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Sometimes you Just Gotta Mess With Their Minds

Mac O'Roni

From the moment he woke up that morning, Gambit knew something was badly wrong. For one thing, he had a killer hangover, which was unusual as he hadn’t had so much as one sip of beer the night before, and he had never in his life drunk to the point of intoxication. Not that he hadn’t drunk, ever, it just didn’t really affect him that much in the quantities he consumed. But the dull pounding in his head, the nausea, and the shriveled, coated state of his tongue spoke of only one conclusion: a man who had tied one on tight and hard.
     The second funny thing that happened that morning, after the dry heaves passed and he felt somewhat normal again, was what he decided to wear that day. As usual, his choice of clothing was purely arbitrary—he just reached in his closet, pulled out a shirt, and pulled it on without really worrying what it was or what it looked like. This particular T-shirt resembled nothing so much as a nylon stocking, tight and black and somewhat translucent. For pants, he pulled on a pair of skin-tight black leather britches that bulged rather prominently in a rather indecent way. There was no question in his mind about wearing this outlandish outfit, which worried him. He hadn’t even known he owned such things, and here he was preparing to walk out into the public areas of the X-Mansion wearing them. What was going on? Chris would never do this to him. Neither would Fabian, he was certain. He doubted this was Sal’s doing, either. Some new face he didn’t know? Or did ol’ Joe really, truly hate him? Even if he did, he couldn’t imagine him being quite so vindictive. He couldn’t utterly loathe him, at least not enough to want to destroy him, because he was getting his own title soon. Again.
     Le’s jus’ see if mebbe dis one las’ a bit longer, eh? he thought to himself. ‘Spec I be lucky if it make it pas’ de firs’ six months.      Oh yeah, there was something very strange going on. He knew it for a fact the minute he stepped out his door into the corridor. There were way too many people here, people who didn’t live in the X-Mansion and rarely set foot inside the doors. And they were all just hanging around with the regulars, in the hall, doing nothing except apparently presenting themselves for inspection. Archangel, Iceman, Wolverine, Jubilee, Shadowcat, Nightcrawler, Phoenix, the Beast, Morph, Forge, Boom-Boom, Cannonball, Syren, Banshee, Moira MacTaggert, Emma Frost, Cyclops, Storm, Rogue, Psylocke (wasn’t she supposed to be dead?), Colossus (ditto!), Northstar, Bishop, Cable, and even Courier. Rogue was looking decidedly Anna Paquin-esque. When did she get so damned young?
     To his astonishment, mingling right among the heroes, were many of the worst villains he had ever encountered. Mr. Sinister. Sabretooth. Mystique (or was she a good guy now?). Magneto. The Shadowking. Toad. Avalanche. The Juggernaut. Arcade. Chandra. Even the Pig, an extremely ugly reminder of his misspent youth. He also saw his adoptive father and Tante Mattie amongst his friends and enemies, and could that possibly be Bella Donna? He thought so.
     Gambit walked by them all without sparing any of them so much as a cursory glance, though he marked each one with increasing unease. This situation looked extremely suspicious. He had the uneasy feeling he’d been here before. Very Twilight Zone. He’d never liked that show.
     And look at this—there’s a signpost ahead! Your final destination, The Danger Room. His heart did a double backwards half-gainer in his chest. Funny how he should come straight here from his bedroom. His room was on the third floor; the Danger Room was underground. He certainly couldn’t remember taking any stairs. No, Joe would never do this, nor would he ever allow anyone to do this. There were always continuity errors in any big operation, but nothing, nothing like this. He had a horrible sinking feeling, a feeling that his life was in the hands of someone less than competent. A hobbyist.
     A fanfiction.
     It was with marvelous French fatalism that he entered the amazing structure. Just as he had suspected, he was apparently here to fight one-on-one with a live opponent. And just as he had suspected, that opponent was Wolverine. Strange that he should already be here, when I jus’ pass him in de hallway not one full minute ago.
     Logan was bare-chested (in the hall he’d been in full uniform), wearing only the yellow pants. They were fitting unusually close this morning, Gambit noted. That was also when he noted that his own feet were bare, he had his bo (which he most certainly had not brought with him), and his hair, which only that morning had been the short if somewhat untidy mop he’d affected in recent years, now hung straight down his back to his waist. It was also ginger red instead of the honey-brown they usually made it these days.
     A traditionalist, he thought.
     Logan was leering at him, all those sharp white teeth showing, and Gambit felt a bit like a choice-cut steak in a butcher’s display case. “Nice outfit, Cajun,” he growled through his grin.
     “Heya, Canucklehaid, ‘fore we start dis li’l hoo-raw, I jus’ wanna know—anyt’ing strange been happenin’ t’you today?” he said, feeling a bit like Huckleberry Finn. Whoever this was, they were not at all subtle with accents.
     “Now that ya mention it…” Logan began, drawing out his answer. “I have had a strange hankerin’ for a little…Cajun.”
     Mon Dieu! Gambit thought in sudden panic. Not jus’ fanfiction, SLASH!!! He should have known from the way he was dressed. Not exactly subtle, though at least he hadn’t been compelled to wear eye makeup.
     Or had he?
     There was no time to check a mirror. Logan’s claws flashed out, and he was just in time to block them with his staff. The Freudian implications of the fight occurred to him at once, but this was no time to discuss literary symbolism and his opponent was not one to care in any case. Desperately, he blocked each attack, knowing what would come the moment he failed to do so.
     He held his own for awhile. Logan was the best fighter, there was no doubt, and he was cunning as hell, too, but Gambit was no slouch, and every so often he managed to force a draw or even to beat the feral outright. It made his ultimate defeat all the more humiliating, even though he knew it wasn’t really his fault. It was all the damned writer. He swore then and there, if there was a way, he was going to get back at them for this.
     It should have been an easy block. The attack was almost clumsy in its delivery, but when he tried to raise his staff his arms refused to obey. The tips of Logan’s sharp claws caught on the fabric of his shirt and sliced it away, bare millimeters from his skin.
     “Much better,” Logan purred. Gambit had never heard Wolverine purr in his life, certainly hadn’t thought him capable, but there was no questioning that low crooning voice. In the next instant, Logan’s other set of claws had cut his pants to ribbons. “This is gonna be fun.”
     Dis is a nigh’mare, Gambit thought incoherently. Any minute now I’se gonna wake up an’ it’ll all be over.
     But he knew that wasn’t true. And worst of all, some part of him, that part that was merely the puppet of the writers, wanted this to happen. And that part of him was gaining the upper hand. He strutted and posed like a lovestruck rooster as Logan closed with him and began slobbering kisses all over his bare chest. Little shrimp was too damned short to get any higher than that. As the feral pushed him to the floor he thought he heard an evil chuckle from out of nowhere.
     And high above, beyond the computer screen, the one called Mac laughed and laughed and laughed.