The Gambit's Meaning

She wakes in a tangle of hot skin and hard muscle, breathing in from the hollow of his neck his spicy scent mingled with her own. His head is a heavy, warm weight on hers and she's tucked in fully against him, a few of her fingers brushing against surprisingly soft hair. She briefly wonders whose. Their limbs are entwined so thoroughly, her senses so overwhelmed with his nearness, it's throwing off her sense of direction and of her own body. She doesn't know who is who in this slight rubbing of skin against naked skin.

She curls up one knee in an attempt to find herself and finds she is sliding against the inside of his leg. His body tightens around her in response, sending hot tremors up her spine. She bites her lower lip and holds her breath, wondering if he will wake.

She feels the hard press of his fingers against the small of her back. His breath hitches and loses its regularity. He shifts against her and she burns with the motion. She lets out a soundless gasp, even knowing he will feel it with her face so close and his heartbeat pounding beneath her flattened palm and his hands hardening their grip and she moves and wishes the friction were not so tantalizing on her senses, so stirring.

He breathes.

She stops breathing.

"Rogue..." His voice is still husky with sleep and his low whisper sounds so intimate and wanting.

She catches a shaky breath.

He lifts his head up to kiss her, moving from the top of her head down to nibble at the sensitive skin behind her ear, where she nearly jumps with the shock of it, and then slowly down her neck, nipping her lightly, causing tiny pangs of pleasant heat. He comes to a stop and nuzzles her shoulder, her neck, her collar bone, and she can barely breathe, she is so close, pressed up against the skin of his throat. He isn't gentle. His kisses grow harder and hungrier with every touch.

His teeth are sharp against her and then a white hot pain blossoms on her neck and she's crying out and he's kissing her there and the warmth that floods her isn't just pain. But she isn't ready for this. This bruising need. This rough pleasure.

She pulls her head away from his. "Gambit. Stop." She gets the words out breathlessly and to her surprise, he stops.

But his grip on her hips is aching and tight and it tightens fractionally even more as he holds himself still against her. She can just see his eyes now, the desire burning in the blood-colored irises, the questions flitting through them.

She strains to look over him, over his shoulder, and catches a glimpse of the bright numbers on the alarm clock.

"Oh, crap!" She falls back onto the bed. "I have a DR session in twenty minutes."

Abruptly, he loosens his grip and she disentangles herself from him and the twisted sheets. She winces as she sits up and frowns, looking down and rubbing at the bruises forming on her skin. The pain on her neck has settled into a mild throbbing ache.

"Trying to mark your territory?" She raises her head to look at him and lifts one eyebrow.

His eyes flare, but he settles back against the headboard without speaking.

She studies him briefly, the tenseness in his hands, the way he's turned away from her, looking toward blinds still shut from yesterday, his unruly hair falling across the glowing embers of his eyes.

"No answer?" she asks softly, reaching out with her voice to catch him, remembering the stream of easy, flirtatious banter he used with her the first time they had met.

He shrugs ever so casually and turns his smoldering eyes on her. "There's habit and then there's honesty, chèrie." The words are a pointed reminder of their agreement.

She holds his gaze for a long moment, then nods before slipping off the bed and towards the bathroom to take a shower. The last thing she wants is Logan catching his scent on her skin when they train.

She knows it will not wash him out from under it.

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She slams the shower door shut and leans her head under the warm spray. She flinches when the water strikes her body. Besides this morning's activities in bed, she has Logan to thank for a smattering of aches and pains and several bruises on her back and legs. He brought her down hard more than once.

"You're getting sloppy, kid." He swung at her with the staff and caught her on the legs.

She managed to roll directly into another fighting position but only to find the wooden beam resting at her throat.

He almost growled. "You're distracted."

Well, she was distracted.

She wore her hair long where it constantly got in the way and her leather body suit zipped up high as it could until she almost felt like she was choking, just to cover the stinging bruise on her neck. And she couldn't stop thinking about him.

She still can't stop thinking about him.

Memories of the heat of him, the scent of him, as he explored her so thoroughly, missing not a single curve or flare of her skin with his wandering hands across her flesh, linger in her mind. She feels herself flush and the blood rising in her, and she dips her head under the strongest part of the shower's flow to hide it from even herself. She remembers his touch, his rough grip on her hips this morning, the ache of longing...

Suddenly, she shudders. A wave of coolness chases the heat back down to her shoulders as she realizes just what she has asked, agreed to, demanded. She drops the wash rag abruptly and leans forward to press her arms against the shower wall to hold her, water pelting her eyes, her face. Her arms are trembling, her shoulders starting to shake. She feels the first sting of tears behind her eyes.

"Shouldn't be here, chère. 'S not safe," he had warned her.

"I'm used to danger."

And he is dangerous. Her agreement with him more so.

The liquid seeping towards her lips is no longer the warm, clean wetness of her shower water but sharp with the tang of salt and tears. The spray stings on her body, all the places he marked her with his honesty. How far is she really willing to go for a taste of reality, of truth? She should be wondering instead of feeling, instead of reveling in this pain.

Pain brings the taste of truth.

She'll go as far as it takes.

She straightens and shivers as she brushes away the tears from where they have tangled in her lashes. She scoops up her wash rag from the tiled floor, applies a generous amount of soap, and resumes the cleansing of her body.

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There's something in all of this that's bothering him, especially now that he's given something he never thought he would, not to any girl.

Why didn't she come?

He's standing outside the mansion, breathing in the brisk morning air swirling around his trench coat, and he flips up his collar to keep off the chill. Smoking tends to ease the tension that builds up in him when he's forced to be honest with himself, face the truth of what he is and all he's done. He's smoking now. The nicotine floods his veins and he focuses on the questions circling around in his mind.

Like why she didn't come.

He knew from the beginning she might not. He had told himself he wasn't counting on it, didn't care. But then he saw her again, sealed this damning deal, and now he has her. And it matters.

He curses and leans his head back on the outer wall of the building.

Striking a casual pose, all nonchalance and unimportant details, comes second nature to him, part of the Thief training his adopted father ground into him when he was still young. He blows out his smoke and watches the world around him with disinterested eyes, waiting for the intruder he has sensed to approach. He doesn't have to wait long.

The man called Wolverine (a trifle protective of Rogue, if he isn't mistaken) crunches over the slightly dry grass and gestures his request to join him.

He nods, offers a cigarette.

Wolverine has his own. Cigar.

The feral mutant lights up beside him, takes a deep drag, and blows out the smoke. "So Cajun. What's your gig with Rogue?"

He isn't mistaken.

He grins. "Now that be between me and the femme, non?"

"Look." Wolverine stubs out his cigar on the wall and turns to face him full on. "The kid's got her own ideas. She's grown. But she's still family."

He tilts his head, listening.

"You break her heart, I'll break your legs. You got that?" He would too. Wolverine is clearly a dangerous man, as well as mutant.

He merely bows his head in acquiescence.

"Good." Wolverine gives a look of distaste. "I could smell her on you this morning. And I don't want a repeat of that."

"Oui, monsieur. Je comprends." He continues smoking his cigarette, keeping the casual smirk, the careless pose.

If he was betting, he'd say that Wolverine didn't like him. But what surprise is there in that? He probably will break her heart if she doesn't stop him.

He wants to scowl at that, but instead, he glances sidelong at the Wolverine. "Careful, homme. Might get your face stuck that way."

Wolverine jerks his thumb in the direction of the mansion. "Twenty minutes and you're in the Danger Room with Angel." He stomps off toward the door.

He flings away his cigarette in disgust and grinds it out beneath his heel. The air is brisk and smells of a light rain.

"That's right, Stormy," he mutters. "You got that exactly right."

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He slams his bo staff hard on Angel's back, then flips out of the way of a sideswiping wing. Angel has been pressing his advantage of flight, but he doesn't care what the ange does. He has been deliberately avoiding using his own advantages, using the exercise as a way of escape from having to think.

The Danger Room looked like an urban jungle upon entry, and it's second nature for him to engage the flying mutant in a place so much like home. He can leap across the roofs and the various debris and use the walls as his own personal playground, a concept that seems to have escaped the "team leader."

Another back flip allows him the height to lash out in a kick to Angel's leg, bringing him down in surprise. Angel recovers, remembering his wings, and retaliates with a hard right hook.

He feels him coming and rolls out of the way on his way down, hits the ground, and uses his momentum to swing back again.

The two men grapple and then he's falling off the roof with nothing beneath him. In a second, he twists in the air and reaches for a fire escape. He draws himself up, then allows himself to fall to the ground, this time in control, dropping lightly on his feet.

Angel's circling above, looking for him.

He smirks and quietly makes his way around the building, well out of view of the motion above him. Up the backside of another building. Just edging the side of a chimney.

He can see the ange, the graceful sweep of wings. Back turned. Unsuspecting.

It's nothing to silently extend the bo staff, to use it as leverage to fling himself off the building and into the ange. They fall, together this time, and he keeps Angel well beneath him, twisting one arm into his to finish his attack.

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"Well, that was a nice demonstration of savate at the end there," Wolverine says wryly, "but not much of what you were expected to do."

He leans back against the wall in the Control Room, shuffling his cards. "And where's the challenge in doing what's expected, mon ami? It be better to use a little style, non?" He grins wickedly despite Ororo's disapproving glance.

Angel brushes himself off a trifle indignantly in his corner. "You were showing off," he says bluntly.

The grin broadens into Cheshire proportions. "Only showing off if it's hard to do."

Wolverine looks up sharply at that.

He puts the cards away abruptly. "Going for a smoke." And he vanishes into the corridor.

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He's still damp with sweat and sore from his fight when he reenters his room, a small, nondescript number with only the requisite furniture such as desk, chair, bookshelf, and bed. It does come with an attached bathroom, however, and he's more than ready for a shower. He slides off his trench coat, drops it in the chair, and starts going for the boots when he notices he's not alone.

His eyes appreciatively follow the creamy, slender bare legs up to the short green skirt, the tiniest sliver of exposed flesh beneath a white tank top fitted to her curves, the smooth, sleek shoulders and arms, the mark on her neck, the pretty face turned slightly away so he cannot see her eyes, and then the pure white leading to long chestnut tresses.

"Bonjour, chèrie." He flashes her a predatory grin.

She shifts a little, seeming almost uncomfortable.

He traces his gaze over her curves once more and tilts his head appraisingly. The leather she wore this morning was very complimentary. He liked the way it made her seem both dangerous and sexy, enough to drive a man to distraction, and the way it took away a part of his guilt at stealing her innocence.

She's used to danger.

But this…

She looks so sweet, so innocent, so perfect, and yet so vulnerable to him, the bruise on her throat where his teeth put it. An almost shyness surrounds her and he wonders, briefly, which part is more her than the other. He wants to know.

He crosses the room and cups her chin in his hand, drawing her face up to see her eyes. She studies him with a calm steadiness he wasn't expecting.

"Missed you," she says quietly.

The words wash over him but do not—cannot—sink in.

He studies her honest expression, her dancing emerald eyes, daring him to believe her.

"Why?" he asks. His hand slides upward to cradle the side of her face.

Her breath is soft and warm on him. Her gaze flicks away then in that way she has, but she draws it back up and lifts her chin slightly, haughtily.

It only makes her more beautiful.

"I have my reasons," she states.

He clucks disapprovingly. "Hardly honest, chèrie."

"You asked for me." Her eyes flicker for a moment and glance downward over his body. He has to repress a grin. They flash as she brings them back to his face. "Not honesty."

He stares at her, any trace of gentleness gone now from his emotions. "And that's all you want? Honesty and then you're mine, non?" He doesn't keep the hard cynicism from his voice or lighten his words for her.

She wants honesty.

She eyes him warily. But then something softens about her eyes, and he feels a slight tug in his own heart's response.

"Gambit." Her voice is as soft as her eyes.

He leans in close, pressing his forehead to hers, and he doesn't even think about what he was wanting when he came in, only her. Here. Now.

"You're real," she breathes.

He listens to her words and even more to what's behind them. She missed him. He's real.

His hand moves back to her hair, and he feels the strands gliding around his fingers and wonders at the softness. He leans down, closer to her. She doesn't pull away. Her arms slide up his chest, wind around his neck, tug him nearer and they kiss. She tastes heavenly and warm.

"Chère," he whispers, wanting her.

They move further onto the bed, slowly unwrapping each other. He pauses when he reaches her underwear.

"Do you want this, chère?"

His mouth is close to her ear, and she shivers in response.

"Yes." And she pulls him down for another kiss.

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He's this close to entering her when she stops him.

"Gambit?" she breathes into his ear.

Her fingers slow against the back of his neck, but he does not slow in what he's doing to her. His hands rove lower; his kisses burn a trail over her collar bone to nestle against her neck. He makes some vague sound as if he's listening, but then he's kissing her mouth, deepening it slowly until she pushes against him, desperate for air.

She tries again when he pulls away for a breath. "Gambit."

His eyes focus on her. They are brilliantly red, fiery and burning, so she nearly drowns in the intensity. "What?" he pants. He pulls away slightly, impatiently, his hands dancing restlessly in place.

She is breathing heavily herself, and it takes more out of her than she'd like to admit to ask her question. "Does this mean something?"

He stares at her, something flickering in his eyes. He lets out a ragged chuckle and presses his forehead to hers. "You sure pick the worst times to talk, chère." And the something in his eyes becomes amusement mingling faintly with the desire.

"But does it?" she insists. She twines her fingers into his hair and tugs back lightly to see him better.

He stares at her, eyes darkening, the glow dimming. "Oui, ma chère. Now..." He leans in close and whispers. "Stop talking."

As his hands pick up pace again, she falls silent in passionate surrender.

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    The Gambit

    STORY SUMMARY: Rogue enters into dangerous liaisons with a mysterious Cajun Thief. Both get more than they bargained for.

    DISCLAIMERS: All characters and organizations (with the exception of small, mostly unnamed minor characters) throughout the series are the product of Marvel.

    CANONICAL NOTES: This story arc follows X1, X2, and X3 as canon for characters and events. All else is pulled from comicverse and mixed heftily with my imagination. Origins is ignored, except a few situations and characters twisted to my happy use.

    LANGUAGE AND ACCENTS: French is courtesy of Heavenmetal and Wanda W, who is also my very wonderful beta (huge thanks!). I will not reproduce accents in this story arc. Imagine them in.

    (UNBOUND) entries are in drafting phase and are likely to change radically before complete.



    1. The Rogues Gambit
    2. Carnal
    2.01 The Gambits Rogue
    2.02 The Gambits Meaning
    2.03 The Gambits Feeling
    2.04 The Gambits Fire
    2.05 The Gambits Words
    2.06 The Gambits Seduction
    2B. Real

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