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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7

This Exquisite Dance - REVIEW THIS STORY

Written by CrystalWren
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 7

It was a beautiful winter's day, the kind where the weather couldn't be more perfect. The sun was shinning, the birds were singing and all in all, it was one of those days where you feel privileged to be alive. Well- Angele Londe felt privileged, but I probably couldn't vouch for your feelings. She was taking the opportunity to do some minor weeding in her beloved flower garden. It hadn't rained for a few days, and thus the soil, while moist, wasn't unpleasantly squishy or soaking under the straw as she knelt among her winter flowering plants: Poinsettias, Torch Lilies, Camellias, and a small, brilliantly-coloured Bougainvillea that she was attempting to train up a wire net strung against the side of the house. It'd probably try to invade the house itself, growing in between the boards, but what the hell. She was old, she could afford to live dangerously. Besides, if it did get out of hand she could just ask Cat to pull it out. She'd have to warn him about the thorns first, though. The Bougainvillea may be small at the present, but the three centimetre thorns sticking out of its branches certainly weren't. When she had planted it they had scratched her even through the long heavy gloves she had worn. As she searched out the little bits of green that were invading her garden, lifting the straw that protected the earth of the garden bed to find the seedling leaves, she sang an old, old song absently to her self:

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do I'm half crazy, all for the love of you I can't afford a carriage I can't afford a marriage But you look sweet, upon the seat Of a-

"What's that song called?" came a voice out of nowhere.

Angele yelped and tried to struggle to her feet; she didn't quite get there, but she did manage to turn around far enough to witness Gambit jumping out nimbly of her husband Bernard's beloved orange tree. She hadn't had any idea he was there. He clicked his tongue at her in gentle reproof.

"Now mother," he said in his smooth British accent, "you really shouldn't be kneeling on the ground at your age. It's bad for your back, and your knees, and probably a few other things that I cannot think of right now." He raised her effortlessly to her feet and brushed the bits of straw which clung to her comfortable worn gardening slacks. He hands were warm and affectionate, but his face was mocking. He tucked her hand into the crock of his arm like an old fashioned gentleman and tried to lead her out of the garden bed, but she would have none of it. She yanked her hand away from his arm and clenched it into a fist by her side.

"Where the hell have you been?"

Gambit blinked. "I beg your pardon?"

"I said, where have you been? You've been gone for two months!"

"Oh, you know, a little bit of this, a little bit of that... what business of yours is it anyway?"

"I'm your mother!"

He snorted. "No you're not. You're just the woman who gave birth to me."

She tried to slap his face, but with surprising grace and speed he ducked, reached down, grabbed a handful of straw and cast it into her face. It only took a few seconds for her to brush it away from her eyes but by then he had disappeared entirely.

"Where are you?" she cried. "Come back!"

"Now, why would I?" his mocking voice came floating back to her. "You tried to hit me."

"And damned if I'll apologise!"

"Well, now, that isn't very nice is it?"

"You deserved it! Where are you?"

"Come and find me!"

Angele ran to the orange tree where she thought the voice was coming from, peering up into its branches to see if Gambit was there. He wasn't. She went to the lemon tree. He wasn't there either.

"Where are you?" she cried again.

"Over here!" this time the voice seemed to be coming from the gap between the side of the house and the fence that separated its piece of land from its neighbour. Angele went and peered into the shadowy corner, but he wasn't there. So she looked under the house, into the gap left between the piers and the body of the house itself. No Gambit. She checked the garden again, behind the bushes and up into the branches of the fruit trees, then she looked in the garden shed, at the roof of the house- every now and again she called out, but he didn't answer. Finally, after what seemed like hours of frantic, hopeless searching, a thoroughly discouraged Angele gave up her search. Gambit obviously wasn't there. No point in looking further. She brushed the dirt and leaves and straw off her garments, and walked up the stairs to the back verandah. She took of her worn gardening shoes and opened the screen door and stepped into the kitchen, and got the shock of her life when she saw Gambit sitting calmly at the kitchen table, drinking something from one of her best mugs. He turned his head to look at her, his eyes glowing like hot coals.

"Would you like a cup of coffee?" he purred.

To her credit, Angele didn't so much as blink an eyelid. She simply nodded curtly and took a seat in her favourite chair. Gambit poured her a cup of the black liquid, and she took a sip, shuddering in near ecstasy.

"Lord," she croaked, "this stuff is real!"

"Of course it is! I made it, did I not?"

"I guess…" Angele took another sip. "I haven't tasted coffee like this for more than twenty years, not since I left New Orleans." She looked at Gambit, or rather, at a point past his left shoulder. She still found his eyes disconcerting and difficult to meet. "Have you ever spent much time around New Orleans? They make coffee like that there."

"Oh, no." Gambit flashed a brilliant smile.

"You're lying."

He blinked. "I beg your pardon?"

"You're lying," said Angele calmly. "You have spent a lot of time around New Orleans."

"Au contraire, madam," said Gambit, "I was taken out of New Orleans very soon after you abandoned me."

Angele flinched, but determinedly forged ahead. "You're lying," she repeated. "I can see it in your face."

Gambit's eyes narrowed and flared simultaneously. "Now, Angele," he hissed, "I can hardly believe that you would have much ability to read my facial expressions, considering your lack of experience in that area. And a deliberate lack of experience at that."

To her credit, Angele refused to be intimidated. "Your mouth twitched," she said, "just like Cat's does when he's lying."

Gambit snorted. "Cat is an honest man, so naturally he would be a poor liar. I am not- and I'm a very good one."

"Which is just what I would have expected," growled a surly voice from the doorway. It was Bernard, looking rumpled and annoyed. He glared at Gambit. Gambit glared right back.

"I-" Angele frantically tried to think of something to say that would break the deadlock. "I thought you were upstairs asleep, Bernard."

He stopped glaring at Gambit and glared at her instead. "I woke up."

"Obviously," drawled Gambit. "Sorry for disturbing your nap. Old men need their sleep, or so I have been told."

Bernard snarled and stalked to the fridge and pulled out a carton of orange juice, drinking the liquid straight out of the container in an appalling display of bad manners. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and glowered at Gambit. "What are you doing back here?"

"Sitting here, drinking coffee," was the calm reply.

Sensing an argument just waiting to happen, Angele decided to stop it before it started. "So, Gambit," she said hurriedly, "what have you been up to the last few months?"

Gambit flicked his gaze to Angele's face, noting with dry satisfaction when she could not quite meet his eyes. "A bit of this, a bit of that…"

"And which 'bits' were legal?" put in Bernard.

Gambit almost smiled. "Very few actually…" he murmured, sipping from his cup. He noted with some distaste that the liquid was cooling rapidly. "How are Angelique and Cat?"

Bernard scowled at him. "Have you been anywhere near them?" he demanded.

"Now Bernard," said Angele hurriedly, "I'm sure Gambit only wanted to know how they are doing."

"And what I want to know is what he is doing."


"Angele, it's fine," interrupted Gambit in a smug purr. "Bernard has every right to be suspicious. Because I've been watching Cat and Angelique very closely. I even have their phone tapped. Come to think of it, your phone is tapped, too."

"I knew it!"


"I just knew it!

"Bernard, stop being so paranoid!" screeched Angele. "Gambit's only teasing you, and you're reacting!" She glared at Gambit. "You were only teasing Bernard, weren't you?"

"Yes, mother," said Gambit meekly, even though his eyes flared slightly in what might have been amusement.

Then again, it might not.

As if on que, the sounds of a car was heard pulling up out the front, and Gambit's eyes widened and he checked his watch (a very expensive Swiss piece) involuntary. "That," he said, "would be Cat." He stood. "And that would be me. I believe it's time to take my leave. Good day to you." And before another word could be said, he stood up and marched out the door, leaving Bernard and Angele very much bemused.

A few seconds later the sounds of footsteps were heard on the back verandah, and Cat and Angelique appeared at the back door.

"You've had a visitor," said Cat, glancing at the kitchen table.

"How did you know that?" asked Angele tiredly.

"There's an extra coffee cup on the table that you haven't had a chance to wash up yet," he replied, sitting down where Gambit had been. "Go upstairs and play," he told Angelique. He looked at his parents. "So. How did it go?"

Bernard opened his mouth and shut it again when Angele shot a filthy look at him. "I think it went well," she said firmly.



"Cool," said Cat.

"Yes," agreed Angele.

Later that night, Cat and Bernard were sitting at the table, talking. Angele was upstairs with her granddaughter, doing some arcane and mysterious activity that involved a lot of running around and screaming and giggling. Every now and again there was a series of thumps that shook the ceiling.

"I don't like it," said Bernard, "I don't like it at all. The man is dangerous! He spent two hours today playing head games with Angele, games that she's convinced were just teasing! He's dangerous, and she's doing everything she can to invite him into our lives, our home."

"She misses him. She missed him as soon as you abandoned him. It's only natural that she should want him back."

"Natural or no, the whole situation is dangerous. He's playing games with us, and it's only a matter of time before he gets tired of playing games and decides to do something about it!"

Cat scowled at him. "Don't you think that Gambit has every right to be angry?" he snapped, uncharacteristically for such a mild tempered man. "Can you blame him for wanting to hurt you?"

"Well, no," replied Bernard, all but squirming in his seat as he refused to meet his oldest son's eyes. "But that doesn't make the games he's playing any nicer! Cat-" Bernard leaned forward and lowered his voice, "it's obvious that he's more than a common garden-variety burglar!"

Cat shrugged. "You have to learn a living somehow," he said. "And I doubt that the job offers are just rolling in. Those eyes of his are fairly disturbing."

"Yes," muttered Bernard, "I noticed."

"Stop worrying about it Dad!" said Cat soothingly. "I get the feeling that he'll just drop in and drop out on whenever he feels like it. I don't think that he's going to hurt us. If he wanted to, he would have by now."

Bernard stared at the table. "Cat," he said quietly, "he told us that he had your phone tapped. He's already said that he's been watching you and Angelique."

"I- I-" Cat rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand.

"Do you think he's lying?" asked Bernard, his face intent.

His son didn't quite know what to say to that. He shrugged again.

"Because I don't think he's lying. I think he's telling the truth. I think that he's been watching us. Listening to us. Getting to know everything about us. How do you feel about that."

"I don't like it," said Cat quietly. "But I really don't think that there's anything we can do about it."

"There is something," said Bernard, leaning forward. "We can do the same to him. Forewarned is forearmed, they say. The more we know about him, the better we'll be able to figure out what's going on in that mutant brain of his. We'll know what he has planned for us."

Cat was silent. At last he said, "I don't think that's a very good idea. Matter of fact, I think it's a very bad one. I can't imagine anything that would upset him more. Dad, we don't know what he's capable of."

'That's what I've been trying to get across to you! Do you want a man like that sniffing around your daughter?"

That did it. "Of course not!" exclaimed Cat, horrified.

"So why are you putting up with it, then?"

"Because we don't have much of a choice!"

"Don't we?" asked Bernard quietly.

His son gazed at him for a second, eyes troubled. "What do you suggest?" he asked just as quietly.

In answer, Bernard got up and went to a drawer in one of the many kitchen cupboards. From the depths of it, he removed a small white envelope and handed it to Cat.

He looked at it, noting the return address as 'Rowan Bassenger, PI, of Bassenger, Killdeer, and Forbs'. He looked up at Bernard, who motioned at him to look inside. There was a single sheet of white paper, typed over in black ink. Cat took it out, unfolded it, and began to read.

"To Bernard and Angele Londe, from Private Investigatior Rowan Bassenger:

Dear Sir and Madam, (it said.)

I am an agent from the private investigation agency of Bassenger, Killdeer and Forbs. Recently, I was hired by a Remi Thibourdreux to investigate you and your immediate family under the pretence that my client wished for information before deciding whether to issue a fraud lawsuit against you. Over the course of my investigations, however, I began to have some suspicions about my client, and after receiving the results of some background checks I can to the conclusion that 'Remi Thibourdreux' was most likely a false persona created by someone who wished to observe you and yours for what would possibly be immoral and illegal purposes. I do not have definite proof of this, but after much soul searching I have decided that you must be informed of this possible threat to the safety and well-being of you family."

As Cat read further, the letter revealed that the nearly impoverished Rowan Bassenger had been hired by an extremely charming and striking individual to find out as much information about the Londe family's private life as possible. The individual in question was handsome, auburn haired, soft-spoken with a Cajun accent, and always wore a pair of very dark sunglasses no matter what the time of day or night. On the one occasion that Bassenger had seen him without the sunglasses, his glowing red eyes made it immediately obvious that he was a mutant. He had paid very well and often, making it very easy for Bassenger to overlook any suspicions about him that she may had had until an 'incident' occurred that finally made Bassenger feel that she could no longer continue working for Thibourdreux in good conscience. She warned them that it was highly possible that he was a dangerous individual that could have some sort of grudge against the family. She added that she had the suspicion that he would he been quite capable of carrying out the work she had been hired to do himself, but had for some reason elected not to do so.

Cat was flabbergasted. Intellectually he knew that Gambit had had to find out about them by some way or another, but to actually have the proof of how he did it in his own hands was somehow frighting. He shuddered and put the letter down on the table.

"What do you think?" asked Bernard, who had been watching him from across the table.

"Does my mother know about this?" replied Cat, eyeing him suspiciously.

Bernard coughed. "Ah- no," he said, looking vaguely shifty. "I didn't want to worry her."

"Hmm." Cat leaned back in his chair and thought hard. "Well," he said, "it does explain several things."

"Like what?"

"The first time Gambit showed up he swore. He said 'mon dieu' like he had been speaking French all his life. If he had a Cajun accent, it would explain where he learned the French."

"But he speaks with a British accent now," pointed out Bernard.

Cat scowled ferociously in thought. "Yes. I know. I wonder if 'Remi Thibourdreux" is his real name…"

"Wouldn't you love to find out?" asked Bernard slyly.

Cat left off scowling at the ceiling and scowled at his father instead. "Are you trying to manipulate me?"

"No! Uhm- well- that is-"

"I thought so," sighed Cat. "Okay, okay. You got me. So how are we find out who he is, where he comes from?"

"We already know where he comes from," pointed out Bernard. "New Orleans."

"That isn't what I meant. We don't want to know where he's been. We want to know where he is."

Bernard picked at the letter. "I've been thinking about that," he declared, waving the white paper around like a flag. "And this seems to be as good a place as any to start. This Bassenger woman sounds like a smart girl. Maybe we could hire her to start investigating him. You know, turn the tables around a bit. Give him a taste of his own medicine."

Cat frowned at him, thinking about a lot and saying nothing. Finally, he said: "I'll call her."


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