Stories in this series
A series of three stories written as a gift for the Rogue mailing list Southern Comfort and the Gambit mailing list Gambit Guild.
featuring Gambit and Bebete (the green mist lady)
featuring Cyclops and Phoenix
featuring Rogue, Gambit and Nightcrawler
Number One in a series
of three Christmas Tales
A demon vext me,
The light retreated,
The landscape darken'd,
The melody deaden'd,
The Master whisper'd
'Follow the Gleam.'
~ Lines 29-34 of Merlin and the Gleam by Lord Tennyson
The simple rituals of our lives. The actions that, through
their repetition, shape them and give them meaning. For some,
a ritual is something as simple as running of a stick along
a fence and counting the iron beats; for others, it is brushing
their hair with a thousand strokes until it shines with elfin
Gambit's ritual is more unusual, more personal. He believes
in the cards. Every morning before sunrise, he climbs out
of bed and feels for the thick deck of cards at his bedside.
Nervously, eyes closed, he peels of the top card and, by it,
determines the nature of his day.
It is, in some ways, a crude form of fortune-telling - an
attempt to control the uncontrollable: the shifting world
of ghouls and demons that lie just beyond our perceptions.
The parasites that feed off our own fear and weakness...
The last star fades from the sky on the morning of the day
before Christmas, to be replaced by the pastel shades of the
spreading dawn. Blindly, Gambit fumbles for the cards next
to his bed and removes the top-most one. As he turns it over,
he drops it, gasping as it scalds his fingertips. The solemn
gaze of the Queen of Hearts stares up at him from where it
Suddenly, plumes of green mist rise from the floor, bringing
with it the scent of rich incense, Votive offerings to a much
older, cruller god than was born in Bethlehem. Coagulating,
the green mist solidifies, becoming a grotesque parody of
"My love," a dulcet voice coos, "Your thoughts
are of that harlot. I thought that you understood the consequences
if you did not renounce her."
Gambit remains silently, but stoops to retrieve the card.
It seems as if the Queen of Hearts gazes accusingly at him
now, demanding his complete loyalty. In that instant, he comes
to a decision.
"I love Rogue," he defiantly declares, "De
deal is off, Bebete."
The mist smirks at him, wrapping tendrils around his throat,
heavy-light as a noose before an execution.
"I doubt that, Remy," she purrs, "You owe
"Oui, witch," Gambit's eyes glow with eldritch
light, "Dat I do."
Thief-trained reflexes allow him to slip free of her deadly
embrace and snatch the cards in one fluid motion. Bebete hisses,
reforming into a cobra that rears and prepares to strike.
Whispering a silent prayer beneath his breath, Gambit charges
three cards and releases them. Without success. They scythe
through her as if through so much thin air. Bebete twists,
jade scales shimmering in the dim, dawn light.
"Oh my love," she chides, "Has no one taught
you how foolish entering battle without prior knowledge of
your opponent is?"
She slithers up to him and winds sinuous coils around him
in a rib-crushing embrace. Gambit's breath comes in ragged
gasps as his lungs battle to expand under the pressure.
"Non, mademoiselle," he grunts, "Dat be one
lesson I have learnt."
Suddenly, the small room of the boat-house is filled with
brilliant , golden light, emanating from Bebete. She is glowing,
burning, saturated with kinetic energy.
"My darling, what have you done?' she murmurs, reverting
to her base form - a voluptuous woman, by anyone's standards.
Her arms fall to her sides as she drops to her knees in supplication,
or misery. As if unable to believe his actions, she runs slender
hands over her blazing face.
Gambit does not look back as he runs out of the boathouse
and into the dark night. Behind him, in a flash of white light,
like a miniature supernova, the parasite explodes into a star
of unsurpassed brilliance, that fades into sparks and ash.
A rich scent fills the air, redolent of frankincense and burning
He stands alone for a long time, while snowflakes drift and
whirl around him, watching the smouldering remains of the
boathouse, savoring the wild freedom of daybreak. Then, slowly,
card in hand, he starts on his personal pilgrimage to the
mansion to pay tribute to the Queen of Hearts.
Gambit, Bebete and all other related characters
belong to Marvel and are not used to make me a profit. Besides,
it would not be seasonal to sue me. If your intents is to
send me comments, I am available at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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