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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 9

In retrospect, things weren't working out nearly as well as he hoped they would. Heaving a semi-disgusted, semi-relieved sigh, Logan watched the suburbs of Taylor and Dearborn fly past the window. Been a hell of a trip so far. At the moment, he was catapulting down the Ford freeway with Gambit, Tory, and Amy on their way to dinner, and ultimately the hockey game. After all he'd been through, it had better be a pretty damn good game.

At least he finally corralled the Cajun without too much trouble -- Gambit had returned to the apartment on his own, only slightly worse for the wear. Logan shook his head, still unable to believe what a mess the morning had been. Just like the entire trip. He glanced over at Amy. Maybe not the *entire* trip.

They had actually hit it off pretty well. She was short, shorter than he was, which was nice for a change. Her black hair fell just below her waist, and framed a face that fell somewhere between 'pretty' and 'beautiful.' Just the opposite of his. She was Oriental, which was a plus. Her parents had emigrated from Hong Kong shortly before her birth some 25 years earlier. The fact that she was blind meant she wouldn't be automatically repulsed by his appearance and want nothing further to do with him. Gives her the chance to get t'know me so she can be repulsed by my personality. So far, that hadn't happened, but the night was still young. It was even her idea to sit with him in the back seat, letting Tory and Gambit share the front.

He regarded the Acadian, and shook his head. Gambit was laughing and joking with their companions as if nothing were wrong, when for all intents and purposes, the bottom had dropped out of his world roughly six hours earlier.

Since LeBeau was entertaining the ladies, Wolverine used the trip to Greektown, wherever that was, to try and make some sense of the day's events so far.

He woke in a cold sweat, his body shaking, half convinced he was suffering from a bad case of the DT's. The Thunderbird dream was a vivid memory. The fact that he could recall every detail as clearly now led him to believe that it wasn't really a dream; that a part of him was chained to a cross somewhere, and he'd actually had that conversation with Proudstar. The meaning of that dream/vision and the meaning of its warning still eluded him.

Shaken, he'd gotten up and headed into the kitchen. He'd heard the shower running and assumed it was LeBeau, since he wasn't on the couch, and poured himself a cup of the coffee someone had brewed while he was sleeping. Bolstered by the caffeine, he phoned home.

"Hey, Logan, give dis a listen." Gambit's voice brought him back into the present.

"What's up, bub?" He was irritated by the interruption but wise enough to let it pass; something he wouldn't have done yesterday, before Thunderbird's warning. Gambit turned the radio up as an answer.

"...where's Stephen King when you need him? Cujo's on the loose tonight at the Joe. Sports at 45 minutes after the hour, on News Radio 95 -- WWJ. Now we go live to Metro Airport and reporter Dana Civaglia. Dana, what's the latest?"

At the mention of the airport, Logan's interest, along with the hair on the back of his neck, picked up.

"Well, Patricia, the identity of the dead man won't be released until relatives have been notified. Apparently there's been a murder at Metro Airport. A spokesman for the Airport Police would only say that a white male airport employee was found dead in a maintenance room earlier today. There is speculation that, if it was murder, robbery may be the motive..."

Wolverine was glad that he'd dumped the wallet he'd taken from 'Tony' in the head back at the restaurant. He'd wrapped it in paper towels, after wiping any prints off as LeBeau had warned him, and stuffed it into the middle of a trash bag. Not the most secure place, but probably safe. The report continued.

"...it's been a day full of odd occurrences at the airport." Wolverine and Gambit exchanged glances. "First, what is being described as 'stray voltage' shorted out all the airport security cameras early this morning. Next, there was an altercation between two members of the Friends of Humanity and someone described as a possible mutant or mutant sympathizer. Finally, the body of the employee was found approximately an hour ago. Authorities have no idea if there is any connection between the three incidents, but are looking for the three men involved in the altercation, or any witnesses to that encounter, to find out. Live from Metro Airport, I'm Dana Civaglia, News Radio 95."

Gambit turned the radio down and glanced at Tory, who was looking sidelong at him. "I t'ink we better find a diff'rent way home, eh mon ami? Dat airport gettin' kinda dangerous?" The comment was directed at Wolverine, who only grunted. Tory, however, spoke.

"The police are looking for you. Shouldn't you go talk to them?"

"That was you?"

"Oui, Amy. I don't like D'Frien' of Humanity very much. Usually I try t'ignore dem, but dis mornin' I had 'nough a dem and not 'nough sleep, so I let 'em have a piece a m'mind." He turned and looked at Tory. "Ain't got nuthin' t'do with dat other stuff, chere."

Logan could tell he was exerting his charm, and it was working; Tory seemed mollified by the simple explanation, Amy impressed by the stand he took. Even Logan felt inclined to believe the Cajun, and was suitably impressed

"I think that's so cool that you'd stand up for those poor muties..."

"Mutants," Remy, Logan and Tory replied in almost perfect three-part harmony.

"Sorry, mutants." They could hear the embarrassment in her voice. "I know it's no excuse, but if you hear the word enough, you become desensitized."

"Dat's all right, girl. I'm sure you get 'nough of dat yaself."

The conversation deteriorated from there. Figuring it was going nowhere substantial, Logan let the other three jabber about mutant rights, civil rights, and other topics of interest, and returned to his thoughts.

He chuckled at the memory of the phone conversation earlier today. At least the beginning of the conversation. By the end, he wasn't laughing.

"AT&T operator, I have a collect call from a Mr. Jean Chretien, will you accept?"


"A Mr. Jean Chretien. Do you accept the charges?"

"I don't know any Jean..."

"It's me, Guthrie."

"Oh, hi Wolv...Logan, suh. Sure Operator. Ah accept." With a click, she was gone, leaving an amused Wolverine on the line with a bemused Cannonball.

"How's it goin', kid?"

"It's been quite a morning, let me tell you. Who's Jean Chretien anyway?" Guthrie had sounded tired and tight. Something was up.

Wolverine had shaken his head sadly. "Don't you ever read the paper or watch the news? Never mind. He's the Prime Minister of Canada."

"Oh." Sam seemed nonplussed, which wasn't necessarily new for him.

"How are things going at home?"

"Like Ah said, we've had a heck of a morning, suh."

"How so?"

"Hang on a sec. Cyclops is heah, he wants t'talk to ya. Bye." With that, Sam was gone. Wolverine thought he'd heard relief in the boy's voice too. Odd.

"Wolverine, haven't I told you not to call collect? We're trying to run this outfit on a budget." Scott sounded bent out of shape; again, hardly a new condition for the Blue Team leader. Logan found his voice to be more irritating than usual.

"Yeah, so's the friend whose phone I'm using." Sanctimonious prig. "Besides, 'Daddy Warbucks' has more'n enough cash to cover this call..."

"Don't push me, Wolverine. It's been a bad morning already."

"...since the cheap *BASTARD* only sprung for one-way tickets fer me and LeBeau."

"WHAT? Why didn't you take the Blackbird?"

The anger that started to build the moment Summers had opened his mouth lay there, bubbling under the surface. He was sure it was audible in his voice. "'Cause *YOU* didn't want us to, leader boy!" He let the last two words drip with anger and sarcasm.

Cyclops sounded confused. "Logan, what are you talking about?"

"Don't you know?" Now Logan was confused.

"If I did, I wouldn't be asking. Would I?" Logan could hear the exasperation in his voice. This didn't make sense.

"No, I don't suppose you would. You're too 'straight arrow' to play that kind of game." Wolverine thought for a moment, then replayed his conversation with the Professor for Cyclops; the conversation that had started this odyssey. Odd's th' right word f'r it!

When he finished, Logan waited in silence as Summers composed his thoughts. He could still hear LeBeau in the shower; singing some damn Zydeco song by the sound of it. After a moment, Cyclops spoke.

"That doesn't make any sense, Wolverine. I don't understand why the Professor would lie like that." Cyclops sighed, adding, "I'm not going to worry about that right now." He paused, for a second then added, "We'll have to mount an extraction, I suppose..."

"Mount an extraction? What the hell does that mean? Why can'tcha just say you're gonna come n'pick us up?" Jeez, this guy loves the jargon...

"Whatever, Wolverine. What're the logistics?"

Keeping Proudstar's admonitions about giving in to his anger in mind, Wolverine didn't say anything for a moment. Finally, he responded. "It's what, 'bout five-six hundred miles? I'll give ya a call during the third period, let ya know when ta leave and where ta meet us. If you're a good boy, I might even buy ya a beer."

Cyclops thought it through for a moment; Logan thought he heard the gears in his brain grinding. "I don't like the uncertainty of the plan. Too many variables."

Wolverine was about to point out that they weren't entering battle; he just needed someone to swing by in the Blackbird to pick them up, no big deal, when Cyclops declared, "Okay. We'll go with that. I'm not going to discuss this with the Professor. He's been acting 'out of sorts' lately, but I guess I don't have to tell you that -- and with what happened today, I don't want to upset him more."

"What's up, Slim?"

"I'll get to that in a minute. What's your itinerary?"

"Dinner with the skirts, then the game tonight."

"Dinner with the *skirts*? Man, Logan, you really *are* a 90's kind of guy, aren't you? What 'skirts' are you dining with?"

Logan let the shot go. "Tory, one of the stews on our flight in, and her roommate. Tory's a mutant. Prob'ly beta-class."

That caught Scott's interest. "What's her power?" There was a hint of excitement in his voice. Cyclops always got this way when a new mutant was found. Logan thought it was because of the opportunity to share the "dream" with someone new.

"Ain't much, no need to spend Chuck's money talkin' 'bout it. Tell me what happened today."

"Where's Gambit?"

That was an odd question. "In the shower. If he stays with his usual pattern, should be there for awhile yet. Why?"

Summers chuckled. "Buckwheat or Zachr'y Richard?"

"How the hell should I know? All that Cajun crap sounds the same t'me."

"You're showing your age, my friend."

My friend? "And *you're* stalling. C'mon, give."

With a deep sigh, Scott began. "Rogue's back."

Wolverine threw a quick glance over his shoulder. The shower was still running and Gambit was nowhere to be seen, although he'd stopped singing.

"How is she?"

"I'll get to that in a minute, if you'll quite interrupting."

"You do that, One-Eye."

"One-Eye? I haven't heard that in...eh, never mind. Where was I? Oh yeah? Rogue came back this morning while we were having a meeting..."

"'Bout what?"

"I thought you were just going to listen?"

"All right. I'll shut up."

"I'll get to the meeting in a minute."

"I'm getting tired of hearing you say that."

"Well, shut up then."


"Fine. Where was I?" There was a pause as Cyclops regained his thoughts. Logan smiled to himself, enjoying the obvious effect he was having on Summers. It would have given Cyclops little satisfaction to watch that smile slowly disappear from the Canadian's face as he proceeded to detail Rogue's arrival with Joseph. His description of the morning's events were a perfect match to Gambit's dream, although neither he nor Wolverine knew it at the time.

When Logan didn't interrupt, Cyclops took a deep breath, and broke the bad news. "We think the man, this 'Joseph,' that Rogue brought home is Magneto."

Wolverine didn't reply; for once in his life he was at a loss for words. After waiting a minute or so, Cyclops continued. "Jean ran a scan on him. He appears to have complete amnesia. We're keeping him under observation."

"Yeah, why not," Logan snarled when he finally answered. "First Creed, then Lehnsherr. Who's next on Chuck's adopt-a-scum-bag list? Fred Dukes? What about that Onslaught character -- I bet he needs a home! Hell, why not Sinister?!"

Scott's breath caught at the name "Sinister." When he spoke, however, his voice was calm and reasonable. "I know what you're saying, Logan. I don't necessarily like it either, but I talked with the Professor in great length..."

"Sure, Blinky. Isn't Chuck the same guy who lied to both you 'n me, and stuck me 'n the Cajun here with no easy way home?"

Cyclops ignored the outburst, choosing instead to plod on. "Charles convinced me that if this is legit, if Magneto *really* has amnesia, then maybe we can turn him around, get him on our side for a change." The gradually building excitement in Summer's voice made Wolverine sick -- he hated that rah-rah attitude.

"Why don'tcha tell that one t'Betts, 'cause *I* ain't buyin' it."

Now it was Cyclops who had no response. The awkward pause in the conversation allowed Wolverine to regain a little of his composure; enough for him to see the wisdom in changing the tack. "How's Rogue?"

"Uhmmmmm, gone, actually."

"Come again?"

"The morning's events took their toll on her, and she needed to 'gather her thoughts.'"

Wolverine let out a snort. "I've had cats stick 'round longer 'n her. But you're leaving somethin' out, Slim. What you described wouldn't upset her like that; we've had worse fights over what movie ta rent?"

Cyclops chuckled mirthlessly. "Yeah, I know. I think Gambit's problem is what really upset her this time."

"What problem would that be?"

Logan listened without comment while Cyclops described McCoy's prognosis of Gambit's mental health. Wolverine could picture the scene; Storm trying to defend the Cajun in absentia, while Chuck, Blinky, and the rest did their best to shoot him down. No wonder the guy didn't trust his "friends."

"Have you noticed any 'odd' behavior from Gambit?" The question stirred him from his thoughts. He even detected a note of concern in Summer's voice. Talk 'bout odd behavior.

"Hell, most of what he does is *odd* Been that way since jumpstreet. He's been depressed, but that's natural given the circumstances. I have a feeling that's gonna get worse 'fore it gets better now." For once Summers had actually agreed with him, suggesting the others were probably overreacting.

One question remained: what next? Logan listened for the shower; it was still running, but that wouldn't last much longer. Hate t'have their water bill this month.

It was decided that Wolverine would break the news to Gambit as gently as possible. The thought made Cyclops cringe. It gave him the mental image of an elephant encased in lead dropped from the observation deck of the Empire State Building on some unsuspecting hick fresh from the Bayou, but he had no other choice, really. Gambit had to be informed of the situation before he returned to New York. It wouldn't be fair to him otherwise. He could do it over the phone, but that didn't seem right either.

Finally, they confirmed the "extraction plan," as Cyclops referred to it, for tonight, and ended the call. Wolverine topped off his cup, drained it in two gulps, then filled it again. Thus bolstered, he went to find Gambit.

He'd entered the bathroom just as LeBeau was exiting the shower. At first he had to gasp for air; he'd been in steam rooms that were less humid. Gambit hadn't said a word as Logan adjusted to the atmosphere in the room, sweat dripping from his face. He noticed the empty bottle in the shower, but didn't mention it.

LeBeau didn't seem to care that Wolverine had just barged in on him; he just continued to towel himself dry, or as dry as he could in that particular room at that particular time. Wolverine was about to speak when Gambit beat him to the punch.

"She back, eh?" Half statement, half question.

"Yeah." Logan did an admirable job of masking his surprise. "How'd ya know?"

"Don't matter." The towel was around his head, muffling the next question. "How she doin'?"

"Don't really know. She stopped by f'r a few minutes, then left again."

Gambit nodded, the towel now around his neck. He pushed his way past Logan and stood in front of the sink. Wolverine moved back toward the shower to give the other man more room. Gambit put both hands on the vanity and looked straight ahead into the mirror. His reflection was unrecognizable due to the steam and condensation. T'ank God f'r dat! He took a deep breath and asked the question that had been gnawing at him since he woke: "Is it Lehnsherr?"

This time, Logan couldn't contain his shock. He simply mumbled, "Yeah, but they say he's got amnesia."

Gambit's head dropped minutely at the answer. Wolverine didn't say anything more -- it was clear that he didn't need to. "Do me a favor 'n leave me alone f'r a bit?"

"Sure, kid. Anything I can do fer ya." Feeling more helpless than he had in a long time, Logan pushed his way past Gambit and out the door, closing it softly behind him. As puzzled as he was by Gambit's knowledge of the situation back home, Logan hadn't looked at the Cajun as he'd passed, trying to give the man as much privacy as he could.

Gambit had emerged fully dressed about twenty minutes later. Wordlessly, he went to the kitchen and grabbed the spare key from the refrigerator and walked toward the front door, his head hung. Wolverine couldn't recall seeing the Cajun so low.

"Where ya goin', Gumbo?"


"Wanna talk 'bout it?"

"Ain't nut'in' t'say. She made 'er choice. Now I gotta live wit' it." Or not.

"Ya don't know that, LeBeau."

Gambit stopped with his hand on the knob. He stood there silently for a second. When he spoke, his voice was barely audible. "Dey took 'im in, right?"

"Looks that way. 'Least 'til they know if what the situation is."

"Boy got amnesia, right?"


Gambit let out a bitter little laugh. "Dat's funny. Dey gonna take dis guy in wit' open arms 'cause he got amnesia." Gambit paused and took a deep breath. "Rogue be wit' 'im, non?"

"Looks like it, yeah."

Gambit's voice was cold and puzzled. "So here a guy who actually try t'kill *all* d'X-Men at one time or 'nother, done more harm den I *EVER* be able t'do in m'life, but dey gon' take 'im in 'n give 'im the keys to d'mansion 'cause he say he can't 'member what a bastard he is? Dat 'bout right?"


"But dey still don't trust me completely, eh?"

Gambit opened the door and stepped into the hallway. "Maybe you should poke me in d'head like you did Creed; give me a l'botmy. Maybe dat's what it takes t'make Rogie love me 'gain. Make me worthy of ole Cyclops' trust." He slowly shook his head as he continued. "I guess it don' matter what kinda shit you do, just so ya don' 'member doin' it."

He closed the door behind him before Logan could respond and was gone for the better part of the day. When Gambit finally returned, he said little, but his mood seemed lighter -- almost as if he'd resigned himself to his fate. Logan wasn't sure what it meant, but he hoped it was a sign that LeBeau would fight for what was his. The kid never quit before, Wolverine didn't expect him to start now.

"Dis d'place we goin' to? What give wit dat?" The semi-strident tone of the words brought Wolverine once again back to the present. This time it looked like he would stay there; they had arrived at their destination, the enclave known as 'Greektown' for obvious reasons.

"Yep, that's the place -- one of the finest Irish pubs in the city." Tory was quietly pleased that she'd found the place on her first try; she usually had a difficult time driving downtown. Too many one-way streets and a prevailing attitude that traffic laws were merely suggestions tended to throw her off. "This place is great! Good food, good beer, and a free ride to the game. You couldn't ask for more."

"But why an Irish pub in 'Greektown'?" I don't get dat."

Tory simply shrugged. "Why not?"

They were crossing the street and heading toward the pub when Gambit stopped and started sniffing. It was an odor Logan had caught when they first pulled up, but had hoped the Cajun wouldn't notice.

"Well, if we not gonna go to a Greek place, why not dere?" He pointed to another restaurant across the street. "Can smell dat cayenne pepper from here!"

Logan groaned inwardly, but Amy came to his rescue. "I hate Cajun food. It gives me heartburn. Sorry."

Gambit acted as if he were mortally wounded. "But chere, you just ain't had no *good* Cajun food den. You need t'let Remy make you some of his worl' famous gumbo 'n blackened crawdads. Dey'll knock ya socks off."

"So *that's* why you call him 'Gumbo.'" Amy edged over toward Logan and reached out with one hand. After a brief, awkward moment, she hooked her arm in his. "I hope you don't mind. It's easier to walk in public this way."

"Uh, no darlin'. That's fine." He croaked his reply. Remy and Tory smiled at his discomfort as they entered the bar.

The place was packed; they had a difficult time finding a table. It was only after Logan subtly suggested to a group of young fans that *now* would be a good time to head out for the game, that they were able to sit.

A waitress came and took their order, quickly returning with their drinks. They spent the time waiting for their dinner in idle small talk, but this time Logan didn't mind; he found Amy to be captivating.

Dinner arrived with their second round, and was finished shortly before the call to board the shuttle to the game. With Amy once again holding onto Wolverine's arm, they made their way out of the crush in the bar and into the crush on the shuttle.

The trip to the arena was quick and raucous; the passengers buoyed by the spirits they consumed as well as the prospect of an night at the arena. Even LeBeau had to laugh at the good natured 'jawing' between the Wings faithful and the two unfortunate souls who happened to wear their Oilers colors.

Ten minutes later, they were deposited at the foot of the Joe Louis Arena. Gambit surveyed the area with a thief's eye; one of the earliest lessons Jean-Luc had taught his adopted son was to always know where the escape routes were. The lesson was so deeply engrained that Gambit did it without thinking.

The Detroit river was to the east across the street. There was an auxiliary parking lot between the street and the river. The arena itself was probably three or four stories tall and attached to a parking structure via a walkway that bordered what appeared to be an expressway that ended in a boulevard about half a mile to the north. The rest of the city spread in three directions to the north, west and south. The only building he recognized was the Renaissance Center; four smaller towers surrounding one taller central tower. Entwined through all this was a monorail train track. When he asked, Amy said that it was called the People Mover, and that they would take that back to Greektown after the game if they failed to hook back up with the shuttle.

Following Tory, they soon located the "will call" booth. Logan picked up the two tickets waiting for them. He then found a scalper, or "ticket broker" as the man wished to be called, and traded their two tickets, and cash, for four together. Ticket broker 'eh? Guess dat makes me an 'asset relocation specialist.'

The transaction completed, they made their way up the steps and into the Joe Louis Arena with Logan wondering what the hell the Cajun thought was so funny.


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