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Sinister Intent: Chapter Eleven

Mac O'Roni

     “Are you all right, Cajun? You’re acting kinda funny today. Funnier than usual, I mean. You haven’t even touched your Blizzard.”
     He picked up his spoon and swirled it around his half-melted ice cream. “I guess I’m jus’ not hungry, petite.”
     “Are you feeling bad about what happened last night? With Rogue?” Jubilee asked.
     “You know ‘bout dat?”
     “Gambit, the whole mansion knows about it. Rogue spent the night in the Danger Room beating up on a simulation of you.”
     “I’m jus’ s’prised she didn’t use d’real t’ing.”
     “What the heck happened there, anyway, Cajun? It’s not like you to blow up at somebody like that, ‘specially not her.”
     “I don’ know,” he admitted. “I jus’ been on a real short fuse lately, an’ she managed t’light it up. She said a few t’ings dat kin’a…opset me.”
     Jubilee spooned up a big chunk of Snickers bar from his Blizzard and ate it. “I know it ain’t none of my business, Cajun, but I just gotta say—I never really understood exactly what you went for with her. I mean, there are challenges, and then there are challenges. Seems to me that the guy who can’t keep his hands off women and the woman who can’t be touched are sorta kinda…incompatible, you know?”
“I t’ought up half a dozen ways ‘r more t’work aroun’ dat li’l problem a’ hers, but she wouldn’t hear none of it. Finally fig’d out dat it was more importan’ f’her t’be all tragic dan t’solve d’problem.”
     “Sounds like the honeymoon’s over, eh loverboy?”
     “You migh’ say dat.”
     “Well, I’m sorry it didn’t work out, even if I’m not really surprised. Nobody believed you were serious about her at first, but you really seemed to settle in there for awhile.”
     “Le’me let you in on a li’l secret, chère: I ben serious ‘bout every lady I ever been wit’. But it never work out, not once in a t’ousand times. D’cards is good t’Gambit, but he ain’t had a lot a’ good luck wit’ much a’ anyt’ing else.”
     “Tell me the truth, Cajun: have you ever met anybody, short of maybe me an’ Storm, who hasn’t tried or at least threatened to kill you from time to time?”
     He grinned. “Not dat I can t’ink of, no. My Tante Mattie love me better dan anyone I ever know, an’ she t’reaten my life two, t’ree times a day when I’se little.”
     Jubilee rendered herself speechless with a huge spoonful of banana split and Gambit sank back into a brown study. As far as Jubilee was concerned, she had answered her own question as to why he was upset, and that was fine with him. If she didn’t ask, he didn’t have to tell her what was really bothering him.
     As he had promised, he brought her here to the New Salem mall on her first day of freedom. His attempt to convince her to accept a ride in the Ferrari rather than a ride on his motorcycle went unheeded, and as he had known would happen, her purchases quickly exceeded what could safely be carried on the back while she rode pillion. She continued her spree while he rode back to the mansion and brought back the car. He almost ditched the bike on the way—he was so infernally pissed off that he was, quite literally, seeing red. He roared into the garage at full speed and screeched to a halt, narrowly missing Wolverine, who was in tinkering with his Jeep. The feral snarled curses at him but stopped with one good look at the Cajun’s face. “Christ, Gumbo, are you…are you okay?”
     Gambit turned his blazing red eyes on him. His features were contorted and ugly in rage. His voice, when he spoke, was a harsh rasp a full octave deeper than usual. “Wha’d’you care, asshole?”
     Wolverine raised his hands. “Now, calm down, there, Flash. I’m on yer side, remember?”
     “Yah? Since when?”
     Logan decided that didn’t have an answer, so he ignored it. “Gambit, where’s Jubilee?” he asked, very quietly.
     “At d’mall. I tol’ dat girl we ought t’take d’car, but would she lis’en? Non! It d’damn bike or not’in!”
     Logan relaxed visibly. “So she’s okay? You’re just pissed because you had to come back here for the car?"
     “Ain’ dat enough? Girl ain’ not’in but trouble.”
     Gambit headed for the Ferrari, but Wolverine put a restraining hand on his shoulder. “Gambit, before you go tearin’ off in that thing ya might wanna calm down just a bit. Ain’t no use in bein’ angry.”
     “Oh, dat’s rich. Look who’s talkin’, hahn?”
     Wolverine shrugged. “That’s my thing. It ain’t never been your thing. You’re supposed to be the one with the champion poker face, right? Unflappable, unreadable, unbreakable?”
     “Well mebbe not no more.” He tried to get past him, but Wolverine kept a firm grip on his shoulder. “Lemme go, Logan, or I might take a notion t’blow you righ’ t’rough dat wall over dere.”
     “Not a bad idea, really.”
     Gambit charged an ace, and Logan raised his hands placatingly. “No, now wait,” he said. “I don’t really want t’go flyin’ through the garage wall—sorta undignified. You understand. What I meant was, maybe you and me oughta have a go in the Danger Room. Like you always let me beat up on you when I need to blow off steam. You can’t hurt me much or for long, and it’s hard as hell to hurt you. So it’s a lot better than you wrecking the car or blasting Jubes into tomorrow because she made you stand guard outside the dressing room holding her purse while she tried on clothes.”
     It struck Gambit then how ridiculous this whole situation was. Why was he so angry? Things like this had never got under his skin before. Logan was right; he was out of control. He remembered something his father had told him, one of the thinly disguised lessons drummed into his head repeatedly until it became an adage. A man who ain’ got control over his’self gon’ fin’ his’self controlled by someone else.
     The thought made him shudder. He knew all too well who wanted to control him. Mebbe Sinister done somet’in t’you makin’ you get y’shorts all twisted, he thought. Mebbe dis all what he wanted t’happen in de firs’ place. Mebbe dat’s why he let you go, so you’d lose it an’ hurt all you frien’s all on you own. If dat happen, den what? You welcome worn pretty thin as it is. Ain’ got no place else t’go. How you keep away from Sinister on you own?
     He was able to pull himself together then, though he could feel his temper still raging barely controlled under the surface. Wolverine made him promise to avail himself of the Danger Room, live partner or not, next time he felt himself losing it, and though it sounded like the best idea going it terrified him that he should have to “work out his aggressions.” His was not a personality that generally required such an outlet. Good food, good music, and good company was all he’d ever needed before.
     So he drove back to the Salem Center mall, and after Jubilee had finished shopping he took her to the Dairy Queen and they sat at a patio table and he brooded over his Blizzard, wondering how long it would be before he wouldn’t be able to control his temper at all anymore. The less Jubilation knew about it the better, as far as he was concerned.
     Someone pushed their chair out behind him and bumped into him. He was on his feet on the instant, a card blazing in his left hand. And then, miraculously, Jubilee was in front of him, eyes wide and scared but trying to laugh about it, trying to push him back into his chair, and he was able to grab hold of his sanity again. He reabsorbed the kinetic charge and tried to grin at the girl. If it looked half as phony as it felt it couldn’t have been very convincing.
     “Are you ready t’go?” he asked brightly. “’Cause I t’ink mebbe I better get ma’self home before I do somet’in stupid.”
     “Yeah, I think we’d better go,” she said, watching him warily. “Cajun…maybe you should talk to the Professor…?”
     “Yeh, mebbe so, petite. Mebbe so. I give ‘im a shout when we get back, neh? You ready? Le’s go.”

On to Chapter Twelve!