THICK AS MUD, THICK AS THIEVES


Utopia, Valentine's Day

"Ororo Iqadi T'Challa," Remy LeBeau arched an eyebrow as he fell limp onto the couch next to Storm. "I liked Munroe, m'self. Maybe LeBeau."

Storm smiled, placing her cup of imported Wakandan tea on the small table in front of the two. "Ororo LeBeau?"

"I t'ink it has a nice ring to it, non?" Gambit's arm slid around Ororo's shoulder. "Just didn't have de ring at de right time, I s'pose."

"You do realize I can make it hail in here," she leaned into him, her thick white hair draping down his chest.

"Can't believe you a queen."

"It seems to be a fitting thing for an X-Man to be these days, doesn't it?"

"Don't be talkin' 'bout poor Northstar dat way, 'Roro."

Storm slapped Gambit's chest, her head still resting on his shoulder. "You're an embarrassment."

"You laughed."

"It was out of pity for your poor taste, Remy LeBeau."

"Poor taste is you sittin' here, 'lone on Valentine's Day, stead'a wit' dat man a'yours."

"Being a queen is more than being by your husband's side," Storm stiffened, leaving Remy's chest and sitting up. "It's allowing him to lead from afar."

"Please, 'Ro. You so lonely you might as well be datin' Forge again. Let's go steal somet'in."

"Isn't there a teenager you should be harassing somewhere, you old pervert?"

"You know it's de ladies wit' white hair dat always drive ol' Gambit crazy."

"And where is Rogue?"

LeBeau crossed his arms and legs simultaneously. "Wit' him."

"Erik?"

"I still prefer callin' ol' hornhead by Magneto, m'self."

"As do I," Storm grabbed for her tea, swirling it in its mug, eyes on the thick, dark liquid.

"You drink dat?"

"Would you like some?"

"Would you like some coffee? You ain't gotta drink d'at mud when you stateside."

"You do know, Remy, T'Challa is stateside, too."

"He here?" Gambit eyed the room. "Sneaky, dem Panthers."

"New York."

"Where we should be, y'ask me."

"No one is asking you anything, Remy," Storm pushed at his side, "save perhaps for a moment alone."

Gambit watched Storm take a drink. "You t'ink Emma's gainin' weight?"

Gambit watched Storm spit her drink, covering her mouth and laughing like he hadn't heard his friend laugh in months. It felt good.

"For Heaven's sake, Remy, go away," she wiped her mouth with a grin.

"I'm just askin'. I don' go on as many missions as y'all d'ese days. Just gotta sit 'round and watch X-Men come 'n go, maybe not lookin' as good in dere tights as dey used to."

"Yes."

"Hm?"

"Yes, I do," Storm rubbed at the tea stain in her Dazzler World Tour tee. "I think she's gaining weight. Allison's going to kill me for ruining this shirt."

"She makes you girls wear dose, don't she?"

"Are you bored, Gambit?"

"You t'ink she's pregnant?"

"Alli?"

"Emma."

"I would kill myself," Storm's eyes went wide at the possibility.

"So'd Scott," Gambit sat back more comfortably. "Let's start de rumor."

"She's a telepath, Remy," Storm leaned against him. "You can't start rumors about telepaths."

"Sure y'can," he smiled. "Just did. Emma is officially wit' child. Didn' you hear?"

"I won't be party to this."

Gambit's head hit the cushion behind him. "I gotta get off dis rock."

"I'll gladly take you into the city if you'll join me in a round of the quiet game."

"No," LeBeau sat forward again. "I mean Earth. M'sick of it. Need a good space mission."

"Watch an episode of Star Trek."

"You never liked 'em much, hm?"

"Not a personal favorite, no. The acting was usually overdramatized, and the make-up-"

"-not de show, 'Ro. Space missions."

"The X-Men leaving our planet has rarely worked in our favor," Storm looked toward the window in the far corner. "And certainly not in mine."

"I could fight a few Brood 'bout now. Or at least one a'dem Starjammer fellas. What was de cat one's name?"

"Hepzibah?"

"Yeah. Whatever happened to him?"

Storm laughed again, leaning forward into her palms. She pulled at her face. "You're a terror."

"Part of de charm."

"Ten years ago," she leaned into him again. "Perhaps."

The two sat silently for the next few minutes, Gambit's arm around Storm, their feet propped against the table in front of them. Remy absentmindedly kicked Ororo's mud tea, the weather goddess simply rolling her eyes as the thick liquid settled next to a few magazines.

They each thought of simpler times, though neither had considered them simple at the time. Gambit fawning over Rogue, Storm leading a group of X-Men, Jean's mandatory breakfasts, Charles telepathically "tucking in" each of his "children."

Jubilee leaving for Massachusetts. Hank's famous burgers on the grill. Hank.

Kurt.

No one was a soldier, just a teammate. And even then, more a family member than an ally.

There weren't so many kids. They were practically kids.

And then Storm broke the silence. "How about that coffee?"

"Only if you'll be my Valentine, Ororo Tadiqui Chi'Tallah."

"Done," she grinned and rolled her eyes, standing an extending her hand. "But keep it up, LeBeau, and it will hail."

"Bring it," Remy's gloved fingertips slid around her golden bracelets as she pulled him up. "'Bout time you did somet'in interestin', anyway."

Storm shook her head, looping her arm through his and leading him toward the kitchen. "Happy Valentine's Day, Remy."

"'Appy Valentine's, 'Roro," Gambit smiled as the two passed Emma. "And to de two a'you, too, Miss Frost," he winked at her stomach.

Storm shook her head, Emma arching a 'brow and turning instantly to the spilled Wakandan tea resting on the tabletop. "Are you going to-?"

But they were gone. Gone to make coffee and simpler times.