X-Book 1: New Allies New Enemies - Chapter 2 - Shuffle
Summary: (See Prologue of Book 1)
Disclaimer: I own nothing associated with characters from the Marvel
universe or any previously published work.
Remy LeBeau sat at the kitchen table in the School for the
Gifted and shuffled a worn deck of playing cards rhythmically
against its polished surface. The steady hum and snap of the deck
in his hands was soothing and helped him focus on something other
than his pounding head.
The last eight months had past for him in a blur of drunken
confusion, drifting blankly from one run down gambling pit to
another, as he made his way north from New Orleans along the
Mississippi River. Ever since the horrible night that his mutation
appeared, Remy had tried his hardest to ignore the changes he saw in
himself and just live, what he thought of as, a normal life.
However, his quick temper, and frequently inebriated state,
often triggered his powers and left him with a growing and
unfavorable reputation, even among the most unfavorable people those
pits could offer. Once you've caused a loan shark's money to
explode in your hand, they become more hesitant to lend you some of
their green...and less hesitant to forcibly remove your solid red
But, LeBeau (who preferred to call himself Gambit) was a
gambling type of guy, and decided to play one more hand at one
particular pit outside Chicago. By the time Xavier's people
arrived, he had been less than a hair trigger away from losing his
hands to a couple of mutant-hatin' bounty hunters that had
followed him from his previous stop.
By some unexpected luck, he now found himself sitting
comfortably in a warm mansion instead of at the bottom of Lake
Of course, he would have preferred to use that luck at the
tables, but who was he to complain. A month ago, he had been
pawning his car just to have money for food, and now here he was,
lounging in a large posh kitchen with enough nutritious victuals to
keep him well fed for the rest of his natural life. And, not just
fodder to feed his stomach. This was a school, full of bright minds
and smart people to help him learn how to better control his power
and live a decent, meaningful life. What more could anyone want?
Mon Dieu, I need a drink, Remy thought and sighed, flipping
his cards repeatedly in his, thankfully still intact, hands.
The children were all in class now, all the teachers hard at
work, and Remy had waited until he was sure the place was quiet
before coming downstairs. The rug rats were hard enough not to step
on when he didn't have a hangover.
Remy set the deck down neatly, and poured himself another
cup of coffee. The pot was close to empty, and he choked down the
lukewarm liquid with a grimace. Reaching inside one pocket of his
jacket, he pulled out a half empty carton of Marlboros and tapped
one cigarette on the top of the cards before lighting it. He
watched the match as the flame burned and frowned deeply.
The light was orange and blue, a trail of smoke rising
delicately towards the ceiling. To Remy LeBeau, the light reminded
him of his own new abilities, and he pondered a moment on it before
a voice caused him to look up.
"Guten tach," the new arrival said in a friendly voice, as
Remy blinked in surprise, and then hissed and shook his hand as the
match's fire reached his fingers. He glanced over at the second
man in annoyance and took another drag on his cigarette.
"Mornin'" Remy replied unenthusiastically as Kurt Wagner
sat down across from him and folded his hands politely on the
table. He placed a small breakfast before him, and Kurt closed his
eyes in quick prayer before beginning to eat.
Remy hated to be rude, but he could not help himself from
staring at the other man for a moment before picking up his cards
again. He had met the German guy the night he had arrived, and he
was still getting used to having a blue guy around all the time.
No, he thought with amusement, Two blue guys if you count
that new doc.
If Kurt noticed Remy's quick, uneasy glances, he did not
seem to mind. He simply continued to eat in silence, as Remy began
his repetitious shuffling again. Strange looks had stopped
bothering Kurt many years ago, and, unlike his smoking neighbor, he
had accepted the consequences of his mutation with learned
tolerance. After all, he had been born with his mutation, and to
him it had never been a burden, it had simply been part of who he
"So, mon ami," Remy said as he exhaled slowly, "How long
have you been here?"
Kurt glanced over at him and smiled appreciatively for the
"Eight months," he replied, "Ever since Ms. Monroe and
Dr. Grey found me at my church. It...was not safe there
anymore...so they brought me here to meet Professor Xavier."
Kurt looked sadly down a moment before
continuing, "Unfortunately, Dr. Grey did not return with
"She was the old doc here?" Remy asked and Kurt nodded.
"I did not know her very well," he replied softly, "But,
I know Ms. Monroe and the others miss her very much."
Remy nodded and sighed uncomfortably. The worst part about
this place was how moody everyone was all the time. Quickly, he
changed the subject.
"They say you are a jumper, no?" he asked, deck snapping
Kurt frowned slightly, "A...jumper...?"
"You know..." Remy replied and demonstrated. With a
skillful movement of his fingers, he made the queen of diamonds move
from the middle of the deck to the top.
Kurt grinned broadly and chuckled at Remy's artful
description of his power.
"Yes," he answered, "I am a teleporter."
"Ah...that's the word...bien," Remy nodded with a
grin, "Have to say...that particular trick would have been very
useful in my business."
"What sort of business are you in?" Kurt asked curiously.
Remy examined one card carefully before answering.
With another quick snap of his wrist, the card disappeared.
"...partly show business."
The blue mutant's eyes widened with delight.
"Yes, show business..." he said, "That was my business
as well. We had many magicians who worked with us in the circus
over the years."
"Magicians?" Remy asked with a frown.
Kurt nodded and motioned towards the shuffling
cards, "Though many didn't do card tricks for the
Remy chuckled and tapped the deck dramatically.
"No, mon ami," he said, "I'm no magician. And I
usually have a hard time disappearing when I need to. Guess you put
on a pretty good act with your gift, no?"
Kurt smiled, "I suppose, but I was not a magician either. I
was a trapeze artist in Munich. They called me the Amazing
Remy nodded slowly, his face dark and thoughtful compared to
his enthusiastic friend.
"Was it easier there?" he asked, "Being a mutant, I
Kurt shrugged and smiled. Gambit's question was one he had
been asked often since coming to Xavier's school, and he still
did not have a real answer for it.
"Yes and no," he replied honestly, "It was easier in
some ways, but only because everyone expected to see people who were
different there. They weren't so...surprised. But, I would not
say that the children here have a hard life, at least not compared
to some of the people who worked at the circus. The children here
have been blessed in many ways, having regular meals and teachers
who care for them. Many in the circus were not so lucky..."
Kurt sighed sadly, and pulled something from his pocket.
Remy watched him carefully as Kurt fingered the rosary devotedly.
"I consider myself very blessed for what I have," he
said, "Both from the circus and now here."
Remy shifted, a bit uncomfortably, at the other man's sudden
"Oui," he said, unsure of how else to reply, "I guess
this beats some of the dives in the Big Easy, too."
Kurt looked up at him, instantly brightening, "The children
are wonderful to have around. They were the one thing I missed the
most about performing. So joyful and happy. Ms. Monroe said many
of them came from very bad places."
Remy inwardly grimaced, not entirely sharing Kurt's
enthusiasm for all the kids running around all the time, but nodded
and grinned at the blue mutant.
"Les enfants sont le futur," he said and snapped the deck
again against the table.
As if on cue, the sounds of many footsteps began to rumble
above them. Kurt grinned and Remy dropped his cards into one pocket
before massaging his temples. He did not mind joyful petits, but he
wished their joy was a little quieter.
Both men looked up as a young woman entered the kitchen.
Rogue smiled and greeted each man in turn, her dark brown and white
hair pulled back from her face.
"Hi, Kurt," she said, and then glancing at Gambit
quickly, "Good mornin', Mr. LeBeau."
Kurt gave her a cheery `guten tach,' and Remy nodded.
"Good morning," he mumbled through his hangover, though he
was watching her curiously as she moved to sit with them. She
seemed very young, no more than twenty, but Remy had noticed that
most of the other adults treated her as a peer. She carried herself
with a quiet grace and her large dark eyes always seemed very
somber. Remy wondered what kind of an inner burden she carried at
such a young age.
Maybe that's just what happens when you're a mutant, he
thought unhappily, Glad to know I have so much to look forward to.
"How was Jeffrey's dentist appointment yesterday?" Kurt
asked her and Rogue grinned. Remy thought it took many years off
her young face.
"Um...interestin' I guess," she said, her voice accented
lightly, "He got a little nervous at first and camouflaged
himself against the wall. Took us a bit to find him but Dr. McCoy
was able to coax him into the chair eventually."
Kurt laughed, "At least he didn't try to turn blue like he
did when I first met him."
Remy listened to their chitchat with vague interest, and he
was the only one to notice Ororo Monroe enter the room. He gave her
a little salute and she smiled. Storm had been a part of the team
that found Remy in Chicago, along with Cyclops and the Ice kid.
"Rogue," she said in a soft voice, "Dr. McCoy wanted to
see you in the lab when you get a moment."
"Alright, I was plannin' to head down anyway" she said.
Storm nodded and turned to Kurt.
"Would you mind giving me a hand?" she asked with a
grin, "It's Artie's turn to see Dr. McCoy and he
won't come down
from the ceiling. It might be easier if you go with him..."
Kurt smiled and rose, replying quickly, "Of course...where
Storm motioned with one hand, "In the front stairway...thank
Watching the conversation, Remy could have sworn the blue
mutant blushed before heading out of the room. After Kurt shut the
kitchen door, Remy noticed Storm watching him with her arms folded.
She was studying him carefully, and he suddenly knew what her next
words would be.
"You were out drinking again last night," Storm said,
looking at him coolly as she noticed the spent cigarette on the
table, "And you have been smoking in the mansion."
Gambit sighed audibly, but Storm continued before he could
"This is a school, Mr. LeBeau," she said, "And it must
be respected as one."
He nodded resignedly, but not very convincingly.
"I am sorry, Ms. Monroe," he replied, "I surely am, but
I'm not a student and what I do outside the school is my
"Regardless," she said, "We do not want the children
The children, he thought, rubbing his temples as she spoke,
What about the Cajuns? Why doesn't anyone ever want to save them?
"Are you listening to me?" Storm asked, and he saw anger
flash in his eyes.
"Yes, ma'am," he said sarcastically and he saw her face
change slightly. Storm sat down next to him and suddenly looked
"We just ask for caution, that's all," she said,
"You are an adult, and we can't dictate to you what you do.
concerns about your behaviors are not simply setting a bad example
for the children. You've said yourself that your powers can be
difficult to control when you have been drinking. We just don't
want to see you harm yourself..."
Storm met his eyes firmly, "I've seen what happens when a
mutant allows their gifts to get out of their control."
Remy sighed again. He loved that she was beautiful but he
hated that she was right.
"I know...believe me, I know," he said, "Just hard to
stay on the wagon when it's been draggin' you around for so
The last year hasn't exactly been an easy time."
Mon Dieu, that sounds stupid, he thought, Here I've had this
fucking power for a few months and I'm ready to drown all my
fucking sorrows while this femme has had her powers for a lot longer
and she isn't a drunk or junkie...
"I didn't mean to lecture," Storm said with a grin,
"Just sort of a habit. I actually wanted to know if you would
to see some of the lower levels today.."
"Do I have that kind of `clearance?'" he said with a
flirtatious grin, waggling his fingers to imitate quotation marks.
Storm's expression remained serious, but inwardly she was
amused. This "Gambit" had been more than friendly to most of
the women in the mansion since the night he arrived and, despite
their apathy to his attentions, he never seemed to entirely give up
"Not to all the levels," she replied, "But I would like
to show you something to may find useful. It is our training room;
we call it the Danger Room, for obvious reasons. It's a safe
to practice using your power, without having to worry about harming
Gambit looked at Storm thoughtfully, "Is that how you
learned to control your power?"
Storm smiled and nodded, "Control is a mutant's first
defense against the outside world. A mutant out of control is a
dangerous mutant, and that's what the world fears. However, a
mutant who can focus and manage their gifts successfully will be the
one who can live in peace."
"Do you really believe that?" Gambit asked, studying her
"I have to believe that," she said firmly, her tone almost
regal, leaving not room for argument. Gambit grinned again, and
feathered out his deck of cards dramatically.
"Alright then, ma chere," he said, "Let's go see
your Danger Room."
Storm nodded and rose, "Meet me at the main elevator after
lunch. Dr. McCoy's class will be over then. I promised him a
tour as well."
Remy nodded and watched Storm as she walked across the room
and out the kitchen door. He grinned and flipped the deck casually
with one thumb. Definitely a higher class of women here than in the
Inwardly, he did hope whatever this "Danger Room" was, that
it would be able to help him keep his hands under control (at least
most of the time).
Glancing around the very posh kitchen, he supposed he had
better start appreciating this place. Good food, beautiful women,
nice clean bed.
Still could use a drink though, he thought and decided to
head out for some fresh air and another cigarette before the kids
came down for lunch.