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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 8

“You’re not supposed to smoke in here,” Katherine Pryde pointed out ducking into the room of the Institute’s newest student. The room had been cleaned since his unauthorized departure, but now bits of wire and tools were strewn about the room. Remy was currently pulling a tangle of wire out of the intercom system. She normally wouldn’t have entered without knocking, but his door lay canted to one side until it was replaced. The lock and part of the door had been shredded so it had hung oddly refusing to close.

Gambit appeared nearly identical to the first time she had met him, the bruises from the second meeting fading away. He wore a pair of tight washout jeans and a forest green Mac t-shirt contrasting appealingly with the lengthy red locks draped against his shirt collar.

The lithe figure took a moment to step away from the panel he was working on and take a drag with his right hand the smoke curling out of his mouth unhurriedly before he replied, “An’ y’ t’ink I care because?”

A shrill beeping interrupted the young brunette before she began her speech and Kitty stepped back into the hall jumping slightly and phasing her fingers through the smoke detector shorting it out with a fizzle of sparks.

Kitty Pryde returned to the room in her former position trying to ascertain what exactly was different from her initial encounter. Gambit was handsome in a way that put every male she knew to shame, even with the dark glasses obscuring half his face, angled cheekbones she wouldn’t mind having herself. But the easy smiles he had so generously bestowed the first day had disappeared. He traveled about the mansion with elegant stretches of well-defined limbs, but Kitty couldn’t loose the feeling that every move was purposeful, calculated.

The professor had told the older students to try and integrate Remy him into Institute life as quickly as possible. He explained with Shield entering his life erratically Remy would need stability. His life had suffered irrevocable damage and any previous supports he may have had were available. Gathering her resolve Kitty tried for a somewhat more enlightening conversation. “The smoke detector,” she began lamely answering his previous question, uselessly as it turned out, as he’d begun another cigarette. “Dr. Grey said she thinks your mutation is just starting to develop, but most of the students arrive right after their powers manifest so everyone is used to dealing power surges,” she assured him.

That particular comment didn’t warrant much of a reaction either though his expression leant towards that of one suffering a fool. Kitty felt a brief flash of irritation, she had dealt with the same thing from Scott and even Logan occasionally, but she was at least one year older than Remy. She pursed her lips and continued, maybe he saw the last comment as an insult, so compliment next, “They said you fight really well so you can skip all the beginner levels in the danger room…“ she said voice lowering suddenly realizing how odd that would sound for a regular school.

Kitty was granted a roll of black and red eyes beneath sunglasses as he finished replacing the panel on the intercom flipping switches, “Y’ really t’ink I didn’ know dat dis place houses de X-Men?” he scoffed.

“You’re a thief,” she countered, “why would you care about mutants fighting for equal rights?”

“Y’ get paid more f’ information den a pretty picture any day o’ de week,” the thief replied coolly, brushing the scrap wire into the trash.

“Who else knows?” questioned Kitty suspiciously.

“Who don’ know,” he corrected, “Y’ not as good as wit secrets as y’ seem t’ t’ink y’ are. Bright uniforms, dat big jet, ain’t exactly subtle,” he drawled.

“Should I tell the professor?” Kitty hedged, questioning herself aloud.

“I’m sure he already knows,” the red haired mutant replied making a vague gesture with his right hand smoke following the motion as he placed the panel back on the intercom.

“Professor Xavier doesn’t abuse his gift like that, it goes against his morals to read people without permission. I bet that’s really weird, having him be your dad, well legally anyway,” Kitty said kicking herself for her inapt comment. She was supposed to make friends and she was definitely not endearing herself to him.

The cigarette he had been holding dropped to the floor smoldering in the green carpet and Kitty swore she could see jags of red lightening through his shades. The mutant thief edged closer, face impassive but muscles rigidly set, neck corded and the brunette really wished phasing through the floor would be an acceptable way to end the conversation.

“My pere be Jean Luc LeBeau, not Xavier, o’ anybody else. Don’ matta what dat scrap o’ paper says oui?” he said voice slithering with eerie determination.

“Oh yeah definitely,” agreed Kitty deciding to leave the welcoming to someone else as she had already broken several of the guidelines Xavier had devised. “Well see you around,” she said trying to salvage her last slivers of dignity backing out of the room.

Her family life had been fairly normal, and her powers once mastered hadn’t left her with much difficulties, but dealing with being a mutant, and conditioning to be an X-Men, that had been hard. She had trained diligently to get to the station she was at, most of the students here would never have the opportunity to become a member of the X-Men. But a few moments with Remy had shaken her confidence levels dropped severely.

Gambit’s recent history had become common knowledge around the Institute, his arrangement with Shield being one of the main topics of conversation on campus. She’d seen the bruises on the officers, and heard Wolverine’s description of his fighting style. He was remarkably collected considering, even if he had accidentally blown up a few objects. Kitty had to admit she was impressed, if one of her parents died she’d be a mess for weeks, months even. Instead Remy was coping admirably, stirring up the X-Men and nonchalantly re-wiring the circuitry to his room. She knew Remy must have loved his father from his defensiveness, and she wondered what he had happened in his life to be able to behave that impersonally mere days after his father’s death. And she wondered if it was worth it.

Remy threw all the tools on the desk and stepped into the bathroom the metallic clatter hanging in the air. He hooked the sunglasses through his copper mane, splashing water over a heated complexion disguised by his tan. Getting upset with an audience hadn’t been part of his plan, but the brunette had worked on nerves that were taut enough without her tripping over them.

He had risen late having spent the majority of the night atop the roof. When he had finally made an appearance there had been an appalling amount of paperwork that he’d grudgingly filled out with falsified information. Tests comprised most of the day, though forced integration with the other students near his age came a close second. Apparently the thought was to mire him in matters at the Institute and he’d forget all about his life, his real life, shattered though it may be.

It was pathetic, only serving to remind him of his friends he’d left in New Orleans that he’d probably never see again. These kids had lived a good portion of their life at the Institute, very few knew what it would be to have to survive on their own. Completely alone, not just with a set of parents who weren’t thrilled about their child being a mutant. Xavier actually had the gall to offer counseling because Xavier believed he was in a ‘fractured mental state’. Gambit had given a bitter smile and declined. He didn’t need Xavier in his mind in any capacity, shrink or telepath.

Remy heard a knock against the frame of his door and he groaned audibly, not another one, hadn’t the brunette just left? Checking the clock, the teen raised an eyebrow in surprise when it showed nearly a half an hour had passed.

A guy this time, light blonde hair, blue eyes, oh of course, Remy thought sourly, the one who’d almost been lynched by a mob because he’d used his powers in front of a crowd. It might have been a touching story if he hadn’t grown up in a town where people still practiced voodoo. For his red and black eyes people’s imaginations immediately assigned him a demonic origin. For visible mutants mobs and gangs were an undesirable but indelible aspect of life.

“Hey I’m Bobby,” the blonde teen introduced himself, sure the other had forgotten his name already, remembering being drowned in names his first day. Well it wasn’t exactly the guy’s first day, but it amounted to the same thing.

“Gambit,” the red haired teen commented reluctantly shaking the offered hand, eyes sweeping over the room realizing there wasn’t really that much left to do, he’d finished altering the intercom so no one could inadvertently listen in.

“Really I thought it was Remy something or other,” said Bobby, “But if you prefer Gambit, no problem, a lot of us carry secondary names. I heard what you did to Scott’s tests, wish I’d been there,” he added seemingly oblivious to the scathing look he received plopping onto the other teen’s bed. “I wonder what you got.”

“Depends on how close de answer sheet be t’ de pattern wit all de X’s I made,” the Cajun teen replied smoothly. He had been less than amused by the X-Men’s attempts to categorize him with the other students. The original stack of materials they’d given him had become the first casualties of his charge. Scott didn’t appreciate the destruction and Xavier entered with another pile of tests along with reminders for Remy of his obligations.

Gambit hadn’t even bothered reading the questions, circling answers haphazardly, skipping the essays altogether. The thief remembered Henri’s words in painstaking clarity and assumed he would for the remainder of his life. Henri gave Fury the same authority as a Guild Master, but had said nothing of deference to Xavier.

“It doesn’t really matter,” spoke Bobby interrupting the other teen’s ruminations, “they decided to put you in all the advanced classes anyways.”

“Grande,” the thief murmured wondering if applying his charm could contribute anything towards herding the other mutant out of his room. Using his charm wasn’t painful in any way, but blocking it up afterwards caused discomfort, a line of pressure from the center of his forehead down to the base of his neck. The young thief had been using his charm often of late and didn’t want any additional strain.

Remy’s chill demeanor went unnoticed by the blonde as he hopped up and bounced around the room commenting on the decor. “You know this place could really use some personal touches maybe new lamps or something, this place has been smothered by Jean’s decorating, you can always tell, everything matches,” Bobby grinned sweeping his hand encompassing the green and cream room. “Ah hah,” he triumphed spotting a large yellow envelope on the middle of the desk. “Gambit were you holding out on me? I bet your scores in here,” he said plucking the folder from its spot.

“Y’ gonna want t’ put dat back homme,” Gambit advised as Bobby claimed it hugging the envelope to his chest.

“Aw come on, I’ll tell you what I got,” he offered smirking as he opened the folder quickly, freezing Gambit’s boots to the carpet for insurance. “Whoa, this is not test results,” Bobby narrated overlooking the haul. “We have cards, cigarettes…and a metal stick?” Bobby said questioningly hefting the cylinder.

“Whateva y’ done, y’ best undo it, I don’ want to repaint the ceiling vous comprehendes?” Gambit warned hands beginning to flicker with scarlet energy.

“I’m just looking,” replied Bobby innocently extending the layer of ice, drawing it almost up the Gambit’s knee, spinning the metal object, “what is this?” he queried of his fellow mutant, congratulating himself on distracting Remy much more effectively than Kitty had. Xavier didn’t like that Remy was avoiding all the other students, the only person he had really spoken to was Storm.

“It be somet’in Gambit’ll use t’ pound y’ into de ground in de next couple minutes Ice,” he threatened, ruby eyes glittering ethereally, crimson energy crawling up his forearms. Unless Remy wanted to lose his legs in the process blowing off the ice wasn’t a possibility. Making Bobby a scorch on the carpet was a very appealing prospect, but his charge had built quicker than he’d expected, if he launched anything now he probably would kill Bobby something he wasn’t quite prepared to do.

“And what else do we have?” continued Bobby oblivious to the enemy in the making, “A photo? Perhaps one of the X-Men of the female persuasion gave you a memento?” Bobby cracked aware of the sycophantic looks that followed the auburn haired Cajun despite his obvious detachment.

Bobby flipped the picture several times before recognizing its importance, a soft “oh…” escaping his lips. This wasn’t stuff from the Institute, it was stuff from home, one if he understood correctly Gambit couldn’t go back to. Oh yes, this was bad, no wonder Gambit looked like he wouldn’t mind repainting the ceiling, or laying new carpet, redoing everything that would be tarnished in an explosion of Bobby bits.

“Okay, um…” Bobby began wringing his neck worriedly, there was no graceful way out of this, “I’m really sorry, I didn’t know this was home stuff, honest. Well uh see you in class,” he offered with a weak smile, silently chanting ‘please don’t kill me’ as he melted the ice darting out the open doorway.

Remy curbed his anger at the departing mutant, he should have paid more attention when they were describing their powers then he wouldn’t have been caught unaware. Gambit held his hands away from his body willing the power to disperse. He wasn’t completely sure how his charges worked, but he knew reabsorbing took more effort than releasing them. He closed flashing red and black eyes erasing the erratic patterns that overlaid his normal vision.

Gambit waited for the undulating feel of his powers to disappear before opening his eyes again, approaching the maple framed bed guardedly. He hadn’t been able to open the envelope himself, and now the innocuous appearing contents lay scattered.

Systematically he pocketed the package of cigarettes and tucked playing cards away into his shirt. He picked up his Bo relieved to have the weapon back, extending it once before placing it on his person as well. Realistically he didn’t need it, with honed fighting skills and charging ability he was a weapon. It just felt good to have something from home other than memories.

He ran his hands over the slightly rumpled comforter searching for the photo that had caused Bobby to flee from the room, it wasn’t in the folds and he stepped back a few paces. He shifted his weight reaching under the bed coming up with the small bit of paper. Remy sat with one knee folded beneath him, holding the photo delicately. With a steady hand the youth turned it over breath stolen from his lungs.

It was a photo from Jean Luc’s funeral. A close shot of a satin lined casket, he looked…the same, perhaps a little older a peaceful expression on his face that hadn’t been there at his death.

Remy’s fingertips brushed the photograph gently, feeling ill knowing that a mortician had fixed that expression onto his father’s face. Jean Luc hadn’t had peace at his death because he had known, known the same thing Henri had, that his son had failed him. His fathers last moments must have been of disappointment and regret, he’d taken an orphan off the streets and into his home, taught him everything he knew, and gotten nothing in return.

“M’ sorry,” Remy intoned voice barely a whisper, squeezing his eyes tightly the image following him undeterred by darkness. “I shoulda done somet’ing f’ y’ shoulda seen it,” he cursed himself, auburn hair shifting forward shadowing flaming orbs. The teen wrapped one arm against his chest the other to the floor for balance. He wet his lips, swallowing noisily as hot tears he hadn’t noticed massing trailed down his face, he had gotten his goodbye. The thief wiped at his tears angrily ashamed at his reaction.

Remy rose quickly forcing a defiant expression onto his features, trying to shroud himself within his working persona. He held the picture carefully searching for a safe place to store it. A flicker of uncertainty followed the thought, he didn’t feel comfortable leaving any of his belongings here.

Not knowing where else to place it, it went into his back pocket opposite his cigarettes. Staying at the Institute would only tighten the knot that had taken up permanent residence in center of his chest. He’d agreed to live here, to him that meant just where he slept, and going out on his own for a few hours might settle his nerves. Gambit checked his reflection in the mirror carefully making sure there were no traces of his momentary indiscretion, raking his slightly wavy locks into a ponytail.

The bars still sat ominously in his window so the Cajun slunk through the house with enforced mental shields, gliding unnoticed past students and teachers alike. The red haired teen slipped out to the garage grabbing an abandoned leather jacket off a hook as he passed. The black jacket was waist length, not his usual style but expedience held superiority. If he was going to be this close to New York, he’d make a visit to the New York Thieves Guild. He didn’t know many of the New York thieves but he knew the right ones which is what mattered. It wasn’t exactly family, but he had always been a thief first and mutant second. It felt more natural to be in a thief lair of than a house of mutants.

Gambit studied the contents of the spacious garage, the familiar odor of gasoline permeating the structure. It was crowded with vehicles, most of them cars, the majority too flashy to be inconspicuous. There was an elder jeep and an extended van but both looking so well-used he wasn’t sure they’d make the trip. The dull glint of matte paint caught the thief’s attention and he slid between two cars jeans scraping against the grill with a dull rustle perceptible only to those in his chosen profession.

A modest cluster of motorcycles had been hidden in the shade of the behemoth van. Two were muscle Harleys, a classic Boss Hog, and a newly produced V-Rod. The speed bike whose black matte finish he had glimpsed was dubbed the most mobile and least visible of all the vehicles, a Decati Monster, not too dissimilar from the one he’d had in New Orleans.

Gambit cocked back the kickstand wheeling it across the cool cement. As an afterthought he grabbed a helmet from one of the shelves lining the side wall. He wasn’t usually that cautious but it would help him blend concealing naturally highlighted auburn tresses.

The prowling thief guided the bike out the door lighting another cigarette with a charged fingertip, paying no attention to the rather large spark that ignited it. The driveway was long enough to dispense with the possibility of sneaking the bike out unobserved. If stealth wasn’t feasible, speed would suffice. Seven seconds under expert manipulation and the bike purred to life. The lithe teen swung astride and revved the engine loudly shooting down the drive. With borrowed jacket, helmet and bike any students who saw him would hopefully be unable to place a name to the figure, at least until he made it into the city.


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