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Heaven and Earth: Episode One

Mac O'Roni

Don’t want to wake up with no one beside me,
Don’t want to take up with nobody new.
Don’t want nobody coming by without calling first,
Don’t want nothing to do with you.

I’m putting tinfoil up on the windows,
Lying down in the dark to dream.
I don’t want to see their faces,
I don’t want to hear them scream

    —“Splendid Isolation,” Warren Zevon

“Boss. Boss. Wake up, Boss.”
     “I’m awake, ‘Mil. What d’hell d’you wan’?” Gambit snarled from where he lay buried under the covers.
     Emil Lapin, known by many nicknames but most appropriately as “Red,” continued to shake his friend and patriarch by the shoulder, not having registered the fact that the man was already awake and irritated.
     “Wake up, Boss, I gotta talk t’you,” he said, oblivious to the angry curses emanating from the bed.
     Gambit untangled himself from the blankets at last and sat up, grabbed Emil’s arms and pushed him away. “So talk a’ready. Ain’ nobody can shut you up anyhow, even at t’ree a’clock in d’mawnin’.”
     His temper faded instantly when he first caught sight of his friend’s face in the darkness. Red was always fair, but Gambit was certain he could have seen that terror-stricken countenance shining pale as the moon even if he hadn’t been blessed—or cursed, to put it another way—with exceptional night vision. “What is it, Red? What happened?” he demanded in sudden concern.
     “Saw somet’in terrible, Boss,” Emil gulped. “Nasty terrible. Din’ know what t’do ‘bout it, so I come t’you.”
     “What is it, Lapin?” Gambit reiterated urgently. “What did you see?”
     Emil stared at him for a moment, wide-eyed and open-mouthed. Gambit thought he looked comically like a red-whiskered catfish, but he didn’t feel much like laughing. A dire sense of foreboding filled his imagination as he shuffled through possibilities. The fact was, Emil Lapin wasn’t exactly the most courageous of thieves, but still it ought to have taken something exceptionally beyond the average to scare him this much. The last time he’d seen his old friend in a state even approaching this was the day his father had been killed, and that was when they were still children, easily destroyed by life’s tragedies and just as easily recovered from them.
     Papa’s been killed, he thought suddenly. That’s what it is. And then reality hit him like a hammer blow and he remembered that that particular tragedy had come and gone, almost a year now and he still couldn’t accept it. Almost every morning he woke up with the feeling that the last year had just been a bad dream and that his father was still the patriarch of the LeBeau clan and the New Orleans thieves overall, and he himself was still safely in a position of zero responsibility.
     “I—I saw a demon,” Emil said, breaking him suddenly from the run of his thoughts. He looked back into his friend’s face and saw that his fear was fading, a little at least, as embarrassment rushed in to take its place. He carefully composed his expression to keep any hint of his amused disbelief out of it.
     “’Mil, if you stop an’ t’ink about it f’a minute, you prob’ly jus’ saw a mutant,” he said cautiously. “Overexposure done give you a skewed perspective, but dey’s some out dere look lots more like demons dan me. Ma’ frien’ Nightcrawler, f’example—”
     “Dis wa’ant no mutant,” Emil stressed pleadingly. “Please, Boss, you gotta b’lieve me.”
     He didn’t, but he placated his friend. “S’okay, Red, I b’lieve you. Why don’cha tell me jus’ e’zackly what happen, an’ den mebbe we c’n figger out what t’do ‘bout it.” He pushed him in front of him into the empty common room and down into a chair, poured him a glass of bourbon, and stood before him with his arms crossed over his chest. Emil swallowed the liquor down absently and Gambit blinked once; Red hated the taste of the hard stuff and couldn’t take much of it under ordinary circumstances.
     “I was at de club,” he began when he found the words. “’Least, dat’s where I was before dis happen. Was on m’way home, jus’ mindin’ ma’ own bidness…”
     Gambit had a hard time believing that. Emil Lapin was an expert at minding everyone’s business except his own.
     “Which club?” he asked, but didn’t wait for the answer. “Tabby’s, right?”
     Emil nodded abstractedly. “Had a good blues picker dere t’night. You shoulda come ‘long.”
     “Don’ have time t’go clubbin’ no more, Red,” Gambit said. “What happened on d’way home?”
     “I seen it.”
     Emil shuddered. “Oui. But not at firs’. Firs’ I jus’ saw dese two ol’ boys havin’ a fight. Jus’ a shoutin’ match, not’in more’n dat. Dey was drunk, an’ I figg’red I bes’ jus’ walk on by an’ not get in between ‘em. I c’d hear sirens so I knowed someone call de cops on ‘em. Disturbin’ d’peace, I ‘spect.”
     Gambit nodded. The truth was, keeping somebody awake who was trying to sleep was the fastest way to get arrested in any big city, not just the Big Easy. If you went about your nighttime law-breaking quietly you usually got away with it, even if somebody saw you. The sad truth was that civic-minded citizens were in short supply when the civic-minded were apt to die young.
     “Anyhow, dat was jus’ a spur f’me t’ hightail it outta dere, even d’ough I wa’ant doin’ not’in wrong, but I stopped jus’ like somebody nail me t’de pavemen’ when I seen dis big crazy-lookin’ guy come bus’in outta d’ dark. De drunks, dey don’ even see dis t’ing, jus’ keep on wit’ dey yellin’ an’ carryin’ on like dey ain’ not’in else goin’ on.”
     “It was a guy?” Gambit pounced on the phrasing like a cat on a ball of yarn. “Not a monster or a demon, but a guy?”
     Emil looked at him with patient resignation. “I t’ought it was jus’ a guy at firs’,” he explained. “It was almos’ human, after all, an’ it was dark, an’ I couldn’ quite believe it ma’self when I realized what I was seein’ wa’ant no people. F’one t’ing, it din’ really come from anywhere, it really jus’ appeared, right outta d’night like a bad dream.” He shuddered again.
     Gambit poured him a second bourbon and he knocked it back as easily as the first. “What it look like, ‘Mil?” the patriarch asked. “Describe it to me.”
     “Was all over white,” Emil responded. “Head t’hoof. ‘Cept its eyes, dey was red. Had big hawns on’ts head an’ big nasty batwings in back…”
     “A white demon?” Gambit asked, unable to forestall the incredulity in his voice. Emil looked up quickly at his tone.
     “Why not? You ever seen a demon before t’say what dey s’pos’a look like?” he shot with real venom. Gambit, unused to hearing anything worse than barbless insults from his friend, was stung.
     “I’m sorry, Red,” he said quietly. “Go on; what happened after dis…dis t’ing showed up?”
     “Was awful, Boss,” Emil said, lapsing back into scared melancholy. “De demon, it touch one a’ de drunks on d’shoulder, an’ d’drunk, he don’ even pay no ‘tention t’ it, like it ain’ even dere, but he…he pull out a gun an’ shoot de ot’er guy right in d’face. Like de demon made ‘im do it.”
     “Red, if dis guy had a gun de whole time, he was probably gonna use it sooner or later. Dat’s what drunks do.”
     “You ain’ heard all of it, yet,” he said. “De guy, he don’ even try t’get away, he jus’ stan’ dere lookin’ stupid, like he can’ b’lieve he done what he jus’ done. An’ d’ demon…d’ demon look over t’where I’m stan’in jus’ as stupid an’ grin at me.
     “It say, ‘Tell ‘im I’m waitin’ for ‘im, Red,’ an’ den it disappear. Jus’ like dat,” he finished, with a snap of his fingers. “Jus’ a puff a’ red flame an’ it’s gone. I stood dere like a idjit ‘til I seen d’firs’ black-an’-white turn ont’ d’street an’ den I head f’de roofs. Figg’red d’las’ t’ing I needed was t’end up a witness t’a murder, s’pecially seein’ what I seen.”
     “Who’s him s’pose t’be?” Gambit asked. “I mean, who’s he s’pose t’be waitin’ for?”
     Emil shook his head. “Don’ know, Boss. But I tell ya, I ‘bout shit ma’self when it call me by name.”
     “’Mil, it called you Red. Dat’s sorta self-evident. I mean, it don’ mean it really knew who you were.”
     “It knew, all right,” Emil said fatalistically. “An’ I tell you one ot’er t’ing, Boss; I don’ know who it meant, but I figg’er it meant you.”
     “How so?”
     “It’s a white demon. You Le Diable Blanc. Mebbe it’s jealous. T’ink you stealin’ it’s thunder.”
     Gambit was silent for awhile. He didn’t really know what to say. Finally he settled for, “Well, ain’ not’in we can do ‘bout dis now. Why don’ you jus’ go t’bed an’ in d’mawnin’ I’ll call up Professor X an’ have ‘im take a look f’dis t’ing.”
     “I’m tellin’ ya, Remy, it wa’ant no mutant,” Emil said again.
     “I know, I know,” he said soothingly, “but if it’s still around, d’Prof’ll fin’ it wit’ Cerebro an’ we can figg’er out what t’do from dere.” In truth he was convinced that what his friend and cousin must have seen was nothing more nor less than a mutant. That being the case, it was up to the Professor and the rest of the X-Men to take care of it. Gambit himself had bigger problems to worry about these days than rogue mutants, like rogue thieves. “Come on, Red, get yo’ pasty white butt up t’bed.”
     “I’m not tired,” Emil insisted stubbornly.
     “You will be in a second or two,” Gambit admitted. “If you’d kept that last shot aroun’ long enough t’actually taste it, you’da realized it was a Mickey. Now come on; ‘f you fall asleep ‘fore you make it t’y’ room I’ll hafta carry ya, an’ dat’ll put me out a’ temper. You too big t’haul up two flights a’ stairs.”
     “Jerk,” Emil observed. His speech was beginning to slur and his bright blue eyes dimmed with drugged sleepiness.
     “Dat’s me,” Gambit said agreeably. “Come on, buddy, I’ll help ya.” He got his arm around his friend’s shoulders and allowed him to lean on him as he walked him to his room.
     “’Spect you’ll be mad at me when y’wake up,” he said as he dumped Emil off on his unmade bed, “but frankly, I don’t give a damn.”
     He went back downstairs to his own room but didn’t go back to sleep. When the light began to brighten he went upstairs and onto the balcony. He sat and watched the sun come up in the east, just as it had come up over New Orleans since billions of years before the city was first founded and would continue to do so billions of years after it sank back into the bayou. He wasn’t thinking about demons or mutants. He was thinking about responsibility.
     ‘F you really t’ought I’se ready f’dis, Papa, he thought, you was wrong. I won’ never be ready f’dis. You oughta be d’one everyone go to when dey got trouble. Me, I oughta be runnin’ round down t’de clubs wit’ Emil, raisin’ hell an’ bein’ an enfant terriblé. Curley may be de one ev’ybody like bes’, but de col’ hard trut’ is dat Stooges ain’ no good a’tall wit’out a Moe. Dat’s a part I ain’ no good at playin’.
     He’d been patriarch in name at least since his father’s disappearance, nearly a year. He’d done nothing of note in that time. The thieves and assassins were united under a single banner now, but that had been his father’s doing; he’d merely been in charge when it finally happened. He didn’t have a week under his belt before one of Bella Donna’s assassins invoked a Vote of Confidence. That vote had kept him in charge, but only by the barest of margins—Bel’s own vote.
     Emil had voted in his favor, turning it into a joke just as he turned everything into a joke. Genard Alouette had voted in his favor “out of respect for his father.” His widowed sister-in-law, Mercy LeBeau, had given the most resounding vote. “Do you even have to ask, girl?” she’d told Bel when the tally came around to her. “I’m his sister-in-law. I know what de boy’s made of.”
     But did she? Sometimes it seemed to him that she was mistaking him for Henri, the husband she’d lost. Henri was the stuff patriarchs were made of; a good politician and a better diplomat. Of the two, Remy had been the better thief but that couldn’t make him a leader. But Henri was dead, killed on the front lawn of the Xavier mansion in Westchester where he had gone only to bring his little brother home so that year’s tithing ceremony could proceed by assassins aiming to stop it. Henri had been the last true LeBeau. Now that their father was gone all that remained of the premiere clan of the New Orleans thieves, probably the best-known and best-respected clan in the world, was one adopted mutie with few if any of the qualities the name was renowned for.
     I’d hafta live twice as long t’know half as much, he thought, still thinking of his father. He wondered, not for the first time, just exactly what had happened to him. Tante Mattie had said he’d “gone to fulfill the prophecy,” but what that meant he couldn’t say. As far as anyone knew, the guild prophecy was supposed to be something about him, but before he’d disappeared Jean-Luc LeBeau had ordered one of the guild’s two computer specialists, Theoren Marceaux, to hack into the computerized birth records of the local hospital supposed to be the one Remy had been born or left at and erase all the records from around that time. There was no paper trail either; any and all information that might have led him to the discovery of just who he was supposed to be had been stolen and presumably destroyed. Certainly he couldn’t find any of it, and he was supposed to be the best. Under similar orders, a member of the former Assassins Guild had stolen and destroyed the ancient tablets upon which were written the words of that supposed prophecy, unread for centuries and unremembered. It was a mystery to everyone why Jean-Luc should give such orders. Not even Tante Mattie could explain it.
     The truth was, it seemed a lot more like Jean-Luc was trying to keep the prophecy from being fulfilled than otherwise.
     Fine by me, Papa, Gambit thought. Only you din’ hafta go ‘way t’keep it from happenin’. Coulda jus’ stayed. I ain’ in any hurry t’make no heaven on earth.
     He suddenly realized the sun was fully up and he hadn’t noticed the sunrise at all. No matter, he’d always thought it an overrated phenomenon anyway. He went back into the house and down to the kitchen for some coffee.
     He set up the pot and sat down to wait for it to brew. When it was finished he poured out a cup and gulped it down as easily as Emil had gulped his whiskey, although it was scorching hot. He poured a second cup and sat down.
     In New Orleans, “reg’lar” coffee is a mixture of half coffee and half heavy cream. Black coffee is generally reserved for tourists. There was no shortage of cream in the refrigerator but Gambit had never taken his coffee “au lait.” That was something else he’d gotten from his father: Jean-Luc LeBeau always preferred his coffee black, too, and preferably as thick and strong and hot as roofing tar. Just his little peculiarity. Gambit’s own “little peculiarity” was known to be his ability to move his eyes independently of each other. In the secluded little world of the thieves guild, one trait was not considered any weirder than the other.
     Thieves are not generally early risers. Typically the only reason any given member of the United Guild’s thieves branch might see the sunrise was that they hadn’t gone to bed yet. Zoë Ishihara was the exception. She gave him a curious glance as she entered but didn’t ask what he was doing up at that hour and poured herself a cup of coffee. She also took hers black, though she really preferred tea. Her preferences were forgivable since she was not a native, but a former member of a Taiwanese thieves guild who had sought sanctuary for herself and her little brother among the thieves of New Orleans. Her brother was a mutant, and Gambit himself had saved the boy from “the Pig,” a rather hideous character who was employed in the shady occupation of kidnapping “exceptional” children for people who used them for various nefarious purposes. Gambit himself had once been his target, and the Pig had lost an eye for it. And Gambit had lost a cousin.
     Two, when you counted Theoren. He’d hated Gambit ever since, blaming him for the death of his little brother, Etienne. And the truth was that Gambit did own that blame. It was the fault of his then emerging and out-of-control mutant powers. Theoren Marceaux never looked at him now when he didn’t seem to be thinking, You killed my brother. He died and you, you lived. How fair is that?
     Not fair at all, but then, life rarely is, and death never.
     Zoë sat down across the table from him and blew the steam off her cup. “Emil must have really tied one on last night,” she said conversationally. “His door was open when I passed this morning, and he was in there sprawled on his bed, fully dressed, snoring like an old wino. Funny thing, that. I didn’t think he drank.”
     Zoë didn’t play poker, but she’d have been good at it. There was little sign in her face or voice that she knew his hand, but he hadn’t cleaned the glass away—those sharp hazelnut eyes couldn’t have missed it, and he knew her well enough by now to know she would have investigated closely, smelling out the sleeping pills he’d added to knock Red out.
     “I mighta helped him out jus’ a li’l,” he admitted guardedly.
     “Might I ask why he needed assistance?” she said, meeting his eyes frankly with her own.
     “You might. Don’ mean you gon’ get an answer, but you can always ask.”
     “Pills and alcohol are generally known not to mix well,” she said.
     “I didn’t give ‘im much, or very strong stuff. Jus’ a couple a’ Tylenol PM. He was…pretty upset las’ night. Didn’t figg’er he’s gon’ get any sleep ot’erwise.”
     She nodded as if satisfied. He knew her well enough to know better than that, too, but she didn’t press her luck. He liked that about her: she knew when to fold.
     “So, what are you up to this morning?” she asked, taking a delicate sip of coffee.
     He drained his own cup in another single gulp. “Was jus’ about t’give Professor Xavier a ring,” he said. “Got a favor t’ask ‘im. You?”
     “I don’t know. This city doesn’t really seem to wake up until about eleven o’clock. Or maybe that’s just the guild. All the same, it’s pretty dull around here until then.”
     “Wish I could make a good suggestion,” he said, grinning like a cat, “but I’m not usually up before eleven o’clock.”
     There was an oven mitt on the kitchen table. She threw it at him as he walked out the door, but missed by several inches. He laughed over his shoulder at her and went into the library to use the phone.
     Charles Xavier’s voice answered after the first ring. “Good morning, Gambit. You’re up rather early, aren’t you?” he said without preamble.
     “Had a rough night,” he said. He didn’t have to ask how Xavier had known who was calling. In this instance it wasn’t telepathy, but rather Caller ID. “Chuckles, I was wond’rin if you could mebbe help me out.”
     “Possibly. What is the problem?”
     “My cousin, Emil—las’ night he said he saw a demon.”
     There was a pause. “And?” Xavier said at last.
     “And I’m thinkin’ it was probably a mutant. An’ from what he tol’ me, not a nice one. I was hopin’ you could take a sniff aroun’ an’ see if dey’s anybody ‘round here who shouldn’t be. Lady Mastermind, mebbe, messin’ wit’ people’s heads as always, or somebody new. Probably a telepath, possibly somebody who oughta stan’ out like a sore thumb. Emil said ‘e was all white, wit’ red eyes, hooves, horns, an’ wings.”
     “I’ll see what I can find out.”
     “Great. T’anks a lot, Chuck. I talk t’ya later.”
     He hung up and sat where he was behind the big oak desk a moment longer. Technically this was his room now, a combination of office and library and sitting room. Before it had been his father’s, and it remained unchanged from those not-so-distant days. As a child he’d spent untold hours sitting on the couch in this room with his legs folded beneath him, sometimes with Emil, always with his father, laughing over bootleg copies of the Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, and the most contemporary of his father’s favorites, Monty Python’s Flying Circus. They were some of the best memories he had.
     He left the room at once, feeling disgusted with himself for this constant morbid dwelling on something he couldn’t change. Restless, he put the phone on forwarding to his cellular and went out for a walk. He ended up in the main city park with no clear recollection of setting out in that direction. He sat down on a bench near a pigeon-splattered statue and put his hands over his face, tired and out of sorts.
     A cheap, tinkling rendition of “Lullabye of Birdland” broke the weekday stillness. It took him a second to remember that the tune signified that his cell phone was ringing. He pulled it out of his pocket and flipped it open.
     “Hello, Gambit.” Charles Xavier’s voice came down through the cellular waves not noticeably changed from what it sounded like in person. “I’ve been scanning your area with Cerebro—I can find no sign of any of our known mutant adversaries, whether or not they might fit the description you gave me.”
     “Can’t say I’m much surprised,” he replied. “Seen anyt’ing weird?”
     “Not a thing. If there’s a new malevolent power in the area, it’s not being used at the moment. And Cerebro picked up nothing of note in any part of Louisiana during Self-Scan mode last night. Whatever your cousin’s ‘demon’ did, it wasn’t strong enough on the mutant power scale to set off the automatic recording triggers.”
     “Now, dat do s’prise me. From what he tol’ me, I’d say de guy had t’be a Alpha class. Mebbe worse.”
     “You forget, Gambit; you have me at a disadvantage. You’ve yet to tell me just what this supposed ‘demon’ did.”
     “Apparently it appeared in a burst a’ flame, remainin’ completely invisible to a couple a’ squabblin’ drunks, touched one of ‘em an’ made ‘im kill de ot’er guy. Den he gave ‘Mil a rat’er sinister message which he interpreted as being for me an’ disappeared in anot’er burst a’ flame.”
     Silence. Then, “Well, that certainly does sound like something Cerebro should have picked up on. Unless…”
     “Unless what?”
     “A number of things,” Xavier said uncomfortably. “For example, this being could have powers that are simply unreadable. You yourself are somewhat like that—unless you open your mind willingly, you appear to a psychic scan as no more than white noise, static interference.”
     “What ot’er reason could dey be?” he asked. Xavier was silent long enough for him to answer his own question. “He could be a real demon, neh?”
     “I’ll admit that seems like a fantastic idea, but…”
     “But de X-Men have seen enough strange t’ings not t’rule not’in out,” Gambit finished. “Well, t’anks anyway, Chuck. I know I can trus’ you to keep watchin’, jus’ in case. ‘F it be a mutant, I ‘spec t’see y’all down my way soon. ‘F it a demon, I reckon it ma’ own problem.”
     “Whatever the final analysis, Gambit, we will of course be ready to help you rid New Orleans of the threat. That’s what friends do for each other.”
     He smiled a little sadly. “Yeah, I reckon so. T’anks again. Say hi t’Stormy for me.”
     “I’ll say hi to all of them for you. Goodbye, Gambit.”
     “Goodbye, Chuck.” He pocketed the telephone and went home.
     Emil was in the kitchen, bleary-eyed, drinking coffee that was mostly cream. He scowled at Gambit when he walked in. “Dat was a damn dirty trick you pulled on me las’ night,” he groaned.
     “I know, but den, you oughta expect dat kin’ a’ t’ing from me b’now.” He grabbed a cream cheese Danish out of the refrigerator and stuffed half of it in his mouth at once, rendering himself temporarily speechless.
     Emil winced. “Don’ chew so loud,” he pleaded.
     Gambit swallowed hard and sat down. He snatched Emil’s coffee from his hand to wash the pastry down, and grimaced at the taste. “How c’n you drink dat? Dat ain’ coffee. It’s milk someone waved a bean over. De coffee ran t’rough dat cream on stilts.”
     “You are such a freak,” Emil observed, fondly enough. “Since you de one poisoned me, an’ den you have de effrontery to insult ma’ coffee, you can get yo’ ass out dat chair an’ make me anot’er cup.”
     Gambit passed the cup over as he sat back down. “I called Professor Xavier dis mawnin’,” he said.
     Emil passed a hand over his eyes and pushed his wild red hair out of his face. “Oh yeh? What he have t’say?”
     “He coul’nt find no sign dat dey was anyt’in funny goin’ on here las’ night.”
     “Dammit, Rem, I saw what I saw.” Emil pounded his fist on the table to emphasize his words.
     “I don’t for one minute t’ink you din’t,” Gambit said, honestly. “Barrin’ de notion dat you ‘magined de whole t’ing, dey’s a couple a’ possibilities lef’ over.”
     “Like what?”
     “Like a powerful mutant who can shield his’self from psychic scans, even as powerful as Cerebro.”
     Emil glowered, and Gambit continued quickly.
     “Or it could be a real demon. Since we don’ know what real demons is like, we don’ know whet’er dey’s likely t’show up on a scan or what.”
     Somewhat mollified, Emil sat forward. “Dat what he say, or dat what you say jus’ t’calm me down?”
     “I tol’ de Professor I t’ought it was jus’ a mutant,” Gambit admitted. “He de one suggested it might not be.”
     “He din’t tell you I’se jus’ imaginin’ stuff?”
     Gambit shook his head. “Chuck know me better dan t’suggest dat. He know I may not trus’ your judgement, but I trus’ you.”
     “I’m flattered,” Red said sourly.
     “What say you an’ me go out t’night?”
     Red started and looked at his friend hopefully. “Like ol’ times?”
     “Not exactly. I’m goin’ demon huntin’.”
     “Ah, no! No, you not gettin’ me t’go anywhere near dat t’ing again!”
     “You don’ hafta do not’in,” Gambit said calmly. “You jus’ goin’ along for moral support. If dey’s any fightin’, I’ll do it.”
     “Shouldn’t you mebbe wait f’ d’ose X-Friends of yours?” Emil suggested hopefully.
     “If dey’s a demon runnin’ round my city, it’s my problem. I’ll handle it m’self.”
     “But what if you can’t?”
     “Den you run lahk hell an’ tell Bella Donna she’s back in charge a’ d’whole shebang.”
     Emil shook his head worriedly. “I don’ like dis, Boss. I don’ like dis one li’l bit.”
     “You don’t gotta. You jus’ gotta keep yo’self outta de way.” He stood up and left the kitchen. Emil trailed after him worriedly.
     “At leas’ talk t’Tante Mattie befo’ you go runnin’ off an’ gettin’ you’self killed. An’ listen t’what she say, hahn?”
     “Fine. I do dat right now.”
Gambit kept walking, without looking back once, and Emil stopped in the middle of the common room, watching his retreating back with a sour expression.
     “Knew I shoulda gone t’ Tante Mattie in de firs’ place, soon as I woke up dis mawnin’,” he muttered. “Superboy jus’ gon’ go an’ get his damn fool self killed. An’ it’ll be all yo’ fault, Emil Lapin. Might as well start packin’; killin’ de patriarch one a’ dem onpardonable offences.”

On to Episode Two!