The Adventures of Gambit, Methos and a cursed one-eyed cat named Xander
Genre: crossover, series of related ficlets
Characters: Gambit (X-Men), Methos (Highlander), and Xander (Buffy)
Rating: R (to be safe – each ficlet varies)
Disclaimer: I don't own any character from any of the various fandoms. I'm not making $ from this.
Summary: Gambit's life takes a turn for the surreal. Then stuff happens.
101 – Some Explanations
Gambit sighed and leaned into Storm's side as she hugged him close. It felt so good to be held by her. He loved her so much and he had missed her like crazy.
Methos sat next to them and smiled softly.
Despite the tense situation, the immortal seemed much calmer and happier here than he was back at Hogwarts. Gambit was fairly certain that he found the whole concept of mutants fascinating and as soon as he was given leave to do so, Methos was most likely going to end up spending a lot of time in Beast's lab. Methos had been a doctor on and off for several centuries and the chance to expand his knowledge of genetics and engineered viruses was just too great a temptation. And truthfully, Gambit couldn't imagine a better teacher for the man than Beast.
Wolverine slowly sidled into the room, looked around, grunted and then walked over to a nearby chair.
"Didn't want t' piss-off yer cat by gettin' too close."
Gambit grinned at the feral mutant. "Pas de problem." He shrugged and gestured out the window to where Xander was laying in a patch of sunshine with Jean and Betsy cooing at him. "De ladies is wit' him right now. He can talk t' them wit' telepathy, so he's tellin' them all about Anya. It ain't easy for him t' talk about, but he needs t' an' de ladies be gentle enough t' help."
Everyone just stared out the window for a moment. They had all lost people close to them and they understood that pain. Having that person show up alive later was also something that they all understood and how it was confusing to have all the grief pulled up again only to battle with a sense of relief and betrayal.
It was Storm that finally broke the silence. "Henry has determined that you are the real Remy LeBeau."
Gambit's attention snapped to her instantly.
"Oh?" His voice was carefully neutral with just a hint of curiosity.
She nodded. "Yes. He tested the Gambit who we rescued and it turns out that he is a clone."
Wolverine grunted. "That shouldn't be a surprise, darlin'. When Gumbo here disappeared, we thought it was some new type o' tesseract that Sinister cooked up. We chased him down and leveled a few labs only t' pull the boy out o' a machine that was keeping him in some type o' coma." He pulled out a cigar and turned it around in his hands as if he was studying it. "We should've realized somethin' was wrong when we woke him up and he had that amnesia."
Storm pulled Gambit tighter to herself and nodded.
"Yes. He had very clear and precise memories up until an accident in Seattle in which a theater was damaged. After that point he had no memories what-so-ever. We, the X-Men, were all strangers to him."
"He called up Jean-Luc an' he confirmed that you'd been a part o' the team fer years." Logan scratched at his chin in thought. "The boy calmed down a bit after that an' Rogue took him under her wing right away. He's been pretty close t' Scooter, which is sorta strange an' he doesn't have yer phobia o' the Med Labs."
Gambit took a deep breath and tried hard not to shudder. He curled his hands into fists and reminded himself that if he lost it he could accidentally blow the house up.
Half a moment later Xander was poking his big furry head into the room.
=Gambit? You okay?=
Xander padded further into the room until he was standing in front of Gambit. He could feel the cat's mind come into sharp focus as he concentrated. Then there was a slow sucking swirl of energy that Gambit knew was Xander pulling in all the available ambient magic. Xander blurred for a moment and then with a soft whooshing sound he shrunk down as far as he could. He ended up the size of a well fed Rottweiler dog.
Storm gasped and Logan grunted in surprise. Xander ignored them both and hopped up onto Gambit's lap. He didn't miss a beat, just threw his arms around Xander and buried his face into the soft fur.
"Remy remember Seattle." His voice was muffled by Xander's shoulder. "His powers went out of control. People died when de theater exploded. Sinister found him, took him t' his labs an' gave him surgery. Did lots of experimentin' an' tests. Gambit didn' want t' be a lab rat, so Sinister give him other ways t' pay him back."
A long pause filled the room with tension and heartbreak.
"That's when he formed de Marauders into a team."
102 – Remorse and Forgiveness
"Je suis desole."
Xander turned his furry head around to look at him and frowned as best he could. His friend was in the form that was midway between cat and human. His 'thundercat' form made human speech and facial expressions difficult. The wave of confused curiosity that washed up on the shores of his mind via the psi-link was clear enough, though.
Methos didn't suffer such limitations, however. He merely sighed and shook his head. "What are you sorry about now, brat."
"Gambit not a brat!" He glared at the immortal. Then sighed and went back to shuffling his deck of cards. "Mais…de tension in de mansion. Everybody all upset an' grievin'. It be Gambit's fault, all this pain."
He dipped his head so that his long bangs would shift forward, hiding his face as he stared at his hands as they shuffled, bridged and arched the cards between them.
Gambit's head snapped up, confusion and shock on his face.
"Wha' he zzzzaaay." Xander's tail lashed behind him even as his claws flexed in and out of their sheaths.
Methos sighed and rolled his eyes.
"Remy…I…" Methos ran his hand down the front of his face, leaned forward in his seat and pierced him with an intense stare. "These people are hurting, grieving and reliving some horrible memories. That's true. I won't lie to you about that. What you have to understand is that it's an old hurt. An old pain."
"Zzzzee 'rrrrooommmm nnneewww zzzzi'e." Xander's speech was garbled into incomprehension, but his mental words were crisp and clear. =They are just seeing that mess from a whole new side, Rem. Yours. Suddenly, it's about a desperate, young and naive kid that got in too far over his head because he had no one else to turn to. Instead of a turncoat villain, they're faced with a child that was betrayed and left to bleed out from being literally gutted by those he should have been able to trust. Worse, they're being forced to acknowledge that it could have been prevented if they had actually done what they should have in the first place.=
"Non! It not de X-Men's fault!"
Methos tilted his head and shrugged. "Maybe, maybe not. Some of the fault is yours, yes. But some of it is Sinister's and some of it is the Marauders. Some of it is the fault of the Morlocks and some of it is the fault of the X-Men."
Gambit glared at him. "Blaming the victims, old man? That's not right."
Methos shrugged. "I can't tell you how many towns and villages that my brothers and I destroyed, how many people we slaughtered because they didn't do anything to protect themselves." He grimaced and his eyes took on a faraway look of regret and memory. "I'm not proud of what we did. I'm not saying that, but… we would be outnumbered 50 to 1 and we still destroyed them. They had no defenses, no warriors or they just screamed and ran."
"Some of the Morlocks did fight, though."
Methos nodded. "I'm sure they did."
There was a long pause, then Methos shifted in his seat. "I know you love Storm and hate to hear bad about her, but…" He paused, sighed and then continued. "She was their leader. Yet, she lived in this mansion with lots of food, lots of training, and with lots of defenses and walls and fortifications. Her so called people lived in the sewers with little to no training, no real defenses or fortifications and they spent most of their time scavenging for food, clothing and scraps out of the trash."
Gambit's eyes were stricken, his face a tragic vision of regret and pain.
=When my friends and I were young, our team was on the front line in our war against the demons.= Xander's tail twitched back and forth, bitter undertones flavoring his mental voice. =A handful of untrained teenagers and one middle-aged man against all the forces the Hellmouth could summon. We had little to no support from the Council, just a lot of stupid rules and orders. They didn't even send money for food, weapons or medical needs. We were expendable and we knew it.=
Methos looked him in his red on black eyes. "They have forgiven you despite the pain they feel remembering, because they know that they are just as responsible." He shrugged. "The ones that don't or can't forgive either have their own issues or are lying to themselves about their own culpability."
Gambit looked down at his cards, his eyes unseeing as he relived the slaughter of the Morlocks as his psi-shields came crashing down, overloading his empathy with their fear, hatred and pain even as he could feel the fierce joy and bloodlust of the Marauders.
"It's time to forgive yourself, Gambit."
Gambit looked up at Methos for a long moment. "Don' know if I can yet, homme."
103 – Furry Blue Genius
Xander craned his neck around as he tried to look at everything in Beast's lab all at once. There were a lot of cool shiny machines that looked like they came right out of a sci-fi movie. Other things were much more normal; computers, exam tables, microscopes and sonogram machines.
All in all, Xander was impressed, Methos was fascinated and Gambit just kept reminding himself that this was Hank's lab and as such it was okay and safe to be here. He tried not to let himself get freaked out or let his memories of Sinister's labs start poking too hard.
"What…what is this?"
Gambit looked over towards Methos and the large piece of equipment he was standing in front of and shrugged. "Shi'ar medical scanner."
Methos' expression let him know just how not helpful that bit of information was. That didn't stop him from turning back to study the thing further. Gambit watched him for a bit tapping his foot and trying not to feel naked and vulnerable just by being in the Med Lab. Finally he couldn't stand around any more and wandered to the back room where Beast had his office.
Beast looked up from his computer screen, pushed his glasses up and rubbed at his eyes before dropping the glasses back down and smiling gently.
"Oh, there you are Gambit. I was just going over the information on the CD you brought for me. Very interesting research material; complex and ingenious, but quite diabolical at the same time."
Xander padded over and sat down at Gambit's feet, his cat form shrunk down to his original size. Methos, however, didn't seem to care overly much about staying out of the way. Instead, he pushed past his two friends in the doorway until he was inside of Beast's office and then stood so that he could look at the computer screen over the large furry scientist's shoulder.
"Oui. De virus was running rampant over de second reality Gambit went t'. De whole world was filled wit' victims of de T-virus." Gambit shuddered. "Truly, it was out of control an' de reanimated corpses of de victims was everywhere. Xander was lucky in that he caught de Progenitor Virus instead. It don't rot de body or reanimate de flesh of de person once they die."
Beast's eyes shifted from Gambit to Xander, his smile softened even though his blue eyes were still intense and curious.
"Indeed. From what I have been able to determine so far, the Progenitor Virus acts as a catalyst for mutation, but it is very unstable."
"Exactly." Methos' voice was soft, but focused. "From the research I was able to do before we escaped that reality, it seemed that the virus was very unpredictable in whom it would affect and mutate. The actual mutation itself tended to fall into certain patterns that were slightly easier to predict. For instance, animals seemed to gain a large growth spurt just as Xander did. Humans, on the other hand, tended to fall into three separate categories; growth spurt, enhanced strength and speed, or enhanced senses and intelligence."
He paused, his eyes growing slightly haunted as memories rose up. "The project was abandoned because of the unpredictability in determining whether a person would actually mutate from exposure. Only about 10% of the test subjects acquired a mutation. That's when they began the research which created the T-virus."
Beast sighed and then nodded. "It is often disheartening to see how much evil men can do in the name of science and progress. Sometimes it is not enough to ask if something can be done, we must also ask if something should be done."
There was a long pause as everyone considered the wisdom of Hank McCoy's words, then Gambit sighed and reached out to squeeze one large lab-coat covered shoulder.
"Gambit agree wit' y' mon ami. Now, we left t' pick up de pieces of their short-sightedness, heh?"
Beast reached up and patted Gambit's hand gently.
"Very true, my friend. And for that, I need to understand this virus better in general as well as to determine exactly how it is affecting your feline companion in particular." He smiled down at Xander apologetically. "I'm sorry, but I'm going to need to collect a blood sample, both from your feline form as well as your human form. I am curious to see if the virus affects you differently in your two separate forms."
104 – Telepathy
Gambit hated telepaths.
Well, okay, so he hated the idea of telepathy more than the actual telepaths. Except for Sinister. He didn't like him. Or the Shadow King. Or Lady Mastermind. Or Cable and his psycho clone Stryfe. Most of all he hated the Antiquary.
And now that he thought about it, he wasn't too fond of Psylocke either.
He liked Jean and Professor Xavier well enough. He just wasn't real fond of the idea of them waltzing through his mind and peering at his memories. The very idea gave him the heebie-jeebies, to be honest.
His distaste for telepathy and for telepaths could be traced back to his childhood and the abuse he'd suffered at the hands, and mind, of the Antiquary. The ancient sorcerer had extended his own life by feeding off of the mental energy of other people. In time he'd found that he could get more energy for less effort if he fed from mutants with psi abilities. That's when he had gone about creating his collection of mutant children, of which a young and innocent Gambit had been one.
He had escaped to the streets of the Big Easy and lived a life on the edge running with the feral children in Fagan's gang before his bio-kinetic charge power kicked in. At that point the charge power had done something to augment his rudimentary psi-shields leaving him practically undetectable to telepaths.
Over time his psi-shields had developed and grown in strength in order for him to keep his charm under control, but even without them his bio-kinetic charge would keep telepaths out of his head. That's what made the fact that he now had a psi-link with another mind so shocking. Technically, it should have been impossible for another mind to even have found his, let alone link to it.
And that's why he and Xander were stuck inside the mansion on a nice sunny day while Jean and Psylocke psychically studied their link with their mutant telepathy. They were trying to unravel the mystery of their psi-link and discover how it could be better controlled by the two men.
"If you would please pay attention and stop ogling me?"
Xander gaped at Psylocke before turning an incredulous eye to Gambit.
=She's the one walking around in a purple thong-cut teddy and thigh-high boots! If she didn't want to be ogled, she should have put on some effing clothes!=
Gambit grinned and shuffled his deck of cards some more. "*Just smile an' nod, mon chat. It's best not t' argue wit' a femme that can slice y' mind t' ribbons. Even if she do be walkin' about in her unmentionables.*"
Xander sighed and rolled his eye. =Whatever. At least Faith doesn't parade around in her underwear and then get snarky when people stare.= A thoughtful pause. =Actually, Faith would grab her own tits, give 'em a good squeeze and demand you answer questions about how hot and gorgeous they are.=
"Ach-ahem" Psylocke's expression was frosty and Jean was obviously trying not to grin. It was a sure thing that their exchange had not been private.
Xander sighed again, leaned further back against the cough and closed his eye. =Fine, fine. I'll pay attention and I won't look at lingerie woman anymore.=
Time passed slowly with just the sound of their breathing and the soft gentle touch of the women's mental fingers testing and touching their psi-link. It was an odd mix of boring and nerve-wracking to sit there and let them poke at his mind like that.
Finally, Jean shifted and sighed. Her eyes sparkled green as she stared at them in confusion.
"Gambit, your mind is, as ever, like trying to grasp smoke in a breeze. I know it's there somewhere close, but I can't touch it or feel it in any real way. Your end of the link is the same way, ethereal at best."
She turned her head slightly to smile at Xander.
"Your mind is actually fairly typical of a non-telepath who has spent a lot of time in close contact with someone with psi-abilities. Basic shields to prevent constant broadcasting of your thoughts, but nothing that could actually keep a telepath out. Your end of the link is the same way."
She grinned and shook her head in amusement.
"The interesting thing is that the link actually seems to dissolve along the way as it reaches towards Gambit. We know that it's still there and it's still strong, but his bio-kinetic charge hides it and the further along the link you go; the more completely it's hidden."
Psyclocke nodded her head in agreement. "It's amazing that the link was able to form in the first place. I can't even imagine how it found Gambit's mind at all."
Gambit and Xander shared a long look, shrugged and then turned back to face the two X-ladies.
"It be magic, heh?"
105 – Snowballs
Cold! Shock! Cold!
Gambit tumbled off of the counter he'd been sitting on and almost didn't catch himself before he hit the floor. He was vaguely aware of the fact that Storm, Cyclops, Jean and Wolverine were gaping at him in various degrees of surprise and concern. He couldn't really focus on them; he was too busy trying to sort out the waves of emotion and images that were swamping his brain from the psi-link.
Another rush of cold-shock-cold hit him and it was swiftly followed by understanding and then indignation.
His head practically rang from the shout of incensed ruffled pride that blasted through his skull.
=Some twerp just threw a freakin' snowball at me!=
Jean's snort of laughter said louder than words that she had heard Xander's mental complaint. Gambit wouldn't be surprised if she could also hear Bobby's thoughts as well.
"*S'okay, homme. Just de Iceman…he don' mean no harm.*"
The mental equivalent of a feline snort of disbelief echoed in his mind. Gambit steadied himself and quickly walked over to the kitchen sink and looked out of the window positioned over it. He scanned the yard looking for his friend and found him just in time to watch the eight foot tall giant panther get smacked in the face with a rather large snowball.
=Oh, that's it. The next time I have to suffer through coughing up a hairball, I know exactly whose bed I'm gonna leave it in.=
Jean wrinkled up her nose and Gambit shook his head. "*That's gross, mon chat.*"
Another snowball came out of nowhere and smacked up against Xander's left hip. The large cat jumped at the cold shock of it, spun around and growled threateningly. Then, with one mighty leap he was off chasing Bobby as the ice-coated mutant laughed his head off and sped away on an ever moving sheet of ice.
Gambit watched as Xander hit a patch of ice on the ground, skidded in an uncontrolled slide until he hit the grass and then tumbled end over end into a rolling stop. A loud echoing roar of feline frustration shattered the air and then Xander was up on his feet and running again. He didn't seem to have any problems with the ice the next time he hit it and Gambit was sure that it was because he had extended his huge claws. Chunks of ice were sent spraying up into the sunshine behind him as the big cat ran.
Smiling, Gambit watched for a while as Xander chased Bobby around the yard. Before too long, there were multiple slides of shimmering ice decorating the landscape with twisting sweeps and spirals. Xander ran, leapt, snarled, chased, swiped with his claws and growled fiercely. The Iceman stayed far enough ahead to be out of range of Xander's claws, but close enough to continue taunting the big cat with snowballs.
"*Y' never gonna catch him, y' do know that?*"
"*Xander, homme. De Iceman can make his ice sleds go up t' 180 miles per hour.*"
Xander skidded to a halt, tilted his head and growled as he watched his prey zoom away on a glittering river of ice.
"*He has to come back to the mansion sometime…and I'll be ready and waiting.*"
Then, with the solemn and grave dignity that only a cat can command, Xander turned and walked off.
106 – Mellow
The soft sound of turning pages made Gambit look over at Methos. As he had suspected, the immortal was swiftly becoming Beast's protégé and he was currently nose deep in a large medical tome that routinely used words that were far too big.
Gambit tended to agree with Xander's opinion that the books and articles that Beast was assigning the immortal to read in order to begin modernizing his medical knowledge was 'death by boredom'. Still, they both also acknowledged that Methos was a lot happier and a lot calmer than he had been in months. It was good to see him smiling and relaxing again.
Zombie world had hurt Methos in his soul because Cassandra had sent them there as a punishment for the old man. Methos had taken that punishment to heart. The entire time they had been there, Methos had been grim and focused, overprotective and driven. He had seen their safety as his personal responsibility and adding the Sliders had only intensified that.
Hogwarts had been mostly boring for Gambit and a godsend for Xander. Methos, on the other hand, had been driven almost to the brink by that society. It had offended him in some obscure way and he had patently hated every moment spent there. Gambit was convinced that if it hadn't had been for Xander and his need to learn what Minerva and Albus had to teach that Methos would have demanded that they leave with the Sliders. That greasy haired Severus would never know just how close he had come to dieing a horrific and painful death.
Now?...now Methos was mellowing out and becoming more like the man they had first met. The logical and orderly world of Beast's medical texts seemed to soothe the man in some bizarre way. And for all that the books and articles he read were boring as hell and filled with strange words and concepts, Methos was practically giddy if you asked him about them. Almost like a kid explaining all about his new toy.
Gambit wasn't sure if it was that he was learning something completely new and unheard of. He supposed that after 5000 plus years that it was hard to find something that was different. The whole magic and dimension hopping, dark curses and evil viruses that created zombies were different, but in a bad way. Medicine and genetics textbooks were a lot less evil.
At least for now. Gambit wasn't so sure how Methos would feel if he ever learned about things like Sinister's experiments or the military's Weapon X program. They also hadn't been here long enough for him to get all involved with mutant politics. He was sure that when Methos learned about mutant history, what with Magneto, the Mutant Registration Act, anti-mutant lobbyists and such that it would suck some of the joy out of it for him.
Even so, Gambit would willingly take this quietly happy version of Methos any day.
A black blur flashed in the corner of his eye and Gambit whipped his head around just in time to see Xander, in his tiny housecat sized form, leap from the top of a set of shelves. Little Xander landed on Bobby's head, dug his claws into the young mutant's hair and hissed for all he was worth before leaping down, spinning around and swiping a clawed paw at his ankle.
Bobby yowled in surprise, one hand going up to grab his head and the other reaching down to grab his injured ankle as he hopped about on one foot. Xander took off in a flash, leapt up onto Gambit's lap, half hid in his leather duster and purred loudly.
Methos chuckled, shook his head in amusement and went back to reading his book.
107 – Noticeable by their Absence
He was up on the roof of Xavier's School for Gifted Children when she found him. He was squatted down in a small little niche formed by two angled slopes joining together where the west wing met the main hall. He was frowning mildly, his eyes staring out unseeing at the beautiful sunset staining the sky.
"Remy, my brother…"
He blinked once, twice, slanted a glance over at her, her long white hair waving in the light breeze as she smiled down at him.
Her grin widened slightly.
"Do not call me Stormy."
He smirked slightly, but then it faded away back into the mild frown. His eyes drifted from her and went back to staring at the slowly darkening sky. She sighed lightly, stepped closer and sat down next to him, her arms wrapped around her knees.
"If you wish to tell me what is troubling you, Remy, I would be more than willing to sit here and listen."
They sat there together, quietly watching the night bloom into existence around them. Gambit debated with himself for a while. Should he say something about what was bothering him or not? Storm would listen. She would give advice if asked. She would care for his feelings. It was all on him…and if he was willing to actually hear the truth.
Finally he sighed and hung his head for a moment. When he lifted it again, he didn't look at her but went back to watching as the stars slowly became visible.
"Haven't seen Rogue since de first night we arrived."
For just a brief instant, Storm became very still. Then she sighed lightly and nodded.
"No…you wouldn't have, padnat. At first you and your friends were isolated to keep the danger to a minimum. She would have been on the list of visitors if she wanted. Rogue can certainly protect herself." Another pause. "She didn't ask to be allowed to visit though; she was very confused and distraught at first."
Gambit's hands clenched into fists. "Never meant t' hurt her."
"I know…as does she. I can assure you of that." Storm reached out and patted him on the arm lightly. "In fact, she had mentioned wanting a chance to sit down and talk with you when the information about your clone came out. We were shocked of course, but none more so than your double."
She turned her head to face him and waited until he looked her in the eye. She was deadly serious.
"Remy, your double was…shattered at hearing that he was one of Sinister's clones."
Gambit swallowed hard. He could only imagine the horror of learning you weren't who you thought you were. Even worse, you weren't even a real person. He hadn't given much thought to his clone, but now he felt bad for the young man.
"We discovered that he didn't suffer from amnesia. He had been created back when you were with Sinister the first time. He had been kept in stasis for years until we rescued him."
Gambit nodded, turned away and began to watch the night stars once more.
"What that have t' do wit' Rogue?"
Storm sighed and wrapped her arms around her legs once again.
"I think I told you that Rogue had taken your double under her wing when he first arrived?"
"At the time, we thought he was suffering amnesia. Still, he was funny, charming, mysterious with his past and eager to learn new things and explore the world that he thought he had been a part of before his memories were lost." She smiled and shrugged. "Rogue was good for him and good to him. I think, in part, because she was trying to make up for the things she had done to you…even though he had no memory of them."
Gambit snorted, but then paused and nodded.
"Finding out he was a clone nearly destroyed him, Remy. He fled the mansion. Rogue went after him to keep him from doing something stupid like attacking Sinister on his own. She tried to convince him to come back, but he was terrified that Sinister had used some sort of mind-control or telepathy on him and that he would hurt his friends and family here."
Gambit paused and then whipped his head around to stare at his oldest friend.
"He's right. Sinister could have done just that."
Storm nodded. "Yes. That's why Rogue convinced him to go with her to Massachusetts. They are currently with Gen-X. They have asked Emma Frost to comb through his mind as best as possible to check for any hidden traps and commands that Sinister might have left inside of him."
108 – The Danger Room
Gambit smirked at his two companions as they walked into the huge stadium sized underground room with the metal walls, ceiling and floor. Xander was in his fully human form and Gambit had somehow managed to shove them both into standard blue and gold X-Men armored uniforms. Of course that almost hadn't happened. The two of them had taken one look at the uniforms and balked. Methos had muttered about walking targets and Xander had giggled out something about being too old to join the Teen Titans, whatever that was.
It was only after he explained about the material it was made out of that he got them into the uniforms. Reed Richards was one of the world's preeminent scientists and he had developed the material specifically for super-powered beings. It helped regulate body temperature in extreme environmental conditions, limited the amount of damage done by blunt trauma weapons and absorbed a lot of damage from energy weapons. It was also 10 times lighter and 100 times more flexible than Kevlar. The tacky color scheme he blamed directly on Scott Summers.
"Cerebro!" Gambit grinned at his friends and then tilted his head back slightly to speak to the ceiling. "Load program: Cyclops reaction-based-training, level Alpha One Zero Zero, Brood attack."
"Loading." Cerebro's voice was that same eerie electronic version of Charles Xavier's.
"Um…" Xander frowned at him, axe slung over his shoulder. "What exactly is a Cyclops reactor base thingy zero-zero brooding?"
Gambit's grin grew. "Gambit already told y' that de Danger Room create holograms that we can fight for training, heh?"
Two nods, both a bit sardonic and curious.
"De program be a training simulation Scotty wrote for new students. It test y' reactions; both time an' action. De level can go from Alpha 100 all de way t' Omega 1000. De Brood be a type of alien that attack de Earth before. Feel free t' kill 'em all, heh?"
"Loading complete." Cerebro's voice echoed through the Danger Room and Gambit grinned at his friends.
Both of his friends just smirked at him even as Methos drew his sword. To be honest, even if Scotty hadn't asked him to take the two of them through a training run he'd have wanted to anyway. He'd seen Methos in battle with the undead virus victims of the reality he'd privately termed Zombie World. He knew that the immortal was powerful, deadly and ruthless.
Xander was a different matter. The large cat hadn't been in a position to fight then and they hadn't run across any enemies since. Oh, he had watched Xander spar with Methos many times, but that was different. He knew that Methos thought Xander was a good axe fighter, with some room for improvement. But a spar was a lot different then the chaos of battle and Gambit was curious as to how Xander would do in those conditions.
Plus, Scotty wanted to know if they could be counted on in battle if the Mansion was attacked or if they needed to be protected. So…Danger Room session with the recorders on.
"Cerebro! Run program!"
The metal room faded away even as a city street shimmered into being around them with alien starships in the sky.
"whoa…" Xander's voice was a whisper of awe, but Gambit didn't have time to answer before shrieking and running humans began to appear followed swiftly by the grotesque and fear inspiring forms of Brood soldiers.
"I take it that those…things are the Brood."
Gambit smirked. "Yep. Lovely, heh?"
Xander glanced over long enough to make a face at him that eloquently spoke of his disgust and then the fight was on.
109 – The Courier
Gambit frowned at the phone and considered walking away.
After all, Beast had Xander and Methos down in his lab and as a good friend he should probably go save them from an afternoon of needles, testing and long unpronounceable words. On the other hand, Methos seemed to like Beast and his lab. He wanted to spend as much time there learning mutant genetics as he could. He most likely would not take well to being 'saved' and a pissy Methos was a dangerous Methos. Plus Xander really did need to have the tests done if Beast was to figure out the virus, so…
The phone just sat there and mocked him with its presence. He picked it up, his finger hovering over the buttons.
Jake's image washed into his mind. Clean cut young man in a Fox-Mulder-FBI-Suit. Snarky, fun, demanding and whiny. The closest thing he had to a best friend during that whole post-Antarctica fiasco. Then Jake's image wavered into the sexy, curvy and super hot form of Jackie; the female version of said best friend. The form Jake was now mostly trapped in due to the fact that Gambit hadn't been fast enough, smart enough or just plain good enough to save his best friend from the warped mercy of Mr. Sinister.
He hung up the phone without dialing.
But surely by now Jake had either forgiven him or found a way to reverse the transformation. Right? It had been months. And Jake was a smart guy with lots of resources at hand. Plus he had been in enough hairy spots that he would understand. Okay, hanging out with Gambit had jacked the danger level up by several notches and the level of strange and bizarre crashed through the roof. That wasn't Gambit's fault though. It could have happened to anyone.
He picked up the phone and dialed almost all of the numbers and then paused.
On the other hand, it really had been a long time. Maybe Jake was pissed that Gambit hadn't called in what seemed to be forever. Maybe Jake thought that Gambit had abandoned him because he was turned into a woman. It was possible that Jake thought Gambit didn't like Jake anymore and didn't consider the man a friend now that their adventure was over. That wasn't true, though. He had literally been out of touch and he had Xander and Methos as proof. Jake would have to believe his story of traveling to other realities. After all, he and Jake had traveled through time together. That is as long as Jake didn't think that Gambit had replaced him with Xander and Methos.
He hung up the phone and glared at it.
This was stupid. Gambit should not be afraid to call his friend. Jake wouldn't get angry and demand that he never call again like he was some scorned ex-girlfriend. Right? He wouldn't get all clingy and strange over Xander and Methos. No. Not Jake. After all, this was the guy that had balls big enough to flirt with and hit on Sabertooth as the three of them waltzed in unannounced into one of Sinister's secret labs. This is the same guy that followed Gambit as he broke into Dr. Doom's castle in Latveria and then jumped into the time machine after him. Jake wouldn't get all insecure after only a few months of no contact.
Gambit picked up the phone and listened to the dial tone.
Of course he had no idea if Jake called the mansion and talked to his clone. It was very possible that the clone had screwed things up simply by not having a clue who Jake was. Remembering how he had been at the same age as his clone seemed to be, Gambit was sure that any meeting between the clone and Jake would have ended with the clone flirting and trying to get female-Jake into bed. Gambit knew from personal experience that Jake had one hell of a right hook. He wondered if the clone had found that out as well.
Gambit hung up the phone.
Gambit nearly fell over at the ringing shout that only he could hear.
"*What!*" he mentally snarled in reply.
=Pick up the damn phone and call Jake or I swear on the Hellmouth that I'll sell your favorite set of lock-picks and your collection of Cézanne original paintings on Ebay!=
"*Don' y' dare y' flee bitten raggedy chat!*"
The psi-link carried a sense of understanding buried under aggravation and the ghost sensation of Xander getting a needle in his furry rump.
=Just call the guy, damn it. I'm so not in the mood for your brooding.=
Gambit glared in the general direction of the Med Lab for a long moment and then picked up the phone and stabbed the buttons in anger. Stupid cat! Then, before he knew it and while he was still unprepared, the line on the other side of the connection began to ring. Gambit blinked in surprise and had a brief moment of confusion as he wondered if Xander had taken over for long enough to dial the phone for him. He didn't really think so since he hadn't felt like he was sucked down the psi-link into Xander's body, but…
"Hello?" A soft feminine voice that he knew so well cut off his thoughts and made him catch his breath.
"Hello. Is anyone there?" A little undertone of mild anger rode under the words and Gambit gasped.
A long pause and then the voice spoke in tones of hope and disbelief, "Remy?"
110 – The Art of Grieving
Gambit was in a ridiculously good mood. Jake wasn't angry at him. Okay, well, yeah he was, but no more so than usual. Which was more on the annoyance end of the 'I hate you' scale then on the unforgiving homicidal end. Normal for Remy and Jake.
They had talked on the phone for hours as Gambit tried to explain about reality hopping and several-years-out-of-date clones even as Jake caught Gambit up on the latest in mutant politics, financial matters and the goings on in the Intelligence community. It had been fun.
And cathartic in a way. He had been back in his home dimension, living in the X-Mansion with all of his teammates for a while now. And yet, after a few hours of chit-chat on the phone with Jake he suddenly felt like he'd come home. He hadn't realized that something was missing until it was suddenly back.
All this time he had been grieving for a relationship that wasn't really dead.
Methos shifted into his personal space on his right and elbowed him sharply in the ribs. He glared at the immortal only to find the old man smirking across the porch and out into the sun drenched yard to where Xander was standing and talking with Storm. His sister of the heart looked as beautiful as ever with her long flowing white hair and chocolate colored skin. She was an amazing woman and amazingly beautiful. Whenever Gambit contemplated the Goddess Stormy worshipped, it was no surprise that he pictured the deity with his beloved sister's face.
Xander, on the other hand, looked like he had stepped out of the movie Pirates of the Caribbean…or perhaps a furry hentai anime. Xander was currently in the form that was mostly human, but with cat's eyes, a cat's tail, ears, claws and of course, fangs. The little house elf Bobbin that Albus had assigned to Xander back in Hogwarts had gone on a hyperactive flurry of clothes designing when he'd first learned to shift his form. And if the house elves thought of Methos as a Knight in armor, they saw Xander as a pirate with the eye-patch. The clothes he had been given had been filled with every pirate cliché' known to man. He and Methos had howled with laughter over it, but Xander had been too giddy over being able to actually wear pants to care much.
Now, here he was standing in the back garden of the X-Mansion in woolen knee breeches and tall stiff leather boots with a loose flowing silk blouse that gathered at the neck, shoulders and wrists. He was armed, of course. Knives, guns, stakes and axe. Plus the eye-patch. Taken all together, he really did look like a pirate. Gambit would only be mildly surprised if Captain Jack Sparrow came stumbling along looking for his rum with Bill Turner and Elizabeth Swain trudging along behind him and bitching about something.
Of course, Xander's unfortunate wardrobe issues aside, the thing that had caught Methos' attention and now held Gambit's was the fact that Xander was flirting with Storm. And apparently, it was working because she was flirting back. Gambit wasn't sure if his sister liked the whole kitty-cat eyes and ears or if she had a thing for pirates.
They watched, himself frowning lightly and Methos smirking wildly, as Xander and Storm flirted. The weather witch finally smiled widely, blushed lightly and turned around to sashay off, her hips swaying gently from side to side. Xander stood there, grinning goofily at her for a moment before he turned and beamed a big smile up at them.
It didn't take long for the felinoid man to dash over to the porch and charge up the steps towards them. He bounced on the toes of his feet.
"Storm's funny." He huffed out a purring laugh. "She said she was gonna make me a cat-nip stuffed pillow."
Methos snorted, coughed, tried not to laugh for a long moment and then gave it up as a bad job as he dissolved into laughter. Xander, instead of getting upset, simply grinned widely and nodded his head in amused agreement.
Gambit just smirked and shook his head. "Y' such a cheap date."
"Hey!" The indignation was patently fake and Methos' laughter had turned into quiet giggles.
"Gotta admit that your taste in women is brilliant, but I doubt that Gambit's sister is going to settle for a simple toy. She seems more of a champagne, diamonds and death-defying heroics sort of girl."
Gambit raised up one eyebrow as he considered Methos' words. That was actually a fairly good assessment of his Stormy.
"Oui. That she is. Stormy's one classy femme." Gambit turned a burning-eyed glare at his friend. "An' don' think that Gambit won' go all big brother on y' ass for flirtin' with mon soeur, either."
Xander stilled instantly and gave Gambit a guileless look of extreme confusion. He could even feel the shocked uncertainty over the psi-link.
"Um…wasn't flirting." He blinked. "Um, I mean, I didn't mean to. Flirt that is."
Mild panic flared over the psi-link. "You don't think she thought that I was all with the flirty and the wanting to be all relationshipy, do you? 'Cause so not date-boy here."
Methos tilted his head slightly and studied Xander with a look that was a mix of confused curiosity and mild concern. Xander seemed to inspire that look a lot. "Well, it looked like the two of you were flirting with each other from here. Couldn't hear what you were talking about, but…" He nodded his head. "I"ll go out on a limb and say that you looked flirty."
Gambit frowned even harder when the mild panic coming across the psi-link instantly morphed into sour regret and black-tinged guilt.
"Oh. Oh no. I…" Xander swallowed hard, haunted shadows filling his one dark eye as he turned to look off in the direction that Storm had gone. "I didn't mean to… I mean, I'm all issues having over this thing with Anya."
Xander reached up and scratched the back of his head. "I thought it was over, ya know? She was dead. I mourned for her. I… I was all messed up for a long time after she died, but I was getting better, ya know? But now…"
Gambit sighed and nodded. He did know. With the possibility that Anya wasn't dead or that she was back from the dead, Xander was all messed up again. Part of him had clung to her memory and didn't want to let go, but part of him had grieved, healed and was ready to move on. So he flirted with pretty ladies all without realizing what he was doing until he remembered about Anya. Then he was messed up again with fresh guilt and grief, wondering if he should stay loyal to a memory or move on.
Xander stared off into space, lost in his thoughts. Gambit and Methos shared a look of concern. This could cause problems if they weren't careful, but was it their place to get involved?