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Tarnished

A X-Men Fanfiction

Written and expanded upon by RogueMoon

Original Idea by Peppymint

Posted and continued with permission of Peppymint

Chapter One

::: :::

Mixed French curses tumbled from Gambit's lips as he stalked back and forth across the room. Hating how it took so much longer now, when before it would have taken only a few strides. As far as he was concerned, anyone who thought that reliving their childhood would be fun was insane.

His had been bad enough the first time, living on the streets. Images of the dirty brick walls that served for beds and cardboard boxes as blankets when he was too tired to keep moving flitted through his mind. Prior to being picked up by the Guild, his life was one of desperation. Of just trying to get enough food to make it through the night and be strong enough to run when someone tried to use his body.

Remy just hoped someone would figure out how to fix this soon. He paused mid-step, a disgusted sound escaping his throat. Who was he kidding? When had he ever been that lucky? It had taken weeks for Ororo to revert when she was de-aged. In the privacy of his own mind, Gambit admitted that a large part of what bothered him about the situation was his own helplessness.

The Cajun was half his previous size. He wasn't as strong; he wasn't as fast. Not to mention, his kinetic powers were gone. They hadn't manifested until his teens. He still had his charm, but that didn't do much good in straight out combat. Remy had little doubt that he could still take an ordinary human, but someone like Sabertooth, or Mystique. It would be a slaughter, and not from his side.

Then there was everyone's attitude. In all honesty, Gambit could not blame them for banning him from the field. In his current state, he was a liability. But still. Jean had gone ballistic when she had caught him sneaking into the danger room to practice. Mon dieu, she had dressed him down as if he were actually the child he appeared to be. The others had been no better. He was an adult damn it, not an enfante.

Gambit was so preoccupied with his own thoughts he failed to notice that he was not longer alone in the room. Not until it was too late. A pair of strong arms scooped his small body off the ground.

"Got you now." The amused voice was unmistakable.

The full-grown man trapped in the body of a eight-year old went tense as a board for a split second before he started to struggle. "Put me down," Remy snarled. For all the good it did him, Sinister's arms may well have been made of solid steel.

"Do hold still, Remington," the white skinned man ordered, a trace of annoyance behind the amusment. "You are only going to do yourself injury." Essex took the opportunity to examine the younger, much younger, man. "You seem to have gotten yourself into quite the predicament my son."

He hadn't had anything to do with this situation. Hadn't quite believed it when he first heard, but that wasn't going to stop him from taking advantage of it. It was far too good to pass up.

"Don' call me dat," Remy hissed, still struggling to break free. He knew that it was technically the truth, but that didn't mean he had to like it, or acknowledge it. "I'm not your son." There were more important things than blood. So far as he was concerned, Jean-Luc was his pere, not Sinister.

Essex's lips curved into a cold smile, turning the boy to face him, "That is where you are mistaken, Remington. You are a child," he paused, purely for the dramatic effect of it all. "And I, I am your Father come to take you home."

Gambit froze, the full horror of the situation striking him,"Like hell!"

"Language," Sinister chided with a grin. He adjusted his grip on the brunette, cradling him against his broad chest in a mockery of a loving hug. "I think you will find, that you really have no choice in the matter." It was time and past that Remy get over this ridiculous notion that he somehow had control over his own destiny.

It was then that the doors slammed open, the X-men tumbling into the room in various states of disarray, responding to Gambit's telepathic screams. Seeing who their unexpected visitor was, they tensed. This was bad, very bad.

"Release him Sinister," Cyclops ordered. His fingers rose to his visor, but he didn't shoot, not yet. He couldn't risk hitting the Cajun.

Sinister chuckled, patting Gambit's head paternally, "I don't think so Scott. Remy belongs to me and I will be taking what is mine."

Behind his visor, Scott's eyes narrowed. There were so many things wrong with that statement, he didn't know where to begin. He hadn't even known Remy had any history with the scientist. Obviously though, he did. Sinister didn't act that familiar with just anyone. Cyclops made a mental note to drag the answers out of the secretive Cajun's hide once this was over.

For now though, Scott had other concerns, like the one right in front of him. "Remy," Cyclops said coldly, "belongs to no one but himself." He wasn't sure what Sinister's intentions were, but there was no way he was just going to let the geneticist walk out of here, especially not with Gambit.

The doctor sneered but his response was cut short as Gambit got in a lucky shot to his groin and, while it didn't actually hurt Essex, the Cajun managed to use the short distraction to squirm out of his arms. The seemingly young boy darted across the room and behind the X-men, putting them between himself and Sinister.

Scott did not hesitate. He fired, blasting a hole through the red-eyed man and knocking him to the floor.

Sinister pulled himself to his feet. Glaring at the group, he clutched his hand over the hole in is chest that was already startting to heal and snarled, "This isn't over." A moment later, a tesseract opened behind the doctor, transporting him away. But they all knew he would be back, though only one of them knew why.

When Cyclops turned to find Remy, the man-in-a-child's body had made his escape and was long gone. It was only the fact that he no longer had the mental static around his mind and could be found easily that kept Scott from cursing the man out.

::: :::

"Don' kno' not'ing," Remy replied. Again. His accent getting thicker and harder to understand with each answer. The man looked every bit the child whose body he currently inhabited. Pouting, arms crossed, scrunched in the chair and glaring at the wall, the floor, the ceiling. Basicly avoiding looking at anyone as he tried his best to end this little interregation session as quickly as possible.

"Gambit, please," Scott was on his last, fraying nerves with the man. "Sinister-"

"'S jus' tak'n' advantage o' de sit'ation. Taught Remy'd be a easy mark."

Cyclops' head fell against the desk and a long low groan of frustration left him, his hands curling in his hair, pulling at it. They had been at this for two hours already and still nothing.

"Remy, sugah," Rogue bit her lower lip and smiled pleasantly, trying to use Gambit's attraction for her to her advantage. "Sinister doesn't just act like that with anyone..."

"Non. He act dat way wit' de X-Men, his personal shallow end o' de gene pool," Gambit grumbled, barely understandable. "Tol' ya I don' kno' not'ing more. Not like Scott knew de man was playin' 'im an' ya didn' go an' give 'im de t'ird degree when he showed 'is face." It was a petty shot. But it worked.

Scott stood and headed for the door, "Fine. You don't know anything. Sinister took the time to get past the mansion security undetected just to try and kidnap you for no reason what so ever."

"What? Ya jealous, Scooter?" Remy stood in the chair, facing backwards, arms over the back rest. His voice cruel, taunting. "Sinister didn't come for you dis time and you find you don't like not feeling like de center of attention golden boy dat de world revolves around?"

Scott's hands curled into fists and he slammed the door behind him.

"Remy, that wasn't called for!" Storm admonished her friend, anger at his callousness causing a crack of thunder.

He stuck his tounge out at her and back flipped onto the desk, then dived for the open window.

Rogue caught him before he was halfway through, "What do ya'll think you're doing, sugah?"

She held him against her chest and he looked up at her, all cheeky grins and mischief, "Taking advantage of de situation?" His arms wrapped around her and snuggled into her ample bossom, "...mmm."

She flew the rest of the way out the window and dropped him in the pool, muttering about stupid swamp rats and flaying people alive, cheeks flushed a bright red.

Storm floated down next to the pool, landing as Remy pulled himself out. He was still grinning, "Completely worth it."

Ororo shook her head and leaned over to smooth his wet hair out of his face.

"Stop dat," he squirmed and pushed her hands away, expression sour.

"Simply because you wear the form of a child, my brother, that does not give you the right to act like one," she replied, crossing her arms over her chest. "Sinister is a formitable man. And if he has an interest in you, Remy, than you should be ready for the worst. And you should not mock others for their involvement with him. Scott was emotionally tortured by that man as a child."

Gambit shrugged the words away and stuffed his hands into his pockets. He had been emotionally and physically tortured by the man, but he didn't go around airing his dirty laundry like that. Frowning as his fingers touched the contents of his pocket, he pulled out a soggy cigarette pack, "Great. My last pack and I'm stuck in de body of an eight year old." He looked up at Ororo and gave her his best puppy dog eyes, "Stormy..."

She frowned at him and shook her head, rising into the air, "No, and do not call me that." She flew away before he could reply.

Remy let out another string of curses before heading back into the house, looking for Logan. Maybe he could get the Canadian to buy him some more smokes.

::: :::

Essex straightened his tie and took a final look over his appearance. Clean cut with an air of wealth and breeding, but not too much wealth. Six digit income, but barely. Private practice with personal genetic research on the side didn't pay that well.

Black hair slicked back and goatee neatly trimmed, skin slightly tanned with no odd markings to betray his true self. Eyebrows elegantly arched and eyes a warm brown with just a flicker of red to them, should the lighting hit properly. All in all, he looked every bit the man he once was.

Rebecca would have been fussing over his suit by now, smoothing down his lapels and fluffing any frills. Smiling at him and telling him he looked quite debonair. A soft grin pulled at his lips with the memories before he shoved them away and nodded to his reflection. His appearance was perfect.

The doctor lifted the leather bag, a very fashionable business accessory at the moment, and opened it, checking a final time that he had all the necessary paperwork and 'evidence'. He chuckled to himself and slipped the carry strap over his shoulder, heading out of the small townhouse he had just bought for his latest endeavor.

Sinister had it all worked out. The arrangements made within hours of being forced from his 'little boy' by the 'wicked' teachers at the Xavier Institute. Called in favors and greased palms with bribes that could have gotten a holocaust covered up for decades and enough red tape to last a century. Assuming the government survived that long. It had been worth it to have all the documents arrive promptly on his doorstep at 6'o'clock AM.

He whistled a happy tune - yes, whistled! - as he walked unhurried down the street to the bus stop and allowed himself to join the press of human bodies as he got on the green line to downtown Salem Center. He had a very important appointment with the New York board of Child Protective Services; he was going to get his son back.

::: :::

End Chapter