It was dinner time and Gambit was in the kitchen, having being specifically rostered on for today: the day when their friends returned from Genosha. Rogue was leaning on their usual table while the students who were also rostered onto kitchen duty were setting the tables.
Bobby, Jubilee, Kitty, Pete and Logan had just spent the last two and a half months in Genosha, assisting the liberation of the slaves. Actually, the liberation part hadn't taken all that long. It was the bureaucratic and political nonsense that followed that was taking up all the time. Rogue had blatantly refused to return to Genosha and Gambit wouldn't go without her.
"Rogue!" Jubilee yelled as they walked into the kitchen.
She raced the distance between them and much to Rogue's surprise, gave her a huge hug.
"Missed you, girl."
"Ha, Ah missed ya too," Rogue replied. "So, how was Hell?"
"Aww, now that all the slaves are free Genosha's not so bad. Well, until you're in the same room as Mags," Kitty joked.
"Have you still got Carol's powers Rogue?" asked Pete.
"Her voice is still as loud as ever. Ah think it's gonna be awhile before she wears off. She'd better wear off. How's Carol doing anyway?"
"Still in a coma."
"So, have you guys figured out how to get around your mutation yet?" Bobby asked.
"Ah don't believe that's any of your business, Iceboy."
"Aww, but inquiring minds want to know."
"Ah don't think it's their business either."
People were starting to file in for dinner then.
"Anything interesting happen while we were away?" asked Kitty.
"Actually there's been a string of mutant murders lately," Rogue replied. "Well, it's not one hundred percent mutant, more like ninety, ninety-five."
"What's the story?" Bobby asked.
"They've just been findin' the bodies dumped in gutters and stuff. Ah think most of the time the police think they were at a party, y'know, doing drugs. Thing is they can't identify the substance that they'd been takin', so speculation is that someone is experimentin' with something new."
"And using mutants as preferred test subjects?"
"Looks that way. They've been at it for awhile though. First death was this time last year. It's only recently that the deaths have been escalatin'."
"What kind of death toll are we looking at here?"
"Twenty until February. Last Ah heard they were up ta fifty-six."
Once the volume level in the dining hall suggested that everyone had finally arrived, Gambit charged a few cards lightly and tossed them into the air. They exploded, providing Gambit with everyone's undivided attention.
"Remy! What have I told you about blowing things up in the kitchen?" Storm demanded.
"Only in the event o' an invasion. See? I was listening."
"Do you see any invasions?"
"Non, since I just silenced the Invasion of Verbosity, Stormy."
"Don't call me that."
"Anyway I'd just like t' welcome the Wolverine, Iceboy -"
"That's Iceman," Bobby corrected.
"Jubilee, Colossus and Shadowkitten -"
"Cat. It's cat," Kitty piped up.
"Back from Genosha."
There was a general applause.
"And as their reward fo' putting up wit' Mags for so long, I t'ink it's only fair dey gets first dibs on the food, no?"
"Ah knew Ah was sittin' at the right table," Rogue giggled.
Their table got up, got first selection of the food and made their way back to their seats, full plates in hands. Gambit was close behind. After that, everyone else start getting up and filling their plates.
"Hey Remy, we taught Pyro to play poker, and now I'm awesome at it. So I'm really going to give you a run for your money next time," Bobby nodded.
"Will dere actually be money involved, mon ami?" Gambit inquired.
"Yes. Alternatively, if we can talk the girls into joining us, clothes."
"Sounds good t' me."
"Typical," Rogue, Jubilee and Kitty all said together.
The girls looked at each other and laughed.
"The only way I will ever let you guys talk me into a game of strip poker, is if Remy starts off with a handicap," Jubilee decided.
"Yeah? What kinda handicap?" Rogue asked.
"I'm thinking shirtless. Or pantless. Possibly both."
"Be careful what ya say, Jubes, he'd do it."
Jubilee snickered and Gambit grinned at her.
"What about me? Don't you think I'll need a handicap?" Bobby asked.
"You already are, Bobby. You have a brain the size of this pea," Jubilee said, holding up the smallest pea she could find on her plate.
"That's because I'm good at storing things. You people with your normal sized brains, wasting all that space you could be using to store twinkies."
"How do you get twinkies into your head to store them in the first place?" Kitty asked. "Push 'em through your ears?"
"No, in the conventional way, through the mouth. And by storing them in my head, I can eat twinkie at my whim," Bobby nodded. "It's all very 'I feel like eating a twinkie now', so I do."
"Besides, if he were to push them in through his ears that good twinkie flavour would be spoiled by ear wax," Pete put in.
"Exactly," Bobby agreed whole-heartedly.
"In fact the more I'm thinking about this," Jubilee went on. "The more I think that this game of strip poker should involve a clear table."
They all looked at her.
"What? C'mon what better way to check out these guys' packages?"
"I'm just amazed you're even considering the idea," Kitty commented. "Sorry, still considering the idea."
"Why not? Hey if Remy is willing to do the handicap thing..."
"Y'know, Jubes, Ah really don't think it's good form ta check out other people's boyfriends," Rogue said with a raised eyebrow.
"No, no, checking out is fine. Acting on it, totally different thing," Jubilee nodded.
"Seriously. Besides, can you blame me? He's hot!"
"I feel like a piece of meat," Gambit joked.
"Roasted, grilled or raw?" Bobby asked.
"Oh yes please," said Jubilee.
"Jubes!" Rogue exclaimed.
"We need ta get ya a boyfriend."
"I'll agree with that."
"Bobby, ya seeing anyone?"
"Ah'll take that as a no. Jubes, Bobby is now your boyfriend. Drool over him."
"But I don't want him. He has wimpy abs."
"Well, I don't want you either," Bobby replied. "You're flat."
"I am not!"
"I'm sensing this could go on for awhile," Pete said dryly.
"I would agree with that assessment," Kitty nodded.
"Do you think we should shut them up?" Gambit asked.
"Actually Ah think this is proof they belong together," Rogue said.
"No we don't!"
"In his dreams!"
"Nightmares you mean."
"Wet dreams more like."
"Naw I save those for real women."
"Probably a good thing, because you can't get a real woman in real life."
"Actually dat's not true," Gambit put in. "The icicle did date Rogue -"
"For a whole year," Bobby nodded.
"And Rogue's definitely a real woman."
"Which is why she had the taste to dump your ass, Bobby," Jubilee nodded.
"If she had taste, she wouldn't have dated me in the first place... wait..."
"Bobby just insulted Remy, me and himself in one fell swoop," Rogue said dryly.
"That's actually fairly impressive, even for Bobby's standards," Pete said.
"That's not what I meant to say!"
"Too late, mon ami, it's been said," Gambit smirked at him. "Now myself, I don't care if yo' insult, but Roguey? I'm t'inking I should do somet'ing t' defend her honour right about now."
"Oooh hot and chivalrous," Jubilee said. "See? This is why I don't want you Bobby."
"Hey I am hot and chivalrous. You're just not a lady. So - hey!" Bobby was cut off by peas being flicked at his head. "Stop that Remy!"
"Remy, aren't you a little old to be flicking peas at people?" Storm said, breaking away from her conversation with Logan, Kurt, Hank and the Professor.
"You're never too old to flick peas," Logan said before Gambit could reply.
"Oh goddess," Storm groaned.
Gambit and Logan smirked at each other.
"So, Rogue," Kitty said then in an attempt to restore order to the table. "I see your hair is growing back."
"Yeah, finally," Rogue said.
"And you've dyed the white streak in already."
Rogue gave her an odd look.
"Umm, Kitty, muh hair grew the white streak on its own."
"Uhh yeah. Whatever Magneto's machine did ta muh hair it became permanent."
"Oh really? Because I thought you'd been bleaching your hair all this time."
"No. Correct me if Ah'm wrong, but didn't we share a room for awhile?"
"And ya never saw any bleach or dye amongst muh things and yet ya still come ta the conclusion I dye muh hair?"
"Well, it's not like it was a genetic trait or anything. Seemed logical to me."
"I knew it was permanent," Bobby put in.
"Same," added Jubilee.
"I didn't care," Pete said.
Kitty looked around at them.
"Okay, I'm going to shut up now."
"Yo' should have seen her head when her hair was shorter," Gambit said then.
"That white patch? In the right light -"
"She looked like she had a reverse widow's peak."
"Hey! Ah told ya not ta -"
"I even have photos."
"Ya do not -" Rogue began, then her eyes widened in horror as Gambit pulled out said photos.
"Okay, now dis one is pre-Genosha Rogue," Gambit said passing the photos to Kitty. "And dis is bald Rogue."
"Ah told ya not ta take any photos!"
Kitty grinned at Rogue and passed the photos she got from Gambit around the table.
"And dis is Rogue a couple o' weeks later wit' stubble for hair."
"Give me those!"
"And dis is Rogue a couple o' week after dat - yo' can see how it looks like a bald patch in both dese."
Rogue stood, reaching over to try and take the rest of the photos from Gambit. Gambit lifted his nearest arm to fend her off while dealing the photos one handed.
"And dis is Rogue a month ago."
Rogue grabbed Gambit's arm and lifted it up. Super-strength didn't exactly give Gambit any choice in the matter. Rogue tried to slip in but couldn't get there before Gambit handed the last photo to Kitty.
"And dat's Rogue two weeks ago."
"Oui my angry li'l river rat?"
"How could you?"
"Yo' looked so cute curled up in bed..."
"Ya took photos of me sleepin'?"
"How else was I supposed t' get photos wit'out yo' seeing me chére?"
Gambit grinned at her.
"By the way," he added slyly. "If any o' yo' want your own copies, I can print them off the computer at any time."
"Remy LeBeau!" Rogue exclaimed in horror.
"Dessert t'night is chocolate mud cake wit' whipped cream."
"Ya planned this all along, didn't ya?"
Gambit nodded, grinning with mischief.
"Chocolate cake does not get ya off the hook, swamp rat."
"What if the cream is also chocolate? And I get yo' an extra big slice?"
"Ah don't know... Maybe if yo' destroyed those photos."
"I keep the photos and do all your kitchen shifts for the next two weeks."
"All your favourite foods."
"Chocolate for dessert every time I'm on for dinner for the next two weeks."
Rogue screwed up her face in anguish.
"I just got this new recipe fo' a chocolate cheese cake."
Gambit took Rogue's hand and kissed the back of it gallantly.
"Did you just buy your forgiveness with food?" Kitty asked.
"Negotiated. I negotiated," Gambit corrected.
"There was chocolate involved," Rogue pointed out. "Ah just can't stand up ta chocolate."
"Really?" Bobby inquired. "This is interesting. Note to self, next time I make Rogue angry, offer chocolate."
"Yeah, it's just not going ta work comin' from you."
"Oh really? Not even if I offer you a case full of Mars Bars?"
"It needs ta be home made chocolate treats," Rogue nodded. "Plus Remy's a way better cook that you are, so Ah have a spoiled palate now, and there's no way you'd be able ta meet his standards."
"Probably a good thing," Jubilee giggled. "If all we had to do was give you chocolate every time you lost your temper, you'd get fat."
"Non, Roguey could never get fat," Gambit decided. "Her body is in a permanent state o' delicious."
"It's probably all the chocolate she's been eating," Kitty grinned.