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Sinister Intent: Chapter Seven
It was clear that Jubilee was going to be okay. Gambit could hear her chattering on before he was three-quarters of the way down the long corridor to her private room in the General ward of the MediLab wing. He smiled to himself, wondering who was the lucky individual with the severely bent ear.
It happened to be a young nurse, who was having obvious difficulty getting an accurate blood pressure reading from the teenager since she would not (Gambit rather thought could not) stop talking long enough for the meter to settle. The woman gave up, jotted down the inaccurate reading on her clipboard, and excused herself from the room with obvious relief.
Gambit knocked on the open door, and Jubilation’s eyes widened momentarily when she saw him there. He could tell she was afraid, in that instant, that he would attack. Then it passed and her entire face lit up in one of those brilliant firework smiles that made her impossible to dislike no matter how annoying she could be.
"Hey, Big G! Back to abnormal, I hope?” she said.
“All better,” he said. “You?”
“I’m all right. Bored, though. I want out of here.” She pouted.
“Maybe dis keep you occupied f’ a while,” he said, plopping a bagful of entertainment and fashion magazines on her lap. She oohed and ahhed over Johnny Depp and Hugh Jackman for a minute and then turned to look at him.
“Professor X came in the other day and told me about what happened,” she said. “With Sinister, I mean. How he made you do it.”
“Yeah. Well, I knew it all along, of course. I mean, you’re a jerk,” she said, “but you’re not that big a jerk. And he told me that Sinister…that he did some things to you, afterward.”
He nodded, hoping against hope that she wasn’t going to make him go over all of it again.
“He messed up your charm power, didn’t he?”
Gambit drew a total blank. “Say wha’?”
“It’s like it’s stuck on high.”
“Wha'chou talkin’ ‘bout, petite?”
She rolled her eyes dramatically. “Oh please, don’t pretend you don’t know what I mean. If Wolverine was here right now he’d ring your neck because of it, but it’s okay, I’m immune to you. Me and Jean are about the only ones, I think, and I’m not real sure about her sometimes.”
“Immune to me? Chère, I really don’ know what you talkin’ ‘bout.”
“Oh come on! Do you really mean to stand there and tell me that you didn’t know about your charm power?”
“Gambit know he charmin’, but dey ain’ no ‘power’ ‘bout it,” he said.
“Oh yeah? Then you’re purposely trying to seduce me?”
“Duh, Cajun. I’m not stupid, you know. Even I can tell what that smell’s all about. Wolverine would probably be gagging with it right now.”
“What smell? What is dis smell everyone be goin’ on about?”
“Calm down, big fella. Got a short temper these days, don’cha?”
“Tell me,” he said, forcing himself to be calm, “exac’ly what you be talkin’ ‘bout. Dis d’firs’ time anyone ever said anyt’ing t’Gambit ‘bout dis, an’ I wanna know what it all about. What’chu mean smell?”
“Well, I really thought you must have known about it. I mean, how couldn’t you? But anyway, it use’ta be that when you really wanted to convince someone to do something for you you’d…smell. Well, not really, ‘cause we couldn’t really notice it but Wolverine told me about it once, so I could watch out for it. I guess it’s one of those…what’dya call ‘ems, pheromones? And that wasn’t all, you’d also get kinda…trance-y, like, what do I wanna say…hypnotic? The way you talked, the way you moved. Your eyes would glow sometimes, too, but different from the way they do when you’re mad or when you’re trying to see in the dark. It’s a darker color, sorta…bloody. Ugh. And you wouldn’t blink anymore. Anyway, you’re doing all that now, can’t you tell?”
Gambit bolted into the connecting bathroom and glared at himself in the mirror. Sure enough, his eyes were glowing just a little, a rich maroon that began to fade immediately now that he was some distance away from the girl. When it was gone completely he blinked, but he could not be sure if that was out of necessity or merely from the suggestion that he didn’t while he was pouring on the charm. He was disgusted. Did this happen every time he was near anything in a skirt? No wonder Dr. Reyes just about fell over herself trying to get away if he was this lecherous even without being aware of it.
“An’ le’me guess,” he said helplessly, leaning now against the doorjamb with his arms crossed over his chest. “You all can really smell it now instead a’ jus’ knowin’ it was dere ‘cause Wolvie tol’ you.”
“Yup,” she said cheerily. “It’s not real strong, though. Smells a little like Old Spice, but not as obnoxious. Heck, it’s even easier to be immune to you now, since I can tell right away.”
“Tell me somet’in, petite. Gambit always do dis whenever he roun’ de ladies, or dis jus’ start?”
“You did it sometimes, but it always seemed to be on purpose before. It happened around Rogue a lot, in the beginning, but after she started to fall for it,” she grimaced, “it tapered off. Before, it only seemed to happen when you meant it to. An’ it wasn’t just when you were trying to get laid, either—you did it when you were trying to get out of doing something for Cyke or the Professor, when you were trying to convince Wolverine not to kill you one day or other, when you wanted to cool somebody down or fire somebody up…”
“Any time Gambit wan’ somet’in, neh?”
“An’ you all knew dis wa’ant natural, an’ nobody t’ought t’ tell me. Nice.”
“Of course it’s natural, silly. It’s just part of what makes you you. You wouldn’t be Gambit if you weren’t skanky, slimy, and manipulative.”
“It so nice t’ be loved.”
“Let’s just say there’s no middle ground with you: people either really, really like you or they really, really don’t. And nothing you do seems to be able to change one or the other. There are some people who really really like you who’d rather pretend that they don’t, but that doesn’t count.”
“Which camp you be in, petite?”
“Well, duh! Obviously I like you, or I wouldn’t be talking to you. You’re arrogant, annoying, chauvinistic…but you’ve got two great qualities.”
“An’ dey are?” he asked, miffed.
“A cool bike you let me ride on and a lot of money you buy me things with.”
He stared at her for a moment, and then burst out laughing. “You de bes’ frien’ money can buy, petite,” he said.
She grinned. “Seriously, G—I like you because you’re nice to me. The X-Men are my family, and you’re my really cool big brother. I hate you sometimes, because even the coolest big brother can be pretty annoying, but you’re still my favorite brother.”
For the second time that day Gambit was left without words, an unusual predicament for a man deemed as big a chatterbox as Jubilee. Finally, he rapped his knuckles on the bedrail and nodded as words came to him.
“Well, you take it easy, petite, an’ soon as dey let you outta here we go t’town an’ Gambit let you go crazy at d’mall. Dat get you t’rough de hours a’boredom?”
“Can we take the chopper?”
“Good ‘nuff. Enjoy d’magazines. I bring you some more t’morrow, hein? See you den.”
He left, mind still churning uncomfortably. “What’chu t’ink about dat, Gambit?” he asked himself. “She t’ink you slimy, skanky, arrogant, manipulative…an’ really cool.”
On to Chapter Eight!