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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13


Written by Flitz
Last updated: 08/24/2008 12:48:30 PM

Chapter 12

“I’m surprised I did not find you on the roof,” a soft African voice called out reaching the mess of rocks bordering the Institute’s pond. Upon one of the more sizable rocks an extended figure wrapped in blue jeans and dark jacket turned toward her, startling crimson eyes opening slowly. He offered no hint of surprise at her entrance; indeed she was sure he was aware of her presence long before she of his.

Remy leisurely pulled himself in a seating position tugging on the black leather of the coat he had not yet made the time to return, scooting over to make room for the weather goddess. The thief regarded her steadily, “Too easy t’ find m’ dere.”

A small smile, “I suppose so, though I would wonder from whom you are hiding,” she replied somewhat dryly reminding herself to take care and temper her words. Conversations with Gambit were often a trying experience. Though she should probably be pleased he deigned to continue conversing at all, the rest of the Institute’s inhabitants were completely out of the realm of his attention.

Remy returned from his assignments brimming with the post-heist exuberance she dimly remembered from her days of a thief, but it was short lived. His mood and temper crashed the moment the adrenaline faded away, leaving him to trail through the mansion alternatively exhibiting bitter anger or a deep and icy melancholy depending upon his audience.

Occasionally she would catch glimpses of his formerly gentile nature Jean Luc had so often boasted of. It saddened her to note that his effervescent spirit had been polluted, oppressed into submission by a greater force. Despite his denials, Remy had not finished grieving for his adoptive father. He had gone part-way through the process and halted for reasons unknown, afraid or unable to go any farther.

“How is your leg is faring?” Storm questioned disturbing her internal dialogue, nodding a chin delicately towards the offending limb. Gambit quirked an eyebrow in response, gaze traveling from the sight of the rippling pond to give her a half-lidded glance of his own.

“’S fine, jus’ like it was de last time y’ asked,” the thief replied with something tugged close to a genuine laugh.

“Is it a crime to be concerned with your welfare?” Ororo asked, her mouth tilting upwards before turning grave, “Sabretooth is indeed a veritable opponent, not one to be taken lightly…” Storm demurred as the teen seemed to drop interest quickly at the mention of his part-time occupation.

Gambit shook his reddish hair so it hung over his eyes shading taunt and tanned features. After a short stint in Shield’s version of a MASH unit they’d stitched up the violent gashes in his leg and he’d been unceremoniously dropped off at the Xavier mansion. Shield was less than delighted with that particular assignment. He had completed the objective, recapturing the stolen blueprints, but he had also destroyed them leaving no physical evidence that he had obtained them. And of course, they were not readily prepared to take the word of a juvenile thief, no matter what his history.

Shields own failure to mention the inclusion of a furious mutant into the mix had caused Gambit to grant them a few choice words. They had systematically refused to divulge the identity of the mutant but that riddle had been quickly solved by the X-Men. Or rather Wolverine, who tried to stake him through the wall for smelling like Sabretooth. The recently stitched wounds had given their own tale and the smaller feral had backed off, but not without his share of threats for the thief. It was also at that point when the disgruntled Cajun decided the less contact with ferals the better off he would be.

More upsetting in the youth’s thoughts was the burgeoning camaraderie he had gained with Storm. She was almost always found nearby in his calmer moments, but the thief was hesitant to make any lasting friendships, especially as he didn’t plan on an extended stay. Cracking into communications center at the Institute hadn’t been as hard as it sounded; locks however advanced were not that difficult if one had the proper experience. Especially when said experience was coupled with a selection of pilfered items from the tech room. Whoever was in charge was not exactly in the forefront of organizational skills, never noticing that a few disks and tools had wandered off from their jumbled positions.

The amount of files located on the Institute’s hard drive was choking, but the computer files were easily corrupted from a computer within their network. The only real challenge had been locating Xavier’s safe for the paper copies. At least his forgery skills were up to par. The whole plan however, was cruxed on no one being nosy enough to regularly sort through the documents and notice the corrections he had made.

Gambit planned to have a have a day or so at the mansion to finish off the niggling loose ends and take his leave. Technically he was still under contract with Shield. But living his life like as it was now, the free-spirited youth couldn’t contemplate an existence such as this, not indefinitely. There was the scant possibility that Shield would attempt to imprison him again when he left, but they’d find the task suitably daunting should they try. He could set up a contact with Shield, show up for assignments and disappear. It would be difficult but not impossible for a Master Thief.

“Remy?” Storm spoke interrupting his less than beneficial ruminations.

“Quoi?” he asked soberly, face solemn.

“You looked, very far away,” she said concern evident in her blue gaze, her statement questioning.

The teen exhaled a low breath of air his stare locked onto the shimmering edge of the pond where it met its stone enclosure. Storm cocked her head to the side before answering her unvoiced query, “Shield,” she ventured, or Jean Luc? I do not make any pretenses of whole-heartedly trusting the government, but I have known Fury to be a reasonable individual. As for Jean Luc-”

Gambit cut her off before they could begin that conversation anew, they always spoke in circles. The pair was equally set in their opinions, Henri was right about his own culpability, Storm just couldn’t see it. His sour mood gained, he was not particularly in the right frame of mind to speak about Shield, but it was favorable to the alternative.

“Y’ really put any trust in dat bunch of blue-coated rejects Storm? Dey’ll use me till dey decide I know too much an’ try t’ shut m’ away. Or if I’m really lucky dey’ll finally send me on another mission when dose missing details deir so fond of become really damn important, an’ I won’ make it back a’ tall.”

Storm was momentarily startled at the abrupt bitterness injected in his words, “That is a rather pessimistic view of your situation Remy. Surely you do not believe that to be true?”

Gambit didn’t reply but started rifling through his pockets either for cards or cigarettes she was unsure, but grasped one of his hands drawing his attention and stilling the somewhat jerky movements.

“Remy, I know you have your…reservations about the X-Men, but should it come down to the situation you have described they would be there for you. I would be there for you.”

“Y’ so sure of deir motives Ororo?” Storm let go of his hand to flick a loose strand out of his face in a sisterly fashion.

“I am. And they are nothing other than just, I would not remain here if I did not believe it was so. You may not believe this but there are people here who care for you and would not see you harmed, despite your best efforts to the contrary. These same people could be great friends if you would only let them.”

Gambit unable to hold her clear gaze any longer dropped his head rolling under his lip before daring glancing up again. She didn’t understand him, for the small things maybe, but for this…how could she expect him to give up his life for the X-Men? It hadn’t been stated verbatim, but the general feeling he received was that were to agree to join the X-Men his problems with Shield would vanish. It felt a little too much like blackmail for his tastes, besides which they failed to recognize how deeply Henri and the Guild were entangled in his situation. Gambit couldn’t risk working against his Guild Master directly, but he could carefully extract himself from the net by way of misdirection and technicalities.

“Mebbe,” Gambit managed stiffly, “See y’ round Storm,” simply not wanting to argue with the one person at the mansion he shared a tentative kinship. The thief landed lithely as he slid off the weighty boulder giving her a twisted smile in parting.

Waves of ice blonde hair rippled as Storm shook her head in agitation following the youth thief down. She wanted to be a proper friend to Gambit enough that it ached. Initially she felt assisting him with his escape had been the correct action to take. Although once learning of Henri LeBeau’s attitude and decisions she reversed her position. The Institute had helped many; she believed it could do the same for him as well. Remy clung to the belief that he was alone, not yet ready to open his eyes and see the circle of like-experienced people waiting patiently for him to come around.

The teens steps led him back towards the mansion, crunching into the gravel through the garage entrance. Gambit remained somber, unassuaged by the windriders speech of friendship and protection. Her words drifted and swirled about him, but did not have the strength necessary to penetrate the haze that enveloped his thoughts. He spotted a few students milling about and the cold countenance he’d been keeping draped into place with disturbing ease.

With his nearing departure he longed for action and the bright precision it brought. Lack of sleep ragged his nerves mucking his senses, but he’d labored well past the point where sleep would come easily. The miniscule amounts of rest he did manage were interrupted often, dimly waking on several occasions. No sweat nor tussled clothes to telltale a nightmare, but the unease was there just the same.

The sweet siren of the city pulled at him as his appraising look settled on rows of familiar vehicles. It wasn’t his city whose call he could answer, but he had always been more at home communing with city streets than with nature. Spying the human ice cube gallivanting around in the dim lighting he dismissed his sought desires letting them slither away resentfully. The Cajun-borne mutant might have been able to pull one over on the blonde mutant, but he looked like a squealer.

“Hey Red, howsit going?” asked Logan plopping down in the kitchen stool nearest Jean Grey. The telekinetic in a lengthy gray skirt and matching v-neck top sat neatly to the side of the blue tiled countertop. Busily rearranging the halls recently delivered floral arrangements.

“Mm, alright” she replied discontentedly tilting her head slightly, “I try to think about something other than Gambit--teaching classes, grading papers, my labs, Scott…but I can’t get away from it. It still feels, unsettled here at the mansion. Plus everyone else is thinking about it, so I almost can’t help it,” she replied wryly flopping a Gerber daisy unto the counter, drips of water dotting the table.

A gruff acknowledgement and a bob of the head came from Logan, “I’ll agree with ya there Jeannie, that’s all anybody seems to be talking since he got back, believe me I know,” he replied roughly gesturing toward his overly sensitive ears.

“Well I wouldn’t expect anything different from this crew,” Jean replied tearing into an ungainly clump of foliage, “anything of interest to pass along?”

“Aren’t ya supposed ta be the ‘path?”

“A simple yes or no would do Logan,” she replied primly. Everyone was worried, or would be offended should she pry, or even glance at thoughts they broadcast. Yet they always assumed she should know exactly what was circulating in their heads. At least Logan’s comment had been more along the lines of teasing. He didn’t expect to have her complete and total attention either, which was just as well as she was lending a sympathetic but wary ear to Ororo while relaying pertinent bits of her conversations to Scott via her links.

Wolverine rolled his eyes good naturedly before settling down more firmly, boots clanking against the side of the island as he rearranged his limbs. He’d be glad when this sudden fascination with the thief would dissipate; in fact he was all for shedding 150 pounds of Cajun. While Logan didn’t actually agree with all of Shield’s tactics, or timing for that matter, he had issues with unrepentant criminals.

“Nothing concrete enough to tell Chuck about, but I heard Shield’s little buddies ain’t exactly tickled pink with the results of their experiment so far.”

“Why are they complaining? As I understood it his missions were successful,” spoke Jean furrowing her brow as intelligent green eyes shifted back to the Canadian.

“Come on Red,” he started draping an arm over her chair leaning in slightly, “He ditched the first ‘partner’ they gave him messed with the guys head. And then on the second, well they’re not so sure the prints blew. They don’t think they can trust him, and I’d say they’d be stupid if they did. They’re worried he’ll throw the missions.”

“That’s ridiculous,” scoffed Jean rapidly disassembling the floral masterpiece. “If that was really a concern, they should have thought of it before they ever sent him on the first mission. But if that’s what they choose to believe, I won’t stop them. Then they can leave Remy with people who actually stand a chance to help him. Continuing in that line of work won’t be doing him any favors.”

“They’re not just gonna scrap the whole idea and sign ‘em over, they’ll work a way to get their satisfaction one way or another. Heck that just might be their plan, let the kid screw up and then try for something a little more drastic. Been whispers of a new government run team called X-Factor, heard of it?”

“I haven’t,” Jean admitted cautiously Cyclops’s sudden mental presence adding a fair amount of suspicion to her words, all too familiar with the unfavorable results of mixing government and mutants.

“Ain’t much to know just yet, but what I do know, I wish I didn’t. I’d keep this quiet until I know fer sure, don’t wanna rile anybody up just yet. It’ll happen soon enough if they try to force the kid into that team. This whole shebang is gonna come to a head soon and it ain’t gonna be pretty.”


“Lightening in a bottle Jean…cept’ this time yer fightin’ someone else for control, and the lightning’s pretty pissed too.”

Remy started down the carpeted stairs with fluid steps curving down to the foyer, newly foisted package of cigarettes having found their way into his possession. One of the slightly more grave mutants in residence appeared at the bottom of the steps and the youth entertained the notion of retreating from whence he came. Not at all in the mood for another lecture nor pep talk from the man. His stoic gait bore no resemblance to the indecision of his thoughts as he continued his descent.

“Hey Gambit,” Cyclops called amicably, an unidentified tone coloring his speech. Gambit answered the greeting with a flicking glance of coal and crimson orbs in the man’s general direction intending to breeze past. Anticipating the much practiced avoidance tactic Scott maneuvered in front of the youth preventing the action but refrained from grabbing ahold of a limb as he might with another student, striving to remain non-threatening.

“Do you remember your schedule?” asked Cyclops explaining further observing the unenlightened expression on the youth, “that square of paper we gave you with all your classes on it?”

“Oui,” Gambit replied uninterested, the offending material was pitched as soon as it had been given. He had been through enough schooling for his lifetime, which was mostly a waste, he hadn’t needed a good portion of his education to rob a museum blind.

“Really? Well you just missed one,” Scott commented with a rare trace of dry humor gesturing over his shoulder. “Actually you’ve never gone to any of them. And you refused to participate in the Danger Room exercise.”

“So sorry Summers,” the teen replied in purr a thin smile on his lips, “but Gambit don’ take kindly t’ being locked in t’ a room an’ being forced t’ fight. Got nuff of dat shit wit Shield.”

“Gambit it’s training,” Cyclops replied with a small frown. He had made valiant attempts to connect with the Cajun but it was difficult footing at best. Cyclops often found himself straining to remain affable in the face of a rather impressive array of irritating behaviors the southern-borne teen had at his disposal.

“Look Remy,” a pause, “I’m simply concerned about what you’re doing in your spare time,” asked Cyclops the strain of honesty in his voice not overly accustomed to constant explanations of his own behavior.

Gambit’s mutagenic eyes scanned the pinched features of the X-Man with suspicion wondering if Summers had been alluding to his extracurricular activities. Remy was somewhat relieved to note Cyclops appeared completely clueless to the tampering he’d completed about the mansion. Gambit clapped the slightly taller mutant on the shoulder in passing.

“T’anks f’ y’ concern,” he replied with a small smile blatantly false, “I’ll let y’ know when I get bored.”


A slender New Orleans native, leader of the city’s Thieves Guild sat patiently at his desk scooping the contents of a battered olive file into a locked desk drawer filing it amongst the rest. Henri LeBeau’s fingers ran over the colored plastic tabs before stilling, extracting a well worn file after a moment of indecision leaving the drawer gaping open.

He kept one eye on his uploading computer while skimming a file he’d already memorized. The Cajun cocked his head in the familiar manner that all the LeBeau sons had picked up from their father, studiously re-reading the documents. Something was off, he fingered the paper between his thumb and forefinger in contemplation. It looked the same, felt the same, except… He moved back from the file, closed his eyes and opened them again, eyes unconsciously searching out the imprecision.

Reaching over deftly he picked up his cellular phone, the small bit of technology looking out of place in the classic appeal of the room, regardless of the millions in security equipment that lived beneath the lacquered wood.

A muscled leg tilted the leather chair back, as a series of clicks were followed by the eccentricities of one abysmal and clueless secretary. The idiosyncrasies and annoyances of maintaining the façade of a lawful business, one such annoyance he did not generally have to bother with.

“Eh,” he spoke abruptly in greeting finally getting through, “I need t’ know where he gonna be next, an’ don’ pretend y’ don’ know who I’m talkin’ bout. Non, not dat school, I ain’t travellin’ back dere again, won’ work.”

“Là où?” asked the thief, scrawling down the address on a green tinged notepad bearing his initials, “Merci.”


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