Disclaimers of Various Shapes and Sizes:
I don't own any of these characters. If I did, this would be in a comic book.
I don't know French. Foolish mortal that I am, I studied Spanish. But what is Gambit without French? Other than…never mind. So I'm using Bablefish for anything French that you see. I don't know if it's right or it's wrong, but the translations will always be on the bottom.
This is my first time writing with these guys, though I've loved them from afar. I've decided to plop them in a universe where neither of them has joined the X-Men and where the world is marginally more tolerant to the idea of mutants. Enough so that the government is willing to sponsor an elite team of mutants to keep an eye on other mutant's doings… So I'll be borrowing characters from various good guy/bad guy character pools and making them work together because it's AU and I can. But if there's something that those characters do that seems really out of character for them (other than their existence), please let me know.
Code: 'psyche speaking,' :telepathy: and /flashback/
Chapter one: What's the Harm in One Dance?
It was part of her procedure. Every time she entered a new city, she spent the majority of the day combing through it, finding all the secret entries and exits that she had memorized, searching for hideaways that maps never covered, absorbing just a bit of the very essence of the city. By the end of the day, she could pass for a native. It was her job, and she was very good at what she did. But a couple of hours after dark, after making sure that she could find the best marks at night as well day, she left the streets.
It wasn't hard to find the best-kept secrets of a city's nightlife. You just had to keep your eyes open and be observant. And--like other things--awareness of her surroundings and drawing conclusions from them was something Rogue just couldn't shut off.
Still, as Rogue entered Devil's Dare, she wondered what made this club so special. The walls were alternating panels of red and black. The bar was ebony and L shaped over to far right of the club. She had to admit that the arrangement of the dance floor--slightly higher than several hidden alcoves--was unique. Small metallic tables were situated around the dance floor as if they were branches to the floor's trunk. People cluttered the tables, clustered around the bar, and a couple with disheveled clothes parted the black hanging curtain of one of the hidden alcoves.
Rogue smirked, Convenient. Then she deliberately tugged her black gloves tighter around her wrists. Rogue took a deep breath and let some of the tension of the day slide off her back. Then she fixed an indifferent smile on her face and stepped into the whirling lights of the club.
Rogue felt more than saw the attention her entrance caused. Sometimes she wondered if it was because of her looks or because she entered these clubs fully covered. Oh well. Another one of life's unsolved mysteries.
She didn't look at any of the gawkers as she made her way to the dance floor. She wasn't here for them. She wanted to dance, to let the music overtake her body and soul. The music pounded the air around her, loud and insistent. She brushed off several men who asked her to dance with an icy glare and made her way deeper into an unoccupied square of the dance floor.
Rogue stood there for a moment and let the air throb around her, rich with heat and sweat and music. This dance, this first dance, was always for her. After that, depending on her mood, she might dance for an audience, with a man. Let them want what they can't have, she thought, after all, misery loves company.
Rogue took another deep breath and wiped away all thoughts of her limitations, of her 'gift,' and she let the music wash over her. She closed her eyes. Almost without realizing it, her body began to move. Then she relaxed into the dance. Slow, sensual, wild, passionate, free--she danced.
He hadn't seen her when she came in, and he was kicking himself for it. If he had, then she wouldn't be dancing alone right now. He could almost feel her pressing up against him now just thinking about it. He took a long slow drag of his cigarette, completely ignoring the 'No Smoking' sign posted directly above his head.
Still, he reflected, if he was dancing with her now he wouldn't be able to watch her like this. Once more, he slid his gaze over her body. Black riders boots, tight black jeans that left little to the imagination, a gauzy green shirt that flared the wrists over a white spaghetti strap tank top. All the right curves and grooves in all the right places. Her hair was unique; he wondered if the white streaks framing her face were natural. He wanted to run his fingers through the mass of curls and find out if they were as soft as they looked, gleaming in the multi-colored lights of the club. He stared at her face. Her cheeks looked smooth as milk, as bourbon. Her lips were stretched into a smile as she danced, but even so were full and with a hint of a kissable pout. He was more than willing to volunteer to kiss that pout till it swelled. Her eyes…he frowned. Her eyes were closed.
Shutting herself off from the world.
Ignoring all the stares her beauty had generated, the admiration and desire her dance had stirred.
Which was fine with him, as long as she didn't shut him out as well. He wanted that smile to be for him. He wanted…
Oh yes, Gambit's gotta talk t' dis fille.
But he wouldn't mind watching her a little while longer first.
The first song bled into another and then another. Rogue still hadn't opened her eyes; she knew that when she danced like this she cleared a space. No one ever got too close to her, even when her mutation was unknown. She carried the fact that she was untouchable, she projected it, she protected her space.
Slowly, the urge to live through the music was fading. She hated it when that happened. She wished that she could remain lost in tangles of sound forever. But instead she became aware of stares, of lust, directed at her.
She smirked a little and gave her audience a seductive twist, a bend. That's all right, boys. You can look, but you can't touch. Just like me.
For a moment she could barely hear the music over the rush of voices in her head, but then she slammed her mental walls back in place and opened her eyes.
Her demeanor icy cold once again, she left the dance floor and made her way over to the bar.
Hell, she could do with a cold beer right now. But who knew how early she was going to be called on in the morning?
"What can I getcha?" The bartender was female, and Rogue was relieved. She was suddenly tired and didn't feel like fending off bad flirts.
"Club soda and a glass of ice," Rogue said.
A flicker of surprise skidded over the impassive face of the bartender, but Rogue caught it. She smirked. The bartender slid the glass of ice over first and then turned to search for club soda.
Sighing gratefully, Rogue lifted her hair up with one arm and ran an ice cube along her the back of her neck with her other hand. The worst part about dancing with gloves on was that it trapped the sweat inside and didn't give it a chance to evaporate. But even in a relatively peaceful part of the club like this, Rogue wasn't about to risk taking her gloves off to cool down. She had found this to be an good substitute. Rogue was aware of watching eyes, but she didn't care. Once again, she didn't do this for them.
The ice cube soon melted and trickles of ice water drizzled down her back. She swung her hair over the side of her shoulder and ran another ice cube along her jaw line, behind her ears. She shuddered at the sensation and let the ice drop onto a napkin. That brought up a memory best left alone.
Ah, the bartender had a sense of humor. She had given Rogue one of those kiddie curly straws. Great. The whole world's a comedian.
Still, she was thirsty, so she gamely put her lips to the straw and drank.
Suddenly, the hackles on the back of her neck rose.
Someone is watching me.
Of course, what else is new?
No…this one is dangerous.
Casually, she turned around and placed her elbows on the bar. Still sipping from her straw, her eyes scanned the room. Trusting her gut, her gaze focused on a man leaning with one foot propped against the wall. He was smoking under the no smoking sign.
Surely it's not this one.
But then his eyes cut to hers without moving his head.
They widened in surprise.
What, did he think he was invisible?
Apparently, because for a brief second he looked distinctly uncomfortable.
She smirked and lifted her gaze to the sign above his head. He followed her gaze and returned her smirk.
She broke their eye contact and continued to scan the room, but no one else drew her attention. Still, she had learned a long time ago to always listen to her gut. So it was him. She looked back at the wall. He wasn't there.
"Bonsoir, chere," a voice purred in her ear.
Her eyes widened and she turned to the voice. And found herself standing--much too close--to the stranger.
Do not step away! she countermanded her instinct. Do not reveal weakness.
"Hello yaself," she drawled instead, and dragged her eyes up his rangy frame. Tight blue jeans, a burgundy wife beater clinging to well defined muscles, and a tan, beaten up trench coat. Strangely enough, she saw that he was also wearing gloves, with all but the middle two fingers cut off. She looked at his face and had to restrain a gasp. He was--easily--one of the most beautiful men she had ever seen. Full lips and high cheekbones, auburn hair falling in glorious disarray and brown eyes that were busy devouring her face.
She frowned. There was something wrong with his eyes.
"Why a sad face, cherie? A belle femme such as yourself should only wear smiles."
She rolled her eyes. Was this guy for real? Distract, evade. "Sorry, but Ah think that's a bit less than public decency would allow." Rogue moved away from him.
His eyes widened for a brief moment and then he chuckled, a warm deep laugh that sent butterflies off in Rogue's stomach.
That ain't a good sign.
The man beside her smirked then and spoke "La femme est belle, danse comme une déesse, et a un esprit rapide d'éclairage. Remy aime. Remy aime beaucoup. Il se demande ce que d'autres talents le chere cache?"(1)
And he raked her thoroughly with his gaze, lingering pointedly on her chest.
Rogue blushed and immediately decided it was to her advantage if he thought she didn't understand French. "Ah'm sorry. What did ya say?"
Remy smiled--well, it was more pleasant than a straight leer and less mocking than a smirk, so what would you call it?--and said, "Remy was wondering if ya would like t' dance with him, chere?"
Sure, ya just want ta 'dance' with me. Rogue widened her eyes, "Ain't we a lil' old ta hafta play at go-betweens? If Remy wants ta dance with meh, ya should tell him ta ask for himself." She felt like indulging her wicked streak, so she tilted her head and hooded her eyes, running them up his frame one more time, "B'sides, ya don't look like a messenger boy ta me." A smirk played at her mouth, "But Ah could be mistaken."
For a moment, she thought she saw red flash behind his brown eyes. But then he was all charm once again.
"Je suis désolé, cherie. Remy has neglected t' introduce himself. Remy LeBeau at ya service." And he reached for her gloved hand and brought it up to his lips.
Rogue snatched it away before he could kiss it, hoping that her half-smile hid her near panic. "Uh, uh, uh," she said, waggling her index finger back and forth. "No touchy."
Remy pouted. "But if Remy can't touch ya, how is he gonna dance wit' ya, cherie?"
"Ah never said Ah was gonna dance with ya, Swamp rat."
His eyebrows rose, "Swamp rat?"
Rogue shrugged. Ah might be enjoying this game a little too much. "Sure, ya are Cajun, ain't ya? And you're calling me cherry." Rogue widened her eyes again, "What does that mean, anyway?"
"Remy is callin' ya cherie," he put more emphasis on correctly pronouncing the word, "because la belle femme has yet to tell him her name." He pouted again.
Rogue smirked. She had to admire a first-class evasion. And the pout was probably meant to protest his innocence and desirability. Filing these observations on 'Remy's' character away, she said, "Rogue."
His eyebrows rose. "Rogue? Is dat your real name?"
His question leeched the fun out of the game. "It's as real as you're gonna get, sugah."
That flash of red again.
"Is dat a challenge?"
"Naw," Rogue said, turning away from him a little. "It's a statement of fact."
He stepped in front of her. "Dance wit' Remy, cherie."
She decided to turn his own pout against him. "Ya still haven't told me what that means."
His eyes were fixed on her pouting lips. He licked his own and then looked into her eyes. "Dance wit' Remy, and he'll tell ya."
Rogue smirked. Too easy. "Ya can't bribe me, Swamp rat. Ah'll just look it up when Ah get home. Ah hear those online translators are pretty reliable."
"Oui. But wouldn't ya rat'er be taught by de genuine article?"
Cocky, much? "Sorry, Swamp rat. Ah doubt ya know anything Ah want ta learn up close and personal."
"Chere," he whined.
I can't believe he actually whined! This is supposed to be attractive? Well…ok, maybe the thought of him begging is a tiny bit appealing.
Remy continued, "Remy's told ya his name. Why won't y' use it?"
"An' Ah told ya mah name. Ah don't hear ya usin' it. Besides, Ah think you're using your name enough for the both of us."
That should get rid of him, Rogue thought glancing at the clock. 11:23. She should leave soon.
He stepped close to her, too close once again. And once again Rogue refused to move.
"Dance wit' me," he breathed.
Rogue looked up at him and felt her heart rate quicken. Still…there was something wrong with his eyes…
"Just one dance, Rogue. No strings attached. Please, dance wit' me."
His use of her name, the word 'please,' and the first person did not go unnoticed by Rogue.
She glanced at the clock again. 11:24. Why not? The DJ suddenly put on an utterly wretched disco song. Perfect.
"All right, Swamp rat. Let's dance," she moved to brush around him, but he bumped into her instead.
The brief contact sent electricity running through her body.
"Chere, t' dis song? Please, y' insult Remy," he said.
Two can play his game, she leaned closer to him. "Whatcha gonna do about it?"
He responded by leaning even closer to her.
Rogue didn't back down, but she really wished she hadn't started this 'who can invade who's personal space more' contest. It should have been obvious: the Cajun didn't have any notion of personal space. So she changed tactics. "Ah mean, Ah've only got time for one more song."
"Mais oui. De fille must be home before her coach turns into a pumkin?" His teasing was meant to have to sting, to challenge her to deny the curfew and stay.
Instead, she smirked, "Ah wouldn't worry about me, Remy. After all, ya're the swamp rat. Maybe Ah'll dance with ya now, but if ya turn into something with four feet an' a tail Ah'll hafta reconsider."
He smirked back. "Remy likes the way you say his name. He will go and fix the song before de river rat has to run away."
Rogue raised her eyebrows, "River rat?"
"Sure," he said, mimicking her words. "Ya are from Mississippi ain't ya? Wait here for Remy, he'll be right back."
Remy slipped away into the crowd, towards the DJ.
Rogue briefly considered leaving. But she was never one to walk away from a challenge. And Remy LeBeau was certainly…
What? Annoying, hot, challenging, charming, slimey, cocky, sexy…?
Rogue sighed. Yeup. All of those.
And speak of the devil, there he was in front of her again, his gloved hand outstretched.
Well, if you're gonna dance with him you're gonna hafta let him touch ya.
She hesitantly laid her gloved hand on to of his lightly. He immediately grasped it with a firm grip and then with a smirk he led her onto the dance floor.
The music changed. It was classical, rhythmic, passionate, and engaging. Those doing the bump and grind to disco or actually disco dancing groaned and vacated the floor. After all, not everyone could tango. Only a few couples remained on the floor.
Remy pulled her towards him and placed one hand around her waist while holding up the other one. Proper dancing space was left between them as they each held their arms taunt.
He didn't say a word, he simply began to lead.
Rogue wasn't surprised that he was a good dancer. She was a bit surprised that he had assumed she was. But she followed his steps with ease, adding her own flair to the dance.
His steps became more complicated. A leg between her own. A dip.
She responded, wrapping her jean-clad leg around his waist and throwing an arm straight back.
He ran his suddenly free hand from her shoulder to her hip, then picked her up and spun her away from him, grabbing one hand and snatching her back.
Rogue stopped the spin just short of a collision with his chest.
Remy continued the dance.
The music sped up, the steps went faster.
Remy's hand wandered from her waist to her hip.
Rogue's eyes widened.
He smirked and pulled her hard up against him as the music faded into the next song.
Couples flooded the dance floor again.
Rogue was frozen in his arms. Slowly, Remy began to lower his head. He was going to kiss her.
Push him away! Let him do it, he wants it so bad--spread the hurt! Get rid of him! What are ya thinking? Damn, he's hot. I bet he tastes like spices…
Rogue took a deep shuddering breath. "Ya said it was just a dance," she spoke, halting the slow decent of his lips. "No strings attached."
Remy lifted his gaze from her lips to her eyes. "Oui. An' dis is just a kiss."
"Ah ain't kissin' ya, Remy," Rogue said. "An' Ah don't want ya kissin' me. It was just a dance. Now let me go, Swamp Rat. Just let me go an' we'll still be able to enjoy the dance."
His arms tightened around her for an instant. Then he released her and courteously offered her his arm to escort her off the dance floor.
Rogue accepted. She stared straight ahead of herself, wishing not for the first time that being not able to touch also meant that she was unable to feel.
Remy LeBeau does not chase women who do not want to be caught, he thought clenching his jaw as he escorted Rogue off the dance floor. What I want de femmes for, it don't matter who dey are. It's better not to know. Just let de fille go, Gambit. Don't look at her eyes…so beautiful, like emeralds…so sad…shimmering wit' unshed pain. Why is she so sad? She wanted t' kiss me. Why didn't she?
Despite his resolve, he turned to look at the beautiful girl beside him. Her face was pale and her eyes stared blankly ahead of her, unseeing.
"Y' all right, belle?"
He wanted to joke, to make her smile again. "Ya sure ya don't want t' stick around an' see what dis Cajun turns into at midnight?"
A low, brief laugh. "S'alright, Swamp Rat. Better ta keep a little mystery."
"Dat why ya call yourself Rogue?"
She stiffened imperceptibly, "Naw. Rogue's mah name as much as it is a warnin'."
He was amused. What's dis girl got to warn people about? He shifted around to be nearly in front of her as they walked. "What, chere? Y' gonna kill people wit' ya eyes? True, a man could drown in dem, but Remy bets your kiss would breathe life back into de corpse."
Rogue rolled her eyes and suddenly stumbled forward. Remy caught her, but not before her chest crashed into his stomach right above his belt.
Remy was slightly surprised at his instant arousal. He held her, steadying her there for a moment.
Rogue was blushing again, and she looked up at him. Her eyes were glimmering with unshed tears. "Ah'm sorry."
Remy ignored his body and helped her stand up straight. "What for, chere? Y' can fall against Remy any time." He leered at her.
Rogue shook her head, a sad little smile playing around her lips.
Remy had to stop himself from leaning forward and clamping his lips down onto hers. She's so beautiful.
"Goodbye, Remy," Rogue said. "Thank ya for the dance."
He put out a hand and caught her by the arm as she turned around. "Is Cinderella gonna leave wit'out even dropping a glass slipper for Prince Charmin' t' follow her by?"
Rogue snorted, "Charming ya may be, but a prince? Ya think too much of yourself, Swamp Rat." Rogue shook off his hand and walked away.
If only ya knew, Rogue, Remy thought as he tilted his head observe her exit from the best possible angle until she faded into the crowd.
He glanced at the clock. 11: 52. Cinderella had plenty of time to spare. He should have made her stay, he should have kissed her, made her tell him her real name…
Never one to dwell on regrets, Remy shrugged and walked over to the wall. He had spent most of the night just watching the girl. Usually he would have made at least two trips to one of the curtained alcoves below the dance floor by now. Strangely, he didn't feel as if the night was a waste. Even more strangely, he didn't want to find someone else for a quick lay. He wanted to know more about this mystery, this woman who had matched him quip for quip, who hadn't melted into a puddle at his feet, who--even though she wanted him--had walked away.
True, y' didn't leave me wit' a glass slipper, Roguey. But de Prince of T'ieves has ot'er ways of gettin' information.
He reached into the pocket of his trenchcoat where he had put her wallet after lifting it during the tango.
His eyes widened in surprise. It wasn't there!
He knew he had put it in there, where could it have gone?
His frantic searching fingers came upon something soft, velvet. He lifted it out and stared at it. It was a black rose petal.
Rogue. She must have picked his pocket when she 'tripped' against him. He wasn't too surprised that he didn't feel it, his body had been concentrating on much more pleasurable sensations. But he was very surprised that she had felt him lift her wallet. After all, he was the Prince of Thieves, a master thief in his own right, and a damn good looking man. She shouldn't have felt anything but desire when she was dancing with him.
Am I losing m' touch?
No. Impossible. It was her. She was different. Sharper, more aware than the others. If he had taken the security system into account, he would have found a way around it. He just hadn't had all the information. That was all.
Why hadn't he had all the information? Well, who would have thought a mere femme would ever be a challenge to Remy LeBeau, Prince of Thieves, King of Hearts?
But from the moment he saw her dancing alone, dancing with her eyes closed and refusing to look at anyone, that was what Rogue had been to him.
And she had left the petal to show him that he hadn't put one past her. To show him that she was determined to remain a mystery, to remain alone.
His eyes narrowed. Remy LeBeau has never turned down a challenge yet, ma chere. Ya ought t' know better dan t' t'row down a gauntlet t' a man called Gambit.
He glared down at the black petal in his hand. True, it wasn't a glass slipper. But it was the beginning of a trail. People didn't leave calling cards just once. He would know. Gambit glanced at the clock: 12:00am. And with that he left the club to see if he could pick up a trace of his mysterious belle.
1: The woman is beautiful, dances like a goddess, and has a lighting fast wit. Remy likes. Remy likes very much. He wonders what other talents the dear is hiding?"
2: I'm sorry
AN: OK, is it just me or when Remy says, "But wouldn't ya rat'er be taught by de genuine article?" does anyone else have to suppress a 'hell yeah!'?
I really hope that y'all enjoyed this first installment. Please let me know what you thought.