My first attempt at an XMen fic went ok, so here's the second. Totally unrelated; this one is canon with all 4 movies and definitely not as innocent. There's nothing explicit in it, but hey, it's Gambit. What you gonna do?
This is a two-shot, set about a year after X3. The first part is from Gambit's perspective, the next will be from Rogue's. It'll probably be uploaded sometime Thursday, depending on how heavy my workload decides to get between now and then. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: If I owned it, I would not be having problems paying my rent.
The girl looks barely old enough to be here, though she must be at least 21 to get past the bouncer on the door of the club. He's nothing if not thorough, Gambit thinks wryly, recalling his own encounter with the man. He had been convinced that Gambit's ID was fake - which it is, but the age on it is genuine. What is the point masquerading as a 20-something when he's almost 40? He rolls his eyes. He hasn't been ID'd for more than 10 years; evidently, the bouncer has no sense of age. Either that, or he's just paranoid.
Gambit shrugs, pushing his ire to the back of his mind. He's in now, and the first person to catch his eye is the pretty young thing at the bar, sitting on a stool and staring forlornly into the frilly pink cocktail in front of her. She is alone, or she looks it, and the upset and anger radiating from her make him flinch from thirty feet away. He wonders why she would come to a club when she's pissed off so badly. Then, shaking his head at his own stupidity, he makes his way towards her.
"Gotta stop with the damsels in distress," he mutters to himself. So what if they're normally great in bed? They're more trouble than they're worth. That doesn't stop him taking a seat next to her and ordering a bourbon. The bartender shuffles off, and he turns to the girl. Up close, he realizes she's not just pretty; she's stunning. Auburn hair, with a unique white streak at the front. Green eyes sparkling with temper, and skin so pale and perfect it might belong to a porcelain doll. Why is this girl alone?
He leans closer to her and touches her hand with his to attract her attention. She jumps and looks around at him. Those emerald eyes narrow.
"What do you want?" she snarls. Instead of backing away like most - okay, all - other men would have, he merely raises an eyebrow.
"That's not too friendly, chérie."
She snorts and turns back to her drink, stirring it more forcefully than necessary and sending some splashing to the bar. Something really got under this girl's skin.
The bartender comes back with Gambit's drink and he hands the man money without looking. This girl is intriguing him, and not just because she's beautiful. She's covered head to toe in clothes, which is decidedly against the norm in any club, let alone this one. A long sleeved green t-shirt, short black denim skirt, thick black tights and gloves. Her face and neck is the only skin she's showing. He's not sure how she can stand it; he's wearing decidedly less and he's too warm. He nudges her fingers with his own again.
"Leave me alone," she snaps, not looking at him. He really should leave, but she's just made herself a challenge; no girl has outright rejected him in a long time. He groans internally. He could never resist a challenge. It's been his downfall more than once, but apparently he just refuses to learn because his mouth is moving without any input from his brain.
"Why did you come to a club if you don't want company? Seems counter-productive to me."
That succeeds in attracting her attention, and this time there is less anger in her eyes when they meet his. No, instead they shine with unshed tears.
"Why do you care? No-one else does."
At times like this, he hates his empathy. He winces at the sorrow she's transmitting and puts his hand back on hers. She pulls away, turning her head back to her drink.
"Don't touch me."
Does she think that ignoring him is going to make him leave? Even if she isn't the prettiest thing he's seen all night, he can't leave her alone when she feels like this. Maybe he can charm her into a better mood, and then do as she asks and move on to a more willing partner. He can see a blonde at the other end of the bar, eyeing him from under her lashes. He ignores her for the moment. Deal with one thing at a time.
He reaches for her chin to tilt her face back towards him. His charm only works if he can see their eyes. As soon as his fingers make contact with her skin, she gasps and jumps off her stool, and absolute terror overrides her other emotions. What does she think he's trying to do? And what has been done to her in the past to make her react like that?
"Calm down, chère," he says, reaching out empathically to help her do so. "I'm not gonna hurt you."
She looks at him like he's mad.
"It's not me I'm worried about."
What does that mean? Is it some kind of threat? He gives her a quick once over. There's no way a petite thing like her could do any damage to him in a fight; not that he holds with fighting women. If she goes for him, he'll have to restrain her until she calms down.
She's finally looking at him properly, so he tries his charm. He has no idea whether it works or not. She does calm down, but the next words out of her mouth are so odd that he doesn't know what to make of them.
"I wouldn't hurt you on purpose - God I hate that - but you'd get hurt, and it would be my fault. It always is."
The bartender is watching the interaction with undisguised interest, but nobody else seems to have noticed what's going on. Hell, he doesn't know what's going on.
"Chère, I don't understand."
Sometimes, honesty gets you more answers than lying and charming. This appears to be one of those cases. The girl sighs, and a tear silently trails down her cheek.
"Nor do I," she sniffs. His heart softens. Yes, she's a little crazy, but she's so vulnerable. If he ever gets his hands on whoever's responsible for her deer-in-headlights attitude, he's going to blow them up. For now, though, he takes three slow, careful steps towards her, gauging her reactions to him. She doesn't move away, so he gingerly reaches out again, laying his hand on her cheek, barely touching her. Her eyes go very wide, and she pulls away again, shouting.
"Are you crazy! Do you want to get hurt? Don't touch me!"
He narrows his eyes at her. She's borderline hysterical.
"What's your name, chérie?"
She blinks at the sudden topic change and her fear abates a little.
"R-Rogue," she stammers. Why the hell is she so scared? He walks back to his barstool and sits, taking a sip of his bourbon. After this conversation, he needs it. She watches him warily.
"Je m'appel Gambit," he says conversationally, as though her freak-out never happened. Cautiously, she sits again, though she's perched on the very edge of her stool, ready to make a quick getaway if necessary. At least she's not terrified out of her mind any more.
If he doesn't get her real name, then she doesn't get his. Seems fair to him; there's no way he's going to believe that 'Rogue' is anything other than an odd nickname. Silence has fallen between them, and though it's strained, it's less stressful than any conversation would apparently be. He finishes his bourbon and gestures for another. She sips at her cocktail, gripping the glass with difficulty through her gloves. He watches her struggle.
"Why not lose the gloves? It'd make it much easier."
She throws him a startled look, and he raises his hands, palms outwards.
"I won't touch you, chérie; promise."
She narrows her eyes at him, but tugs them off briskly, laying them beside the glass within easy reach. Now that he can talk without her snapping at him, he tries his luck again.
"Aren't you hot in all that getup, chère?"
"It's better than the alternative," she mutters. He doesn't think he's supposed to have heard, so he doesn't reply, but the comment confuses him. What alternative? Baring some skin? Maybe she's disfigured in some way; that would explain why she's all covered up. Some kind of accident? But, by the way she keeps flinching and creating distance between them, he's more inclined to think she's been abused at some point. He clenches his jaw. He wants to ask, but knows from personal experience that things like that are not easy to talk about, and especially not something you blurt out to a stranger in a club. She's right; he should leave her alone. There's nothing he can do for her; she's made it perfectly clear that she doesn't like or trust him at all. He really needs to go before he does something stupid.
His bourbon arrives, and he pays and stands, nodding to her politely. There are three women close by who look much more accommodating; he'll go talk to one of them. Or all three. It's going to take a lot to get Rogue and her plight out of his head.
He turns to leave, trying to ignore her wide eyes at his sudden disinterest, and his hand brushes against the length of hers. It is not intentional - she must have reached for her gloves at the same time he moved, because her hands were further away than that before - but that doesn't stop her from gasping. He closes his eyes briefly, trying to pretend that her reaction doesn't affect him, and starts to move away. The closest of the three women winks at him. He smiles and is about to wink back, when Rogue touches his hand tentatively. His eyes go very wide and he looks around at her. His empathy informs him of her emotions, as if he couldn't read them on her face. Confusion, fear and - wonder? What the hell?
She looks up at him, amazed.
"I can touch you."
He has no idea how to react. The girl is clearly crazier than he previously thought. Way to pick the filles, Gambit he thinks scornfully. He really needs to get over his 'damsel-in-distress' thing. It only ever leads bad places.
"I can actually touch you," she continues, reaching out again. This time, it is Gambit who pulls away.
"Pardon?" he asks, unsure if asking for clarification is the wisest thing to do. She blinks and laughs hollowly.
"Oh, sorry. You must think I'm insane."
He doesn't reply. He had, indeed, thought that. What sort of girl screams at a man not to touch her, then sits stroking his hand in wonder? He edges away. If he can get out of the club, he's pretty sure she won't follow. He hopes.
"I'm a mutant," she confesses quietly, pulling her hands back to her lap. "I absorb people through skin contact."
Gambit freezes. Mutant? If she's telling the truth, then maybe she's not so crazy after all.
"Absorb?" he questions, still not sitting down. The woman who winked gets tired of waiting and walks off. He's not sure if he cares; Rogue just got interesting again.
She stares intently at her drink while she speaks, fingers fidgeting nervously.
"I take memories, thoughts, powers if they're a mutant. They go into a coma. I can't control it."
Gambit sits back down beside her. Her reactions are suddenly making a lot more sense.
"I took the Cure a year ago," she confesses in a small voice, tears falling again. He thinks he understands now.
"But the Cure wasn't permanent," he finishes. She shakes her head.
"My powers came back, really fast, about a month ago. I absorbed someone and I couldn't stop it. She..." Rogue's shoulders hunch and she rocks forward, crying. Gambit puts his bourbon on the bar and stands, gingerly putting one arm around her. He doesn't do too well with sobbing women.
"It's alright, chérie. Not your fault."
"Sh-she d-died," Rogue stutters, shaking. He allows his free hand to play with her hair, hoping it calms her.
"Not your fault," he insists. She takes a deep breath and sits more upright, looking at him through glassy eyes.
"I killed her! How is it not my fault?"
"You didn't know they were coming back. You didn't mean to do it."
"Then, it couldn't be stopped."
Her sobs abate and she looks at him in wonder again.
"Why are you so accepting?"
It's part accusation, part genuine question. He sighs and reveals a slice of the truth to her. No way can this delicate little thing handle his life story.
"I'm a mutant too," he says. "Empathy and bio-kinesis."
He reaches for her cocktail glass and charges it up. The glass glows magenta for a second, then he recalls the charge.
"If I hold on long enough, it blows up."
She stares at the glass a while longer.
"Does it work on people too?"
She's put two and two together quite nicely, regards his easy acceptance of her murderess status. He's both impressed with her intellect and uneasy that she can read him so easily.
"It used to," he says shortly. She's smart enough not to ask any further.
"Since my mutation, I've never been able to touch anyone without hurting them." She speaks slowly, shrugging his arm off her shoulder. He sits back on his own stool. "But you just touched me for long enough that my mutation should have kicked in, and it didn't. I can touch you!"
He blinks at her. She looks as confused as he feels.
"How?" he asks finally. She shakes her head.
"I don't know."
There is a second of uneasy silence, then she reaches out falteringly towards him.
He realizes what she wants and considers. It is true that he's touched her, several times, and he hasn't noticed anything odd happening to himself. The way she describes it, he thinks that he would probably have been in quite a lot of pain. He nods and lays his hand on the bar. She traces his fingers gently, touching him with the kind of reverence usually reserved for ancient relics or newborn babies. The excitement and awe on her face tells him that he made the right decision. Her delight fills him, and she grins, the pain of a few minutes ago forgotten for the time being.
"I can touch you!"
He smirks back at her and leans in closer.
She laughs gleefully and takes his bait. Her lips brush his briefly. Then she freezes, realizing what she's just done.
He doesn't give her a choice this time, pulling her in with a hand at the base of her neck. For a couple of seconds, she's stiff against him, then she relaxes and kisses him back, her hands tracing over his face and chest. Their tongues mingle, and a kind of electricity runs through his body. He wants her. He pulls away a little, breathing more heavily than the situation would require, but that's okay because she is too.
"Let's go somewhere more private," he breathes against her ear. She stills and pulls herself out of his embrace.
He's pushed his luck too far, and he knows it. An apology is on his lips, but she mutters an excuse and stands before he can speak it. He watches her leave, then drains the remains of his bourbon in one go. Her emotions spoke for her - she wanted him too. She'll be back; maybe not tonight, or even this week, but she will. And he'll be here waiting. She's too good to pass up.
A tall brunette catches his eye from nearby and smiles coyly at him. He winks and stands, making his way over. He has to pass the time somehow, right?