TITLE: Dollar Signs, Deceptions and Business Deals
AUTHOR: Scorpio
ARCHIVE: Want. Take. Have.
PAIRING: None really. Iceman, Gambit.
RATING: PG-13 (adult situations)
WARNING: If you like your Iceman sweet and fluffy than you might want to look someplace else. ::wicked grin::
DISCLAIMER: Not my characters, so I'm not making any kind of profit (unlike the characters in the story). Also, I claim a vast ignorance of criminal activity, so I don't know if this is very realistic, but I thought it sounded good. ::shrugs:: 
SUMMARY: Gambit makes an accidental discovery and then uses that information to get what he wants.

Dollar Signs, Deceptions and Business Deals
by Scorpio

Gambit looked up into the big blue pleading eyes of Jubilation Lee and desperately tried to keep from crumbling like a sand castle battling the coming tide. Setting his poker face firmly into place, he shifted his attention away from her to her partner in crime, Chamber, only to be assaulted with big brown pleading eyes. Silently swearing, he felt his defenses waver even as he turned back to face Jubilee.

"Please, Remy?" Jubilee's bottom lip quivered slightly and her beautiful blue eyes went even wider than before.

Like a marshmallow in the sun, Gambit melted into a sticky puddle of goo. Rolling his eyes and throwing up his hands in defeat, Gambit admitted to himself that he was a big cream-puff when it came to females with big eyes and pouty lips. Irritated at his own internal sappiness, he turned blazing eyes on Jono even as he poked the younger man in the chest.

"Fine! Mais, you check de Iceman's bedroom while Remy take de office. Deal?"

Jono's eyes crinkled up in the corner and he nodded his head. Then he turned and dashed out of the living room towards the stairs, leaving Remy behind to scowl at a mercilessly gloating Jubilee. His pride wouldn't let him just take off on the girl's errand without asserting his status as the one in charge here, so he pivoted until he was facing her and wagged his finger under her cute little nose.

"An' y' p'tite, will jus' stay righ' where y' are an' keep de hell off o' y' leg. Got it?"

Jubilee flashed him a thumps-up and winked. "No problem, Gambit. I'll just sit right here and wait for you and Jono to find them."

Remy glared at her for a long moment even as the firecracker looked at him with her most innocent 'who me?' expression. He wasn't fooled for a second. Snorting in mild amusement, Gambit walked out of the room slowly with only a slight stiffness to his usual grace to betray his still healing wounds. That was the reason that all three of them were stuck here in the mansion while the rest of the two teams were out on a mission. They had each suffered injuries on the last mission.

Jubilee had hurt her leg badly enough that Hank had needed to perform emergency surgery. He had fixed the damage, but she wasn't supposed to be putting any weight on it yet. Jubilee had a lot of physical therapy in her immediate future.

Jono had taken the brunt of a major telepathic assault while holding a psi-shield over half of the X-Men. Phoenix had held up the other half of the shield. While Jono might have the raw power to come close to matching Jean, he didn't even have a fourth of her experience. Jean had walked away with a headache and Jono had been flung into a coma. He had awakened a few days later with a killer migraine and a propensity for fainting. Hank hadn't cleared him for active duty yet and he probably wouldn't until all of the psychic residue left from that battle had faded away.

Remy himself had taken a large piece of shrapnel to the left shoulder and arm when he had deliberately thrown himself between it and its intended target. Storm. Afterwards, Stormy had scolded him for frightening her, Scott had lectured him about responsibility to the team as a whole and following orders and Logan had clapped him firmly on his uninjured arm and told him, "Ya did good, kid." before walking away with his unlit cigar clenched between his teeth.

Now they were stuck here at the mansion while everyone else was off fighting the good fight. And Jubilee wanted to watch the Star Wars Trilogy. Which was fine with him and more than okay with Jono. The only problem was finding the actual videotapes. They weren't in the living room with the rest of the movies and Jubilee said that the last person to have them was Bobby. So, Jono was currently searching the Iceman's bedroom while he, the only one who could pick the lock without breaking it or upsetting Cerebro in the process, was going to check Bobby's private office here in the mansion.

If he had to be honest with himself, he was just a little bit curious as to what was in Bobby's office. He was the only X-Man who wasn't a team leader to actually have one and Gambit had never been in there. From what little anyone had told him about it, he knew that Bobby did taxes there, for the X-Men, Xavier Institute of Higher Learning and for the Massachusetts Academy. Not to mention that he did the books for several prominent people in the city as well as teaching two correspondence courses for the Academy students.

Finally coming to the unassuming door along the quiet hallway, Remy tried the doorknob. As expected, it was locked. It was always locked, even though everyone else in the X-Men who had an office kept theirs open and available. Gambit figured that it was because Bobby cooked up most of his practical jokes in here and he didn't want anyone to find his stash of props and equipment. Either that or he was afraid that Jono or Jubes would slip in and email the answers to his quizzes and tests to certain students that they were good friends with. In reality, it didn't matter which it was, Gambit still found it kind of funny that Bobby was that paranoid about it. It just didn't mesh with his bubbly little-kid-in-a-grown-up-world image.

Kneeling down to get a good look at the lock, Gambit realized that it wasn't very sophisticated at all. More an announcement that no one was invited to just walk in than any real means to keep them out if they had the skill and no ethics to stop them from breaking and entering. In other words, someone like Gambit. He was in the room in under a minute.

Flicking on the switch for the lights, the first thing that Remy noticed was that Bobby had the place decorated like a teenagers version of an office. Posters of rock groups, superheroes and super models decorated the walls. Stuffed animals, action figures and small hand-held toys were interspersed here and there on the bookshelves and desk top right alongside of a computer, books, manuals and important looking documents.

A large furry teddy bear that had been poorly dyed blue and that was wearing a white lab coat sat propped up in the visitors' chair. On the side table sat a Barbie doll with her blonde hair dyed a garish shade of red and a Ken doll with what Gambit assumed was supposed to be a visor. The Cyclops-Ken had his hand on the Phoenix-Barbie's behind. Gambit couldn't help the smirk that crossed his lips at the sight of the Hank-bear and the two Summers dolls.

"Y' been a naughty boy, Bobby. But I like y' style."

Turning away from the toys, Remy centered his attention on the bookshelf. He figured that it was possible that Bobby had just stuck the video's up on a shelf with all of the other crap littering his workspace and forgotten it. Running his eyes over everything, Gambit was at once amused and a bit startled by the variety of things.

Accounting texts, economic texts and taxation manuals. Expected, but boring. Investing texts, computer texts, global banking texts and currency exchange rates manuals were also not very shocking, although Remy hadn't realized that Bobby dealt with international systems. It did make a strange sort of sense when he thought about it though. After all, he didn't limit his accounts and funds to one country, why should the X-Men or the schools?

Also expected were the various beanie babies and action figures. There were a few stacks of pokemon trading cards and a few framed photos as well. There were a few videos here and there, but they weren't Star Wars. However, there was also a stack of the most recent Wall Street Journals and a few stacks of other "financial" daily's from around the country and even from around the world. Gambit had no clue why Bobby had them. In fact, he didn't even know that Bobby was subscribed to them. It just didn't mesh with what he knew of the Iceman.

Curiosity stirred up, Gambit sat down in Bobby's chair and turned to his desk. Pulling open the top drawer, he found nothing more than what he would have expected. Pens, pencils and calculators. Business cards for Mr. Robert Drake, C.P.A. and several note pads. Just as he closed it and was reaching for the bottom drawer, Jono poked his head in the doorway and waved the three movies they had been looking for.

"Y' find dem, den?"

Jono's eyes crinkled up in his version of a smile and he nodded his head. Gambit grinned back at the younger man and nodded. Pushing aside his curiosity over the true scope of the Iceman's business, Gambit stood up and sauntered over to the boy. After all, he could always come back later to satisfy his pondering mind.

Gesturing for Jono to go ahead of him, Gambit swung the door shut and locked it back up. Right now, he had a movie marathon to watch and two kids to baby-sit.

His internal alarm waking him from a sound sleep in the dead of night, it took a few moments for Remy to remember why he'd wanted to get up in the first place. Once he did, it didn't take him long to slip into some sweat pants and make his way soundlessly down stairs and over to Bobby's office. Just as before, Gambit was inside in under a minute.

This time, he ignored the toys and the books and the newspapers and went directly to Bobby's desk. Sitting down in the chair, Remy pulled open the bottom drawer. It was filled with files of Bobby's various clients. Gambit recognized several of the names of prominent people and was forced to admit that he was impressed. Some of those people were very wealthy and important people. Quickly flipping through them, he didn't spot anything out of the ordinary. Tucking them away back in the drawer, Remy shut it and considered the room. Computer or file cabinet?

Sliding out of the chair, he walked over to the low wide filing cabinet. It was locked. Frowning, Remy had it unlocked quickly enough, but just the presence of a lock indicated sensitive material. And while personal financial records were supposed to be confidential, the lock on the door should have been enough. After all, the other drawer hadn't been locked.

Opening the drawer, Remy let his eyes roam over the folders to see just what Bobby had considered important enough to keep locked away. The two biggest sections were labeled 'X-Men' and 'Xavier's School'. The smaller files had labels such as; Summers S., Summers J., Logan, Lee J., McCoy H., Monroe O., and finally Xavier C.

Quickly shutting that drawer and jiggling open the lock on the second one, Gambit found himself facing another set of financial records. Once again, the two largest once were not individual people, but organizations. They read; 'Gen-X' and 'M Academy'. The smaller files were labeled; Rogue, Drake R., Drake W., Dayspring N., Guthrie S., and even LeBeau R.

Stunned over finding his own name listed on a file when he knew that he'd never hired Bobby to look after his money, Gambit pulled out the file and began to flip through it. The account had apparently been started when he first arrived with the X-Men and no one had known that he had plenty of resources, both financial and skill-wise that he could draw upon. It seems that Charles had handed Bobby a thousand dollars in Remy's behalf and instructed him to make certain that Remy had money to fall back on if he should ever need it. Bobby had done that and more. The account had been invested wisely and was now in excess of over a hundred thousand dollars.

Remy LeBeau was officially impressed with Robert Drake.

Sliding that folder back, Remy pulled out another. Slowly, over the course of the evening as he read through the various files, Gambit came to certain conclusions and was forced to rearrange his opinions about a lot of preconceived notions.

The first thing that Remy had to face was that the Iceman he thought he knew was a complete sham. A con on an incredible level. For years he had assumed that Bobby was just a big kid playing at being an adult and that he had no real idea of just what the big-bad world was truly like. That perception had, on occasion, caused problems between them. He had never felt as if the younger man could ever understand him and he had, admittedly, talked down to Bobby and treated him like the brat he seemed to be. The evidence before him suggested a subtle sophistication and manipulation of the financial world that no true innocent could ever hope to achieve.     

Secondly, Robert Drake was a bald faced criminal. Remy had spent the majority of his childhood and teen years in the very heart of power of the New Orleans Thieves Guild. He knew crime. It was his stock in trade. The money launderers that his family employed had nothing on Bobby. Remy was a Master Thief, one of the very best at what he did. And if there were a ranking for book-keeping to invest money, clean up dirty money and hide money that shouldn't even exist, then he was certain that the Iceman would also hold the rank of Master.

Remy was pretty good with money. How to invest it, how to hide it, and how to trace it back to its root source. It had been a part of his training with the Guild. Bobby's skill outclassed his by miles, but from what little he could tell, there was no way that anyone could track the X-Men or Gen-X back to the schools or their benefactors through money. The only gaps that Bobby didn't control were probably handled directly through Emma Frost, but Gambit didn't know for sure.

The other thing that was apparent to Gambit was that everyone had suffered during the time when Bobby had left. Not that Remy didn't blame the man for doing what he did. It had been a terrible time for Bobby, especially when his father had almost died from being beaten by those anti-mutant activists. Remy LeBeau understood the importance of family and he would have done the same thing in Bobby's place. However, it was clear from the records that whoever took up his duties in the interim didn't have a quarter of his skill. The Massachusetts Academy and Gen-X had suffered the most from that fact. They had come close to falling into financial ruin when Bobby took the job back into his own hands. And from what Remy could see, that was no longer a problem. Bobby had things back firmly under control.

Remy also learned that Hank funded more than half of his own experiments and was still a very rich man, thanks to Bobby. Logan owned a small island. Stormy funded several dozen charities across the globe to help underprivileged children. And that Bobby was trying to learn the Shi'ar financial system so that he could spread the X-Men's accounts across the galaxy.

For the first time, Gambit became aware that many of their missions had come with financial benefits as well. The X-Men had received rewards and pay-offs from several governments, private companies and private citizens. Many of those organizations he himself had done business with through the Thieves Guild. There were also at least a few dozen "dummy" companies around the globe that the X-Men or Gen-X supported to run their money through to keep it from being tracked. All of which Bobby ran and organized from the financial point of view.

Suddenly, the fact that Bobby wasn't around the mansion lounging about as often as other members made more sense. Saturday morning cartoons, breakfast and training in the Danger Room and early evening around dinnertime were about all that anyone ever saw him. When he was there he was loud, boisterous and obnoxious. Like a big kid. When Bobby wasn't out and about being annoying, many people just assumed that he was locked up in here dreaming up practical jokes or reading comic books or surfing the internet on his computer. Remy now knew better.

When Bobby wasn't playing the jokester, he was behaving like a criminal mastermind. In a strange way, Remy could see the similarities to himself clearly. He worked hard to give the impression of a poorly educated, but charming, gutter trash wild child. Inevitably, his opponents underestimated his skill and his daring. Remy was pretty certain that with the exceptions of a very select few people, that Bobby was also underestimated on a fairly frequent basis.

Suddenly, the office door swung open and the lights were flipped on. Cursing himself for getting lost in his own thoughts and losing track of the time, Gambit looked up and around from his spot on the floor in front of the open file cabinet only to have an excellent view of a sleepy Bobby turn instantly into the Iceman. Ignoring the deadly glare and the plummeting temperature, Gambit turned his most charming grin up at his teammate.

"Bon jour, Bobby. Remy's got a b'ness proposition fo' y'. Jus' one t'ting firs'. How fas' can y' launder a million dollars?"

Tension filled the room for one pounding heartbeat while Gambit wondered if his fast reflexes were about to be tested when Bobby melted. Literally. Ice shifted to flesh and glare shifted to wary speculation.

"Remy, if you need a million dollars fast, then I either need to know why or I have to have orders from Xavier. If it's an emergency, then I can liquidate it from various sources within an hour. If you're talking about setting up a new account from, uh ... unconventional sources that need to be, er... processed first, then it will take up to ... oh, I'd say a month. That's a substantial sum of money."

Carefully folding up the file in his hand and tucking it back into it's slot in the filing cabinet, Remy then slid up to a standing position and gestured Bobby to take a seat in his own chair.

"Non, mon ami. Gambit don't need de money from y' or de X-Men. He plan t' steal it."

Bobby paused for a half a second as he was seating himself and then continued the motion as if he hadn't reacted. Then it was Bobby who was gesturing Remy to take a seat over in the other chair by the side table.

"Pop a squat in the chair with the blue furry monster. Don't worry, the Hankmeister won't mind the company. After all, it seems like we've got a lot to talk about and quite a few details to iron out."

Bobby paused while Gambit lowered himself into the chair, one dyed blue teddy bear in his arms. When he looked up, Remy noticed immediately that he wasn't sitting across the desk from Bobby Drake. He was facing the Iceman. It wasn't that his teammate had iced up, but there was a cold hard look in his eyes and a stern set to his mouth that let him know that all pretenses had been dropped. This was the extra dimensional, intergalactic adventurer and white-collar criminal financial wizard that routinely handled billion dollar accounts to fund multiple outlaw mutant super powered fighting teams. Suddenly, the code-name 'Iceman' took on a whole new meaning for Remy. He grinned in delight.

"Dis looks t' be de start o' a beautiful friendship, oui?"

Bobby just glared at him for a long minute.

"First things first, Gambit. I find you in my files again and I'll kill you. I'll freeze the blood in your heart, wait till you're dead and then thaw it out again. No one will know what happened, not even Hank. Your death will be ruled a simple heart attack. Secondly, I want you to design me a locking system that will keep others out. Nothing obvious. Until now, no one has ever bothered looking because no one has put two and two together and come up with anything other than Bobby is a big silly kid who can't even hold a steady job. Most people think that I do little more than a few minor accounting jobs for Xavier because he feels bad about my supposed lack of success."

Gambit's grin didn't falter. He was a bit startled that Bobby would threaten to kill him because he didn't think that was something that Bobby would be able to do. Then again, until a few hours ago, he hadn't considered Bobby able to do any sort of criminal activity. And boy had he been wrong on that score.

"Not a problem, Bobby. Don' need t' see any o' dose files. Mais, de ones dat will be fo' Gambit, dat's dif'rent, eh? As fo' better secur'ty, dat can be arranged as well. It's good dat y' t'inkin' like dat. Y' startin' t' get t' old fo' people t' buy dis big kid act y' sellin' anyway. As fo' de ot'er t'ing. Y' gonna set up t'ree accounts. Investments, savin's an' credit. American. Oh, an' y' let Gambit know as soon as de Shi'ar system be up an' runnin'."

The Iceman nodded, his hands folded loosely before him, a look of seriousness on his face.

"Fifteen percent."

Gambit snorted in amusement.

"Non. Ten."

The slightest flicker of a smile flashed across Bobby's eyes and then was gone as if it had never been.

"Fourteen percent."

"Remy give y' eleven."

Bobby scowled and shook his head.

"No way, Gambit. Setting up an American account isn't that big of a deal. Hell, even a European or Asian account wouldn't be so bad. However, you are ultimately interested in intergalactic currency and that's more than a big deal. It's also something that is beyond rare. Especially when you know that your accountant can and will kill to protect your interests."

Remy had to admit that Bobby was right about that. Screwing up his own face into a scowl, he gave in grudgingly.

"Fine! Twelve an' a half percent, but Remy don' go no higher den dat!"

For a long moment Bobby considered this and then he stood up and stretched out one hand towards Remy.

"Well, Mr. LeBeau, it looks like you've got a deal."

Grinning once more, Gambit stood up and shook Bobby's hand.

"It do at dat, M. Drake. It do at dat."


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