Author's Note: This takes place after Cajun Spice and before Ascension, somewhere in-between but I don't know or care where. I didn't make Gambit talk in third person bc, frankly, it's really annoying. It makes him sound like some egotistic muscle-builder, Schwarzenegger-type and it, well, freaks me out and makes me squirm when I have to read it--ick. And besides, he doesn't even talk like that on Evolution--so I don't understand why people are so prone on doing it. Anyway, this is my first fanfic so bare with me--it might come off weird at first but it gets less cloudy later on.

Prologue - Sanctuary

He lay there, sprawled upon the asphalt like a heap of discarded trash. He had no trouble looking the part with torn clothing, disheveled hair, and blood-caked skin. It was a pitiful sight, worthy of scaring away any passerby for fear of gore. Somehow he had managed to drag himself to the gates of the Xavier Institute. The trail of crimson liquid he left would not go unnoticed. What if he had been followed? The thought only crossed his mind for an instant, pushed away by another stab of electrifying pain. He couldn't really remember the last time things hurt so much. He tried to convince himself he'd been in worse situations.

Anybody home? he wondered. S'pose t'be helpful, dese people...goody-two shoes...

The gate loomed before him in its iron strength. In the darkness the bars looked like teeth, the lower jaw of a leviathan monster--and he was in its mouth, being devoured by the second. That sure would explain the annoying pain.

He should not have come to this place. Who was he to think they would help him? He was their enemy--or so he thought they considered him. He had, on several occasions, tried to blow these X-Men up. Constantly battling with people did not bode well for one's reputation. But if he could not receive help here, where else would he go? Nowhere. He had absolutely nowhere and no one to turn to.

A screen glowed to the right of the wrought-iron gates, complete with number pad and microphone. He dragged himself to the faint neon light and pressed the call button. Nothing happened--or so he thought. He pressed it again, and again, and again... His hand dropped, his strength depleted. He crumpled back against the wall. Maybe they wouldn't come because they knew who he was. Maybe they would just leave him to die because they knew it was what he deserved. Maybe they were all just asleep. The time had escaped him--he figured it had to be the wee, ungodly hours of early, early morning.

Heh, he thought, never knew it'd end like dis... He almost smirked. All the life-threatening situations, all the death-defying stunts, all the moments when he could have deceased in a blaze of glory--and he would go lying on the street like a homeless bum who'd pissed off some homicial people. Life's lit'le quirks...

Then, for some odd reason, the gates began to open. At first he thought he was seeing things, because how could the jaw of a monster bend apart at such angles? World's turnin' into a crazy place, he concluded.

Voices surrounded him, the sounds of rushed footsteps and urgent voices. Then shadows covered his already impaired sight and he felt himself being lifted by hands of different shapes and sizes. It was a nice feeling, like a strange, assorted massage. He would have smirked at his own delirious notions, if it weren't for the incredibly annoying pain he felt all over. Thoughts of that allowed room for little else.