The Ice Capades
Gambit and Wolverine, along with their new companion Victoria
(or 'Tory' as she asked to be called), made their way through
the airport toward the shuttle that would take them to the
employee parking lot and her car. They moved quickly and quietly;
Gambit had fallen back into a sullen funk after their encounter
with Susie's father, and refused to talk. He just walked with
his shoulders hunched over, hands in his pockets, lost in
his own world. Logan was busy trying to come up with some
type of agenda for the trip.
The sudden reversal of the Cajun's temperament irked Wolverine,
but it wasn't really a surprise; it was his second or third
since the trip began. They were starting to wear thin on the
Canadian. He had worked his current options down to two; 1)
Ignore this latest mood swing and hope Gambit comes out of
it soon, or 2) Give him a good, swift kick in the ass. That
had worked earlier, but they'd been alone. Besides, he didn't
think their new friend really wanted the interior of her car
destroyed. As much as he hated inaction, he went with the
Logan looked over at Tory and considered her for a moment.
She was attractive, friendly, and at approximately 5'8 she
was also a lot taller than he was, but then again, who wasn't?
She was nervous, that much was obvious to him. He could smell
the uncertainty (mixed with a little fear, as well as excitement)
easily. The odor 'tickled' something in the back of his mind,
and he had to struggle, briefly, to subdue it. He quickly
turned his thoughts to other matters to keep his 'darker'
half at bay.
If she really were a mutant as she claimed, they'd need to
determine what her power was, and if a trip to Westchester
Contemplating this as they boarded the shuttle, Logan was
vaguely aware of the curious looks he and Gambit drew. Tory's
vague brush- off of her co-workers and acquaintances made
little impression as well. It was only a matter of minutes
before they reached the employee lot, and her Grand Prix.
Gambit slunk into the back seat without a word, leaving Logan
in the front seat, open to the inevitability of small talk
-- something he detested. It began as they pulled from the
"So...what brings you two to town?"
Tory wanted to keep the conversation light to mask her discomfort:
She felt...well, she didn't know how she felt, exactly. On
the one hand, she was relieved that she'd finally told someone
that she was 'different.' She also felt silly having done
so to complete strangers. She felt silly, not only because
they were strangers, but because the 'power' she was gifted
with was rather...well, it was pretty lame.
"We're here to see a hockey game."
She brightened at his answer; she loved hockey. That was
inevitable, growing up the only girl with four brothers, all
of whom played the sport. "The Wings or the Vipers?"
"The Wings. Don't even know who they're playin', though."
"Uhmmm...the Oilers, I think. How long are you here
Wolverine thought for a moment. "Ya know somethin'?
I don't know." He looked in the back seat at Gambit.
"How 'bout you, Gumbo? Know how long we're here for?"
Remy, who had been staring out the window continued to do
so as he answered. "How'm I s'pose t'know dat? You da
one dat bring us here."
Wolverine shrugged, ignoring the challenge in the Cajun's
voice. More to satisfy his own curiosity than to continue
the conversation, he reached into his pocket and pulled out
his plane ticket. He hadn't looked at it before. In his haste
to catch their plane, he just stuffed the ticket in his pocket
and forgot about it.
He opened the packet, and removed the ticket. As he did so,
Tory emitted a cheery (albeit relieved) "Here we are"
and pulled into the Denny's parking lot.
Logan's eyes played over the paper as he exited the vehicle
and began to walk toward the restaurant, looking for return
information. After a long moment, he muttered a soft "dammit"
under his breath, and turned to Gambit.
"Check yer ticket."
Holding the restaurant door open with his back, Gambit reached
into his trenchcoat and pulled out his boarding pass. Nonchalantly,
he glanced at it as Tory made her way inside. After a moment,
he looked at Wolverine, who had been watching him.
"What da hell dis mean?"
"It means, Gumbo," Logan began as he pushed past
the Cajun into the lobby, "that Chuck booked us on a
Storm strode into Xavier's study with the bearing of an angry
Goddess. Small bolts of static electricity were arcing between
her feet and the carpet -- more a testimony to her anger than
an indictment of the mansion's humidifier and heating system.
She had been roused from a deep, albeit short, sleep by the
Professor to discuss a 'serious breach of the mansion's protocol.'
Glancing around the room, she saw Scott and Jean sitting
together on the couch. Bishop was standing behind the Professor's
desk, where Charles was seated. Henry was present as well,
as were Bobby and Sam. Beast was sitting uncomfortably in
a chair, and that in itself was unusual; he usually preferred
more 'flamboyant' seating. Iceman and Cannonball were seated
on either side of the team doctor, looking equally uncomfortable.
The Professor began with no preamble.
"Bishop tells me that you and Gambit were in Rogue's
quarters early this morning. Is that true?" His voice
was cold, accusatory; it was not the voice of the Charles
Xavier she was accustomed to.
Storm looked at Bishop; he met her gaze uncompromisingly.
"I saw you through the window. A light flared briefly,
illuminating you both."
She turned back to Charles and answered. "We were in
her room for a short time, yes. Is there a problem?"
"YES, THERE'S A PROBLEM!" Charles almost screamed
his reply. After a moment, he regained his composure, and
continued. "I don't think you need me to explain to you
what it is either. Gambit needs to learn to respect the property
and wishes of other people. It appears, Storm, that is a lesson
you need to learn as well. What were you doing in there?"
Charles was staring at her. To Storm, it looked like he was
staring through her. His eyes were wild.
Looking around the room, she saw all eyes on her, waiting
for an explanation. Apparently, no one else noticed the Professor.
She looked briefly at each team member before she answered.
Jean gave her a smile of encouragement. Scott was neutral,
which was not necessarily a bad thing; he had a tendency to
go ballistic any time Gambit's name and any misconduct were
mentioned in the same sentence.
"Remy is feeling lost without Rogue. He seems to have
hit a low point, and needed to be reassured. Since Rogue was
not around to offer the comfort he needed, he did the next
best thing; he went to a familiar place. He went to her room
to find solace."
"I see..." Charles seemed a little calmer after
her explanation, his eyes not so wild. He turned his attention
to McCoy. "Henry, you've been watching Gambit, would
you share your thoughts with us?"
McCoy smiled. I could, but I don't think you'd like to
know what my thoughts really are concerning our Cajun friend.
They tend more toward culling, than curing.
The Dark Beast stood, taking off his glasses. He didn't like
having this much attention drawn to himself; it put his secret,
and therefore his safety, at too great a risk. Declining to
talk, however would be riskier still; he had found out that
this reality's Beast -- he couldn't really bring himself to
think of the mutant in any other terms -- liked to talk.
He also relished the game of flashing the charade in the
face of the 'brilliant' Charles Xavier.
"I've spoken with Gambit, in-length, about his current
romantic situation. For reasons, which should be obvious,
I had to do this over a period of time, without the aid of
notes. He was reluctant to talk in too great a detail, but
I did have enough discourse with him to be able to come to
A quick glance around the room showed all eyes on him, with
great interest. He continued, encouraged by their attentiveness.
"As Storm surmised, our woebegone Cajun is indeed depressed
over his failed relationship with Rogue. He feels that the
relationship is over, dead if you will, and quite simply,
he's not ready for that eventuality."
There was silence in the room. This much, everyone had guessed.
"Why was he in Rogue's room?"
"Basically, what Storm," he stopped to bow toward
Storm, who couldn't help but smile at her friend, "said
is, again, correct. He is reaching out to anything that reminds
him of the better times in his relationship with our prodigal
belle. The best place to do that, it would seem to me, would
be her room."
All heads, except for Drake's, were nodding up and down in
agreement. He had the brief feeling he was surrounded by a
bunch of those baseball statues that have their heads on springs.
"Oh give me a break!" The sudden outburst startled
his teammates. "What Hank is saying may all be true,
but, come on now, that doesn't excuse him. I was there in
Seattle when she left. Yeah, he's sad, and heart-broken, and
all that crap, but that doesn't give him the right to break
and enter." He looked toward Cyclops for backup. "Right,
"Actually Bobby, I've been trying to put myself in Gambit's
shoes." He shifted uncomfortably. "No one here denies
that Gambit loves Rogue, agreed?" Again heads nodded,
accompanied by a chorus of 'yes.' "What I have to consider
is 'what would I do if Jean not just left, but totally rejected
me?'" He looked over at his wife, who smiled and put
a reassuring hand on his thigh.
"Cyclops, would you clarify that for me, please?"
Cyclops then related Gambit's final encounter with Rogue,
which was apparently a new story for everyone, with the exception
of Iceman, who reluctantly clarified several details.
"Anyway, I can't say I wouldn't react exactly the same
way that Gambit has. Except that I wouldn't have broken into
Jean's room..." Bobby started to speak, but Scott silenced
him with a hand. "But that's ONLY because I'm not a trained
thief like Gambit: I wouldn't be able to do it without causing
a great deal of damage."
He looked at Charles. "In my opinion, Professor, I don't
really see a problem here, unless there's more we don't know
Charles looked thoughtful, as if he wanted to say something,
but didn't know if he should. Finally, he turned to McCoy
and asked, "How stable is Gambit?"
"That's hard to tell. His faculties are present, and
he holds no animosity towards any of us, or even Rogue for
that matter." He paused, as if a new thought struck him.
"The problem is, in talking with Gambit, that he is in
love with Rogue one minute and despises her the next."
"So you're saying he's manic-depressive?"
How should I know, skinhead? I'm a geneticist, not a shrink!
"No, not at all. This condition seems to be related
only to Rogue. I believe that, if he were truly manic-depressive,
he would act this way all the time, not just concerning our
lost little lassie. Besides, other than sitting out on the
roof in freezing rain, he's not acting in what I would call
"Does he pose any danger?"
"To whom? Evil-doers everywhere? Us? Rogue? Himself?"
The Dark Beast paused, letting the rhetorical questions sink
in. He was savoring this game ever so much! "In my humble
opinion, the answers are 'yes,' 'no,' 'doubtful, but maybe,'
and a most definite 'yes.'" He stopped, letting them
figure out his answer. The room was quiet as they worked it
out. Xavier spoke first.
"Hank, are you saying Remy is suicidal?"
If he isn't now, he will be when I'm through with him!
"Charles, you must remember, I am not a psychologist.
Having said that, I think that yes, there is that possibility."
This declaration was met with stunned silence.
They ate in silence, letting the revelations of the last
half hour sink in. Gambit and Wolverine decided not to worry
about the airline tickets and their implications, if there
were any, right now; they were in too public a place to contact
the mansion. You never knew who was sitting in the next booth.
For that reason, they kept their voices low as they questioned
Tory about her mutant ability, and it took all of their self-control
to keep from laughing when she revealed that...
"I have the ability to, I know this is gonna sound stupid
but, I can paintmynails." The last three words were spoken
rapidly out of embarrassment. With her eyes closed, she waited
for their laughter. When it didn't come, she opened her eyes
and looked at her two companions, who were smiling their encouragement.
She returned their smile and, at Wolverine's prompting, continued.
"I discovered my 'talent' when I was in high school.
It was my brother's wedding, and I was at the church, getting
ready. I was going to apply a new coat of polish when I dropped
the bottle and broke it! Now I know what you're thinking..."
Non, I don' t'ink ya do, chere.
Gambit sighed and looked around; Wolverine really knew how
to show someone a good time. Spotting a passing waitress,
he signaled her for more coffee; the way this story was going,
he was going to need it.
Wonder how she'd fit in 'Pocalip's 'survival o'd'fittest'
Oblivious to the Cajun's look, Tory continued. "You're
thinking 'why didn't she put her polish on the night before?'"
She stopped and looked at the two men, who just nodded their
"Well, I had. But I smeared them before they were dry.
It was late and I was tired, so I cleaned my nails and figured
I'd just get them in the morning. Well, the next day I overslept,
and was running late, so I grabbed the polish and my dress,
and headed to the church! When I dropped the bottle, there
was no time to run to the store to get more. I was really
afraid I was going to blow my brother's wedding. I mean, the
polish was no big deal, right?" She looked at Wolverine
who said what he thought she wanted to hear.
"Uh, right kid. Ain't no big deal." He began scanning
the room for their waitress. This is almost as painful
as losing my adamantium...
"That's what I thought, but it's the kind of thing that'd
make my sister-in-law go nuts! I was besides myself, this
was my favorite brother's wedding! I knew I couldn't get to
the store in time, I kind of started to break down a little,
I was crying and all I could think of was how I wished my
nails matched my dress. When they came to get me for the processional,
the bride asked why I was crying, and I told her. She looked
at me like I were nuts, and said that they were painted. I
looked myself, and they were!"
Remy had lost interest in the story, and was currently amusing
himself by pretending to listen while sending minor kinetic
pulses down the booth divider, shocking anyone who touched
one in that row. Wolverine kicked him under the table, but
that only momentarily deterred him.
Logan was intrigued -- not by the mutant power, necessarily,
but by the way it manifested itself under stress.
"Can you do it now?" Tory nodded. "Show us."
The blonde woman put both her hands on the table. Her nails
were a light red that matched her uniform. "What color
would you like?"
"How 'bout a nice sky blue -- the color of a Louisiana
"I'm not sure exactly how that would look, but how's
Before their eyes, her nails changed color from red to blue.
Gambit whistled; it was an impressive parlor trick. He did
notice that the color changed uniformly: one moment all ten
nails were red, the next all were blue. They didn't change
one at a time like he'd thought they might. He didn't know
if that was significant or not.
"Do dey all gotta be da same color, or can you do dif'rent
colors on dif'rent fingers?
"I haven't been able to do that. It's one color fits
"This just works with your nails? You ever try to change
"Like what? My hair? I tried once, right after I realized
what happened, and couldn't do it. I figured it would only
work on my fingernails."
Gambit and Wolverine exchanged looks. She probably wasn't
an Alpha class mutant, but Hank might be interested in her
anyway. They'd let him know once they got back to New York.
Logan assured Tory that she didn't appear to be a 'threat
to humanity,' and probably didn't need to worry about idiots
like the Friends of Humanity. They did advise her, however,
not to flaunt her gift, but to keep it to herself, just in
case. Neither X-Man revealed to her that they, too, were mutants.
The conversation continued as they waited for their meal
to arrive. Tory had warmed up to the two men; their reaction
to her admission was a major factor in winning her over. They
still had a dangerous feel to them, though. The man she now
knew as Logan seemed more menacing than Remy did...an impression
that Logan's looks did little to dissipate.
By the time their meal arrived, Remy had managed to gather
his wits, and charm, enough to wrangle a deal out of Tory;
she would take them back to her apartment so they could sleep
and get cleaned up. In turn, they would take her and her roommate
to Greektown for dinner, and to the game with them that night.
For his part, Logan was glad that she accepted.
When their food finally arrive, the two men, wired on too
much coffee and too little sleep, attacked it with gusto.
They ate in relative silence; the only noise was the sound
of their silverware on their plates and the soft din of the
restaurant around them.
The assembled group sat in stunned silence; Beast's announcement
had a chilling effect on all present, even those who didn't
particularly like Gambit. The only noise came from the pendulum
on Charles' wall clock, and the early morning call of the
local cardinals. The silence was unexpectedly broken by a
husky Southern drawl from the hallway.
"What's the matter with y'all? Looks like someone just
kicked ya puppy!" With that Rogue re-introduced herself
to the X-Men.
"By the Goddess! Rogue, you've returned!"
Storm moved quickly to embrace her, followed closely by Jean
and Bobby. "It's so good to have you back."
"Thanks, Jeannie. With all I been through, it's good
ta be back! I got something ta tell y'all." She looked
around the room.
With their backs toward him, no one noticed the flash of
anger cross Xavier's face. He didn't really understand why
he was mad that Rogue had returned, just that he hadn't planned
on her presence. Shaking his head, he tried to remember what
it was that he was planning, but the thought quickly passed,
and was soon forgotten.
"Am I interruptin' somethin'?" She quickly scanned
the room. "Where's Gambit?...and Wolverine?...and Warren?...and
"Warren and Betsy are currently in Colorado, recovering
from their encounter with Sabretooth."
"Say what, Cyclops?"
"Our Cajun friend is out of the city, with Wolverine,
and we are discussing his current mental condition."
"MENTAL CONDITION! What are y'all talkin' 'bout? I take
a little time off and this place goes nuts!"
Suddenly, the mansion's intruder alarm went off. Cyclops
and Bishop started toward the door.
"Damn...I told that boy t'wait in th' car. Hey guys,
hold on a sec. There ain't no intruder. Kill the alarm."
The alarms died with a simple command from the Professor.
Now all eyes were on Rogue.
"Uhmmm, well, it's like this. Ya see, I ran inta an
ol' 'friend' of ours while I was down south. I brought him
here 'cause he needs our help..."
Continued in Chapter
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