Deadpool. At least he wasn't Deadpool she thought to herself as she looked through the sea of characters in the hall. The last thing she needed was to have to sort out which of the red and black spandex masked figures was her skip.
Finding one costumed man in the sea of people would be hard enough.
This whole thing was insanity. The crowd. The costumes. Her costume. If only she hadn't let Ruby talk her into wearing this ridiculous thing. Emma should have known based on every past Halloween that as soon as her friend heard the word "ComicCon" that she'd do everything in her power to get Emma into character. At least this time Ruby had a point. Her typical "honeytrap" tight, short dress might not be as attractive to this bail jumper as the black leather body suit she was currently sporting.
Not that Emma had anything against the full leather body suit. She knew what it did for her figure, and it might come in handy again in the future. It was the wig that was driving her nuts. Her long blonde tresses were bound tightly to her head to allow for the two-tone brown and shock of white instead.
"Of course you have to go as Rogue, Emma. She's Gambit's girlfriend. And get this, people can't touch her or she'll drain their life force. It's like she's your dream character. Anyone who knows will give you a wide berth. It's like she's made for you."
That might have been what sold her.
She thought she'd feel ridiculous in the getup, walking through the crowd, an adult dressed as though it were Halloween in the middle of August, but the longer she spent wandering through the hall, the more grateful she was for the anonymity the costume allowed. No one looked twice at her, except for the occasional comment of "cool costume" or photo request.
As she floated through the sea of people, going almost completely unnoticed, she sent a silent thank you to Ruby for the suggestion of the costume. She would almost feel out of place in her skinny jeans and leather jacket.
She wandered up and down the rows, eyes peeled for "Gambit." Hours had been spent online researching every variation she could find of costumes. Her eyes had been continually searching for a brown trench coat and purple breastplate, but it had been hard to not get distracted by all of the characters around her. Comic books not being her thing, she had no idea this was such a big deal and how seriously people took it.
She stood for a moment taking in a full size replica of the Iron Throne, and spotted him across the row.
Gambit - Check
Tall - Check
Dark, dark brown hair - Check
Blue eyes - Check
She made her way over to the costumed character hoping to engage him in some conversation before slipping on the cuffs.
She ran her hand through her hair as soon as she got next to him, hoping that the action would catch his attention. Usually it didn't take much for men to notice her, and he was no different. As soon as his eyes met hers, she offered a small smile, and followed up with just enough flirtation to be bait.
"So, not only do you like X-Men, but you're into Game of Thrones. How did I get so lucky?"
He returned her smile with a full grin.
"Well, love, I'm a man of many interests. And based on what I see, I'm quite interested."
Luckily Emma had many years of practice of keeping her eye roll in check. Men always thought they were smooth when confronted by her routine.
She angled her entire body toward him, and ran her hand down his arm.
"You're English. Are you just in town for the convention?"
"Yes, just in from Los Angeles for the weekend. But if you're local, I'd be willing to stay longer if it meant some time with you."
Englishman - Check
Los Angeles - Check
She didn't need to get any additional information, this was enough.
It took less than two seconds, and he was pinned to the ground and her cuffs were out of her fanny pack, ready to slap around his wrists.
Wrists - Um, there was the problem.
He only had one hand. Her mark definitely had two. Two hands.
"Love, I definitely don't mind the lass on top, but I prefer to be on my back in this sort of situation."
This time she didn't stop her eye roll. Of course, she did have to remind herself she was completely in the wrong. And he didn't seem as angry as he should have been. She'd pinned the man to the ground in the middle of a exhibition hall with thousands, and thousands of people watching. Not to mention taking photos. This was ComicCon, and she'd just presented the masses with Rogue tackling Gambit in the middle of the throng.
She carefully climbed off of him, sure she was as red as Sansa Stark's hair.
He rolled over as she stood up, and she offered him her hand as a friendly gesture.
He used more of her help than was necessary, pulling her body into his as he fully righted himself.
"Are you law enforcement, love? Or is this all part of an elaborate role play with a different Gambit? It doesn't seem very canon, but if you can't find him I'm sure I'd be more than willing to step in."
This time she didn't stop herself from showing her contempt.
"Definitely not the latter, buddy. I'm a bail bonds person, and my skip is here today dressed as Gambit. You fit the bill. You want to step in and let me cuff you and turn you into the police so I can get my paycheck?"
"No, that doesn't seem near as fun as what I had in mind."
Over Gambit's shoulder she saw a man smiling broadly, clearly approaching. If it weren't for her love of Netflix, she'd never have gotten the costume. He obviously wasn't blind, but the suit, tie, and beat-to-hell face, coupled with sunglasses and the cane, indicated he was meant to be Matt Murdock.
"Jones, we just heard about a Gambit getting beat up by keep hitting on her like that, looks like she's bound to make it come true."
She couldn't help but laugh a little, as Matt Murdock had it just about right.
Gambit's friend's arrival allowed her to make an exit, and she used the distraction to toss a "sorry" she wasn't sure he even heard over her shoulder as she walked away.
It was already 11AM, and she wanted to find her guy and get out of there. If she could find him in time, she'd be able to cancel her hotel room and scalp her day two ticket. Catching this guy would be a big payday, worth spending the money on the con, but if she could get a few bucks back she'd be even happier.
Wandering up and down the aisles, she started to get used to the sights. And to the photo requests. Ruby must have done a good job with this costume, because the longer the day went on, the more people stopped her for a photo.
Her reaction the first few times confused the other attendees, as she responded with a blunt no and kept walking. But then she witnessed the behavior of the other costumed characters. It was always the same; surprise, motions of acting flattered, and then gracious acceptance. Deciding the anonymity of the costume would be on her side, she started saying yes, and eventually even playing along. The more requests she accepted, the more she found herself getting into it, and an hour later posing with a full group of other X-Men who needed a Rogue to fill out their "school photo" as they kept calling it.
She blamed them for what happened next.
Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a Gambit again, and started running through the checklist. Tall with dark hair. That was all she could see from this distance, but she didn't want to let the opportunity slip away. The cancellation window on her room was closing in fast, and she decided to go with it.
She sidled up next to him, and used the line she knew would get any costumed con-goer's attention.
"Great costume. Can I get my photo with you?"
Waiting for him to turn around, she plastered the biggest smile across her face, figuring the worst that could happen would be that she'd get a photo with the wrong Gambit, and keep moving along.
Except that's not the worst thing that could happen.
He was the wrong wrong Gambit.
"Love, a beautiful woman such as yourself does not have to go through such great lengths to get my attention I assure you. If you'd like to get a drink all you have to do is ask."
"Still haven't found your scofflaw then, love?"
"No. And I swear I've seen everyone in this hall at least 12 times. I'm beginning to think he's gone into one of the panels and I'll never find him."
"Well, I've been keeping a tally just so you know. There are 6 other Gambits here that I've seen. Two are women, 3 are Asian and one could have looked like me, about 50
years ago. I'm hoping he's not the one you're really looking for, because I like to think that despite my advanced years I've maintained my youthful glow."
She laughed, both at his joke, as he was obviously no older than his early 30s, and at the fact that he'd put some effort into cataloging the other Gambits in the hall. She'd seen the two female ones he'd mentioned, as well as 2 of the Asians, and the geriatric gentleman. That meant that he either wasn't in the hall at the moment, or somehow they both kept missing him.
"Well, thanks. But, I'm not going to find him standing here talking to you. I'm going to go try the halls outside some of the panels."
"What should I do if I find him first. I have no way of getting in touch with you."
"I'll find you." She said as she walked away.
"You do seem to be good at that." She heard him yell in her direction.
She headed over to the lobbies outside where the panels would be, completely discouraged. Even with two people looking for him, the wanted Gambit was elusive. Her sources could have been wrong entirely, and he might not have even come to ComicCon this year. The whole weekend, and a lot of money, were about to go right down the drain. That, and this was her only lead, and he was a very large paycheck.
Arthur Pendragon had cheated the city out of quite a bit of money on a contract for a civilian liaison group between the people and the police force. When he was caught embezzling, they'd viewed his ties to the community, and a loving wife at home, enough to consider him a low flight risk. So much for that. His wife was about to lose her house, and Emma was not about to let that happen.
So here she was, after discovering his online persona was posting in an X-Men forum, and with a few brief mentions of ComicCon. If he'd backed out, she was screwed. His online persona had not been receptive to her invitations to meet in the real world. This was it.
The longer the day wore on the more drained she felt. She no longer got any sort of rush when people asked for her photo. She kept noticing the same costumes over, and over, and over. If she had to see one more Harley Quinn she thought she'd scream. There was nothing new to see. Each turn of the aisle brought the same exact display she saw last time. Every poster remained the same. She could tell anyone there exactly where to find which t-shirt they might want to purchase.
Occasionally there would be a buzz, as word spread of a celebrity walking through the crowd. She had no interest in any of them, and unless it was someone she thought might appeal to her skip, she would move the other way.
Hour after hour passed, leaving her to grow only more and more aggravated. She'd moved from hating Ruby for her costume, to loving Ruby for the costume, back to full-blown hatred. The high-heeled leather boots were not meant for a full day of walking, even if it was indoors.
Finally she decided there was no way he would turn up this late in the day, and started to make her way toward the exit where she knew there would be a Starbucks in the lobby area. There was no guarantee in the chaos of the con that she would be able to get a cab or Uber to her hotel, and a hot chocolate would be necessary fuel for the walk back.
But a whistle broke into her concentration, and she looked up to see her Gambit trying to get her attention. She followed the slight motion of his head to the left, and there stood THE Gambit. A quick nod of thanks in his direction was all she had time for, as the criminal was on the move. She followed, her energy fully restored to allow for any necessary pursuit.
But luck, again, was on her side. He stopped at the next booth, checking out some new toy offering and she sidled up to him using the same line she'd used earlier.
"Hi there, great costume. Can I get my photo with you? I think it's kind of required that we take our picture together, Right?"
He smiled, fully taken in by her act.
"Of course. Far be it from me to deny you anything."
English - Check
Blue eyes - Check
Dark hair - Check
"You live here, or just in town for the con?"
"Oh, I guess you could say I'm a wanderer at the moment. I was living in Los Angeles, but that wasn't the life for me."
Los Angeles - Check
She already knew this was her guy, but was trying to be a little more careful after her first incident of the day. She looked down.
Two hands - Check
She looked back up at him, ready to flirt for a little longer to lull him into a false sense of security before she took him down, but she was tired, more than a little grumpy, and kept thinking of the Gambit standing slightly to the side taking in the show.
He was on the ground, hands pinned behind his back before he even knew what hit him. Emma had the cuffs out and around the two wrists as she heard a whistle.
"That looks even more impressive than it felt. Don't know if I'm sorry for the fellow or jealous."
She rolled her eyes again, but with a smile. She never would have found him without the first Gambit's assistance, and she could at least be polite.
The Gambit below her was bellowing in protest.
"Oi, get off of me. You have no right. Get these cuffs off. I'll call the police."
"Oh, buddy. Nice bluff, but I'm already calling them. The San Diego police will be more than happy to help the LAPD get you back into their system when I tell them who you are. Now come with me, and smile pretty for the cameras."
The crowd took photos of the spectacle as Rogue marched a handcuffed Gambit toward the entrance. She hoped they'd run into a police car outside. The nearest station was in walking distance, but walking uncooperative men in handcuffs was never the easiest way to earn your money, and based on past experience, cabbies and Uber drivers were none too willing to pick you up when the other member of your party was in cuffs shouting that they were being held against their will. Even if it was ComicCon, she was sure the costumes wouldn't help.
Lucky there was a squad car right outside the lobby entrance, and the officer was very willing to assist by giving her a lift when she explained just who it was she had in cuffs.
While sitting in the station, waiting for the clerk on duty to write a ticket she could turn in back in Los Angeles for her skip, she smiled thinking of her payday. But then thoughts quickly drifted back to the man she'd left at the con. Sure, he was cocky, but there was something about him she couldn't ignore. The longer she sat waiting, the more she thought about heading back to the hall to see if she could find him one last time.
It had been awhile for her, and it was ComicCon. Ruby would be so proud.
Her daydream was interrupted by the clerk coming over with her paperwork. She headed out into the night, knowing that without the skip there was no chance of police transportation, she walked back towards the Convention Center rationalizing that it was on her way to the hotel anyway. The sight that greeted her was a crew of janitors cleaning up the debris left by the people in the lines earlier in the day, and a different crew setting up for the next day. The lights were off in the ticket windows, and her heart sank as she realized there was no chance of finding her Gambit for the night. It wasn't meant to be, she thought, headed toward the hotel, figuring a long shower and a good meal at the hotel bar would be the next best thing. She'd earned both.
There was something familiar about the woman at the bar. He couldn't pin it. He'd been staring at her all evening, much to the amusement of his mates.
"Killian, stop watching the door. I swear, you're checking every brunette to see if she's your Rogue."
He took another sip of his rum and continued to stare, ignoring his friends. He realized as the bartender placed a heavy plate in front of her, and she ran her hand through her hair, sweeping the wet strands behind her shoulders exactly who she was.
It didn't take two seconds for him to grab his tumbler and make his way over to her, grateful that despite the crowd of the con that the seat next to her was open.
"I was hoping that was you. Is this seat open, love?"
Wide-eyed, she nodded. He had interrupted her mid-bite, and seated himself continuing while he allowed her to finish her mouthful.
"You said you'd find me. I didn't know you were this good."
"To be honest, I'd stopped looking. And it seems more like you've found me."
"Ah, but you admit, you had been looking."
His eyes sparkled as he realized she had been caught admitting to something she probably hadn't meant to admit. He knew she wouldn't answer, so he simply held out his hand.
She took it, and replied.
"And is the lovely Emma attached? I hope the answer is no."
"That's awfully personal information for someone I've just met."
"Says the woman who had me pinned to the floor 30 seconds after meeting me?"
"I said I was sorry about that."
"Actually, I'm not entirely sure you did. But let's go on. If your relationship status is off limits, maybe I can at least find out where you live?"
He watched as she equivocated for a moment, and then replied.
"Just my luck. If I can enchant you tonight, you may let me talk you into a drink, if that is that you're unattached, when we both return home."
"We're having a drink right now."
"But this is so much different. I'm not sure if you've noticed, but you're seated next to Tinkerbelle and I've got bloody Peter Pan on my left. Honestly maybe you should switch seats with him and we may be able to make a love match. There wasn't even a movie out this year. These two might be destined to meet, and we're keeping true love apart."
Emma scoffed. "True love? You sound like you actually believe in it."
"Of course I do. Two people meeting, falling in love, realizing that they can do anything, face anything, as long as they're together. That's magic. Don't tell me a lass such as yourself doesn't believe in love."
Her look told him everything he needed to know.
"Well, that's unfortunate. I can tell now that love's been all too rare in your life. But all the better reason to let me take you out for that drink when we get back home."
"You think you're going to be the one to make me realize that love is real and true and magical." She said the last bit batting her eyes and almost simpering, in full mockery of the ideas.
"Lass, we showed up at ComicCon in matching costumes. If that doesn't tell you something…"
She interrupted, not letting him finish.
"By that rationale I could be true love with any of the 7 other Gambits in there, including the one I just dropped off at the police station."
"Ah, but you see Emma, you didn't find them, not once, not twice, or even three times. You found me four times. I don't know why you're fighting seeing what's right here in front of you."
"Maybe, but you also find me charming, and rather devilishly handsome." He watched with a grin as she kept her eyes on her food and didn't answer.
"As it is love, I need to retire as we have an early line up time for a panel. I leave you now, but consider that drink."
"You're leaving." Her head shot up, completely surprised, clearly disappointed, that he was willing to give up so quickly.
"Yes, love. As I said, my friends have already abandoned me for sleep, as we are hoping to get in to see the discussion we actually came here for tomorrow. We've got an early line up time, and as much as they like me, they're not going to save me a place if I don't get up with them. So, as much as I hate to part with you, good evening."
It was old fashioned, but he bowed slightly, and took her hand in his and pressed a slight kiss across her knuckles.
"But I don't even have your number." He heard her call after him as he headed for the door of the bar.
"I'm a one-handed man named Killian in Los Angeles, Emma. I have no doubt you'll be able to find me. I've yet to see you fail."
He didn't see the smile that crossed her face, nor hear her chuckle as she turned back to her dinner.
Besides, if she didn't, well, there couldn't be too many bail bonds people named Emma, and he wouldn't let this one slip through his fingers.