Disclaimer: Do I look like a multi-million dollar corporation to you? Wait, really? I don't know whether to be flattered or insulted… But the point is, Marvel owns the X-Men and I don't.

A/N: Hey there! Remember back when I posted "The Bra Whisperer", and I mentioned that "Symbiotic" might be posted soon? Well, this is that fic, and needless to say, I lied. Well, depending on your definition of soon, I suppose, but I doubt that most would consider a month as quick. It honestly was worked on, but then hated. It endured frustration, it was ignored, and finally it was neglected for the evil that is midterm exams.

But then! It was resurrected and given another chance. The first chapter was completely rewritten, and the old first chapter has now become the second. It was tweaked. It was edited. It suffered some more abuse. An author's note was eventually added. So at last, after all the horror, something has finally managed to be posted.

And here it is, full of bizarre love triangles and soap opera-esque drama. Enjoy!

Symbiotic: Adjective, resembling or relating to symbiosis – a close, prolonged, association between two dissimilar beings. The term is usually restricted to a dependent relationship that is beneficial to both participants, but may be extended to include parasitism, in which the parasite depends upon and is injurious to its host. See: Rogue and Carol Danvers.

Chapter 1 – Reprieve

January 2005

He knew from the second he crossed the threshold of the club that there were Assassins hiding in the shadowed corners, although he didn't let on that he had noticed them. They were always foolishly overconfident, and thinking that they could hide their presence from Remy LeBeau was a prime example of their arrogance. The young thief instinctively scanned every room he entered, and tonight had been no exception. He had noticed Julien Boudreaux sitting at the furthest table, but he entered the nightclub anyway – the other man obviously wanted something, and Remy wanted some fun, so he decided to see where this would lead.

Walking over to the bar, he signalled for his usual shot of bourbon. Remy squeezed in between two scantily clad women as he grabbed the glass, shooting them a charming grin before downing the liquor. His usual routine would have included chatting them up and suggesting they head someplace quieter to "talk", but this evening would not prove so fruitful – at least not with the Assassins watching him.

Gambit knew that Julien hated him and wished him dead, but he wasn't about to give the man a reason for following through on his desires – so he forced himself away from the lovely ladies and towards the pool table. It was already occupied, but one look at the figure striding towards them caused the players to put down their cues and disperse. They knew that nobody got in the way of Le Diable Blanc (the White Devil).

Picking up a stick and walking around the table, Remy didn't even have a chance to take a shot before he sensed a small crowd come up behind him. He knew it was Julien and his cronies, and he was all set to ignore them, but then the other man swung a long wooden pool cue at his head.

The thief darted out of the way just in time, feeling the air rush by his ear as the cue arched down and hit the table. He watched two balls be hit, sending them rolling around the table, pushing the rest into the pockets. Turning to gaze at the tall blonde man he considered his rival, he coolly quipped, "Nice shot."

The Assassin glared, his blue eyes darkening and tightening his grip on the stick so that his knuckles turned white. "What are y' doin' here, LeBeau?" he asked venomously.

"Tryin' t' play a game o' pool. Dat a crime now?" Remy retorted, his eyes never leaving Julien's while managing to detect the four other men moving to surround him.

"Don' give me dat crap – 'm t'inkin' y' came here t' play wit' a diff'rent set o' balls," he sneered. "Saw de way dose femmes (women) looked at y', but mo' importantly, de way y' looked at dem."

Gambit smirked. "S'matter, y' jealous?"

"Dis ain't about me," Julien stated, not rising to the bait. "Dis be about y'. What, y' gettin' in some last minute fun in befo' de weddin'?"

Remy smiled. Of course, the wedding – what else would this be about? "Y' still pissed 'bout dat, homme (man)? Dere's not'in' we can do 'bout dat now." 'Even as much as I want t',' he added on silently.

"See, 'm not acceptin' dat," the Assassin stated, a determined glint appearing in his eyes. "De rest o' de Guilds may not see what a fou (crazy) idea dis is, but I do, an' 'm not lettin' ma soeur (my sister) marry some piece o' gutter-trash!"

With that declared, he once again thrust the pool cue towards Remy, aiming it straight into his chest. A split-second before it would have impaled him, the thief whipped out his bo staff, extended it and watched the wooden stick shatter on the metal rod. Two men behind him attempted to grab his arms and restrain him, but Gambit was quicker, turning and twirling the staff into their heads, sending them crashing to the floor. Another lackey ran at him from behind, but Remy aimed a swift kick at his stomach, sending him flying back into some chairs.

By now Julien had extracted his own staff and swiped it towards Remy's torso, but he rolled onto the pool table and over to the opposite side. "What are y' doin', Boudreaux?" he shouted in confusion. "Dis ain't helpin' matters!"

"Non?" the Assassin mocked. "'M t'inkin' dat a fight b'tween us is just what de elders need t' see dat a peace treaty won' work – an' me gettin' t' maim y' is just an added bonus."

"Y' couillon (idiot), we've got no reason t' fight!" a frustrated Remy yelled over the clamour of the crowd running away from the brawl. Didn't the man know that Remy wanted an end to the engagement almost as much as he did?

"An' why not?" he asked, slowly circling around the table.

Remy opened his mouth to explain, but then abruptly shut it. What could he say? That he didn't love Belladonna, that he didn't wish to spend the rest of his life with her? Her brother would certainly not take that news well, thinking that the lowly mutant had been using her, or that he thought himself too good for her… Neither would prompt a good reaction – he was caught between an Assassin and a hard place. "Merde (shit)," he sighed, and prepared to defend himself as another man launched himself at the thief.

Using the attacker's own momentum against him, Gambit flipped him over and tossed him into the bar stools. He then turned around just in time to block Julien's bo staff from denting his head. The two men made their way around the pool table, parrying and lunging at an astounding speed, the metal rods reverberating with a staccato beat as they clashed against each other.

One of the other men picked himself off the floor and began to climb over the table to pounce on Remy, but the thief anticipated the movements. Strongly shoving Julien back a few steps, Gambit pulled out the King of Hearts from his pocket, charged it, and aimed it at the chain suspending a lamp above the table. It broke, bringing the lamp crashing down on the Assassin, pinning him in place among shards of shattered glass.

Julien managed to take advantage of his opponent's few seconds of distraction, and when Remy spun to face him once more, the auburn-haired man met the barrel of a gun. "I should just end dis right now," he snarled, aiming the weapon straight between his enemy's red-on-black demon eyes.

"Don' t'ink y' wanna do dat," Remy cautioned, compacting his bo staff and placing his hands non-threateningly in the air.

"Oh, believe me, I do. Been wantin' rid o' y' f'r a long time, Gambit."

"T'ink about dis! T'ings are tentative b'tween de Guilds now, an' dis'll send 'em int' war!" the thief attempted to reason with him, hating that he sounded as if he were begging.

Julien shrugged, chuckling quietly. "Dere be lots o' places I can shoot y' wit'out killin' y'. Lots o' painful places dat'll stick y' in bed f'r weeks, postponin' de weddin' 'til I can figure out what t' do wit' a piece o' mutie scum…"

Remy's unique eyes narrowed in anger – he had had enough of this. Seemingly dropping his arms to his side in defeat, he tossed his bo staff towards Julien, letting it roll towards his feet. A small part of him hoped that the man would glance away from him long enough to give Remy a chance to toss some cards, but Julien was a trained Assassin – he knew better than to take his eyes off his target, which was exactly why he didn't notice that the staff had been glowing.

A second later the charged object hit his shoe and let off a small explosion, startling him. At that instant, Gambit plucked his cards from his trench coat with the speed of an expert pickpocket. Powering them up, he let the Queen of Spades take off at Julien's hand, knocking the gun away and onto the floor. A Jack of Spades followed suit, soaring at the man's shoulders, knocking him back a few paces. Logically, Remy knew he should have stopped there, by now having secured a safe exit from the situation, but his rage still had a solid hold on him. Weaving the Ace of Spades through his fingers, he watched as it blazed a bright red and then threw it towards his chest.

It made contact with a loud bang, accentuated by Julien's scream of pain. The Assassin hit the ground with a thud, letting Remy see the burns covering his body and the blood leaking from them.

- X -

"I honestly can't believe y' did dat!" Jean-Luc roared furiously as he paced his study. "I t'ought y' had more sense den dat!"

"How many times do I got t' tell y', it was an accident!" Remy cried back from where he stood in front of his father's desk, nervously shuffling his cards. "I was mad, I didn' mean t' charge de card dat much!"

"Y're just lucky dat Julien's injuries weren't fatal, or I don' know what we'd do!" the Guild patriarch continued as if he hadn't heard his son's protests. "De elders, dey're not happy 'bout dis, I barely managed t' make 'em agree wit' my plan…"

"Plan? What plan?" The younger thief stood up straighter, suddenly more interested in what was transpiring before him. "Is de weddin' off?"

Jean-Luc shook his head, a sad smile gracing his lips. "Y're not dat lucky, mon fils (my son). De bride-t'-be is one hell o' a stubborn fille (girl), in case y' hadn't noticed."

"What do y' mean?" Remy asked, dropping dejectedly into a leather chair. He wasn't sure if he wanted to hear what she had done, if it meant his arranged nuptials would still be proceeding according to schedule.

"She was consulted by de councils o' both Guilds at de meetin' dis mornin'," the elder LeBeau sighed, leaning against his mahogany desk. "Was asked if she still wanted t' go ahead wit' de marriage, on account o' it was her fiancé dat almost killed her frère (brother)."

"Lemme guess," Remy groaned, burying his face in his hands. "She still wants t' go t'rough wit' it."

"Dat she does. She said dat she knows it must've been an accident, an' since Julien's gonna be fine, dere's no reason why everyt'in' still can't go on as planned. She really loves y'," Jean-Luc wryly laughed.

"Great," Gambit mumbled, wishing he could say the same – but he couldn't. As fun and as beautiful as the girl was, all he could think about was the end to his freedom, about being tied down for the rest of his life at the ripe young age of 19. And it would be for the rest of his life… He knew perfectly well that if he cheated on her, or even went about perfectly lawful methods such as getting a divorce, then he would be killed – if for some miraculous reason not by his own wife (who would probably jump at the job after being rejected like that), then by a member of her Guild.

Jean-Luc knew this as well as his son did, which was why he continued. "Y' still haven't heard my plan."

Remy snorted. "Well, considerin' how y' helped plan dis engagement, excuse me if I don' have a lot o' faith in what y're goin' t' say."

"Well, it's good news. T'ink y'll enjoy dis."

"Quoi? (What?)" he questioned apprehensively.

"Managed t' convince de elders dat y' don' have full control over yo' powers."

"Quoi!" Remy repeated, snapping his head up to stare in perplexity at his father. "But I do!"

"I know dat," Jean-Luc waved off. "But de ot'ers don't."


"Meanin' dat de Guilds don' want any incidents like last night t' happen again, and dey're insistin' y' get trainin'. An' I just happen t' have an acquaintance in New York dat can help y'."

"So what, y're just sendin' me away?" the thief frowned.

"Non, 'm offerin' y' a reprieve."

Remy blinked, and let the news sink in. He was being given a stay of execution, and only scant weeks before his Valentine's Day wedding? He could scarcely believe his good fortune, especially since it stemmed from an attempt on his life. He already knew what his answer would be (it wasn't as if he really had much of a choice), but he suddenly couldn't quell the curiosity rising up in him.

Despite knowing not to look a gift horse in the mouth, the younger Cajun asked, "Why?"

"Why what?" his father wondered.

"Why are y' helpin' me like dis? Y' didn't seem t' care befo', when y' an' Marius were arrangin' all dis… So why now? Y' sendin' me off t' sow my wild oats befo' draggin' me back an' down de aisle?"

"I've always cared, Remy," Jean-Luc frowned sadly, disappointed at the suspicions from his boy. "But I had t' do what was best f'r de Guilds. Wasn't fond of havin' t' put y' in de middle o' it all, but it had t' be done. Now I've got a chance t' do somet'in' f'r y', somet'in' t' try an' make up f'r it, and I want t' do so. 'M goin' t' try an' work out anot'er deal while y're gone, an' I don' know if I can, but de least I can do is postpone it all f'r y'."

"Y're right, it is de least y' can do," Remy mumbled bitterly.

"Remy…" his father intoned warningly.

He sighed, and took note of the light dusting of grey hairs around the man's temples. He wondered how many of them were caused by his innumerable reckless actions over the years. "Y're right, 'm sorry. …I do appreciate dis."

"'M glad. I'll call an' make de arrangements, but de council wants t' see y' 'bout dis first. I'd suggest actin' petulant, like y' usually do."

"Petulant? Moi? (Me?)" Remy grinned innocently.

"Just do it," the Guild leader told him exasperatedly. "Y' know as well as I do dat if y're too eager about dis, dey'll be suspicious. An' mebbe even 'accidentally' blow a few t'ings up, just t' make de story look good."

"Pas de problème (Not a problem)," he agreed, getting up from his seat and heading towards the door. Before he reached for the handle, however, he turned around to look at Jean-Luc. "Père? (father?) …Merci (thank you)."

- X -

1 week later…

When Remy's nimble fingers finished securing his duffel bag to the back of his motorcycle, he decided that he was all set to head off. His last assigned heists had all been completed, his things had been packed, his goodbyes had been said, and he was more than ready to drive out of New Orleans and leave the crazy business of weddings behind – if only for now.

He took a last look at the Thieves' estate in all its opulence, at the manor that had been his home for so many years… However, it was no time to be getting sentimental. He grabbed his helmet, but just as he was about to swing his leg over the bike, he noticed a petite blonde woman walking up the driveway towards him. He internally groaned. He had already said his goodbyes to her, and he had barely made it through her tears and endless professions of love and devotion – was he fated to go through that all again?

"Belle, what are y' doin' here?" he kindly asked when she came closer, opening his arms to her as she buried herself into his chest. "We already said our adieus, y' don't need t' put yo'self t'rough de pain o' seein' me leave."

"I just wanted t' see y' one last time," she sniffled, tears beginning to run down her beautiful face from her bright blue eyes. "I just can't believe dis is happenin'… An' only weeks befo' our weddin'! It's not fair!"

"I know it's not," he lied, in reality thinking of how extremely blessed he was. "But it's what de Guilds want."

"But it's not what we want!" she cried, tightly clutching the lapels of his trench coat in her fists. "Why don' y' refuse de Guilds? Why don' we get married first, an' den y' can get mo' trainin'? Mebbe I can even go wit' y'!"

Remy shuddered at the thought, and quickly attempted to purge the thought from her head. "Oh, ma belle (my beautiful), we been over dis. Y' know it's f'r de best. Besides, dis is somet'in' I have t' do – I couldn' stand it if I hurt y'..."

She nodded sadly, accepting his sweet words as the truth, and he silently thanked his lucky stars that she was so easy to win over with a few romantic sentiments. "Je comprends (I understand)… But dat won' stop me from missin' y'."

"I know, Belle, I know. But don' worry, I'll be back," he consoled her, but not daring to give her any indication of how long that might take.

"Okay," she whimpered, then pulling away and trying to put on a brave front. "Take care o' yo'self, Remy. An' remember, je t'aime (I love you)," she told him, leaning up to plant a lingering kiss on his mouth.

The thief caressed her soft lips with his own as the kiss brought back memories of the intimacy that they had shared. Perhaps he would miss parts of her… But such further thoughts were forcefully shoved from his mind as her words sunk in, and he remembered that he couldn't reciprocate.

"Me too, Belle, me too." Without another word, he then squeezed her hands, tugged on his helmet, started his bike, and sped off. As he left a crying Belladonna behind him, Gambit couldn't help the relieved smile that spread across his face. Perhaps it was only temporary, and perhaps he was simply taunting himself with something that would eventually be taken from him once more, but all Remy LeBeau could think of was that freedom certainly felt wonderful.

Did you all catch that? "A Jack of Spades followed suit"? Oh, I'm so punny! ;-) Anyhoo. Bon voyage, Remy! Have a safe trip!

Next chapter – Remy arrives at his destination and meets a certain someone…

So. Ya want more? Do ya? Huh, do ya really? Prove it – review! Although it might take a bit of time before the next chapter is up, what with me being swamped with school work. I think I spoiled you all before, updating too quickly… ;-)


- ish -