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In the Future

Stories in this series

"Confiteor"
Soon after the birth of Rogue and Gambit's son Luc, Gambit's adoptive father Jean-Luc reveals to Remy the truth of Remy's origins.

"The Cherry Cookie Incident"
Luc and Remy both learn a lesson when Luc steals a batch of Storm's fresh-baked cookies.

"The Sphinx's Question"
Remy bristles with fear when Rogue asks him The Question Which Has No Right Answer.

"Gotta Learn Them All"
Remy tries to familiarize himself with his son's interests by learning the names of all the Pokemon.

"Happy Anniversary!"
On their fifth anniversary, Rogue and Gambit try to break their anniversary celebration curse.

"Home Nursing"
Gambit comes down with a cold and hopes for a little extra TLC.

"Saturday Morning in Salem Center"
Gambit takes his son Luc shopping so that a pregnant (and morning-sickness-plagued) Rogue home with some peace and quiet for the morning.

"The Cabbage Patch"
Jealous of all the attention his new baby sister is getting, Luc tries to send her back to the Cabbage Patch, where his playmate Ainet says all babies come from.

The Sim Salem Project

Luc was in the process of exploring what he considered to be an intriguing patch of mud. Dark, viscous, it sucked at his ankles as he waded through it, a profoundly satisfying 'gloop' marking each sticky step. Supervillains, he thought, always had deadly swamps and forests in front of their homes to trap and mislead the unwary hero. Unfortunately for Killer Croc, he had not banked on encountering Luc LeBeau, Jungle Tracker Extraordinaire. (Luc was not sure what extraordinaire meant, although he had heard his father use it often in connection with his cooking skills.)

Looking down at his white shirt and denim shorts in disgust, he knew that he needed to camouflage himself if he were to have any chance of getting near the criminal's lair without being seen. He grinned, rolling in the mud with more gusto than was strictly necessary. Almost satisfied with the effect, as a final thought, he smeared grime in his russet hair and sprinkled a few dried leaves on top for good measure. Feeling for his now muddy plastic knife and putting it between his teeth, he crawled on his hand and knees to behind a handy tree where he sat watching the base.

Although it seemed like a perfectly ordinary, white-painted house with blue gables and a lush, immaculate garden, he knew that that was deceptive. A clever fašade that had fooled all the inhabitants of the mansion's grounds. The residence was obviously the home of the insane Killer Croc who even Batman had had difficulty defeating. Luc, however, had no such plans. He wished to avoid a confrontation with the psychopath, if at all possible, while stopping the reptile's plan to make Luc's family and their friends his slaves. All it would take was disposing of the evil, mind-control cookies that were cooling on the outside table. Cookies, to which he was fortunately immune.

Plucking up his courage and removing his 'weapon' from his teeth, Luc charged.


Weeding the beds in a shady corner of their yard, Ororo suddenly became aware of a kid-shaped mudball sprinting across a corner of the lawn, shedding its protective dirt and leaves as it did so. Fervently hoping that it was not Ainet and fully prepared to deliver a stern lecture if it turned out to be her daughter, she strode purposefully, regally, in the general direction of where the child was running.

She was too late, she thought in horror, as she saw the series of muddy footprints on her formerly pristine steps and the grubby hand marks that were in place of her cherry cookies. Another print on the wall indicated that the culprit had vaulted over it into her dahlias, as did the crushed state of the flowers. Solicitously, she created a small shower above them in order to try and revive them, but she was dubious about their chances of survival. Only one child would have been able to execute such an athletic feat at his age, she mused as she looked at the dirty wall, and she loved his father too much to hurt him by telling them about his son's prank.


Dropping her towel in a manner that would have made any movie-star jealous, Rogue sank into the marvelously, bubbly bath. Smelling of a generic spring field, complete with suitably unidentifiable flowers, it had been one of her rare, self-indulgent purchases. Despite her current, improved financial status, she had been poor as a child and still had some of the old mindsets in place. Spending money on anything other than food, rent and clothes was impossible when your mother earned subminimum wage, she thought, and your father was a photograph in a high-school yearbook. Remy, on the other hand, was ridiculously extravagant. Especially when it came to Luc, she added as she picked a Water Wars Superman off the ledge at the end of the bath and examined it. The Super Soaking Action was in reality a rather sad and pathetic squirt that she doubted would scare a kitten, let alone stop a supervillain. She was reluctant to tell her husband that it was unnecessary to buy their son every new toy that came on the market, although she had made 'subtle' hints about it in the past. After all, he too had had an early childhood that could best be described as bleak and wanted to give Luc everything that he had not had. Which evidently covered everything from a roof over his head to a seemingly endless supply of ridiculous action figures.

Rogue sighed, replacing Superman and picking up a bar of equally faux lavender soap. As her husband had so kindly mentioned, she smelt like the inside of a tin-pot after hours of hand-to-hand combat with Shi'ar Guardian Droids -- or so Beast had assured her they were, although she suspected that
he had invented them after reading one too many science-fiction novels. She wasn't quite sure whether to take Remy's comment as a compliment or not, knowing his fondness for cooking, although how he had wrinkled his nose seemed to indicate that flattery was not his intention. He was being unreasonable, of course. It wasn't her fault that her powers required her to attack at close-range and that oil and coolant fluid had a habit of spraying anyone within a few feet. She still wondered why Beast had chosen to use such archaic machinery, given the level of holographic technology in the Danger Room. Sadism probably, she grimaced, as she inspected a lock of oil-matted chestnut hair.

Applying shampoo to the offending curls, she sank into the bubbles and allowed her tight muscles to relax. Mystique had never told her that having a family and fighting for a cause could be so exhausting. Mind you, she added as she turned the hot water faucet on with a foot, she had perhaps been foolish to accept the burden of leadership that had fallen on her during the latter months of Ororo's second pregnancy. Although Rogue had accepted on the position on the condition that it was temporary, it had been almost two years since Ororo's son had been born and she seemed no more inclined to take it up than at the beginning. Not that she blamed her friend for not wanting to leave her baby for longer than was strictly necessary. She remembered the strange wrench she had felt when taking Xavier up on his offer to head one of the teams, knowing and hating that it would mean less time with little Luc. He had been two-and-a-quarter (in his own words) at the time and seemingly a different child every day. Still, her hand went thoughtfully to her abdomen, if what she suspected was correct, Ororo would be forced to reassume leadership of the team very soon. As in four months very soon.

Humming, up to her neck in warm water, Rogue wondered how long she should wait before telling her husband about the enforced, but not unpleasant, change to her carefully laid plans. He would realize soon enough, of course, and would be terrified by the seeming lack of knowledge on her part. After all, ignorance would not cause her to temper her actions appropriately. Appropriately in Remy's lexicon was defined as complete bed-rest through all three trimesters with him running around catering for her every whim and panicking if she put a toe outside the house. She smirked, as she remembered how ... inappropriately she had behaved when carrying Luc and the endless 'suggestions' that he had made to her about modifying her lifestyle. This was going to be fun, after all.

"Inside of a tin-pot, indeed," she repeated scornfully, and decided to let him torture himself.


A very smug Luc LeBeau smiled up at his father. That is to say, Remy was almost certain that it was Luc, as all that was visible of the face were twin, eerily glowing, red-on-black eyes peeping through a thick mask of mud. Leaves were tangled in the caked hair, while decorating the mouth area were crumbs of what once had probably been cookies. The clean shirt and shorts that Remy could have sworn were white and blue respectively were a uniform shade of sludge, as was every inch of skin on his body.

"Dieu, a swamp-monster," he grinned at the tiny boy, "Have ya come t'eat us?"

Luc shook his head with the infinite patience of the young explaining something to an undoubtedly stupid adult, "Ah'm Luc LeBeau, jungle tracker extraordinaire."

"Ya better hope ya maman doesn't track ya down," he stooped to pick his son up, in order to save the carpet, wincing as he saw what had a few seconds ago been a pristine Armani shirt become an interesting shade of brown too. Still, he thought, shirts were a few thousand dollars a dozen, while he only had one child. Strangely enough, although Remy had often thought that he would not be contented with less than a dynasty, Luc had proven him wrong by being more than sufficient. Contending with a pregnant Rogue also had dampened his enthusiasm for a sprawling clan considerably, he thought with a grin.

"Momma'll kill me dead," the boy lamented colorfully, looking considerably more crestfallen than he had before.

"Better get ya t'de bathroom before den, petit."

Halfway up the stairs, he remembered that his wife, who would be less than delighted if a grubby Luc burst in on her, occupied it. Well, had occupied it as a considerably better smelling Rogue emerged, ensconced in a white, linen bathrobe. Her eyes widened as she saw her child and her lips tightened in a highly suspicious manner, almost as if she was trying to suppress helpless laughter.

"Mah lawd, swamprat, we now know who our son takes aftah."

"Oui, m'sweet Mississippi Mudpie, we do," he countered, dredging up Bobby's old name for her. She had hated it about as much as Ororo loathed being called Stormy -- a fact Iceman had quickly learnt while being held a few hundred feet above the ground. As he spoke, he could see the promise of a bird's eye view of Salem Center on her face. It wasn't that he didn't enjoy flying with her -- being completely alone at a thousand feet had its possibilities -- but that she was capable of making her point through decidedly dangerous loop-de-loops and dives. Luc chuckled.

"Momma wants ta kill you dead now, Daddy."

She grinned and turned back into the bathroom, from which the sound of running water soon emerged. The boy's laughter changed to a look of profound disgust and he squirmed in an attempt to get loose, mud flaking onto the floor as he did so. Fortunately, for the moment, the stripe in his hair (now brown with mud) was his only obvious inheritance from his mother and he sulkily gave up after a few minutes.

"She'll ruin my camouflage," Luc whined, "Killer Croc will be able to find me an' he'll eat me."

"Why would Killer Croc be after ya, petit?" Remy asked seriously, knowing all too well that the fictional character from Batman could be a real danger, such as the shape-shifting Sinister, in disguise. Besides, even if it were only Luc's imagination, in the uncertain boundary between fact and fiction in the world of the child, his son would still need reassurance. He himself had believed that the loup-garou of Fagan's stories lurked in every dark New Orleans alleyway, undefeatable by six year-old reason. Then again, more plausibly, Luc just could be trying to escape a bath.

"'CauseAhtookhisevilmindcontrolcookies," the boy answered quickly, looking more than a little ashamed.

"Ya took his evil, mind-control cookies?" he repeated, scared that some stranger had fed his son something more damaging than lies, "Where were dey?"

"Coolin' on Auntie Ro's porch," Luc mumbled, burying his face in Remy's shirt, "I knew it was wrong, daddy, but ... they had cherries in them an'..."

Although the crime was relatively minor, able to be dismissed as an innocent piece of mischief, he was stunned by the implications of his son's confession. He was still a practising, unrepentant thief, who took immense pride in his work and skill, but he had hoped that his son would choose a different path to him. Would not have to risk life and freedom every time he accepted a job. Would not have to go through the endless, dangerous initiations that marked his passage into the Guild. He had lost a cousin to the Tilling, a brother to the assassins, a piece of his soul to the Rites of Passage, and did not want to add a son to the list of casualties.

"Go bath, Luc," the coolness in his voice surprised even himself as he placed the boy on the floor, although he recognized it as a blind to cover his fear, "We'll talk about dis later."

"Pere?" he sounded puzzled, confused, heartbroken at the sudden remoteness of his beloved father. Eyes questioning her husband, Rogue put a hand on the boy's thin shoulder and gave it a brief, compassionate squeeze.

"Make sure you get rid o' all th' dirt, sweetie, 'cause Ah'll deal with Killer Croc if he comes near you."

Uncertainly, tears beginning to sparkle in his brilliant eyes, Luc trailed into the bathroom and shut the door softly behind him. Small as he was, he looked more fragile and tiny than Remy could have thought possible. He had hurt his son for reasons that the boy could not hope to understand and he doubted that he could repair the harm his actions had done to their relationship. Rogue shook her head, the eloquent gesture saying more than words could hope to do.

"Ya don' understan'," he said defensively.

"Damn straight Ah don't, LeBeau," she replied sharply, "Nor does Luc. It was bit o' innocent, childish mischief and you're actin' like he's stolen th' crown jewels. If Ah had a buck foh each time Cody an' Ah raided cookie jars, Ah'd have been a rich woman long before Ah left Caldecott."

He opened his mouth to explain, but she preempted him, planting hands on hips in a gesture that he knew meant that the discussion was closed.

"Ah don't want ta hear yo' reasons, Rem, 'cause Ah suspect it's th' same reason Ah watch him like a hawk every time Raven comes ta visit. You don't want him ta become a thief, any more than Ah want him ta become a terrorist," she paused, "Still, it doesn't mean that we must expect him ta be a saint. He's a four year-old boy, which Ah'm assured by yo' tante, is th ' age when they're th' devil incarnate. He will want ta play with dart guns an' he will filch th' odd cookie, but that's perfectly normal an' natural. So, lovah, that leaves the question -- what are you goin' ta do about it?"


At some time between midnight and morning, Remy felt a very small, cold creature creep determinedly into their bed and snuggle next to him for warmth. He naturally exuded energy, losing heat constantly to his surroundings and both Luc and Rogue tended to take advantage of it. In the case of the latter, he had his suspicions about her underlying motives as she had often spoken about her mutant power keeping away the chill. Luc had evidently not inherited that aspect of her powers, he thought, as what felt like an ice-block even through a T-shirt brushed against his back. Where had the boy been for his feet to be so icy?

"Ti-Luc," he whispered, "Ya been trekkin' t'rough Antarctica?"

"No, daddy," a Southern drawl answered, "Ah've been makin' choc-chip cookies fo' Auntie 'Ro."

Suddenly, he became aware of the cause of the smoky smell that had been drifting on the edge of olfactory consciousness for a goodly while. Luc's culinary efforts were charring as they spoke; Tante 'Ro seemed doomed in the cookie-department.

"How long have dey been bakin', petit?"

"Two hours."

"Den ... uh ... dey probably be ready t'come out now," he scooped up the child and ran down the stairs, Luc laughing at the unexpected ride. As he had suspected, the erstwhile choc-chip cookies were now chunks of carbon, smoking merrily in the oven. His son's face fell as he saw that to which his efforts had been reduced. Coughing as he removed them from the stove's shelf, Remy deposited the tray on the table outside, before opening the windows to let the smoke out of the kitchen.

"I'm sorry, daddy."

"Not'ing t'be sorry 'bout, Luc," he grinned, "I set m'tante's kitchen on fire once when I was learnin' how t'cook beignets. Wasn't able t'sit f'r a week after dat."

The boy laughed delightedly, and Remy knew that the incident had mended the damage his earlier comment had caused. For that, he would have gladly sacrificed the contents of an entire cookie factory.

"Now, what d'ya ta us making a fresh batch, petit?"


Ororo awoke to a knock on the door at what she considered to be an unreasonably early time. Although she usually was awake long before six o'clock, Ainet had decided to come down with a case of the common stomach bug and she had spent most of the night passing a bucket to her sick daughter. As a result, the prospect of visitors did not fill her with glee. Mind you, the thought of her bed was about the only thing that did.

"Yes?" she said impatiently, then pushed the door open to reveal an embarrassed, yet excited, Luc and an apologetic-looking Remy. The tiny boy was clutching a tin painted with unidentifiable flowers, which he thrust into her hands with a grin. Curious despite her exhaustion, Storm opened the lid to reveal some of the most luscious looking choc-chip cookies she had ever seen, nestling in crackly, green paper.

"I made ya dese, Tante 'Ro," he said proudly in the Cajun he always used with people he considered friends of his father.

"At t'ree o'clock in de mornin'," his father added wryly, "As Rogue informed me before askin' me if I was completely addled. He wanted t'bring dem t'ya straight away once dey were cooled and packaged. I stalled him f'r an hour by helpin' him make blueberry muffins f'r his mother."

"I'm sorry f'r stealin' ya cherry ones, but dese are much nicer," Luc continued ingenuously.

Smiling, she leaned down and kissed her godson on his cheek.

"You are right, Luc. They are nicer. When Ainet gets over her stomach 'flu, she will be delighted."

Remy raised an eyebrow, "Seems t'be goin' around de mansion at de moment. Rogue's also complainin' of nausea."

Ironically, "I suspect the cause of your wife's indisposition is slightly different to that of my daughter's."

"Ya mean...? She's...?" he grinned, looking more delighted than Ororo had seen him since Luc's imminent arrival was announced. His longing for a daughter was no secret, although she knew that he loved Luc as much as it was possible for anyone to love a child.

"I mean I had better become accustomed to leading the team again!"


This is a prequel to Saturday Morning in Salem Center. Characters are Marvel's, except for Luc who is far cuter than any child has a right to be. I know my brother was never this cute, and I doubt any other laddie is, although they're certainly as noisy. Comments to brucepat@iafrica.com. Thanks to my beta-reader for all her comments and kindnesses. This is part of a series of stories written for a project, involving simulating the Marvel Universe with Maxis' "The Sims." If you're interested, more details are available at http://www.geocities.com/sim_salem

 


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