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Chapter 1

Deep in Conversation - REVIEW THIS STORY

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

Chapter 1

Gambit smiled to himself as he fumbled for the door handle to his bedroom. It had been a long time since he had been this drunk. A loooooooong time. The empty champagne bottle swung between his fingers as he finally managed to open the door and creep in. He had left the other bottle, empty, on the roof of the Mansion, where he’d drunk it. In the morning, he’d have to buy two more bottles to replace the ones he’d stolen. Scott always liked to keep a couple chilled in case of need of celebration. Well, tonight was a celebration. A celebration of alcohol.

The evening had started well. As usual it was just him and Logan left after supper, the rest of the team having gone to bed. Wimps. Gambit and Wolverine had sunk a good bottle-and-a-bit of bourbon before Logan had cried uncle and crawled his way to bed. By that time, however, Gambit was just raring to go. He could have drunk three times that amount of liquor and still managed to steal Logan’s watch. Yup, it was champagne or nothing for Remy. That was the only stuff he had found that could get him really drunk. Reaaallly drrrrrrrunk.

So, after extracting two bottles of the good stuff from the fridge, he had made his way onto the roof of the Mansion and proceeded the serious business of getting rat-arsed. And he did it in style - how could he not when he was drinking champagne? That said, Scott’s choice of vintage did leave a lot to be desired.

Collapsing on the bed, Remy tried to undo his cufflinks. No luck. He cursed softly as the bottle hit the floor and rolled under the bed. Then he remembered it was empty. Let it go. He’d had enough. But then, how much was enough? He considered getting up and trying to locate some more, perhaps some of the Professor’s good stuff this time, but found his legs wouldn’t work. Oh well, that probably meant he had drunk just the right amount. He giggled to himself and tried the words out.

“Not too little, not too much, but jus’ right.” The words sounded good in his mouth, but when he tried to repeat them, his tongue got tangled up. Another sign he had drunk the right amount. Without turning, he addressed himself to the clump of shadows by the window. “Well, hello, my frien’. Won’t you join Gambit? Dere’s no need to be frightened.” A thought hit him, his first lucid one in hours. “I t’ought I’d shut de window.”

“Oh, I can get in anywhere.” Said one of the shadows.

“Join de club, mon ami.” Gambit tried to lift his head to see who his mystery guest was, but the effort proved too much and his head fell back against the pillow. “Like I said, come and sit down. Dere ain’t no need to be formal, we all frien’s here.”

“You would say that.” Said the shadowy figure. But it came and sat on the bed next to him anyway. “You’re drunk.”

“Gloriously.” Agreed Gambit. “Drunk an’ lovin’ it. Fraid dere ain’t none to share, I been busy.”

“Clearly.” Said his companion, without much interest.

Through the rose-pink fog of total inebriation, Gambit turned to look at his taciturn acquaintance. “Oh. It’s you.” He observed sagely.

“Of course it’s me.” Snapped the small black cat that was sitting primly next to him. “It always me when you get drunk. I hate to think what appears when you get stoned.”

“Gambit do not get stoned.” He replied archly. “Weed got no affect on me. Jus’ champagne.”

“Of course.” Said the cat in its unmistakable English accent.

“Why you English, mon ami? I don’ recall you bein’ English before.”

“I’m not surprised” Said the cat, sharply. “Considering the state you’re in whenever we talk.”

Gambit accepted the explanation. It knew a thing or two, this cat. It was certainly was thinking more clearly than him right now.

“So.” Said the cat, curling up and wrapping its tail around its body fastidiously. It did most things fastidiously. It was that type of cat. “What shall we talk about?” It sounded bored. It did that a lot too.

“I don’ wanna talk about anything.” Mumbled Gambit. It was true, he didn’t, sleeping was his main priority right now.

“Oh for goodness sake.” Said the cat. If Gambit had been looking he would have seen it rolling its yellow eyes. Unfortunately, he had closed his own, so the slightly disconcerting spectacle passed him by.

Suddenly, another thought hit him. Another one? Perhaps he was sobering up. It seemed unlikely. “If we talk, you go?”

“With pleasure.” Said the cat, meaning it.

“Rogue.” The name popped out before he realised. Hell, he’d thought he had passed out. But there it was. He’d said it now.

“That’s what you want to talk about?” The cat sounded resigned to its fate.

“Seems a gooda time as any.”

“Actually, I can think of literally dozens of better times, but it’s your call.” The cat groaned. It was not a sound that many cats usually made, but he accomplished it very well. “Can’t say I find myself particularly surprised.”

“And what is dat suppos’d t’mean, monsieur chat?”

“Don’t call me that.” The cat shifted irritably. “It means, my inebriated friend - and I mean that in the very loosest sense of the word - that you are obsessed.”

Gambit was piqued at the description . “Gambit ain’t obsessed. I don’t obsess about no one.”

“Oh, I think we both know that is a big lie.”

Gambit was faintly aware that the cat had just used a line from ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral”, but now didn’t seem the time to point that out.

“So, I like her. Well, de truth be told, de girl irritates de hell out of me.”

“Why is that, then?” The cat spoke like it knew the answer. It probably did, and better than Gambit.

“I don’ know.”

“You talk, I go.” The cat reminded him. “So talk.”

Gambit muttered something in French about cats that overstay their welcome. It wasn’t politely put, either.

“I happen to speak French fluently and my mother was actually extremely respectable.” It said dryly.

“You speak French?” Gambit was surprised, but only slightly. The advantage of being drunk was that one felt everything only slightly.

“Why shouldn’t I?” The cat sounded mystified.

“Très vrai.” Gambit was conscious that the cat hadn’t answered a single one of his questions. The Cajun was impressed by the cat’s ability to sidestep, it was almost as good as his own. “So. Where should Gambit begin?”

“Right at the very beginning. A very good place to start.”

That was definitely taken from “The Sound Of Music.”

“There ain’t no beginning to this one, it’s immortal.”

“Please, spare me. This is no different to any lust. You know that.” The cat began to clean itself.

“It is diff’rent. It ain’t just about de lust. Well, a lot of it is. A whole lot. But not de whole. Dere’s somet’ing else too. It’s like...” Gambit broke off, frowning. “Can you stop dat, please. It very distracting.”

The cat stopped scratching and put its back leg down.

Gambit found he had lost his train of thought. “I mean, how do you do dat, anyway? Gambit’s pretty bendy, but even I can’t scratch my ear wit’ my foot.”

“I’m a cat. You work it out.” If the cat wasn’t infuriated already, it definitely was now. “Look, if you are too drunk to make any type of sense, I might as well go.” It stood up and stretched in a way that made even the ‘bendy’ Gambit shudder.

“Non. Don’ go. Gambit’ll talk.” He looked at the cat from under his long eyelashes. Hah! One point to him on that score, cats don’t have eyelashes.

“Again, I am forced to reiterate. I. Am. A. Cat. Charm power doesn’t have any effect on me. So stop that, right now.”

“Do you mind that you don’t got eyelashes?” Again, the words popped out before Gambit had a chance to think. Thinking was taking a little time at the moment.

The cat just stared at him. It didn’t even bother to reply. Hardly surprising really.

“You wouldn't mind passin’ me my cigarettes, would you?” Asked Gambit, his attention wandering once more.

“I can’t. No opposable thumb.”

“But of course. I forget. Looks like it’s up to ol’ Gambit once more.” He sighed wearily, the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Lighting up with his finger tip, he inhaled deeply. “Dat feels good.”

“I’m highly flammable.” Said the cat, moving away slightly. “Have a care.”

“Act’lly, I’m havin’ a gauloise.” Quipped Gambit, finding his own joke vastly amusing. The cat wasn’t the only one with a line in dry witticisms.

“That’s it.” It jumped up to leave. Gambit grabbed for it, and his hand met its tail.

“Merde!” He pulled his hand away and stared at the two deep scratches, welling blood already. The cat resheathed its claws and purred contentedly.

“Mon ami, you got claws like Wolverine.”

“Who? Oh the Canadian. Please.” It sounded insulted, but it settled back down again.

“You got somet’ing against Logan, now, neh?” It was difficult to find anything the cat did feel warmly towards.

“Not personally, but the whole feral rage thing is just disgraceful. Deeply undignified.”

“I see what you mean. Wolvie lacks de style. Like what you an’ me have.”

“Oh, yes.” Said the cat as it surveyed the Acadian sprawled out on the bed, eyes beginning to cross. “You are very stylish. Quite the debonair gentleman.”

The feline sarcasm totally passed over Gambit. “T’anks mon ami, you not so bad yourself. ‘Cepting some claw issues.” He rubbed disconsolately at his hand.

“Hard as it may seem to believe now, this conversation once had a point.”

“Really?” Gambit was doubtful.

“I assure you. Any chance we could get back to that aforementioned point?” It was the closest the cat ever came to begging.

Gambit reached out to stroke behind the cat’s ears, meditatively.

The cat recoiled in horror. “There will be no petting! I am not...”

“Dat type of cat?” Gambit supplied helpfully. “But de point is dis.”

“A point, finally. Thank God.”

Gambit ignored the cat. “Rogue, she ain’t like mos’ of the women Remy has known.”

“You mean she doesn’t charge?” Inquired the cat silkily.

“You a bitch.” Gambit tried to sound hurt, but failed. Little was affecting him right now.

“No, that would make me a dog.” It pointed out reasonably.

“Dat is true.” Agreed Gambit. “But Roguie, she like, diff’rent.”

“That’s the same point you made before. Can we develop it?”

We can try.” Said Gambit accommodatingly. “What Gambit means is dat, she like a fish bone stuck in my teeth, I can’t fo’get about her, she always dere. Maybe I should pay a little visit, non? Surprise her while she sleepin’. Dat’d get her outta my head.”

“With the side-effect that you would be in hers. You know you can’t touch with that inconvenient absorption power of hers. Not that I’d care if she drained you. But this is very old ground. We’ve discussed this before.”

“Oui.” Agreed Gambit, “I seem to recall you tellin’ Gambit you don’ like him before.”

“You are perfectly aware that I wasn’t referring to that. The old ground is the fact you can’t touch her. It drives you mad, doesn’t it?”

“Gambit was mad ‘fore he met Rogue.”

“I can’t agree more, but she makes you that little bit madder, she fills your head. Sometimes all you can feel is how much you want to touch her, just because you can’t. She’s like one of those treasures you used to steal. You don’t need her, and you can’t have her, but that makes you want her all the more.” The cat’s voice had sunk to a low murmur, almost a purr. It was alarming how incisive it was. Its eyes was burning into Gambit’s and its tail was slowly swishing backwards and forwards.

“Hey, Kitty, you freakin’ Gambit out now. Stop dat.”

“Alright.” Said the cat, totally unaffected. “It was amusing. Totally correct though.”

“Non. You were act’lly wrong.” Gambit tried to look away, but his head was inexplicably filled with cotton wool.

“Was I, was I really?” The cat’s voice began to sink deeper again and once more its tail began to move.

“What I jus’ get t’rough saying? Quit that stuff.” Gambit lit another cigarette. “An’ oui, mon ami, you were wrong. Well, you were kinda right. But I don’ wanna hold Roguie jus’ cause I can’t. That never stopped Gambit in de past.”

“So, what is it? If you are such an independent spirit, why not just move on? God knows it would be nice to talk about someone or something else for a change. Why do you want to hold her, then? Enlighten me.”

“Cause, well, you see...”

“Just get on with it. I’m a cat. Do you really think it makes the slightest bit of difference to me how you phrase it?”

“I wanna protect her.” There he had said it. Thank God Rogue wasn’t in the room, she’d have hit him across it.

“That’s what it is? A women stronger than the entire male population of Muscle Beach put together, and you want to protect her! I want to laugh.”

“You can’t.” Said Gambit, with a small sense of triumph. “You a cat. Dey don’t laugh.”

“We’ll see about that.” Said the cat darkly. “To return to that most bizarre of ideas, you want to protect her. May I be informed why?”

“Cause, she need it. She all defenceless all de time. She always showin’ what she’s feelin’. You ask Gambit, she openin’ herself up for a whole lotta trouble.”

“It freaks you out, doesn’t it? That somebody that strong could also be so weak. You can’t believe anyone would lay their emotions out like that, for the world to pick at.”

“It freak Gambit out more when you do dat voice t’ing.” He grumbled, but saw the truth in the cat’s words. He must be sobering up, to listen to a cat.

“A lot of the human race’s problems could be solved by listening to a cat’s opinion.”

“Formidable. I de one to get de telpat’ic cat. I t’ought I was s’posed to be lucky.”

“Don’t blame me. I’m only a projection of your drunken mind.”

“Oh.” Said Gambit. Suddenly things made a lot more sense. “An’ how’s dat workin’ out fo’ you?”

“I’ve had better times.” It replied meaningfully.

“An’ she so beautiful. And good.”

There was a long pause. “You mean Rogue. And people call me enigmatic.”

“Yup, we a lot alike, you an’ me.”

“Except I don’t need love.”

That was the worst insult Gambit had ever received. And he’d been insulted by some of the masters. “Gambit don’ need love. He detached. Cool. A loner.”

“No. That would be me, remember? You crave love, you feed on it. It’s all your little heart desires. That and bourbon.”

“Ah ha!” Gambit attempted to snap his fingers, in a sort of triumphant gesture, but it never really came together quite as he had hoped. He briefly considered a second try, but dismissed it as a waste of time. “You said I don’ need Roguie, then you say I crave de love. Which is it gonna be?”

“I would never normally say this, but you’re right. God, how humiliating to be proved wrong by a man who can’t summon up the dexterity to snap his fingers - yes, I saw that.” He shot a look bordering on outright disgust at Gambit, and continued, “Let me clarify. What I meant was you don’t need her, but her love. That makes all the difference.”

“Pourquoi?” Gambit was still reeling from the look of disgust. It had been a bad one.

“Because, having achieved what you wanted, her love, you can’t do anything with her. And to cap it all off, you love her too!” It laughed, proving Gambit’s earlier theory woefully incorrect.

“I s’pose I do.” Gambit was resigned now, and felt a certain sort of relief. It was like he had finally managed to scratch a particularly irritating itch. He toyed briefly with the notion that the itch was the reason he had set out to get so drunk tonight, but dismissed as far too profound.

“You do.” Said the cat, firmly. “But neither of you can do the slightest thing about it, so you’ll just circle each other forever. Doomed to a sort of half-relationship, without any of the good parts. It’s pathetic really.”

“Merci. Gambit ‘preciate your compassion in his mos’ depressed hour. Might as well talk to Logan.”

“How I wish that you had, how I wish that you had.” Said the cat fervently. “Now, I must go. Time’s up, and may I say how lucky you are that I don’t charge by the hour.”

“Quoi! You can’t go now, dere’s more I could say. We haven’t resolved anyt’ing.” Gambit felt betrayed. He should have seen it coming, all the signs were there.

The cat stood, and looked pityingly down on him. Actually, its head was level with his own, but Gambit definitely got the sensation he was being looked down on.

“Think about it, Remy. I’m a cat. You are drunk. We were never going to resolve anything!”

And never, thought Gambit as he slipped into blessed drunken unconsciousness, was a truer word spoken.


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