On a rainy night like this, a thief can lose himself pretty well in the darkness. Enough to hide from most anyone. But a thief cannot sneak up on this particular man, though. No one sneaks up on him.
“You gonna jump me now, or later?”
“I was waitin’ to see what you’d do, mon ami.”
That voice is familiar, but I can’t be sure… it’s too dark to see, the young man thinks to himself.
“Well, I’m kind of in a hurry, so I figured we might as well just get to the part where you try to rob me a little faster – you were taking too much time to decide how to do it.”
“Ain’t here to rob you, son. Here to talk.”
“To me? Why?”
“Cuz, I know who you are, Peter, an’ I need your help – on a part time basis.”
“Lots of people know my name, mister, I work for the Bugle. You could have seen my mug on any issue in the last few years. Besides, I don’t like being employed by strange men who hide in the shadows. Kind of creepy.”
“Let me step out into de light, den.”
The X-Man, Gambit!
I was right, it’s that Cajun x-guy. Oh what the heck was his name… Gambino…no.. stupid… Gamble? Gamble!!! He has like mutant card powers or something, I think. Like he can shuffle cards really fast… yeah, that’s what it was. Peter thinks to himself.
“Like I said, I know who you are, Peter Parker – I know who you really are. An’ please, if you be in a hurry, don’ waste time tryin’ to convince me otherwise. I know by a very reliable source.”
“Ok, I won’t try to convince you that I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“But let’s say I know the guy you’re really looking for. What kind of work would you want him to do?”
“De kind of work dat be perfect for a Spider, mon frère. An’ one that could pay him very handsomely if he were to accept de job.”
“Handsome payment is his favorite payment. Gamble, you might have yourself a deal. I’ll get back to you on it.”
Wolverine isn't normally one to doubt himself or his choices, but something's been nagging at him. He figures it must be about his little "project." That's really the only ball he's got in the air right now. The Cajun has always been a wild card - maybe his intution is trying to get him to relook at his choice.
Wolverine is sitting in the control booth of the Danger Room watching Gambit run through programs. He watches him through a haze of what ifs and worries.
what's wrong with me? I know better than to second guess myself.
Gambit runs up a wall and destroys the oncoming missile with a perfectly aimed card.
He's doing fine. Great even, but something's bothering me.
"Cerebro, run a scan on X-men designee - Gambit."
"Affirmative," the computer answers and a second later the screens in front of Wolverine flash with the scan's results.
"Results within normal parameters," Cerebro reads the summary aloud, "except for an elevated adrenaline-."
"Yes, yes, I know about that," Wolverine snickers to himself as the X-man down below slides across the floor bent over backwards to scrape under a saw blade.
So it's not him. Then what? What's got my panties in a bunch?
What has got them in a bunch, Logan? A female voice says suddenly in his head. Wolverine almost falls out of his chair as Jean Grey walks into the room and sits down beside him.
"Red?" Wolverine says aloud, but continues internally, What the hell you doin' in my head?
You were so loud I couldn't block it out.
Still not right.
She blushes and looks away.
"Hey, don't worry, I ain't mad."
She looks back up at him.
It's- it's just that something isn't right- she begins
"I know! I've felt it too!" Logan exclaims but she puts a hand up to silence him and she points to her temple.
Let's stay in here she projects. He nods.
So do you have any idea what's wrong?
No she shakes her head except that I know there is someone here who doesn't belong.
Wolverine looks at Jean again. Her bleep-colored eyes haunt him. She’s always been the girl he can’t resist. At that moment, her husband, Scott Summers walks into the control room.
“Jean, there you are. I’ve been looking for you.” Scott notices Wolverine, “Logan.”
“Darling, you know I’m always a thought away. Why didn’t you contact me telepathically?”
“Cuz he’s not Cyclops! JEAN WATCH OUT!” Wolverine leaps onto the imposter without a moment of hesitation, crashing through the glass of the control room telescreen window and into the danger room below. But it’s too late. A glowing blade is stick out of Jean’s chest, right where the creature lodged it.
“Sacre Blu! Logan, if you want to dance, dere’s better ways to get my attention!” Gambit orders the danger room scenario to cease. Pity that Wolverine disengaged the permissions so that only he could shut down the room. It was a “fun game” he liked to play with training X-Men. “Keeps ya on your toes if ya can’t shut ‘er off, don’t ya think?”
While Logan and… Scott, apparently, wrestle on the floor, Gambit has to get into the action to keep them from the lethal weaponry the danger room has instantaneously trained on them. It thinks they’re here to join de training! Better keep them alive so dey can kill each other!
Cyclops, using expert skill deflects Wolverine as he lunges and using the X-man's momentum against him swings him several feet into the path of an oncoming laser barrage.
With a swift kick to the imposters knee, Gambit topples Cyclops and Wolverine regains his footing. They make eye contact for a split second, but after as many missions as they’ve shared, they know what to do. While “Cylcops” is still off balance Gambit lunges for his left side and Wolverine for his right. They knock the imposter down onto the ground and together have them strength to pin him there.
“Wolverine!” Gambit cries out as he sees a spiked pendulum swinging towards them.
“End Program!” Wolverine calls out and the dangers disappear.
Suddenly beneath Wolverine and Gambit, Cyclops transforms into none other then Mystique.
“Not you, Woman!” Gambit cries out and recoils as though he’s touched something foul.
Wolverine is suddenly very conscious that he’s alone holding her down and he lets go as well.
“What’s wrong, boys?” Mystique says sitting up and licking her lips, “you have a problem with my audition?”
“Your what?” Wolverine sputters – and then points up to the control booth – “you call that an ‘audition’?”
Mystique lets out a little girlish laugh “oh, she’s fine, Logan,” she purrs putting her hand on his arm, “It was just a stun blade. I don’t get my hands dirty for free.” She crosses her arms across her ample chest and smiles as the two men look at each other, each one’s mind racing with accusations at the other for leaking the word on the team scouting to someone who could’ve let it slip to someone like Mystique.
“Cajun, you know better than to trust her. I can’t believe you tried to recruit Mystique!”
“Non! I did no such thing, Logan, I was bout to say you be de fool for trustin’ a slimy, hateful…”
“Yes! I love it. What a great sales pitch. Insult me to my face. You need to come up with a better tactic if you want me on the team, glow boy.”
“First, you don’t ever call Gambit ‘glow boy’ I’m neither glowin’ nor a boy, oui? Second, you better help Jean, or you’re goin’ to have to deal with a concussion in de brig!”
“Alright, she’s fine, I told you, but since you don’t trust me.” Mystique deactivates the stun blade’s power supply with a control she presses on her bracelet. “Honestly, so typical. You’re both so concerned about saving the damsel in distress that you ignore the damsel who can kick-ass offering to help you! And it’s absolutely none of your business who clued me in about this gig. I’m sworn to secrecy."
Gambit’s wrist communicator is bleeping.
“You’re bleeping, bub. Some left you a message?”
Gambit looks at his wrist and cautiously presses the play button. The message plays loud and clear from the speaker:
“Hey, Gambit,” *munch* *munch* “Just wanted to give you heads up. I totally talked to Mystique about joining the team and I think you should give her a call, ya know, she’s got some great ASSETS. Get it? I mean, about her ass being an asset?” *munch* *munch* “Damn, doritos are so good. You’re gonna stock our clubhouse with snacks, right? GET DORITOS.” BEEEEEP – Message over, delete message?
“Mon dieu,” Gambit says, palm to his face, "What have I done?"
Wolverine shuts the door to Professor Xavier’s study gingerly and turns to look at Gambit. Wolverine tries to read the look on Gambit’s face to no avail.
Wolverine is fed up. He’s got Mystique in the brig, an answering machine filled with messages from Deadpool and by now surely all of the Brotherhood probably knows about Wolverine’s little sideproject.
“So?” Wolverine says flatly.
Wolverine becomes frusterated.
“Look – I gave you a shot – and in less than a week of working on this you manage to leak vital info on the team to one of the X-men’s greatest adversarys.”
“This team is not the X-men, no?” Gambit replies his voice steady, but obviously shaking with anger.
Wolverine lets out a sigh of exasperation.
“There’s no shame in it – you’re a one man team, I can relate to that. It’s always best to stick with what works.”
A knock at the door halts the conversation and Rogue steps into the room.
“Oh, sorry,” she says blushing a little and then says, “I thought this room was empty, what with the Professor still in D.C. and all.”
“We can take the hint,” Wolverine says, “Come on Gumbo, we can talk in my room.”
“Since when do you guys play together?” Rogue asks stopping them in their tracks. Wolverine is about to shuffle her off with some nicety when he catches Gambit’s eye and Remy gives him the slightest shake of his head in warning.
“Well?” Rogue repeats.
Wolverine follows Gambit’s indication to the tell-tale signal. Rogue’s got her hands on her hips.
She’s pissed. Aint that nice? Better play this carefully.
Wolverine is about to open his mouth when Gambit speaks.
“Logan es mon capitan,” Gambit says with a slight sound of pride to his voice.
Wolverine works hard to keep his face from showing any sign of surprise at Gambit’s tactic.
He’s distractin’ her with her own emotions. First by showing a sense of comraderie with me.
“You mean?,” Rogue begins.
“X-Force, Rogue,” Gambit says plainly, but even Wolverine notices Gambit’s use of her name in place of “chere.”
Then by making her feel like an outsider.
The point is not lost on Rogue.
“Well,” she says growing more flustered, “don’t let me interrupt, I was just here to water the plants anyhow,” she says and disappears behind the door.
Living like that takes its toll though…
Wolverine sees the pain cross Gambit’s face like clouds passing over the sun. In a minute it’s gone.
“Perhaps I misjudged you, Cajun,” Wolverine says walking over to Gambit, “There’s absolutely nothing you’re better at then good ol’ misdirect. So – tell me,” Wolverine says meeting Gambit’s eyes, “what did you have in mind with the Brotherhood?”