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Sinister Intent: Chapter Ten
It took a long time to get out of Dr. McCoy’s clutches. He was like a kid with a new toy, and after being poked, prodded, injected, drained, cut, drilled, x-rayed, and documented, Gambit completely lost any and all interest in what answers these uncomfortable and sometimes painful procedures could give him and wanted only a nap and a stiff drink, not necessarily in that order.
“Can I leave now, doc?” he asked, pulling on his shirt. McCoy, deeply absorbed in a microscopic analysis of one or another tissue sample he’d collected that day, merely waved him off. “I take dat as a yes.”
He couldn’t quite bring himself to bother with the buttons, so he let his shirt hang open and left the MediLab, feeling the dull warning pulse of a killer migraine starting up behind his left eye. Rounding a corner in the hallway, he suddenly came face-to-face with a pair of big, earnest green eyes.
“Heya, Remy,” Rogue ventured. She was a little shy with him these days. Their relationship was best described as “on and off,” and currently it was off. For a change of pace, Gambit had been the one doing the breaking-up this time, which was virtually unprecedented. Also virtually unprecedented was the length of the separation: they’d been at outs with each other for more than four months. Rogue had made a number of advances in that time, even though she thought it should be up to him to make the first move toward reconciliation, but he had deflected all attempts with studied courtesy. He was gentlemanly, friendly, and completely unromantic. She’d never seen him that way before, and it bothered her.
“Rogue,” he acknowledged, and nodded to her. He didn’t really mean to be quite so cool, but he was in no condition to fend her off today. Nor did he feel equal to making up and picking up their awkward love affair where they had left off, which was frankly nowhere. The truth was, he was tired of being pushed around, by her and by everyone else. There had been a time when he’d rather liked the rough, careless way she treated him, and there had been a time not so long ago when he felt it his duty, almost his penance, to be martyred upon a lover’s cross for her, but that time was past. Now, though he tried not to show it even when he was so tired and grumpy and everything in the world seemed set against him, most of what he felt for her was contempt, tinged with regret. She was a good woman, he knew that, and he hoped that she’d be very happy someday, but he found it very hard indeed to see the woman he’d fallen in love with when he first came to the X-Men. The woman standing before him now was not that brassy, “stand-back-don’t-touch-me” bitch he’d flipped over. She was insecure, indecisive, hung-up, even a little stuck-up. And she didn’t now nor had she ever really been in love with him. She’d loved only the fact that he was hers, would do anything for her, and she could use him as much as she wanted. He was an ego-boost.
“Ah’m, ah…glad you’re back. Home, Ah mean,” she said, after a tense silence.
I’m not home, chère, he thought. Not even close.
Out loud, he merely said, “Thanks.”
“Ah was scared,” she said. “Ah was afraid we’d nevah git ya back. We looked for ya, but we just couldn’t find hide ner hair of ya anywhere, an’ that Mr. Sinister’s always hard to find. Plus, ya know, we were kinda workin’ with a…with a small crew. Me, Bish, an’ Logan tried trackin’ ya, an’ Sam come with us sometimes. Betsy and the Professor was on Cerebro lookin’ for ya every day. But there was lots a’ trouble we had ta look into too, since we was about the only ones left in the mansion.”
She waited a few beats for him to speak, but as he said nothing she sighed and lay one gloved hand on his chest, just under the fabric of his shirt. “Sugah, I sure wish ya’d talk t’me. Ya don’t know what it was like, sittin’ here day after day wond’rin an’ worryin’ an’ not bein’ able to do nothin’. Ah ‘bout went outta my mind.”
“I think I can 'magine what it was like,” he said. “Only f’some reason my ‘magination’s mighty damn cold. An’ dark. An’ hongry.”
Stung as much by his bland tone as by the thinly veiled accusation in his words, her big eyes swam with tears. That was her chief weapon. Screaming and shouting only seemed to amuse him, but the moment the waterworks started he would always crumble and offer whatever apologies she required. It was not a calculated maneuver on her part by any means, but that did not mean that she did not expect it to work.
It didn’t. “Don’ start, girl. You lef’ me dere, an’ den you try t’exonerate yo’self sayin’ I wan’ed t’die. Yeh, I’m really d’suicidal type, ain’ I? Spen’ so much damn energy stayin’ ‘live in a worl’ dat mos’ly want me dead—why’d I bother? Lucky f’me you was dere t’he’p me out. In case I din’t say it befo’, I say it now: Merci beaucoup, Dr. Kevorkian.”
She had started backing away when he first began talking, until her legs came up against the edge of an end table and her retreat was halted. Her eyes had gotten wider and wider until they seemed to take up half her face. “Gambit, Ah…Ah thought we was past this. Ah thought…Ah thought we’d moved on.”
“An’ jus’ how’m I s’pose a’move on, hahn? How’m I s’pose a’get pas’ it? We not talkin’ ‘bout some little lover’s spat here, we talkin’ ‘bout my life! I loved you an’ you lef’ me t’die. You pull me outta dat place when it’ ‘splodin, jus’ so’s you can leave me out in d’col’ t’die slower. An’ I gotta stan’ dere in de ice an’ snow, callin’ you name, watchin’ you fly ‘way an’ t’inkin it all a big joke, ha ha, any second now you turn roun’ an’ come back f’me, you gotta come back, you not gon’ leave poor Remy out here all by his lonesome, not for what I done, not for what I was…for what you was, too, in case you forgot, li’l Miss Assassin…t’inkin yeh, I deserve t’be punished, t’inkin yeh, lock me up f’a hunnert years, put me in d’ ‘lectric chair, but by God, don’ leave me out here. Sucker dat I is, I go on t’inkin you gonna come back ‘til I get so col’ dat I gotta get back inside somewhere or freeze t’death.”
“But…but ya didn’t…ya didn’t die, Sugah, ya made it out, just like ya always do. Ya always make it out, and even if we don’t always know how, we always know that Gambit’s gonna be all right in the end… Remy, Ah…Ah was stupid ta leave ya there, Ah know that, an’ I’m jus’ as sorry as Ah can be…but ya said ya forgave me, Sugah, ya said ya understood.”
Defeated more by his own exhaustion than by her plaintive voice and saucer eyes, he sighed. “I did. An’ I do. I’m jus’ tired, chère, it been a long…couple’a years. I guess d’strain finally startin’ t’show. Been fightin’ wit’ everybody lately, I don’ know why. I’m sorry.”
“Poor baby, you do look awful tuckered out. Ah’m sorry Ah got on yer bad side today, Sugah,” she said, coming to him and putting her arms around his neck, careful not to touch him skin to skin. “Ah know ya didn’t mean ta hurt mah feelin’s.”
The dull pain behind his eye exploded in a white-hot fireball at her careless, selfish words and became a full-blown migraine. At the same time, an equally hot flash of anger flamed up in his chest. He battled it down with difficulty.
“Ouch, Sugah, you squashin’ me,” she squealed. He forced his arms to relax their grip around her shoulders. “You dumb coon-ass,” she said, swatting him playfully.
It was the wrong thing to say, even if she didn’t mean it maliciously. Faster than the eye could track he drew a card from the pack in his back pocket, charged it, and threw it. Her nearly impervious skin protected her from the blast, but she was blown off her feet by the force of it. “What the—?”
“Don’ call me dat,” he said. His voice was soft and dangerous. “Don’ never call me dat again, you conceited li’l bitch.”
Without either apology or explanation, he stalked away.
On to Chapter Eleven!