves.

Well, Gambit.

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Gambit took the bait. Rogue. A slave. For a month.

His red eyes had practically glowed with barely disguised delight.

Logan felt like skewering him on the spot, especially remembering Emma's comments about the romantic potential of this, but he was assuaged by the dangerous gleam in Rogue's eye.

This was about revenge.

So he contentedly played ref alongside the White Queen, who made no bones about reading their minds to ensure no cheating. Of course, she herself wasn't allowed to help either side.

Logan was surprised Remy agreed to the terms. Normally, the Cajun vehemently blocked out any telepathic activity, but he lowered his shields and said, "Aide vous-même, Queenie," earning a glare from Emma over the nickname.

"Mon dieu! You're killing me, chère."

Rogue merely smirked. She had been preparing for this moment for months, training with Logan, reading books, and honing her instincts. She worked her way up slowly, beating out the lesser ranks, eventually defeating Logan himself.

Finally, she had challenged the resident thief, poker master, and ladies man to a duel, winner get a month of slavery from the other. His eyes had glowed redder at the thought. Clearly, having her as a slave for a month appealed.

So they had sat down without powers, alcohol, or cheating, with Logan and Emma—brawn and brain—for referees, and the match began.

Early on, Remy appeared to be winning. She made him work for it. Both appeared smooth, blasé, leaning back in their seats and sipping on water and soda. About halfway through and even on wins and losses, his red and black eyes met her green ones. She saw the recognition in his own. That she was holding back. That she wasn't the same Rogue he whipped at cards a year ago. She smiled then, a soft smile that told him nothing.

"Having fun, Swamp Rat?"

"Just wondering what you're up to, chère."

She laughed wickedly. "I'm out to win."

The game continued in earnest. Both hunkered down and plied their skills, effortlessly dealing, counting, and playing cards. Her eyes glittered greenly. His glowed red. The flirtatious banter continued (he was probably incapable of stopping that), but otherwise, all was now much more serious.

Then, her final coup, winning as she had threatened him twelve months ago she would.

Rogue merely smirked at his helpless expression. He eyed her warily.

"A month?"

"A month, slave."

Emma laughed and Logan slapped his back.

The White Queen twirled a strand of blonde hair around her finger. "She didn't cheat. Not once."

Remy measured Rogue again. "A month?"

Rogue merely smirked.

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Logan noticed the instant everything changed.

Remy narrowed his eyes at his cards, the chips, Rogue. "Just wondering what you're up to, chère."

Rogue laughed wickedly. "I'm out to win."

And win she did, much to both Logan and Remy's shock. Logan was positively delighted, even if he hadn't realized she was that good.

This was about revenge. And Remy LeBeau, the Prince of Thieves, the Gambit, the King of Hearts was about to pay up.

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Both parties played their gambits. White took Remy's and he lost his free status for thirty-one days.

Emma Frost was counting on her chess skills, where both of the men were thinking in terms of poker. If she played this right, Logan would think that their own side was winning, but Remy's gambit would pay off anyway.

After all, countergambit was an excellent Black defense.

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