Disclaimer: I do not own the X-Men or the related characters and places. Marvel does.
Gambit waved off the offer of sunscreen and lounged in a deck chaise clothed in a ridiculously long pair of orange swim trunks and designer shades. The next two chairs were filled by Rogue and Cyclops, their own suits the matching dark blue of the Xavier Institute, each barring a small metallic yellow X. Gambit, feeling merciful, had only mocked them for a few minutes, concentrating rather on the acrobatics of Nightcrawler as he tried to a five-revolution flip before he hit the surface of the pool. Thus far, it hadn't been a success. No matter how fast he flipped, the height of the board simply wasn't enough to support that many revolutions. Gambit had a feeling Cyclops knew it too, but as long as the impact waves stayed inside the pool neither of them felt like piping up.
Looking miserable with dark blue fur dripping Kurt bampfed himself out of pool.
"This is useless," muttered a frustrated 'Crawler.
"Actually Kurt," Cyclops began, trailing off after seeing the dark look Nightcrawler sent his way. "Nevermind."
"Could you do it?" Kurt asked Gambit challengingly.
"Course I could. Y' couldn't, not at dat height. Me, pas de problema."
"You're taller than me; it should be harder for you not easier."
"What can I say? I'm good," Gambit smirked.
"Fine, lets see you do it," Rogue challenged pointing to the board with an imperious gesture, her hands encased in a short pair of water-weight gloves.
"And why not?"
"Can'," Remy said smirking in that infuriating way. In some ways it was almost seductively easy to hang out with the X-Men. Sure, there was still tension, but it was nothing like it had been when he'd first graced the mansion door. The X-Men were almost appallingly forgiving, didn't anyone know how to hold a grudge? Well, Rogue might be able to work herself up to it, which is why he tried to limit the number of things he did that pissed her off. Although sometimes it seemed inevitable given their respective lines of work.
Rogue noting his distraction, dove past his guard to a stomach she knew was incredibly ticklish with a blackmailer's grin. Not wearing his own gloves, Gambit couldn't move Rogue for his own defense, so he tried to squirm out of the way to no avail. The vibrant laughter that emitted from the Cajun was a bit of a surprise considering the low-throated chuckles they were used to hearing from him.
"Alright, arête, stop!" Gambit wheezed. "Dat wasn' fair."
Rogue paused momentarily, her gloved hands still poised.
"Then spill, or ya get it," she threatened melodramatically arching an eyebrow.
"Well y' know normally I wouldn' mind making de lot of y' look like idiots, but I can' get wet today."
"Why, you going to melt?" asked a near-stoic Scott.
"Funny Summers. Neh, I jus'," Gambit paused to roll his eyes, "I got stitches, I can' get dem wet, okay?"
"Do not," smirked Rogue, getting an eyeful as she looked Gambit up and down. The abs of any of the boys were defined enough to make a women's magazine but she thought Remy's tanner complexion and near perfect line of hair made him the best pin-up candidate.
"Ah, he's wimping out," egged the blue-furred mutant.
"I do, jus', unless I get a Speedo on, y' can' really see it. It's kinda in an awkward place," Gambit teased.
"What happened?" Rogue asked curiously.
"You're still able to have kids right Remy?" mocked Scott.
"I don' know who tol' y' dat y' have a sense o' humor Scott, but dey gonna get hurt," Remy said squirting a water bottle in Scott's direction half-heartedly.
"You want to go see one of our doctors?" Kurt asked seriously.
"I already saw a doctor, dats how I got de stitches in," Gambit said relenting and pushing his shorts down an inch or two so the stitches were visible.
"You did those stitches yourself," Cyclops said sagely looking over the handiwork. "It's a little crooked; no one can make a perfect line when they're shoving a needle through their own skin."
"Y' caught me."
Rogue looked at him wide-eyed, "Ya sat right there and lied to me?"
"I didn' lie," Gambit insisted. "Dat was a fib."
"What's the difference?" asked Rogue.
"Fibs are de little, unimportant stuff."
"So if it's important, it's a lie?"
"Non," Gambit corrected her, "then it's a necessary untruth."
"Have you ever heard of situational ethics?" Rogue asked sarcastically.
"Non, but it sounds good. Maybe I get it printed up on my business cards," he smirked.
"You're impossible," Rogue said huffing dramatically, but with no small amount of affection.
"Y' know y' love it."
Scott and Kurt rolled their eyes at the couple, it seemed the two were getting worse every week. Soon they'd have to have a translator just to decode the couple-speak. Of course the descent into inanity had done what Cyclops had thought was Remy's true purpose, successfully diverting the group away from more important matters. And they let him, nearly ever time. It was…easier.
"I've got to get this chlorine out of my fur," Kurt said wrinkling his nose and bamphing away.
Left in the wake of another noxious smell Rogue snatched up Gambit's phone, or as Kurt had taken to calling it, 'the evil one,' which lay cocooned in the bright red beach towel that Gambit brought.
"I want to take your picture," she said grinning with mischief.
"Knock y' self out chere," he returned grinning, spreading his arms wide.
She clicked through the pictures already saved in the cell phone grinning softly at the caterwauling photos of Pyro and Colossus looking ten times more relaxed and friendly than she had ever seen either of them. There was even one photo which could only be a close-up of Sabretooth's mouth, hopefully done while the giant was sleeping.
The next photo slid into place and she had to take a moment and tilt her head to make sure what she was seeing was actually real. A brown-haired man, his face smeared with blood stared sightlessly up at the viewer. The cause of his death wasn't hard to image, the little background available showing a heavy wake of destruction she was familiar enough with to recognize as the end-results of a super-hero or super-villain battle.
Gambit was glancing curiously at her and she turned the phone around so he could see the small pic. Squinting he suddenly made out the picture and paled even under his rejuvenated tan.
"Ya didn't did ya?" Rogue asked. "Tell me it was an accident. Tell me it wasn't your fault."
Gambit stared at her helplessly. How was he supposed to answer that? Yes the mission had been to silence the man, but the final act was supposed to be Sabretooth's. Gambit and Pyro were just there to provide cover. His charge had slipped his control and the mark had been caught up in an explosion much larger than Gambit had originally anticipated. Sabretooth hadn't been happy that he'd been deprived of a kill and Gambit tossed his phone over quickly so 'Tooth could get proof that the job was finished. Last time Remy had refused to hand over his cell and they had ended up taking home an ear instead. Close up seeing the bloody mess that the explosion had wrought on the man, Creed almost looked proud of the younger Acolyte, which made Gambit's next battle against his stomach as it tried to evict its contents. It was a bad day in his life, but it certainly wasn't the worst.
"I don' know what y' want me to say," Gambit said swallowing hard staring at the ground before daring to look up at her.
"Can you tell me anything that isn't a lie, a fib, or a necessary untruth?" she parroted back. As if their notice had awakened the beast the phone rang shrilly in her palm and Rogue jerked her hand as if burned, letting it clatter to the cement.
Slowly Gambit bent to retrieve it and paced a few feet away to gain some distance from his spectators. His gut tight he listened to his new marching orders his eyes still searching out for Rogue. She studiously avoided his gaze until blessfully the voice on the phone ceased and he was able to slip it into one of the large cargo pockets of his trunks.
Cyclops shot him a hard look but Gambit ignored him stopping momentarily in front of Rogue's chaise. Her mouth was set in a prim line and Gambit knew now was not the time to start a conversation, even if he had the time.
"I gotta go," Remy informed her woodenly sliding away across the mansion's lawns.
Rogue left soon after, leaving her towel and even her sandals behind. By her direction of choice she wasn't going after Gambit either. Cyclops looked pensively at the water as it rippled across the pool. Had they done the right thing in letting Gambit into their lives? He knew he had been befriending an Acolyte, but was he befriending a murderer as well?
Scott slammed his hands on the arm rests of his chair and heaved himself up stalking after the Cajun.
Not apparently in a hurry to get to his destination it hadn't taken Scott long to overcome the thief on the side lawn. Taking a chance Gambit wouldn't belt him for the offense, Scott hauled back on Gambit's shoulder jerking him to a stop.
"Where are you going?" Scott asked angrily.
"Where the hell do you t'ink I'm goin'?" Gambit snapped recovering his backbone and snapping his shoulder out from under the visored mutant's grasp.
"We deserve to know."
"Like hell y' do."
"I don't want to have to treat you like a teammate, but you almost are one. And as leader it's my duty to tell you, you're acting like an idiot!"
"I don' have to take dis shit from y' Summers," Gambit scowled trying to dismiss the other mutant.
"Hell, you should take it from somebody. You're throwing your life away!"
"Sez you!" Remy shouted unconsciously curling his hand into a fist.
"Yeah right, says me. And forty million other people in the world who aren't insane. What's wrong with you Remy? How could you possibly work for someone so despicable? The shit he's making you do…"
"Y' want to try dat high n' mighty act wit' me again? Yeah dat never gets old," Gambit said sarcastically.
"Why on earth do you refuse to do what's right? I got to know you Remy, against my better judgment, but I know you. You're smart enough to know you're acting like a grade-A moron working for that maniac. You already spend half your time here with the X-Men, why not take that last little step? Why are you so hell-bent on refusing our help?"
"I ain't done nothing wrong, an' I don' need help. I ain' some lost little mutant y' and Xavier have to save!"
"Do you really believe that, that you've done nothing wrong?" asked Scott. "Fine, you're a Saint, but you know Magneto isn't. So why do you stay Gambit? Why, for god's sake!"
"It's none of y' god damn business Cyke!" the Cajun shouted back.
"Screw you, Remy. I'm tired of trying. You want to be bad, you want to be evil. Fine. Enjoy your stay in Hell, because you're working on a nice passport as we speak."
"Excuse moi?" Gambit snapped back his face narrowing with rage. "What gives y' de right—"
"For starters, I never killed anyone in cold blood."
Gambit snapped his mouth shut and looked angrily back and forth, but he didn't have a leg to stand on, and he knew it.
"So dis is it?"
"We've all kept your secrets Remy. But what do you think will happen when we tell the Professor what you really do on your assignments? I don't think he lets assassins into the X-Men, and I'm pretty sure he wouldn't let Rogue date one."
"Dat was an accident!" Remy screamed back, ducking his head and pushing his palms into his temples, his self-control having long since fled the building.
"Jezus, Remy, why do ya have to make everything so hard?" Rogue shouted slamming through the side door of the mansion with a wild look in her green eyes. The decibel level of their argument enough to bring her to the boys' side and jolt her out of her temporary stupor.
"Me?" Gambit asked incredulously. "Do y' have any idea what I go t'rough to make sure I see y'? What I'm still goin' t'rough?"
"Don't give me that baloney Remy. I'm dating the enemy too remember, this all goes with the territory. It doesn't give you an excuse to wimp out on me!"
"Somehow I don't think our situations are exactly the same," he said bitterly.
"They could be."
"I'm sorry Rogue, I ain't dealin' wit' dat right now."
"You can't deal with me?" she asked flatly crossing her arms against her chest.
"No, I can't deal with dis…dis thought dat everybody 'round here has dat I'm just waitin' for de right time to cross over to de side of good. I am what I am chere. Take it or leave it."
"If that's how ya feel."
"Why y' change y' mind all a sudden. An' don' tell me it's just cuz of de photo, cuz I know it ain'. Least ways not for y'. It's never been a problem for us before, and now…"
"I want somebody who won't run off on me every time a phone rings," Rogue said.
"That ain't fair chere."
"Little in life is," she said her own bitterness shining through. "Tell me the truth, tell us the truth," she said throwing her hand wide to encompass the mansion and its inhabitants, one last shot for empathy. "Please. Remy someone is hurting ya, dammit I know, and ya letting 'em. Whatever else it is, we'll deal with it, just stop hiding it from me."
"Rogue, chere…" he started brokenly shaking his head. "Y' wrong, I ain'…I'm alright. I don' know what t' say, 'cept I'm sorry. I didn' mean for it t' get like dis. I wanted…but I can' leave Magneto, I can' stop."
"Fine," she said, her eyes and voice teary against her will. "Fine, fine, fine. Jus' go."
"Just Go!" she screamed, pointing to the drive, her voice raw.
Gambit spun without another word, unable to frame a suitable reply to the anguish he heard so clearly.
Scott who had spent the last five minutes trying to be invisible, shifted slightly moving behind Rogue to lend her support. She stood strong not leaning into him as she might have done in previous months. The pair waited seemingly locked into position. The angry roar of Gambit's motorcycle raked the air as the engine caught dispelling the moment and the two X-Men trudged indoors spitting gravel answering the slamming of the mansion's door.
A/N: Hey guys, thanks a ton, you are hands down the most insistent reviewers I've ever had. I have apologies for the wait, and advice. Hard-drives are not immortal. For the love of all that is holy, get a rewritable disk and back up your stuff at least once a month! And now the apology….I am So Sorry.
Thanks again: 4Rogue, Aethena, AliAle, Anamarie Chambers, BlkDiamond, BJ2, Chica De Los Ojos Cafe, Clownfood, coldqueen, Dark Elf 3, Elmothecajunpuppet, Gambit's Belle Rogue, geko-blackjack, gryphenvoid, Higley, Ima Super Mute Ant, ishandahalf, IvyZoe, j.l., justine174, Kagii, Kitsu Lebeau, le Diable Blanc, Leah, lelann37, Lumberjane, mazdamiatta, N.M.C.L, Nettlez, Puppybaddog, Samson28, sareh, Streetwise Girl, sheisbeautiful-sheisnotme, Shifting1, tinuviel-telcontar, Vee-sama, Wildcard186, and X-Storm.