The Gambit's Words

Her fingers slide across his skin, tentatively at first. She glances up again and their gazes lock. He hears the slight intake of her breath, sees the glimmer of boldness in those fascinating emeralds. Her hand slides comfortably over his thigh, and she lays her head atop it. He does not push her away.

"Gambit." Her voice is soft.

He reaches down and brushes his hand against her face, cradling the smooth curve of her jaw, tangling in her cloud of hair. Her eyes shut. He studies her while stroking her soft skin.

Her breath hitches, then releases as a long sigh. She shifts against him, opens her eyes again, and asks, "How come we never talk without having sex?"


He laughs and bends to capture her stolen breath with a brief kiss before settling down on the bed again beside her.

"You call that talk?" He shakes his head at her. "Next time you get in a tussle with a man, chère, you best be prepared for the consequences."

But he considers as he trails his fingers up and down her ribs, deliberately teasing her. She's quiet in his arms, waiting perhaps for him to speak. Maybe time to lay down his cards?

Silence stretches for a long moment. He presses a warm kiss below her ear on the most sensitive spot on her neck. She catches in her gasp. Something twinges, but he doesn't stop to analyze it. He moves upward, nipping her ear, then whispers against her skin. "What would you rather?"

She shudders at the contact.

For a long moment, the words hang. She's still recovering from the way he manipulates her body. Then she pauses, and he feels the moment she realizes just what he's asked.

She shakes her head, a ripple of satin mahogany across his chest. "Nothing you don't want to do." She turns her face, but not before he catches her frown or feels her nails lightly score his arm.

"Touch that isn't a lie," she had said. "He touched me when he didn't want me. He touched me like he cared."

"Touch," he mutters.

She sits up partway, leaning an arm against him to frown as she stares into the bright glow of his eyes in the darkness of his room.

"Who cheated on you, chère?" he asks. Irritation flashes in the words, but this time, it is not directed at her.

She stares at him, cocks her head, eyes clouding briefly. For a long moment, they say nothing, but then a slight shrug of her shoulders. Her fingers dance restlessly on his chest where her hand lies.

He thinks of Iceman and green eyes of unrestrained fury.

She rounded on the homme, gripping his arm hard and deliberately removing his hand from her uncovered skin.

He watched from the doorway as the two spoke softly, sharply to each other, felt the twinge of jealousy at their nearness, knowing even so that there was no love lost between them.

His hand tightens on her arm. He slides it lower, curving possessively around her hips.

Her hair falls down around his face and they continue to look at each other, not speaking, until he breaks the silence with a Cajun curse.

"It doesn't matter," she says, her chin lifting, those eyes darkening to the color of the forest at night.

It always mattered.

"Like hell." He narrows his eyes at her.

She glares at him. "And where do you come off saying what does and doesn't matter to me?"

His grip tightens once more and he draws her even closer. "You forget, chère, you're mine."

He can almost see the steam coming off her as she yanks herself hard out of his grip. He lets her and rolls over with a sigh as she throws her legs over the side of the bed.

"You arrogant, cocky, womanizing—" Her voice rises with each epitaph, but he cuts her over smoothly mid-sentence.

"When you play with the devil, chérie, that's what you get."

He lets the charge flare dangerously close to the surface, lighting a blazing itch of raw energy just beneath his skin, knowing that she can see it in his eyes, the fires that earned him the name of Diable Blanc.

She sees but her anger burns as brightly. She throws back the covers to get off the bed and snatches up her bra from the floor where it had fallen.

He frowns at her back.

She feels him staring, stiffens. "What, Cajun?" She tosses him a narrow-eyed glare over her shoulder.

He reaches for her arm, gently this time. She flinches away, but he catches her firmly and draws her closer while turning on the lamp with his other hand. He ghosts his fingers down the heavy discoloration on her ribs and arms that he knows he did not put there.

"Where'd you get these?" he whispers. He tugs her chin up to make her look at him.

Her eyes soften in startled vulnerability for a brief, tantalizing moment. Then her chin comes up and her tone is cold. "Why do you care?"

Anger flashes through him. He releases her abruptly and she stumbles back a half-step.

"Get out."

Pure bewilderment paints her face. "What?"

"I said, 'Out,'" he says, measuring the words slowly. She can see how much he means them.

Emerald sparks and her jaw tightens. She yanks her bodysuit off the floor and he watches her as she slowly slides it over her skin. The sight of it stirs something inside him, but he quells the feelings beneath churning wrath.

She zips up the suit and glances toward him.

"Good day, Cajun," she says icily before turning heel and leaving.

She never once looks back.

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She's barely out of the room when he's up and off the bed, throwing on his own clothes, gathering cards, cigarettes, bo staff, all the things he needs for the place he intends to go. He shoves a wallet in his pocket and sunglasses over his eyes. He doesn't bother to wash. Today he doesn't care a bit about what the Wolverine thinks of him or of them.

It's the work of a few moments to be striding quickly down the mansion hallways toward the front door.

He mutters a steady stream of curse words, but then pauses when he reaches the door and glances around. He finds the source of irritation quickly.

"You got a problem, homme?" he demands of Iceman, sitting off in a corner of the big couch in sight of the door and staring at him with distaste.

Iceman shrugs. "It's a free country."

He narrows his eyes at the man. Too young, self-assured, self-righteous. All these X-Men, so certain theirs was the only way to save the world.

"We do not kill here, Gambit," the Professor explained calmly.

Marvel Girl and Cyclops stared wide-eyed at the end of the Danger Room session. Storm merely furrowed her brow. Sage said nothing at all.

"D'accord," he replied smoothly, deadpan.

He agreed because it was the Professor's house—not because he took the man's morals for his own.

"What makes you think you have a right to her?"

He returns his focus to the Iceman, who thinks—honestly, with pure, undiluted sincerity—that he has the right to ask such a question. He sneers at him.

"Least I know not to cheat on a woman I care about."

Iceman's face flushes.

He smiles, sliding it into a smirk, then gives a last two-fingered salute before walking out the door.

This anger, this frustration is best served by a ride on a motorcycle (preferably not his), a round of drink, and a few rounds of poker.

They don't call him Gambit for nothing.

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She moves with startling speed down the hallways of the mansion. She passes Angel in the hall and he stops, staring at her, but she jerks her head away so he can't make out her face. She's in the elevator before he can turn, can call out to her. The hiss of the doors shutting drowns out her own name.

She punches the button for the lower levels, then leans her head against the back with a weary sigh. She just can't take...

"Where did you get these?" His voice was so gentle, so tender.

For one heart-stopping moment, she just wanted to reach for him, have him hold her. For a million reasons, that was a bad, bad idea.

"You're in over your head," she mutters.

No one ever cared. No one but Logan. Not her mother. Not her father. Not her Aunt Carrie. Not even Bobby. She has no apparatus, no experience with caring to draw on. Nothing but a handful of memories from two inscrutable, dangerous men.

"I was fine this time," she insisted.

His red and black eyes snared her and he leaned in to kiss her. "But you might not have been."

"Why do you even care?"

He hadn't answered. But he had. She had seen it in his eyes, felt it in his touch, firm enough to restrain but too gentle to harm.

No one ever cared. She wishes that were still true.

The elevator chimes her arrival, yanking her out of her reflection. Game face.

She's out and into the Danger Room, punching in her code, calling up the hardest, toughest, roughest, grittiest Logan program she can remember. Almost as an afterthought, she commands, "Safeties off. Security override: Rogue." She gives her passcode when prompted.

Shadows fall around her with tangible, malevolent force. Her mind gives shapes and faces to the seething darkness. Gambit. Iceman. Magneto. Mystique. Lithe, dark forms glide about the corners and eerie patterns of falling shadow. They are like walls and traffic, these shadows. They're alive.

She draws her arms inward and relaxes into a cat stance. Clearly, she's bumped into one of Logan's Japanese warrior programs.

"Listen to the silence. Silence never lies."

A form flies out of the shadow and her leg is up, arm feinting before she even registers the slip into action. She catches a moving body behind her by the throat and rolls between two swords. The shadows coalesce around her and she counts the flash of arms, of legs, even while dodging, kicking, slipping through the shadow like a shadow herself. Six.

She lands in the center of a now clearly visible ring.

Shadows dance about the edges. Within is clearly lit. The six black-robed forms stand around the rim. Cowled ninja warriors of some kind. Hands pressed together as if in prayer. Naked swords at one's belt. Katanas at another's. More weapons. More hands. They bow.

She swallows and bows in turn.

One still moment.

The battle is on.

They move like lightning, attacking in sequence, drawing her out. She flips over one's sword, hits another on her way down, barely avoiding a staff on her back. Executes a swift block on her way back up, catches a flying arm and sends the body sailing over her.

It's the perfect way to stop thinking, stop feeling.

Snap out of it, Rogue. Stay alive.

She lets go then, forgets her anger, her fears, her restless thoughts and gives in to the breathless, demanding task of survival. She doesn't know how long she battles, only knows her arms begin to ache and her lungs begin to hurt at having to take in yet more oxygen to keep going, and she's slipping and sliding in the blood and sweat that comes from these fights. Three of her opponents are down and a sword is lifted over her head. She raises a block and then...

Everything freezes before slowly fading away.

She blinks. "What?"

Craning her head from side to side, she tries to determine what happened, who happened, and then her eyes narrow at the Danger Room doors and at the figure walking through them. He crosses his arms over a bare chest and folds his wings down.

"Rogue," he says.

It's surprising, really, just how good of a team leader this relative newbie makes, but she struggles to her feet and gives him enough respect to turn and listen rather than brush him off.

He shakes his head at her. "I've told you not to do this."

"What?" she retorts harshly. "You command my personal life too now?"

He flinches back, surprised, then studies her, frowning.

Seething, she palms the blade she brought in here and cleans it against her hip, drawing a grimace from Warren. "I don't need you telling me how to fight," she states, glances up, cocks an eyebrow.

"Rogue..." But he's shaking his head at her, defeated for now. "We have a debriefing in the War Room. You coming?"

The War Room. Something important then. She sighs, releasing her anger in that breath, and nods quickly. She brushes past him out of the room.

She doesn't want to talk to Warren.

Not about this.

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Storm dominates the meeting. The weather goddess is good at that, and she wonders if Storm even realizes that the X-Men operate under their own triumvirate of Storm, Wolverine, and Angel.

Probably not.

A quick look around the War Room reveals the gathered team is missing one of its members. Where is Gambit?

"We have received information from a trusted source,"—she keys back into Storm's words—"that serious trouble is brewing ahead for mutants. While the missing mutants seem to be in line with a possible resurrected Brotherhood in their general dispositions, we cannot rule out more troubling possibilities."

Like the growing threats of Purifiers, Friends of Humanity, and a hush-hush government program known as Zero Tolerance certain fringe politicians want to get approved for federal funding and authority.

Or even something the X-Men don't yet know about.

"Has Hank heard anything on this?" Logan asks.

Anxious faces turn back to Storm, but she shakes her head.

"He hadn't even heard of the twenty-three missing. And I'm afraid the number is only growing. But,"—Storm glances meaningfully toward Jubilee—"we have received some reports about two sources that potentially know something."

"And we're going to ask them to spill," Logan says, not asking. He gives a nod of pride and acknowledgement toward Jubilee.

The Asian teen just blows out another bubble of gum. She has one leg crossed over the other, foot propped on the edge of the conference table. She's just so unassuming, she's acquired quite a knack for intelligence work.

"Yes," Storm replies cautiously. "Angel?"

She sits forward. Clearly, this is where things get interesting.

Warren leans forward also, resting his bare arms on the table, hands clasped together. "We're going to send in two teams. One of the possible sources is a woman, the proprietor of a well-to-do restaurant establishment. Storm and I will be going there as a dinner party, along with Logan for backup."

Logan growled lightly, crossing his arms over his chest. Laidback, gentleman plans were never his thing and subtlety isn't much either.

But then Warren smiles at her and she gets a slight queasy feeling about what comes next.

"Rogue, you and Gambit are going to take the other source," he says. "It's a gambler who frequents a place called Town's End. Storm says that Gambit knows the place well, but that a woman would be best to get information from him."

Both eyebrows come up. "Why?"

Logan's growl isn't so light this time.

Warren directs his next words toward her acknowledged protector. "They won't mess with her while she's with Gambit, but she's the only one with the right skills to get the information we need."

"Besides," Storm says easily, "he has a thing for brunettes."

She catches her breath.

"We're not asking you to do more than flirt with the guy at most," Warren goes on. "Just get him loose enough to talk. That's it. And Gambit will be there to make sure that nothing happens."

"I don't need him," she states sharply.

"Take him," is Logan's rough, unequivocal reply.

That surprises her, but his face is unyielding.

"I don't trust him," he says, "but I know enough about him to know I'd rather him watching your back than you trying to watch your own."

She's outnumbered and there isn't a single face around the table that isn't in agreement—except Bobby's. He is glowering darkly, as jealous as if he owns her. It's for his sake that she hardens her face and nods.

"Fine. Now can someone tell me where the hell he is?"

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The burn of bourbon at the back of his throat and in his belly doesn't slow his ability to react and to think, Dieu. He shoves the girl away in disgust, at himself more than at her.

The sultry blonde gives him a surprised, injured look.

He turns away from her and pulls himself back together. He went in for a few drinks and walked out with a girl, the last thing he needed to get her out of his head. He can't help but see emerald eyes, burning like green fire, over the tops of this fille's pale, blue orbs. He can't help but feel the softness of rippling mahogany in place of tight, blonde curls. He can't help but smell those soft, sweet, unidentifiable flowers instead of cheap perfume from the department store.

Dieu, he has it bad. He can't get her out from inside him.

The girl has realized he is lost to her and, with a last wounded glance, slides back into her own clothes, and gathering her few things, leaves the way she came.

He doesn't care.

His phone rings.

It takes a ring before he even looks at his coat over the back of a chair. A second ring before he decides whether to look at it. On the third, the phone is in his hand and he glances at the number, curls his lip. On the fourth, he answers.


"Remy, where are you?" Storm's breathless voice demands. The tone is hard under the question, and he knows she's telling him I needed you here. Things are happening. Why did you leave me?

He sighs, runs a hand through his hair, slips into his coat. "My place. Needed some air."

"You needed...What happened, Remy?"

"Down, Stormy." He chuckles even as he pulls the barely mussed sheets off the bed and throws them in the dirty laundry hamper. Doesn't want her smell there. Can't say why it matters. "No need for the warpath, chère, non?"

Storm blows out a breath in a huff. She doesn't believe him.

Can't say he blames her.

"Leave it, chère," he says quietly.

Remarkably, she does. "Fine. Get back here. Now." The line goes dead.

He frowns at his phone thoughtfully. He snaps it shut. With one glance around his apartment, he goes to vanish into the city.

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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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