Sometimes I just don't know anymore. This fight. This war. The scars I need to rip open and rub salt into just to look some of my own team mates in the eyes anymore can run right down to the bone. Don't get me wrong, if there's one thing I know about, its sacrificin' to the greater cause. A Brotherhood will teach you that real fast. So will a father like mine. M'daddy was out cuttin' throats so I could hide in our basement and learn to cut a deck without havin' to worry about duckin' bullets.

Every day though, the odds get stacked higher and higher, and I lose more chips to the house. One of these days Ill run out, and I'll have to cash in for good, just one more piece of chewed up New Orleans trash stuck to the bottom of some Sentinels boot. And believe me, the day that happens, I won't be wakin' up in the home of Warren Worthington, listenin' to harps while hookers with wings throw me C-notes, or whatever is promised to those who didn't grow up in mud and blood when they go up there...

So what keeps me in this fight? What keeps this shell movin', fightin', throwin' cards it could be using to making a fortune with down in the underground? I'm an old man, damnit, a long time before I'm supposed to have been. And she's young, younger than she looks, younger than any calendar on this planet would tell you she is. Don't let the white hair fool you, even if it is just a single streak.

I can't even touch her, though the Lord knows I try. She keeps me at arms length, and not the way the inner city Catholic girls did in the back seats of stolen cars, not the way bar maids did when I'd managed to scrap up some money and had instantly decided to donate it to the good people at Jack Daniel's. They all said they did it for me, for my good. Their father would kill me. They were sure I had a women tucked away somewhere, and the booze had just slipped me some convenient amnesia. Back then, I used to hear all the time that things were kept from me for my own good, and back then, I was dumb enough to believe it.

But this rose wears thorns because its scent is deadly, not because it doesn't want its petals bruised. One taste and you're not just on your back, you could be in your grave, and they dig them mighty shallow in the bayou. It all depends how deep you bite, how brave you are, and let me tell you one thing... Gambit is not a man who does things by halves, who leaves food on his plate. Grow up the way that I did, and you learn that the first time you decide that you don't want to finish your meal is the last time you'd end up eating for weeks.

So we spar, and I get driven back. She flirts, and I'm as open as a ghetto whore, but its her youth and naievety that lets me get away with it. What sort of mad man would say the sort of things I say if they were true? What kind of lunatic would whisper the words Gambit whispers, his lips a half inch from her ear, hovering by disaster, if he actually meant them? Maybe the same kind of lunatic who fights in a battle he no longer believes in for a women who he can barely get a scent of before he ends up in a coma, leavin' her behind to crack jokes and toss cards around like ink-printed hand grenades.

I take my chances in the battle, throwin' Aces against bullets and Kings against magnets. I deal out time and time again, and one of these days I'm not going to be able to pull my cards back. Sooner or later I'm going to be caught staring past the dealer at the Roulette table, where a girl with white hair and the face of an angel stands apart from the rest of the world, her suit the least of her barriers.

M'daddy taught me to play for keeps, but I never believed him until I met her. And now everything's out on the table, I'm tapped out, and even I don't know what cards I'm holding. How could a game of five card be fair when your hand can mean everything or nothing, depending whether the saucy girl who likes eating ice cream with no spoon and could punch through a wall is folding or not?

You play the odds. You lose some. You win some. Sooner or later, the house takes you. The only thing that's left to find out is whether the house has a white streak of hair, or is just one misted over grave in the swamp, that you don't see until youre already standin' in it.