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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11


Written by Steve Paul
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 6

The door closed behind him with a soft click, the hallway still pitch black; no one had come that way since he and Logan had entered. That was good. Hand-in-hand, Susie's dwarfed by his, they made their way almost to the end of the hallway. Still masked by shadows, there was enough light for Gambit to signal the girl to stay where she was, while he scouted ahead. Surveying the scene, he saw no one looking in their general direction. He moved into the larger corridor, signaling the girl to follow. He walked fast enough to put a little distance between himself and the darkened hallway before she caught up with him, just in case someone noticed. He had gone about 50 yards, when he heard her almost directly behind him.

"Mr. Elbow...wait for me!"

He stopped and waited. When she got close, he bent down and told her "gotta keep y'voice down, petite. Don' wan' people lookin' our way. Oui?"


Gambit smiled. "No chere, 'oui' -- it means 'yes' in French."

Her eyes widened. "Are you from France?"

He shook his head, his smile widening. "No, petite, I be from de Big Easy -- N'Awlins. D'ya know where dat is?" She shook her head no. "Ah well, you learn someday, no?"

He crouched down close to her, careful not to touch her. She been touched enough f' one day. "Listen petite, de stuff dat happen wit' Mr. Tony back dere...how 'bout we keep dat our li'l secret?" He watched as her expression turned serious.


"Well..." He paused here, searching for the correct way to phrase this to a child. "You see, petite..."

"Stop calling me Patty!"

"No, no. Petite, dat's a French word too. It mean 'li'l one.' Dat's what I call you, okay?"

She beamed. "Okay. I like that name."

"Bie..." Dis go faster wit'out de French lessons, LeBeau. "Good." He paused for a moment to try and frame his thoughts, with only limited success. "Mr. Tony was a bad man, chil'. He wanted ta hurt'cha." The girl looked puzzled by this, but he continued. "My friend, de one who stay behind, he gon' make it so Mr. Tony don' hurt you, or no one else again. Okay?" Susie nodded at this, apparently understanding.

"Da t'ing is, petite," she smiled at the word again, a beautiful, innocent smile that he was falling in love with, "my frien' 'n me could get into trouble with de police if they found out we did dat, even though he wa...is a bad man." He saw he was losing her, so he contented himself with saying, "Jus' trust me on dis one. Okay?"


"We keep dis 'tween da t'ree of us and y'poppa?"


Chuckling, Gambit stood up. He smiled at his temporary charge; she was definitely growing on him. Let's get movin', boy. Gotta go find her poppa and talk some sense into dat homme -- I beat some it into 'im if I have ta! He smiled grimly at that thought.

Gambit asked the girl where her father worked, but she didn't know for sure. She only knew that he 'walked around the airport, like Mr. Tony,' so Gambit assumed he was a maintenance worker as well.

Since she didn't know for sure where to go, he took her hand and led her toward the main terminal, hoping to find someone she might recognize. He told her to keep her eyes open for anyone she. If push came to shove, he could take her to the maintenance office, but all things being equal, he'd rather not do that.

The crowd was getting larger, now that it was closer to a civilized hour. That fact pleased the Cajun; it was easier to move unseen in a crowd. It proved useful on three occasions -- twice when maintenance crews hurried by; obviously looking for the source of their video blackout, and once to dodge the airport police. Although it was unlikely, the girl's father could have reported her missing. Then he'd have to explain what he was doing with her. That could lead to some unpleasant questions, questions he didn't want to answer. Had 'nough 'xcitment f't'night.

Presently, Wolverine joined them, falling into step next to LeBeau. To Gambit, the change in the man was amazing. Logan was definitely calmer than he was when they had parted; it was almost as if he had exorcised some inner demon. If Susie noticed his arrival, she didn't let on. She was busy looking for her father.

Under his breath, Gambit asked, "We all square, m'frien'?"

Wolverine whispered his reply: "Yeah. Don't gotta worry 'bout that greaseball anymore."

"What ya do wit' 'im?

Logan regarded the Cajun. "Ya really want ta know?"

"Wouldn'a asked if I didn't."

"I left 'im there."

Gambit shook his head and grimaced. "Dat not too smart, mon ami."

Logan shrugged; he obviously didn't care.

"Did ya at least wipe de prints like I said?"

Wolverine nodded his assent.

"Well, den we better fin' dis gal's poppa, den get d'hell outta here!"

Gambit explained the current situation to Wolverine, who shook his head. "Never find 'im like this."

"What you suggest? I ain't gon' leave her alone."

Not answering, Logan positioned himself on the other side of the girl; close, but not close enough to make her uncomfortable. He smiled at her, painfully aware of his extruding canines. She didn't seem to notice. "Hey li'l darlin', how are you doin'?"

"Okay, but I'd like to find my daddy and go home. I'm tired."

"Me and my friend here are gonna help ya find him, but I gotta ask ya something: did your daddy give you something today?"

She looked at him, obviously confused. "What do you mean?"

"Did he help you get dressed, or maybe give you something before he left?"

"Well," Susie thought it over, "he helped me dress. Why?"

Logan smiled again and inched closer to her. She looked like she might run, and he did his best to reassure her. Gambit was watching, amused. He was knew what Logan was after, but watching him get it was interesting. It exposed a side of Wolverine he'd never seen before. He kind of liked it.

"Don't worry, darlin'. I ain't gonna hurt ya."

Logan stopped less than a foot away from her and crouched down slowly. Getting next to her was like stalking a skittish doe, but he was finally close enough. He began to sniff, and the girl's eyes shot wide-open; she obviously hadn't expected this.

After a moment, Logan stood up, smiling. He had picked up three distinct scents, not including his or the Cajun's, and he recognized all three. One was the girl's, one was the late, unlamented predator's. The final scent had to be her old man's.

This keeps getting better and better.

He looked at the Cajun and said, "C'mon. I got 'im." He headed off toward the gate their flight had arrived at.

After passing through the metal detector, they worked their way back toward the gates, stopping every twenty yards or so to allow Logan to keep his bead on the scent. Gambit smiled every time they passed an airport maintenance worker tearing apart a video camera.

As they walked, they began hearing a voice over the growing din of the airport crowd. After a bit, they could begin to make out some of the words that voice was saying.

"It is up to us to end the mutant threat NOW, before the threat ends us!"

Great, not dese guys again.

Sure enough, the voices came from the two 'Friends of Humanity' they had seen earlier. LeBeau studied the crowd near the fanatics. As they were earlier, they were ignored by the majority of the crowd. That was good.

He looked at Wolverine, who was walking unconcerned toward the two Friends of Humanity, then he looked over at Susie, who was smiling from ear to ear. She recognized the voice; they had found her daddy.

Why ain't I surprised?

Seeing the 'Friends' had started the Cajun on a slow boil. Normally very pragmatic, he was growing very angry at how unfair the whole situation was. This clown, who obviously didn't give a damn, had two things Remy LeBeau was convinced he never would: a beautiful daughter and, probably, an equally beautiful wife! The man's carelessness infuriated him. Without thinking, he dropped a card into his right hand, and began to absently flip it through his fingers. He was brought back to reality by the Canadian.

"Snap outta it, Cajun. We got a job to do."

Gambit took a deep breath and tried to clear his mind. After a minute, he contented himself with a pleasant memory of Rogue: their first real date. He held the thought only long enough to pick him up, then let it go before it brought him back down again. It was the first time he'd been able to do that since Seattle. After a moment, he flipped the card into a nearby garbage can.

He turned to Susie. "Petite," the girl looked up at him, beaming, "dat y' poppa dere?" She nodded vigorously.

"I wan' you ta stay here wit' m'frien. I got a few t'ings ta say t'him." Again she nodded. "What's his name?"


Shoulda seen dat one comin'. Try a diff'rent approach.

"What's ya momma call 'im?"


Gambit groaned. He didn't even want to go there. "Okay, petite. You stay here 'til I signal ya ta come over, 'kay?"


"Good girl." He shot a quick glance at Logan, whose face was guarded, and turned toward the Friends of Humanity. Just being this close to them made him nauseous. He had to fight the impulse to lash out at the two flatscanners.

Mebbe now be a good time t'let off some o'dat frustration you be feelin' 'bout Rogue, neh?

He approached the girl's father -- a skinny, balding man -- from behind. He tapped him on the shoulder, and the man turned around.

"Yes, my friend? Do you want to join in the fight against the true threat to our way of life?"

Gambit looked him over. The fool actually was wearing a name tag! It read 'Neal.'

"No, Neal, but I do need t'talk t'ya f'a second..." Gambit looked at the man's companion and added, "Alone."

The second 'Friend' spoke up. "If I may ask, what is this about?"

Gambit turned on him, his voice soft and menacing. "Nope, you may not. Now take a hike." This was delivered with such vehemence that the second 'Friend,' 'Larry' by his name tag, staggered off, probably looking for help.

Better get dis over wit'. We exposed 'ere.

Gambit jerked his thumb toward Susie, who was now standing alone. Wolverine had backed away, and was watching the event unfold, at a discrete distance.

"Dat ya girl?"

"Yes," he answered slowly, "that's my daughter. What's this about?"

With snake-like quickness, Gambit grabbed the man by the front of his shirt, and began the verbal attack that had been brewing since he'd first found the little girl wandering the airport alone. "What de hell's wrong wit' you, homme? You let a li'l girl wander 'round de airport by 'erself? Don't ya know dat TERR'BLE t'ings c'n happen t'her?" For the moment, Gambit's world had focused down to just two things; his anger, and the idiot toward which it was directed. The crowd had ceased to exist for him.

"That's why I'm fighting against the mutant plague..."

The words were cut off by a sharp slap across the face. A crowd, unnoticed by the Cajun, was beginning to grow. Wolverine was becoming concerned, trying to decide when to intervene and extract Gambit. Considering all that had happened since their arrival, this might not have been the best idea.

Remy spit the words out, barely able to hide his contempt. "Dat's not de probl'm." Neal tried to respond, but Gambit cut him off. "Let me 'splain what de probl'm is." The Cajun then related, in detail, how he and 'a friend' had found his Susie as she was about to be abducted. Then he described, in great detail, what probably would have happened to her if they had not been there.

The mutant-hater's face turned white as the Cajun's words sunk in. Gambit was now to the point he wanted to make, and he drove it home mercilessly.

"De t'ing is, dat homme, he weren't no mutant -- he a flatscanner jus' like you," he snarled, jabbing his finger into the Friend of Humanity for emphasis.

Leaning closer, his voice barely a whisper, Gambit raised his sunglasses, exposing his eyes, and added, "And don' f'get, dat a mutant is de one who save 'er."

Neal gasped. Any pigmentation that was still in his face left. He was whiter than Storm's hair. Gambit pressed on, his voice a cruelly hissing whisper. "You 'member dat t'night when ya tuck 'er in."

His voice grew a little louder. "You 'member DAT tomorrow when you kiss 'er 'mornin'."

He was loud enough now that the gathering crowd could hear him. "You 'MEMBER DAT twen'y year from now when she get married."

He was almost shouting now. "YOU DON' EVER F'GET DAT." Dropping his shades back in place, he continued.

"'Cause wit'out dose MUTANTS, you not be doin' ANYT'ING wit' her EVER AGAIN."

His voice returned to a whisper, almost as if he were talking to himself. 'Cept buryin' 'er."

LeBeau pushed Neal away, as if he were the vilest being on the face of the planet. He was suddenly aware of the crowd that was watching and turned his attention to it.

"When y'all gon' realize, dere ain't no mutant t'reat t'any a'ya."

Someone from the back of the crowd spoke up, "What about Magneto, smart man?"

Gambit snorted. "Wha' 'bout him? Yeah, he a mutant. He also crazy. What about Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Son o' Sam, Charlie Manson, Stalin and Hitler? Dey ALL flatscanners." He paused here to let his words sink in. "You gon' condemn all 'humans' 'cause a'dem?"

This was answered by silence.

"Den why y'gon condemn all mutants 'cause a'Magneto?"

More silence.

"Dat's what I thought. Y'know, y'probl'y have a better chance a'buyin' it in a car or even a plane, den by some 'crazed mutant.'" He scanned the faces in the crowd to see if he was making any impression.

Unable to tell, he let out a disgusted sigh and repeated himself: "Dere ain't no mutant t'reat t any a'ya, no more'n den any human t'reat. Don' f'get it."

He turned back Neal.

"Why don'cha get ya girl outta here. Go home. Get a REAL job." The man nodded numbly, and began walking toward Susie, who had been watching with a mixture of wonder and fear. He stopped, took her hand and asked, "You okay, sweetie?"

"Yes, daddy."

He bent down and picked her up. "Let's go home." He began to walk toward the exit, then stopped and turned toward the X-Man.

"I never thought I'd be saying this to someone like you, but thank you."

Gambit nodded his reply, and waved to the girl. She blew him a kiss as they began to walk down the corridor.

Softly, he said, "S'long petite."

As he stood there watching Susie disappear down the corridor, Wolverine made his way through the thinning crowd, and put his hand on Gambit's shoulder.

"Feel better, Gumbo?"

"Non. Still feel empty. 'Bout you?"

"I'm fine. He got what he deserved. That clown," he said, pointing toward the departing father, "has more than he deserves." Sensing the Cajun's mood, he added, "Ya did all right, Remy."

LeBeau looked up at the use of his first name. Logan smiled. "Let's go. We been here too long and your little tirade didn't help any."

"Oui." It was best to leave before the local authorities arrived. Looking down the corridor, Gambit could see two of them heading their way with 'Larry.' They stopped when they reached Neal and Susie, and seemed content with interviewing them, at least for the time being.

His hand still on Gambit's shoulder, Logan directed him toward the stairs to the lower level and the rental car desks. After a moment of silence, Wolverine spoke.

"Ya know, LeBeau. This looks like the start of a beautiful friendship."

Gambit snorted, but didn't say a word. In silence, the two X-Men turned, continued toward the lower level. Gambit suddenly realizing how tired and miserable he really was. He hadn't eaten in over twelve hours, and although they were dry, his clothes had been soaked on the drive into the airport and now were stiff and uncomfortable. Jes' like Cyclops, non? Throw in a killer headache, and the growing realization that he was thousands of miles from where he really wanted to be; the result was one wretched Cajun.

A soft, feminine voice stirred him from his thoughts. He stopped walking, and found himself looking at Victoria, the stewardess from their flight in. He flashed her a smile.

"Hello, chere. You followin' us?"

Her face flushed crimson. It was quite a contrast from her honey-blonde hair. "As a matter of fact, yes I am. I heard what you said to that man back there, and I wanted to thank you."

"Why dat?"

Victoria hemmed and hawed for a moment before softly saying, "Because I'm a mutant." She looked ashamed by her admission, obviously not realizing that two men she was talking with were mutants as well.

Gambit and Wolverine exchanged looks; this needed to be investigated further, but not here.

"Mebbe we should talk, chere, but we need more privacy." Victoria nodded. "When's y'nex' flight?"

"Two days. I'm based out of Detroit. Why?"

"You gotta car here?"

"Yes." She wasn't sure she liked where this was heading.

"Den I make a deal wit' ya. If you drive, I buy us some breakfast 'n we c'n talk 'bout y'bein' mutant."

"I don't know if that's such a good idea."

"Why not?"

"I don't even know you. Besides, there've been problems here lately."

Wolverine spoke up: "What kind o'problems?"

"It's been all over the news. Five people have been abducted from here in the last seven weeks."

Then two X-Men exchanged looks.

"Don't think ya need ta worry 'bout that anymore, darlin'."

"Why not?"

Wolverine smiled. "Call it intuition."

It took a little time and a lot of talking, but eventually the Cajun's famous charm won out. Victoria agreed, with the deep and fervent hope that her initial impression of the two was correct, to drive the three of them to a nearby Denny's for breakfast and conversation.


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