Surveillance

By Neptune

Summary: "I've been watching you for weeks." Gambit needs information about the abduction of his father, and he's found a way to get it. But in watching the Rogue, he begins to feel something he's never felt before: sympathy. Spoilers: "Cajun Spice."

***

He'd pressed himself against the brick wall, extending his bo-staff with the flick of his right wrist. After weeks of surveillance, he'd chosen to make his play here. Every morning at 8:17, his target passed this alley with a consistency he could set his (stolen) watch to.

He ran the game plan through his head one more time. Kidnapping wasn't something he actively did, but it closely resembled his greatest talent: thievery. Stealing money, stealing a person, it all ran in the same vein.

He looked at the digital clock on his wrist. 8:17. As if on cue, he heard the dragging of her shoes against the concrete. So predictable. And conspicuous. She'd make a lousy thief, he decided. He inched closer to the street, but didn't overstep the diagonal of the shadow created by the wall. He'd be able to grab her easily, and she wouldn't even see it coming.

The shuffling grew progressively louder, and a black and white shoe came into his view. Game time. He extended his hand, ready to grab the purple of her arm, but suddenly jerked it back. He turned his head and allowed his well-trained ear to re-analyze the situation. There were footsteps, heavier than hers, about ten feet behind. Damn.

He edged back into the shadows, eyebrows drawn in frustration. She cleared his alcove, successfully blowing his window of opportunity. A few seconds later, another figure passed in and out of his view, someone he recognized easily. Nightcrawler. The surrogate brother, and the cause of most of her guilt issues for the past months.

He heard their muffled conversation—the most they'd said to each other in weeks, he noted. It trailed off quickly, and the footsteps diverged. Her shuffling grew louder again, and he realized that she was backtracking. The teleporter had thrown his schedule off by a few minutes, but it was no matter, his plan was still salvageable. Switching to the opposite wall, he waited and listened. This time, when the purple sleeve swung into view, he grabbed it.

***

Five months prior…

The screen light up with wild Technicolor swirls, and his former employer disappeared in a flash of light. He frowned as his teammate continued to laugh. "I'm putting that on a continuous loop," the Australian said, dramatically wiping his eyes.

His other partner, Colossus, who stood silently next to him, didn't seem find the video clip as humorous. "This is not amusing."

"Aw, come on now. Don't be such a stiff." Pyro laughed again at his own joke. "Get it? Stiff? You're made of steel."

The big Russian kept his lips in a thin line. "You are a lunatic."

"No need for name calling, mate." He pressed a few buttons and the clip began to play again. "Now lets just watch ole' Bucket Head get axed again. Gambit, get the popcorn, will ya'."

Gambit didn't move from his position, arms folded, weight shifted back on his right leg, but rolled his eyes. Pyro was good for a laugh, he'd give him that, but he'd always questioned Magneto's decision to hire someone so a mentally unstable.

Colossus, he knew, felt the same way. "Shut that off."

"Aw, c'mon mate, I woulda' thought you'd love this. He was blackmailin' ya', after all. The old geezers gettin' what he deserves."

The screen shone again, and Magneto's screams were muffled by Pyro's laughter. Colossus stepped forward, and slammed his steeled first down on the control panel. It crackled and sparked before winking the monitors off.

"Hey, what'dja go an' do that for?"

Colossus didn't answer. He turned his back on the computer station and headed to the monitor room exit.

"Don't turn your back on me, ya' bloody Russie," Pyro said, raising his flame-throwers. "Do ya' know how long that'll take ta' fix?"

"It doesn't concern me anymore," Colossus said over his shoulder. "Magneto is dead. There is no reason for me to be here."

Gambit saw the blowtorches in Pyro's hands ignite, and decided it was time to intervene. "Easy there," he coaxed, grabbing St. John's forearm. "Torchin' the place ain't gonna' help."

"Oh, I think it'll help my mood plenty," Pyro told him, glowering at the retreating back of the Russian. "Who does he think he is, anyway? I don't know about you, but I'm getting tired of his wounded puppy dog routine."

More like wounded army tank. "Let it go. He's got reason t'be upset."

Pyro frowned. "I neva' pegged ya' for the sympathetic type, Gambit."

Now it was Gambit's turn to frown. "I'm not. But with Magneto gone, there's probably no way he'll be able to find his family now. And even I know to cut a guy some slack under those circumstances. Especially if he's built like a bulldozer."

"Well, we've all got problems," Pyro said, but turned off his flame-throwers none-the-less. He turned back to the console, beginning repairs, giggling inanely as he did so.

***

With Colossus gone, and Sabertooth MIA, Remy's only company in the Acolyte base became St. John Allerdyce. So it wasn't very surprising when he took off on a cigarette run one night, and never went back to the snowy hideout.

Needing to get out of the northern cold, he collected his earnings and made plans to travel back south. Good ole' Louisiana was calling his name. He'd left the place to break ties with Jean-Luc, but he did have other contacts, other family, besides his conniving father. On a whim, he decided to call up his adoptive brother Henri, announce his return home to at least one person.

His brother sounded less then enthusiastic to hear from him, however, informing him of the recent raid on the Thieves by the Rippers, and the kidnapping of their father. Despite his conflicts with Jean-Luc, Remy still had a sense of loyalty to his Guild. He had to take care of this, for the sake of his house's honor, and his own.

"Yo' a fool, Remy," his brother had berated him when he told him of his intentions. "This ain't gon' work."

"You just let me handle that, Henri. I've got ways of finding the Rippers' hideout."

His brother laughed mirthlessly. "I ain't talkin' about that. I mean he ain't never gon' respect you. You ain't gon' save him and suddenly become his son. Yo' just a weapon to him, Remy. A tool."

Gambit frowned, said a quick good bye, and then hung up the phone. Canceling his train ticket, he made his way to the small suburban part of New York that housed the one person who had what he needed.

Henri's words went with him to Bayville.

***

For a school, it had a lot of security. Keeping tabs on the girl had been hard while she was on the grounds. Fortunately for him, she and her do-gooder friends tended to get into a lot of trouble outside the Xavier Institute. Always trying to right some evil. He didn't know how anyone could stand to live so righteously. But she seemed to have no qualms with playing hero for a city that didn't appreciate her efforts. He'd have quit a long time ago if he'd been in her place.

He'd tailed her for over two weeks, which wasn't as laborious has he'd thought it would be, mainly because she was a looker. Tall and toned with legs that could make a guy weak-kneed. Seemed to work on the X-team leader. Gambit had watched him fall all over himself around the girl, exhibiting a definite lack of finesse. One toss of her shinny red hair, and he'd be on her like a leech. It was like watching the Special Olympics for dating.

Taste in men aside, she was very good at what she did. She could hold her own in battle, which he respected. It also made him nervous. If it came down to just hand to hand combat, he could easily take her. Her telekinesis was another matter entirely. It was hard to fight someone who could toss you aside like a rag doll from twenty feet away. And a surprise attack was out of the question, thanks to her telepathy. He appreciated the irony; the power he needed her for was also what prevented him from getting her.

He had to find a way, however. Time was running out and he needed to get her to New Orleans. A solution presented itself in the most unlikely form.

While trying to thwart a bank robbery, a team of three X-Men had been discharged, one of them being Jean Grey. As the armed gunmen drove away from the crime scene, their car skidded on some ice created by the second member of the X-Team. The gunmen attempted to flee, but Jean Grey effectively clobbered them by bombarding them with flying debris before depositing two of the men in a dumpster.

Iceman was blasting the remaining muggers with icicles, but his approach was sloppy, and he left his large breaches in his perimeter. Gambit saw a wayward man raise his gun, preparing to blow a hole through the back of the boy's head. Before he could pull the trigger, however, the attacker's eyes rolled to the back of his head, he convulsed, and then dropped unconscious to the pavement. The third member of the team stood behind the fallen gunman, bare palm outstretched, wincing slightly.

"Thanks Rogue," the ice boy told her.

"Just watch your back next time," she hissed at him, replacing her glove and keeping her frown.

Problem solved. Gambit smiled.

***

To Be Continued…