Remy gets a tour, meets Xavier.
A/N: Sorry this is out so late – took a lot longer than I thought (also ended up being one of my longest chapters yet when I thought it’d be a short one). I was sick as a dog for about four days – didn’t even get out of bed other than to run to the bathroom. Then I had to catch up on school work and had my first exam this last week.
Anyway, thanks for the reviews last chap. Please, R&R.
Chapter 6: Acclimation – Evening
Jubilee, Kitty, and Danielle left the kitchen as Rogue and Remy began to clean their dishes.
Kitty walked in between the other two, and bumped into Jubilee with her shoulder. “So, what d’you think of Gambit?”
“You mean besides you being right that he’s totally gorgeous? Did you see his eyes?”
Danielle nodded. “I know, they’re like hypnotizing.”
“He seems like a nice guy, too. Usually the hot ones are total dicks, but he’s nice.” Kitty said.
“I hope he sticks around like he said he’s thinking about. We never have enough hotties like that around this place. Heck, there’s hardly any guys around this place period, and the only two unattached are Piotr and Sam. I know Professor X was talking about bringing in more students, but it sounded like that wouldn’t be until next semester.” Jubilee said.
The three stopped at the base of the stairs. “See you two later,” Danielle said. “I’ve got to finish up my paper for Mutant Ethics class.”
Jubilee stood next to Kitty. “So,” she said slyly, “Bobby looked great today.”
“Yeah, I love it when he wears those jeans –“ Kitty began to say and then snapped her mouth shut, blushing.
“I knew it!” Jubilee exclaimed. “I thought you had the hots for him.”
Kitty made a shushing sound and clamped a hand over Jubilee’s mouth. She looked around for anyone who might have heard them. “Shut up, Jubes. I don’t want you to yell it out to the whole school!”
Jubilee nodded and pulled her hand off her mouth. “Sorry,” she whispered. “I’ve just noticed the two of you staring at each other, and I just wanted to make sure I hadn’t lost my eye for romance since I left my old high school. So, tell me about it.”
Kitty looked at the ground, embarrassed. “There’s not much to tell. We’ve been flirting a bunch, and I think he really likes me, but neither of us wanna hurt Rogue.”
Jubilee pouted. “You mean there’s no secret rendezvous with Iceman late at night or anything scandalous like that? Geez, this place is boring compared to back home.”
Kitty blushed. “No, nothing like that. We haven’t even kissed or anything like that. I’m waiting for him and Rogue to split up.”
“Well, I’ll be rootin’ for ya. I just never really saw the whole Rogue/Bobby thing workin’ out anyway. They’re just too different from each other, and I never really saw much chemistry to keep them going. It’ll probably hurt Rogue a bit when they break it off, with her powers and all, but I think it’d be for the best for both of ‘em.”
Kitty nodded. “I hope you’re right.”
“C’mon, when have I ever been wrong, Kitty-cat?”
Kitty smiled. “Do you really want me to answer that? C’mon, we should work on our papers too – maybe we can go to the mall or something this weekend if we get it done instead of studying like we did last weekend.”
Jubilee nodded. “Good point. I’m gonna run up and get my laptop. See you in the living room!” she called as she jogged up the stairs.
Remy finished drying his plate when he saw Storm walk into the kitchen. He bent his head to Rogue’s and said, “I’ll be back f’r that tour, just gimme a sec.”
“Hey Remy, I thought you’d be here since you weren’t in your room.” Storm said.
“Hey, Stormy, sorry I missed havin’ lunch with ya. Rogue wanted me t’meet some of her friends an’ I ate lunch wit’ dem.”
Storm gave him a mock frown. “Well, I guess I’ll forgive you.”
Remy grinned. “Lemme make it up to ya – dinner tonight, an’ I promise I’ll be dere dis time.”
“That sounds good, Remy,” she said, and put her hand on his shoulder. “And I’m glad you’re making some friends around here.”
Remy nodded. “Figured if I’m gonna stay, might as well get t’know ev’ryone.” He said, noticing a smile come to her face as he said it.
He glanced over to the sink and saw Rogue standing there silently waiting for him, her hands in her pockets. “Rogue was gonna give me de grand tour of dis place, so I’ll see ya tonight. Dis time I’ll be dere.”
Ororo’s eyes widened. “I knew I was forgetting something. Sorry, too much on my mind and I forgot to show you around. Well, have fun.”
Remy nodded and walked back to Rogue. “Ready?” She asked him.
“Yeah.” He said, allowing her to once again lead the way out of the room.
Rogue led him to the end of the hall. “Well, this is our biggest classroom. We usually have the larger class groups in here.”
The door opened to a large room with a vaulted ceiling covered in skylights and long rows of fluorescent light strips. Several enormous picture windows made up two walls and framed the landscape outside the mansion. The slate floors had several openings around the room in which trees stood under the skylights. There were numerous long tables situated around an area with a portable whiteboard and blackboard.
“Nice room. Looks almost like it could be on a college campus. The trees’re nice touch.”
“Yeah, I guess back when they were getting this place set up for school, Ororo saw all the windows and skylights and got Professor Xavier to let her set this up to be a classroom an’ an, what’s the word?”
Remy shrugged. “Tree farm?” he suggested.
“Well, basically. But there’s – Arboretum. That’s what it’s called. Anyway, she takes care of all the trees here.”
Remy nodded. “Yeah, she does have quite a green thumb. I know I got scolded quite a bit when she saw de plants around my apartment when I forgot t’water ‘em.”
Rogue chuckled and led him back out of the room and pointed to a series of doors on the opposite side of the hall from the kitchen and the living room. “All of those are smaller classrooms. Most of the first floor above us are classrooms too, an’ the second and third floor are all bedrooms for the older students and teachers. The younger students stay in an expanded wing off from the library up here.”
She opened the double French doors and led him into the library. He was impressed with the size of it. Bookcases lined the walls and a good dozen stood in rows near the center of the room. The cases along the walls were the stereotypical type he’d seen in movies involving large mansions, extending up close to twelve or fifteen feet high with several ladders attached to moveable rails on each section.
Remy walked along one bookcase, his eyes running along the spines of the books. He pulled several out partway to examine them, and raised an eyebrow. “Looks like y’got quite a few first editions here.”
Rogue nodded. “Yeah, a bunch of these are all first editions. We also have some really old first editions that only Professor Xavier, Ororo, and a few others can use, over here.”
She led him to a bookcase with glass in front of it, and a small lock keeping the hinged pane in place. His thieves mind reeled at the collection sitting behind the glass. “Shit, your prof must really be loaded. Tale of Two Cities first printing? Alexander Pope’s Iliad translation? Is dat a first edition /Paradise Lost/?”
Rogue nodded, and Remy shook his head in amazement. “Dis bookcase’s probably worth a small country,” he said with a grin.
Rogue laughed, “Yeah, just about.”
Remy stepped back from the bookcase. “So, what else ya got on dis floor- a safe filled with gold bricks or somet’ing?”
Rogue swatted his shoulder and led him to another doorway. “Nothin’ like that, but we have a pretty high tech computer lab in here.”
A series of flatscreen computers lined the rows of tables in the room. “We have computer classes here and do our homework and online courses on these.” She gestured to two doors in a small open hallway area at the other end of the room. “That door on the right is Professor Xavier’s office, and the one on the left goes out to a garage where everyone keeps their cars. And over here,” she said, taking him down the hallway, “we’re back to the entrance hall.”
They stopped at the front door and she pulled his sunglasses from her collar and handed them to him. “Doesn’t look like it’s raining anymore, so Ah’ll show ya around the grounds.”
Remy slipped on his glasses once more and they exited the building. They walked around the side of the building to a large open area. “Well, these are the basics- basketball court and swimming pool, area for football and all that. My favorite part of the mansion is over there.” Rogue said, pointing to a one story building that stood in the distance.
As they neared the building she said, “The mansion property in the front is pretty close to the main town, but out back here it goes about six or seven miles back into the woods. I think we’ve got around 10,000 acres here – we even have a decent sized lake out over there,” she said, pointing to a glimmer of water visible through a small copse of trees, “so there’s a lot of room for hiking around, and,” she paused opening the large doors to the building, “horseback riding.”
The inside of the building was a large central hall with stalls on either side, most of them containing horses which were whinnying in excitement at the new arrivals.
“We keep th’ horses in here for bad weather like this morning, but most of the time they stay out in a big fenced off paddock out back that goes down to the lake. Most of these horses are Professor Xavier’s, but Sam actually brought a horse with him, an’ Ah think one was a present from a friend of the Professor.”
“You like ridin’?” Remy asked.
Rogue nodded. “Ah love it. Ah’ve ridden since Ah was seven back in Miss’ippi. Ah try ta at least go ridin’ twice a week after mah classes or on th’weekend.” Remy smiled at her enthusiasm and the way her eyes seemed to glow when she talked about riding. Rogue grabbed his hand. “C’mere, Ah want ya t’meet my fav’rite.”
She pulled him over to a stall occupied by a tall white-maned horse with a creamy golden coat. “Her name’s Chestnut. She’s a palomino. Sweetest horse Ah’ve ever seen.”
“Hey dere,” Remy said softly as he ran a hand up and down her broad nose. “Y’ a pretty girl.”
Chestnut snorted and pushed her head against his hand. Rogue laughed. “She likes ya.”
Remy reached into the feeding tray near the door and grabbed a handful of oats. He held his hand out and Chestnut merrily munched at the food. Remy patted her head as she finished eating, and then turned to Rogue. “Well, next time y’go out ridin’ you should let me know an’ I’ll go with ya.”
Rogue smiled. “That’d be great. Usually Ah’m stuck ridin’ by m’self because Ah’m one of th’ only ones that’s got any experience. Bobby doesn’ even want to learn. Between you an’ me Ah think he’s ‘fraid of horses,” Rogue said.
Remy chuckled. “Well, now y’know someone else dat knows how t’ride. So you always go out on y’own? Must get a bit lonely havin’ t’do dat all de time.”
“Sometimes Sam’ll ride with me, but ev’ryone else at th’mansion that’s int’rested is gettin’ beginner lessons from a guy that comes in every other week. Ah was thinkin’ of ridin’ maybe Saturday in th’ afternoon before it cools off Sunday night.”
“Alrigh’. Y’let me know when y’do it an’ I’ll come along.”
Rogue smiled again, and ran her hand along Chestnut’s head once more before turning back toward the entrance to the stable. “C’mon, Ah still hafta show you the lower levels of the mansion.”
The curved elevator door slid to the side, allowing them to exit onto the first basement level. Rogue walked to the right to a door at the end of the hall. “In there is something that’s called Cerebro. Ah’d show it to ya, but it sounds like it’s running.”
Remy cocked his head and heard the hum of machinery coming through the door. “What’s it do?”
“Well, Cerebro’s like this big spherical room, and somethin’ with the shape an' the materials an’ size make it so it boosts psychic powers. The Professor can use it ta look around the world at ev’ryone, an’ can tell which ones are mutants. Since it’s on that’s prob’bly what he’s doin’ now. He’s been lookin’ a lot lately ‘cuz he wants ta expand the school and get a bunch more students next fall.”
Remy nodded. “So, y’Professor’s a psychic? Like readin’ minds an’ all dat? Guess y’can’t use de ol’ dog ate my homework excuse at dis place.”
Rogue giggled. “Nope, but Ah don’t think he’d need t’read your mind t'know y'were lyin' about that.”
Rogue turned from the door and led him back down the hall toward the med-lab. “There’s a bunch of little rooms down here that we use as storage space – that’s what most of those doors are. That room is an exercise room – we’ve got treadmills, weight machines, an’ all that.” She said, pointing to the room he’d seen his first night at the Institute. “Then we’ve got this room here where we keep our uniforms.” She said, showing him what basically amounted to a locker room with drawers presumably for spare costumes. Several black leather costumes sat out in plain view, each looking distinctly different than the other.
Remy ran a hand over one and looked at Rogue with a smirk. “Kinky. You guys got a leather fetish or somet’ing?”
Rogue blushed and swatted at him. “Do ya always have ya mind in th’gutter?”
Remy cocked his head and squinted his eyes in thought. He looked back at her after a few moments and nodded. “Yep.” He said with a grin.
Rogue shook her head in exasperation and walked back toward the entrance to the room, mumbling something about perverted swamp rats. Remy followed her, laughing.
Rogue walked straight to the other end of the hall and opened a set of double steel doors. Remy stopped laughing and stared at the contents of the room. “Shit.”
Rogue laughed at his expression as he stared into the enormous room.
“Shit.” Remy said again. “Y’got a jet?”
Rogue nodded. “Yep. We actually got a smaller one too out past that one. It’s brand new – they decided after our last one almost got blown up that we should at least have some sort of extra one.”
Remy walked up to the large, sleek black jet and saw what looked like the same plane only about half the size resting on the hangar floor nearby. He looked around the hangar and then glanced back at Rogue. “How d’you get dis thing out?”
Rogue pointed upward to the vaulted ceiling that stretched nearly thirty feet above them. “We open up th’ceilin’. If ya are ever playing basketball an’ hear a siren ya better move it.”
Remy shook his head in amazement. “Stormy never tol’ me about all of dis. When she said y’had a plane I thought she meant some Cessna or a private jet at de airport, not dis sort of military style stealth jet.”
Rogue placed her hand on his arm. “Once you’re done drooling over the jet there’s one more place I wanna show yah.”
He tore his eyes from what any other time he’d probably be planning to steal for a cool fifty million dollars, and followed her from the massive hangar.
At the elevator, she punched the button for the next floor down, and the elevator swiftly dropped them to the next level.
The door opened onto a large room with the same shiny metallic walls of the floor above. An open door in front of them revealed a room with a long oak table with chairs seated around facing a large plasma screen. Rogue saw his gaze and said, “That’s our conference room. And this is the control room for the Danger Room.”
Remy looked to the other side of the large room and saw several chairs lined up at a series of computer terminals and arrays of control switches. He walked over to the chairs and saw the controls were set below a long, large window overlooking a room that was at least the size of the hangar he had just been in.
“So, what’s it do? Looks like a big empty room.”
Rogue walked over to the nearest terminal and punched the button by the plasma screen to turn it on and then clicked through a series of screens and options. “It can do just ‘bout anything.”
She hit a switch next to the terminal and suddenly the room below was filled with war-torn buildings. Soldiers equipped head to toe in body armor marched along the streets, their eyes shifting around the ruins for signs of danger.
Rogue clicked the mouse several times and the scene shifted to a lush, dense jungle and then a room that looked like a scene out of an Indiana Jones movie with arrows whizzing across the room and blades swinging through the air.
Remy whistled. “Holograms? Dat’s pretty high tech. So you just go down dere an’ fight with dem an’ dodge around? I bet it can seem pretty real to your eyes but I’d think it’d be easy knowin’ y’can’t get hurt.”
Rogue nodded. “Well, what you’re seeing are holograms. What you aren’t seein’ is this.”
She pressed a button and the hologram dimmed to faint ghostly images. Behind some of the arrows, actual projectiles with blunt heads shot across the room, and thick leather-covered rods swung in the place of some of the blades.
“Some of th’ images have actual objects behind them. Ah wouldn’t say they’re deadly or anythin’, but they hurt like hell, so after getting’ hit a few times by those, y’don’t wanna mess around an’ find out if the image actually has somethin’ behind it.”
She switched back to the original scene and roughly humanoid shaped objects popped up out of the ground holding weapons in the same position as the soldiers. “When we do somethin’ like this they actually shoot wax bullets. With our suits on we don’t really get hurt, but they sting like heck – enough t’know we got hit.”
Remy nodded, looking impressed at the technology of both the hologram and the physical representation behind it. “You train in here a lot?”
“Yeah, usually at least once a day during th’week. If Annie lets ya, Ah can set up a program for ya ta try out this weekend.”
Remy leaned his back against the window. “I’d like dat. Listen, thanks for showin’ me ‘round de place, Rogue.”
“Y’welcome Remy. Ah had fun,” she said, smiling. “This’s mah first time showin’ anyone around, so Ah hope Ah remembered everything ta show ya.”
“Y’were great. Not t’mention one of de prettiest tour guide’s I’ve ever had.”
She blushed and looked away from him. “Anyway, Ah’ve gotta go soon an’ get some homework done so Ah’m not up till eleven tonight.”
Remy nodded. “All right. I been thinkin’ I need a shower after ev’ryt’ing de past few days. Prob’bly smell pretty funky right now.”
Rogue moved closer to him and crinkled her nose. “A little, yeah. Just make sure yah head down t’Annie an’ change yah bandages if yah get them wet. Y’don’t wanna get an infection or somethin’.”
“Yeah, I’ll hafta do dat.” He said as they walked back to the elevator. The elevator rose swiftly to the third floor. “See ya later tonight, Remy!” Rogue called as she walked to her room.
Remy stood by the elevator, watching her from behind until she disappeared into her room. He realized he had been staring and smacked himself in the head. “Get it t’gether LeBeau. She’s prob’bly plenty happy wit’ her boyfriend. She don’t need a thief like you tryin’ get in her pants.” He muttered to himself as he opened his door.
He rolled his eyes, remembering Bobby. ‘/Don’t know how a girl like her could fall for dat ‘N Sync reject./’ His mind ran through the afternoon meeting with her friends. ‘/For being a couple it’s a little weird he didn’t bother to come sit by her/.’ He wondered to himself.
Remy shut his eyes, trying to remember everything he’d seen. He’d found that with practice he could focus on an event and remember it with near eidetic recall – something invaluable when casing a job.
As the afternoon in the living room played through his head, he walked to the small bathroom and turned the faucet on the tub to the left and let it run to get hot water flowing. ‘/When he wasn’t giving me the evil eye he was eyeing up Kitty quite a bit. Trouble in paradise maybe/?’ he wondered. ’/You might have a chance after all, you old thief/.’ He thought to himself.
His expression dimmed. ‘/That’s if Stormy doesn’t kick me out on my ass when I tell her what happened/.’ He thought, his dread from earlier creeping back. He pulled the pin up on the faucet, and the water sputtered and then began flowing from the showerhead.
He sighed and peeled off his bandages before stepping in to let the scalding water roll over his head as he tried to think of something else.
Ororo was placing the hot baked potatoes she’d just taken from the oven onto two plates next to the rest of the meal she’d cooked, when Remy entered the kitchen.
“You’re just in time, Remy.”
He glanced at the full plates and looked back up to Ororo. “Y’ didn’ hafta make me dinner Stormy. I was gonna make us somet’ing or take y’out to dinner.”
“I figured you would want to, but this is your first night here so I wanted to make you a nice dinner.”
Remy picked up the plates took them over to a table in the corner. Ororo sat down and he sat across from her. He cut off a piece of chicken breast and forked it into his mouth. “Mm. Dis is really tasty.”
Ororo smiled. “Good, I’m glad you like it. It’s a mashed-up potato chip breading that I’ve wanted to try for a while.”
“Thanks for makin it, Stormy. Tomorrow I’ll hafta make supper.”
“Well, actually, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays the staff usually makes supper for everyone, and I was going to fill in for someone who’s not feeling very well.”
Remy nodded. “I know ‘bout dat. Rogue an’ her friends were talkin’ ‘bout how dey get supper an’ dat you were prob’bly goin’ to make it. How ‘bout y’ let me do it for ya? Introduce dese kids t’ some real Cajun cookin’?”
Ororo shrugged reluctantly. “Well, if you really want to go to the trouble. You’ll probably need to head into town to get groceries because I don’t think we have a whole lot for you here. I could give you some money -”
Remy broke her off with a laugh. “/Ma seour/, don’ you remember de money ya found? I could buy supper for y’all for weeks an’ not make a dent.”
Ororo grinned in embarrassment. “Yeah, I wasn’t thinking of that. If you want to do it, feel free.”
“Y’don’t hafta worry ‘bout anyt’ing. Now. How many veg’tarian’s you got ‘round here? Kitty said she’s one, but I don’ really know anyone else. Dat way I know how much extra I need t’cook for dem.”
Ororo glanced to the ceiling, trying to mentally count. “I think we’ve got four people that are vegetarians or vegans.”
“Alright,” Remy said, mentally calculating how much he’d need to get for them.
Ororo scraped the last bit of chicken from her plate and sliced open her baked potato. “So, what do you think of this place?”
“I like it here. Definitely cooler den I thought it’d be. When I got more energy I’d like t’get into dat Danger Room t’ing – dat sounds like it could be pretty challenging.”
Ororo nodded. “Whenever you want to, just ask me and I’ll set something up for you.”
She swallowed another spoonful of baked potato, and spoke again. “What about the people here? Who all did you meet today?”
“Well ‘sides Annie, I met a bunch of Rogue’s friends. Kitty, Jubilee, Dani, Piotr, Sam, an’ Iceboy. Don’ t’ink I’d get along wit’ him too well, but all de rest were nice.” He paused. “Rogue got me t’take off my shades an’ none of dem got freaked. Not used to dat.”
Ororo’s eyes softened, and she placed her hand over his. “I think you’ll find that a lot here. Everyone knows how it is to have other people freak out either from their appearance or from seeing them use their abilities.”
Remy nodded. “Your Professor X has a good dream here.”
Ororo smiled. “I know. Actually, speaking of Charles, he wanted to meet you after we ate. I’ll take you up to his office when we’re done. I already told him what you told me, and he said you’re welcome to stay as long as you like.”
Remy shook his head, and looked down at his plate and shoveled the last portion of baked potato onto his fork. “Thanks f’r invitin’ me, Stormy. Wish I’d taken y’offer sooner. We coulda spent more time t’gether.”
Ororo smiled and set her spoon down on her plate. “It’s alright Remy. I know how hard it is for you to get away from what you do.”
Remy shrugged and placed his own fork on the table. “Well, don’t t’ink dat’ll be a problem now dat I’m tryin’ t’make people t’ink I’m dead.”
Ororo nodded and stood to grab her plate and take it to the dishes, but he stood at the same time and grabbed it before her, and took both their plates over to the sink. He was about to turn on the faucet, but she grabbed his hand and pulled him away from the sink. “I’ll do that while you’re talking to Charles.”
Ororo leaned into him and put an arm around his back and rested her head on his shoulder. “Remy,” she said quietly, “You know you don’t have to stay here just to make me happy. I know you have your own life – you don’t need to stop living it because of me.”
Remy stopped walking and leaned down, resting his forehead against hers. “/Ma soeur/, like I said, ev’ryone thinks I’m dead. I’m startin’ t’think dat might be de best way t’get out of dat life. Sure, I’ll miss some of de excitement before a heist an’ things like dat, but maybe it’s time f’me to start somethin’ new. I ain’ just stayin’ here t’make y’happy even though I’d like t’do dat – I like it here an’ de people here, an’ my friend’ll want me t’stay too.”
Ororo smiled and looked into his eyes. “Okay. I just don’t want to make you feel like I want to force you to stay here.”
He pulled his head away and put his arm around her shoulders. “C’mon, Stormy, y’know if I don’t wanna do somethin’ nothin’ in the world’s gonna make me do it.”
Ororo’s lips quirked in a smile, and she rubbed her hand through his hair. “Like getting you to actually comb your hair instead of letting it go wild like this?”
He laughed. “Good example. Least I showered before, else you’d be smellin’ ‘bout four days of river water gunk right now.”
Ororo feigned a grateful sigh. “I was wondering what that smell was when I hugged you this morning,” she said, shifting her arm to poke him in the side. “Now behave – here’s Charles’s office.”
“He in dere?”
Ororo nodded and moved his arm from her shoulder and gave him a push toward the door. “Yep. Now get in there. And be nice.”
Remy gave her a reassuring smile and knocked on the door. Immediately a voice answered. “Come in.”
Remy turned the doorknob and pulled the door open. The office was spacious, with hardwood paneling similar to the rest of the mansion covering the walls. Behind a large oak desk sat a distinguished bald man that he recognized instantly. He nearly slapped his forehead for not making the connection between the Charles that Storm always talked about and the famous geneticist Charles Xavier he’d seen on TV numerous times talking about mutants. Now he began to feel a little nervous being in the presence of such a brilliant scientist.
Charles moved his hand near the edge of his desk and the electric motor of his wheelchair whirred as he directed it to move from behind the desk and toward Remy. As he reached him he extended a hand and shook Remy’s. “Hello, Gambit, it is very nice to meet you – I’m Charles Xavier.”
Remy nodded, and released his hand. “Nice t’meet you too Professor. Actually seen you on TV several times – thought you argued your side the best in your mutation debate on CNN with dat Professor Essex.”
Xavier smiled. “Thank you – that was one of the most interesting debates I’ve had with another geneticist.”
Charles gestured at a chair, and Remy sat down. Xavier made no move to go back behind his desk, so Remy turned the chair the rest of the way to face him.
“There’s no need to be nervous, Gambit. I don’t bite or anything.” Charles said, his eyes crinkling in a smile when he saw Remy’s leg unconsciously begin to bounce up and down.
Remy looked at him in surprise. “You readin’ my mind?” He demanded, not sure he liked the idea that Xavier could comb through his head without him even knowing it.
Charles shook his head. “No, just your body language. I try to avoid reading other people’s minds without their consent, but despite that they give off so many extraneous thoughts it is impossible to avoid hearing them. I actually am not even getting any of those from you. In fact, I couldn’t read your mind even if I tried.”
Remy quirked his eyebrows. “Really? I thought y’were a one of de most powerful telepaths around?”
“You have a rather interesting energy signature around your body that gives off what basically sounds like white noise on a radio to any telepath trying to read your thoughts. I suspect it is connected with your abilities in some way. You’re basically completely shielded from telepathy.”
Remy nodded thoughtfully. “Well, dat’s handy t’know. I guess I don’t hafta think a bunch of dirty thoughts when I’m around telepaths anymore.”
Charles laughed. “I guess not.”
Charles’ expression turned more serious. “Ororo tells me you got into some trouble and your employer decided to have you killed. She said you don’t think you’re in any danger now?”
“/Non/, dey think I’m dead so dere shouldn’t be any danger for de kids here. If dere was I’dve been gone dis mornin’.”
Charles relaxed into a smile. “That is good to hear. May I ask what it is you do for a living?”
Remy nodded. “Well, I’m a professional thief.” He said, deciding to be honest, knowing that a telepath like Xavier had trained his eye to catch a tell when someone lied to him in case he was unable to read their thoughts.
Charles’ eyes widened a bit. “That must be quite an interesting life. Ororo told me you grew up in the ‘family business’ – I suppose that’s what she was talking about?”
“/Oui/. My père is de head of de Theives Guild down in N’awlins. Been a thief since before I c’n remember.”
Charles nodded. “What exactly did your employer want you dead for?”
Remy was silent for several moments, and he closed his eyes and sighed. “Alright. I’ll tell ya now ‘cuz you’re prob’bly gonna find out when I tell Stormy. Den y’can tell me if I’m wastin’ my time stickin’ around here getting’ t’know everyone. I’ll understand if y’don’t want me ‘round de kids here. Just…. Don’t tell Stormy – I gotta tell her myself when I work up de nerve to.”
Charles looked at him in alarm. “I’m sure it can’t be that bad.”
Remy just shrugged and looked at him.
Charles nodded reluctantly. “Okay, Gambit – I promise I will not tell Ororo what we talk about in here.”
Remy sighed again and rubbed his forehead. “Okay. Few weeks ago, I get dis call from a friend of mine sayin’ he heard someone was lookin’ for a professional for a bank job. Said dey were offerin’ nine hundred grand. Now dat’s a nice amount for a consultin’ an’ scoutin’ job – usually only f’r high end bank targets where dey can afford to toss dat much away.”
“Anyway, I went an’ talked t’ de man – he was a little smarmy lookin’ wit’ horn-rimmed glasses, but den most of de middlemen look a bit slimy. Dey wanted me to check out a way t’get in from underneath de bank – dey’d heard dere was a way in dat not many people remembered an’ wanted me t’map it out for dem.”
“So, I checked dem out a little an’ dey seemed okay – just your typical high-end bank robbers. I-” his voice broke, “I shoulda fuckin’ checked dem out better – woulda never taken de job if I did.”
“I checked out dis way under de bank dey heard about – took some searchin’ but I found an entrance to some tunnels set up in the Cold War.”
He saw Charles’ eyes begin to show some recognition. “Dere were some people livin’ down dere dat I noted on my map so de robbers could avoid dem an’ get to de bank without runnin’ into dem an’ havin’ any trouble.”
“The tunnels – they weren’t looking for a way into the bank, were they?” Charles’ asked, though he already knew the answer.
Remy shook his head, looking agitated. “I found out about it when I went t’get de rest of my money – fifty percent after dey got a report from de robbers dat the map was right. Overheard de slimy man talkin’ to someone ‘bout it. I went back fast as I could, but it was almost over when I got dere.”
Remy shook his head, staring at his hands, seeing the blood of every mutant down there on them. He closed his eyes, his hands clenching into fists in his lap, and spoke again sounding anguished. “All those people. Dey were already dead – because of me. Couldn’t do nothin’ t’stop it. De dead mercs – dat was me tryin’ t’get through an’ save anyone I could.”
“That’s why they wanted to kill me when they found out I knew from the mercs. So – dat’s it. If y’want me gone, say de word an’ just give me enough time t’say goodbye to Stormy an’ Rogue b’fore y’call de police.
Remy heard the electric whirr of the wheelchair, and thought that was exactly what Xavier was moving to do. He looked up in surprise when a hand rested on his shoulder. “Gambit – I’m not going to call the police. I’m not going to try to scold you or rage at you for what happened down there. You look like you’re feeling more than enough guilt without having anyone lay any more on you. I really don’t blame you for feeling that way. But-“
Xavier paused. “I think you are feeling more guilt than you rightly should. There was no way you could know these people weren’t out to steal from a bank but rather to massacre a community of mutants. I know from experience you’re playing the ‘what if’ game – ‘what if I spent a little more time investigating’, ‘what if I looked at this place rather than that place’, ‘What if –what if – what if’. It doesn’t change what happened, and it only makes you feel worse about what happened. You know as well as I do that if you hadn’t taken the job they would have found someone else to do it, and perhaps they would have been delayed a few days, but it still would have happened.”
Remy sighed and nodded. “I know I’m beatin’ myself up over it when der was probably no way I coulda known. I just can’t help it. I don’t know how to stop waking up in de middle of de night after dreamin’ ‘bout all of dem. Sometimes their jus’ layin’ in piles of bodies, other times their talkin’ to me, askin’ why I did it to dem. Will dat ever go away?” He asked, looking into Charles’ eyes.
Charles squeezed his shoulder firmly. “Eventually. The guilt never goes away completely, but the dreams eventually end. I’ve never told any of my X-men this, but I taught a small group of students years before them. They were so young – as young as Rogue – and so brilliant. Their abilities were amazing and I trained them to use them. I was so damned sure of myself and my training of them, and they knew how I felt. Because of that arrogance, they got into a situation that neither they, nor I could handle, and they all died. Every single one of them. I felt their deaths over our psychic bond and each one felt like I was dying myself. I blamed myself for years and played the same ‘what if’ game as you are playing in your own mind. I had the same sort of dreams for years. It wasn’t until I finally opened up to a close friend that I started to finally get over the guilt. Because of her help I finally started trying to make my dream for mutant-kind a reality, and started the X-men despite my reservations that the same thing would happen once again. I always fear that every time I send them out on a mission, that I am sending them to the same fate as the others.”
Remy looked at him gratefully. “Thanks for tellin’ me dat. Really needed t’hear it. Must be hard t’talk about for you.”
Charles nodded wearily. “It is. In fact you are only the second person I’ve told about it.” He paused and looked at Remy. “Gambit-”
Remy cut him off. “Remy. My real name’s Remy.” He said.
Charles smiled. “Remy. You need to tell Ororo this. Don’t try to hide it from her.”
Remy nodded. “I know. I gotta tell her soon – I just been dreadin’ how she’ll react.”
“I know – that’s why it took me years before I talked about what happened. My advice is – don’t wait. Even though my friend helped me out, it took a long time for her to trust me again because I kept it from her for so long.”
“Okay.” Remy said.
“Now, as to kicking you out, I won’t be doing that. You are still welcome to stay here for as long as you like. I don’t hold what happened against you, and I trust Ororo’s opinion of you. I am always willing to give others a chance to start over here – start something new and make a change in their lives. I do have some questions about what happened if you don’t mind talking more about it.”
“The man behind it – the man that hired you. Is he a member of the Friends of Humanity?”
“Y’mean like de news was sayin’ dis afternoon? I dunno. Never really found who he worked for. But given some of de things I seen FOH getting’ up to over de past few years – de things y’ only see in de criminal scene – I’d bet he was a member. Den again, he could be part of another mutant hate group too.”
Xavier shook his head. “Alright – I just wanted to make sure whether you knew who he was or not. I need to ask – was anyone still alive down there when you got there?”
Remy looked grimly at him. “Only a few. I heard screams echoin’ through the tunnels an’ dem dyin’ off when dey got shot. Only one was alive when I got t’the leader of the mercs. He was getting’ ready t’cut her up when I got dere. Killed him first, an’ took her wit’ me. She’s de main reason I came here. She’s a little girl, maybe nine or ten, an’ she’s go trouble controllin’ her mutation. Stormy tol’ me ‘bout dis place an’ I thought she could get some help here.”
Charles’ eyes warmed. “Well, she’s certainly welcome here as well. I’ll do my best to help her with her powers. It may also be helpful for her to go through some therapy after witnessing what happened down there. In fact, we have another little girl who managed to escape right here at the Institute and I’m having sessions with her – helping her deal with what happened.”
Remy looked up. “Sally?”
Charles looked at him with surprise. “Yes, that’s her name. You know her?”
“/Non/, but she was a friend of Sarah’s. We heard on de radios another girl escaped, an’ Sarah tol’ me who it was.”
Charles smiled. “Well, that is excellent news. I think being with a friend would do wonders for them both.”
Remy nodded. “Probably. I was thinkin’ of bringin’ Sarah here sometime next week if dat’s not too early for you t’set somet’ing up for her.”
Charles shook his head. “I’m sure we can get things ready for her over this weekend.”
“Dat’d be great. Now what ‘bout rent? What’ll I owe y’ for Sarah an’ me t’stay here?”
Xavier raised a hand. “I don’t require anyone to pay to stay here. If they want to I welcome the donation, but don’t feel that you are required to pay me. Ororo said you were thinking of joining the X-men and I extend my own invitation to you as well. I do think that it may be best if they know everything before you join, but that will be up to you and Storm.”
When Remy nodded, he continued. “I do typically ask that those not attending the school for education to help out in some way. Right now I don’t really have much for you to do – perhaps help us upgrade our security system? I think your experience could be quite helpful there – especially with the way you bypassed it without too much trouble when you got here.”
Remy grinned. “/Oui/, I think I c’n help y’with dat. Whatever company y’got to set it up didn’t do dat great. Once I’m through wit’ it, nobody’ll get in without y’knowin’ about it.”
“I’ll talk with you more about that this weekend – I’ll get Logan to show you the central part of the system and we can go from there. Now, this fall semester I am planning on expanding the student body here.”
Remy nodded. “Yeah, Rogue was sayin’ you been lookin’ wit’ dat Cerebro thing for mutants t’get t’come to de school.”
Charles nodded. “Yes, right now I’m hopeful we may have as many as fifty to a hundred new students. Unfortunately I’m also looking for new teachers to teach them. Perhaps if you are still around you might consider teaching?”
Remy laughed, thinking Charles was having him on, but it died when he realized he was serious. “Me? A teacher? What would I teach 'em – Lock-picking 101?”
Charles chuckled. “No, I’m not sure what you’re good at, but maybe by then we could figure out something for you. Perhaps a French class?”
Remy’s expression froze as he thought about the idea. He finally shrugged. “Maybe. I guess we’ll see.”
“I’d like you to think about it. Perhaps I’m dumping this on you too quickly – I’m very eager for our expansion. Maybe getting a bit of experience would help you make up your mind. As it is right now one of the X-men – Scott – is grieving over the death of his fiancée about a month ago, and we’re having trouble filling in for his classes. Maybe you could try a few and see if it might be something that interests you. It woudn’t be anything too difficult – typically Ororo will fill in for his class and needs people to take care of Physical Education classes, and sometimes for Scott’s shop class out in the garage.”
Remy looked down at his lap for a minute and looked up with a slight smile on his face. “Alright. No promises ‘bout dis fall, but I’ll at least help y’guys out wit’ fillin’ in. Stormy’d be houndin’ me if I didn’t help you anyway.”
Charles laughed. “I’m sure she would. When she’s determined about something she can be quite convincing. She spent nearly a day listing off reasons I should trust you, even after I told her I trusted her judgment about you.”
“Dat’s de Stormy I know.”
Charles leaned back in his chair. “Well, I think that was all I wanted to speak to you about, so you’re free to go now. Remember – talk to Ororo. I guarantee it will help you.”
Remy nodded and rose from his chair. “Okay, I’ll talk wit’ her by de end of de weekend. And, Professor – thanks for trustin’ me. I won’t let y’down.”
“You’re welcome. I’m glad you told me the truth. And you can call me Charles.”
Remy nodded and turned to leave.
“Oh, and Remy…..” he said, causing him to turn back around. “I was very pleased to hear from Ororo that you’ve befriended Rogue. She’s had such a hard time dealing with her mutation and how others treat her when they find out what she can do. She really needs friends who don’t care what her mutation is. I passed her in the hall today and I must say she seemed the happiest she’s been in months, and I think you’re to thank for that.”
Remy smiled. “No problem… Charles,” he said. “She’s a great girl. She don’ deserve de garbage she gets from people ‘bout her powers. I know you been workin’ wit’ her on her powers, but I offered her my help too. Had de same control problems wit’ my powers an’ couldn’ touch anythin’ or anyone without being worried ‘bout blowin’ dem to smithereens.”
Charles looked grateful. “That would be wonderful if you could help her. She’s one of the most intriguing mutants I’ve met and I’ve been at a loss of how to help her with her complete lack of control over her abilities. If you had similar problems with touching you may very well be able to help her more than me – even if it is just having someone to confide in that knows how she feels.”
“Well, now dat I know I c’n stay here I’ll see what I c’n do t’help her.”
Charles smiled. “Have a good evening, Remy.”
“You too, Charles.” Remy said, closing the door behind him.
As the door shut, Charles moved his hand on the controls and guided his wheelchair back behind his desk. He rubbed his forehead, hoping he’d made the right decision with Remy. ‘/He reminds me so much of myself/.’ He thought. ‘/And Logan. He’s just a young man who had the misfortune of being raised in the environment he was placed in/.’
He shook his head, still surprised at how he’d opened up to the young man about his own mistakes and how he’d dealt with it. Remy’s experience and remorse had struck a cord within him, and he’d felt he needed to reassure him that even someone like himself – someone that Ororo and the others had great respect for – could make a mistake that led to tragedy.
He reached into his desk and pulled out a faded color picture. In it Charles sat in his wheelchair with his four smiling students surrounding him. A young blond girl had her arm tossed around his shoulder, as did a younger Chinese girl. Next to her stood a pale-skinned, boy with an almost alien appearance, and next to the blond girl stood a tall, brown haired young man goofing off with a glowing aura of energy encircling his fist, which stretched out behind the group, and popped up behind the blond, making rabbit ears above her head.
Charles rubbed a thumb over the picture with a sad smile on his face, and then placed it facedown back in the drawer. He picked up his phone and dialed a number.
It was picked up after several rings. “Moira? It’s Charles…….. No, nothing’s wrong. I just wanted to talk to someone…………. Well, you’ve been after me for years to do it, and I finally talked to someone else today about what happened. It felt good, but all those memories are rushing back and I just – I needed to talk to you….”
A/N: I hope you enjoyed this chapter, and hope it was worth the wait. When I originally planned it I thought it’d be a short filler, but it ended up being my second longest chapter. Bunch of nods to the comics in this one – how many can you guys catch? :D
Next chap may be up within two weeks maybe three – right now I’m starting to get to one of the worst times of school as far as a workload goes – bunch of exams and a bunch of projects.
Anyway, next chap won’t (probably) have much Romy – in fact it will have Rogue and Bobby’s date – but I promise the chapter after that’ll have a bunch. So – Rogue/Bobby date, a Louisiana dinner, some Logan, and some thieving shenanigans from our favorite Cajun next chap.
PS, I’ve been watching and enjoying the new X-men cartoon (Wolverine and the X-men), and I’m getting pretty into it – it’s very well done. I recommend it to everyone. If you don’t get the Nicktoons channel they put the episodes up every Saturday on the Nicktoons website. Very excited for this coming Friday – Remy’s first appearance in the show.