This is my first attempt at a story here, reviews are much appreciated (please!)
Right now this is a one-shot bit of fluffiness, possibly the seed of a bigger story if I get a positive response (hint hint!). The basic premise is something I've always been a little curious about, being a Gambit fan. For those who are keeping track, there is some implied Logan/Jubilee, and I'm setting the stage for a future Romy.
This takes place nominally in the X-Men Evolution universe, in that Rogue is younger - still in school. I'm ignoring Cajun Spice, unfortunately, and making reference to Gambit's introduction to the X-Men universe in Uncanny X-Men #266/267 - if you haven't read the comics, he rescues a youthened Storm and takes her back to New Orleans with him. All you need to know from that is that Storm knows him, and has reason to vouch for him.
"He's a thief?" Rogue shifted casually, angling herself for a better view of the new arrival.
Jubilee blithely ignored the Southern belle's scathing tone. "He's not just a thief – I heard he's the head of the Thieves' Guild in New Orleans!"
Rogue bit her lip as her eyes traveled from his wild hair to the muscle shirt that lovingly highlighted his chiseled abs, taking in the 5-o'clock shadow and the arrogant, graceful slouch. He was tall. His faded brown duster flared around his boots as he paced restlessly.
"What kinda thief wears chrome-plated boots and a magenta spandex shirt?" Rogue asked scornfully. She abandoned any pretense and stared openly at the stranger.
Jubilee rolled her eyes. "Haven't you been listening?" She looked over at the other woman, grinning openly at her obvious fixation. "Besides, I'd say that's more of a fuchsia than a magenta."
"Like ah'd know the difference," Rogue muttered, still staring at the mysterious man pacing the entryway of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. "What's he doin', casin' the joint?"
Jubilee frowned in irritation. "It's some big secret, no one will tell me anything."
"Can't imagine he's all that great of a thief – bet ya can see him comin' a mile away, all shiny and fuchsia." Rogue froze as the pacing stopped and the man turned toward her, a glint of crimson flashing deep in the shadows of his eyes. Oh Gawd, he didn't hear me . . . did he? She stood, transfixed by the fire flickering in the darkness, her embarrassment at being caught staring forgotten for the moment.
"Remy!" The mystery man spun around, turning his attention to the Goddess at the top of the stairs. She flushed, whatever spell he'd cast broken as he turned away from her.
Jubilee whistled softly; maybe it was just Logan rubbing off on her, but she could almost taste the tension between the two.
Rogue let out the breath she didn't even realize she was holding.
"So the mystery man's name is Remy," Jubilee mused as she nibbled on a French fry. "Sounds French."
"Ah was there too," Rogue gritted her teeth in irritation, resisting the urge to throw a fry at the bubbly woman.
Rogue shifted uneasily at Jubilee's wickedly sweet, predatory smile. The Wolverine was definitely rubbing off on her. "That's funny, with the way you were staring I'd have guessed you were somewhere else completely," she said smugly, leaving Rogue with the distinct impression she'd just walked into some sort of verbal trap.
"Hard not to stare at that getup," she muttered, trying desperately to salvage the situation. "Ah mean, what kinda thief wears chrome boots?"
"What boots? You were supposed to let me know if you were going shopping today, there's like this huge sale at the shoe store," Kitty pouted as she set her plate down next to Jubilee. "God, this is massively unfair, I can't wait till I get my license!"
Jubilee snickered at Kitty's dramatics, a mischievous twinkle in her eye. "Oh, we didn't go to the mall . . . we were actually on our way to find you, but we got a little distracted."
"By boots?" Kitty asked skeptically.
Jubilee was grinning from ear to ear; she didn't even bat an eyelash when Rogue kicked her under the table.
"Rogue was just doing a little window shopping." When had Jubilee gotten to be so evil? That innocent face, that too-casual tone . . . Rogue was definitely going to have a long talk with Logan. The man had created a monster.
Rogue took a large bite of her cheeseburger to shut herself up. She knew anything she said now would only be used against her.
"Have you seen the new guy?" There was that casual tone again.
Kitty frowned. "The tall man with the trench coat and the weird boots?"
"Ah told ya there was somethin' weird about him," Rogue said around a mouthful of hamburger. Both of the girls turned to stare at her.
"Who ist veird?" Kurt asked cluelessly, pulling up a chair and plopping down next to Rogue. "Ist someone bothering you, meinschwester?"
"Rogue, sweetie, I know you've got this entire Goth, counter-culture "I-hate-the-world" thing going on, but do you really think you could pull off a pair of boots like that?"
"I don't think it was the boots she was staring at," Jubilee smirked.
Rogue flushed, concentrating on the ketchup bottle and deliberately ignoring the two gossip girls.
Kitty dropped her fork at Jubilee's insinuating tone, sparing a glance at the obviously flustered Rogue. "Give," she demanded of Jubilee.
Damned glass bottle. You had to have special mutant powers to get any ketchup on your food. She gave the offending bottle a smack right on the sweet spot, spraying globs of ketchup all over her plate.
Kurt was completely lost, his gaze darting back and forth between the two gossip queens and his sister like he was watching a tennis match. He could only pick out a few words over the bustling clamor of the dining hall.
"Who is zis man?" Kurt prodded gently, keeping his voice low.
"Ah wasn' starin' at him!" she blurted out defensively. Rogue slammed the ketchup bottle down on the table, focusing her considerable irritation on the inanimate object and avoiding Kurt's concerned stare. "Ah . . . ah don' feel good. Ah'm gonna go lie down." She shoved her chair back from the table and stood abruptly, colliding with something solid as she turned to storm off. Rogue sat down hard, ears ringing from the impact with the polished hardwood floor.
She shook her head to clear the ringing, looking around the find the culprit, ready to give him a piece of her mind. The words died on her lips as her eyes fixed on a pair of metal-plated boots. Closer inspection revealed they weren't really chrome – they lacked the garish mirrored perfection of true chrome. They were shiny, a burnished metallic polish that gleamed under the light. She could almost see her reflection.
"Are y'all right, cherie?"
His voice startled her out of her reverie; it was smoke and honey and bourbon, and it rumbled through her with a physicality that left her stunned. It seemed she could feel his voice at the tips of her gloved fingers, at the nape of her neck, a seductive caress wafting around her, seeping under her skin. She knew she was staring. Again.
Rogue closed her mouth and looked up – way up. He was leaning over her with a knowing smirk, one hand extended to help her up. She brushed the hand aside and pushed herself to her feet, opening her mouth once more to show this cheeky bastard the sharper side of her tongue. And then her eyes met his, deep jade to blazing red and she forgot her irritation, her embarrassment. Curiosity overtook her, working its way to the surface of a turbulent mess of conflicting emotions. Those demon eyes seemed to flicker softly as he watched in amusement, banked embers in deep shadow, glowing fiercely but casting no light into the darkness. Burning into her, hypnotic and mysterious and tempting.
"Watch where ya goin'. An don' touch me," Rogue managed finally, turning and fleeing for the safety of her room.
If she thought hiding in her room for a few hours would stop them all from talking, she was sadly mistaken. When she finally ventured downstairs for breakfast, hungry and still irritated, she'd been cornered almost immediately by Jean.
"Rogue, I hear you missed dinner last night. Are you feeling alright?" The taller woman took herself so seriously. Rogue was sure she had heard several versions of what had happened. Still, she was a powerful telepath. Rogue tried desperately to keep her thoughts to herself, but control of that sort had never been her strong point.
"Ah'm fine, thanks." Damn the man and his glowing eyes and his stupid boots.
Jean frowned as if puzzled.
That hadn't been a quiet thought. She didn't know much about guarding the secrets of her mind, but she was pretty sure that her mental outbursts – fiery and spontaneous – were as easy for the telepath to "hear" as her verbal outbursts.
"I'm so glad to hear it." The redhead was visibly distracted as she excused herself abruptly.
"You've met him?"
Jean nodded, keeping her mind carefully blank. She shouldn't feel guilty, it wasn't as if she'd "peeked" – not really, anyway. Rogue had practically been shouting. She sighed, trying to think of something else, but those boots kept dancing through her thoughts, an echo of Rogue's fascination stirring within her.
Jean hated to admit it, but the Rogue had a point – what kind of thief wore big, shiny boots and a bright pink muscle shirt? Fuchsia, she corrected herself. She smiled at the memory – Rogue's memory. Rogue had really been broadcasting. Jean was surprised sometimes that normal people couldn't hear Rogue's impetuous thoughts; perhaps it was a reaction to the physical restrictions that her mutation imposed on her, to have such a boisterous, overbearing mental voice.
Jean blinked, starting softly at the realization that the Professor was waiting on something. Waiting on her assessment of the thief. He's not just any thief. She wasn't really sure if that was her or Rogue.
"I talked to him, briefly," she offered, trying to collect her impressions of him, to sort through her interactions and find something helpful. She couldn't imagine that she'd have picked up anything the Professor would have missed. Unless . . .
She debated briefly over whether or not to tell him. After all, the memory wasn't hers. She shouldn't feel guilty, she reminded herself once more. Besides, she had an obligation to report anything strange. If this man was going to be working with them, she wanted to make sure that the Professor had all the pieces.
"He's an empath – I don't know the extent of his powers, but he seems to be able to hypnotize people. Charm them, I guess."
The Professor didn't question her knowledge. She wondered sometimes about the extent of his powers. She knew he would never "peek" – knew that even if he did, she'd be able to tell, if not to actually stop him. Still, she wondered. Wondered if maybe, to a telepath of his skill and range, if maybe she herself was shouting?
"You know, I always wondered about that," the weather Goddess admitted, biting her lip thoughtfully. "He hasn't changed since we first crossed paths – he was quite the charmer, and I can tell you that neither shirt nor boots were any impediment to his . . . shall we say questionable activities."
Scott managed to look confused. Storm was always amazed that she could tell, with his eyes completely hidden from view behind his crimson-tinted sunglasses. Jean shot him a meaningful look as the Professor entered, a reminder to keep his mouth and his mind shut.
Charles Xavier was not a man to mince words, but he kept the briefing short and to the point. Jean was careful to keep a lid on her curiosity, and to his credit, she heard not a peep out of Scott, either. Their assignment was simple – and incredibly dangerous. The Professor was always hesitant about sending his team into danger, but the need was great, and he knew that Storm and Scott could handle themselves. The riskiest part of the mission relied solely on the unique skills of the newcomer – Storm's erstwhile mentor, the head of the Thieves' Guild, the man who called himself Gambit.
The Professor trusted Storm's judgment of the man implicitly, but something was bothering him . . . something other than the impenetrable static which prevented him from reading the man. He suppressed a frown, steepling his fingers and composing himself. As the trio stood to leave, it hit him.
The boots. What kind of thief would wear such bulky, conspicuous boots?
He bit his tongue as they filed out of the war room, wondering how he could satisfy his curiosity without seeming . . . undignified. For the first time in recent memory, he was tempted to "peek" – though he had to wonder if that irrational urge was fed in part by the knowledge that peeking was not an option.
The Professor sighed, forcing his mind back on track. There was much to be done if this mission was to succeed.
"Is he really as good as he says he is?" Scott asked doubtfully, eyeing the man seated at the bar.
"Better," Storm said with confidence, sauntering up to the flamboyantly dressed Cajun. She tried not to stare at the boots as he motioned for the bartender to pour her a shot. Garish, unwieldy, flamboyant – still, she knew from experience that the bulky, armored boots had not hindered his ability to meld with the shadows, the brightly colored shirt stretched tight over his finely sculpted torso had not prevented him from blending seamlessly with the teeming night life of the Big Easy. No, for all his vices – and the man who called himself Gambit had many vices – he was by far the best thief she'd ever known.
Storm tossed back another shot, exhaling forcefully as the bourbon coated her throat with liquid fire. She'd lost track of how many she'd had, and she knew she was more than a little drunk. The Cajun was waiting for something – for someone, more likely.
She waved at the bartender.
"Chere, I t'ink y've had enough."
Storm giggled. Giggled like a school girl, truth be told, but she was too far into her cups to notice. "Remy, there's something I have to know. I never really thought to ask you all those years ago . . . I don't think one more would hurt, would it?"
"Dat de question, Stormy?"
She was giggling again. She didn't notice that the shot glass Remy slid toward her was only half full, barely even registered the nickname. The fiery liquid filled her throat, setting fire to her blood. Liquid courage.
"You're a hell of a thief, Remy," she said, ignoring his motions for her to keep quiet. "But I have to know – what is the deal with those big, chrome boots?"
"Dey're not chrome," he said defensively, a small smile quirking his lip. Storm stiffened as his face went blank. "Dat's him, chere. Follow my lead."
It seemed her curiosity would have to wait.
Well, that's it for now! Please please review!