TITLE: Brief Meetings, Odd Jobs and Money
SERIES: Criminal Minds (story 3)
SEQUEL TO: Dollar Signs, Deceptions
and Business Deals (1) - Security Systems,
Flirtations and Betting Pools (2)
ARCHIVE: Want. Take. Have.
PAIRING: None really. Iceman, Gambit. (cameo by) Beast.
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 steals stuff for fun and profit. Iceman encourages
Brief Meetings, Odd Jobs and Money Deals
Early morning training sessions in the Danger Room would be lots
of fun if it weren't for the whole "early morning" thing. Gambit had
never been a morning person and his thieves training and mutation
only reinforced that concept until by the time he had become a member
of the X-Men that it was a rare thing for him to see the early side
of noon. As a thief, he was prone to late nights and his red on black
eyes really didn't like bright lights. Now, however, he was
cursed with a team leader who felt that being awake before the sun
was somehow healthy for the body and the spirit or some such shit.
Making his way up to his room while rubbing gently at a sore muscle
in his lower back, Gambit briefly considered blowing Cyclops' alarm
clock to kingdom come. As satisfying as that might be in the short
term, he knew that Scott would only get a new clock and then assign
him to some less than desirable duty on the roster. With a sigh, Remy
dropped the idea.
Once in his room, Gambit quickly stripped off his armor and uniform.
He quickly wiped off his sweat from the kevlar and hung it up. The
remaining pieces were pushed down into the hamper of dirty clothes.
Then, he wrapped his robe around his body and grabbed up the plastic
bucket that he stored his shampoo and body soap in. A towel slung
around his shoulders, he made his way down the hall to the men's showers
at the end of the hallway.
Forty minutes later found Gambit clean, dressed in another and more
freshly scented set of his armor, with a black duffel bag slung over
his shoulder. Pulling his sunglasses out of his trenchcoat pocket,
Remy slid them on his face even as he yanked open his bedroom door
and made his way down the hall towards the elevator.
Making his way to his partner's office, Gambit soon found himself
standing before the door he had installed a week or so ago. He knew
that most people merely knocked or announced themselves and then Bobby
would let them in. Gambit didn't bother with that. He simply punched
in the access code on the keypad. A soft metallic click sounded within
the wall and Remy was able to turn the now unlocked doorknob. Pushing
open the door, Gambit strolled in as if he owned the place.
Iceman sat at his desk glaring at him with icy eyes. Remy's smirk
was decidedly unrepentant. A single glance let Gambit know that Bobby
had just arrived recently from cleaning up after the training session
himself. The computer was still in the process of booting up and the
files on Bobby's desk were still unopened. That was good as far as
Remy was concerned. He didn't want to interrupt anything or have to
wait. He had a lot planned for today.
"Hey Bobby. Got somet'ing fo' y'."
Bobby just grunted and stared pointedly at the door.
"How did you get the passcode for the door?"
Swinging the duffel bag around and placing it on the desk in front
of the Iceman, Gambit just shrugged and grinned.
"I'm a t'ief Bobby. One o de best dere is. How do y' t'ink I got
His partner swiveled his head slightly to stare up at him. One eyebrow
was arched up in an expression that was meant to look amused but was
in reality more of a mask to hide his thoughts than anything else.
"Wow. And he speaks in the first person. Must be important. But
where's the inner lesson in that?"
A wholly false and slightly overdone expression of confusion gave
way to the classic epiphany of "seeing the light" kind of expression
dawning on Iceman's face. Gambit wasn't sure if he should scowl at
being teased or if he should grin at his partner's silliness, a sure
sign he was preparing to blow this off as no big deal.
"Oh, oh, oh! I know. The inner lesson is that nothing short of stationing
Bishop with orders to shot you down would stop you from breaking into
my office. Right?"
Gambit forced a look of hurt and insult onto his face.
"Y' don't t'ink Gambit could get passed Bishop? Tsk, tsk, tsk. Where's
de fait', mon ami?"
Iceman chuckled softly even as he unzipped the duffel bag. Reaching
in, he pulled out a small neatly stacked pile of paper. Turning it
around so that he could look at it correctly, Gambit had the pleasure
of watching a true expression flicker across his partner's face. Those
were rare. Bobby usually pasted one or another of his "practiced"
expressions on in order to cover up his train of thought, but every
now and then, a real one got through. This was one such a time.
Looking up at him with a gleam in his eyes, Bobby waved the small
stack of bonds in his hand at the duffel bag.
"Are they all like these?"
Gambit smirked, a small fission of pleasure working it's way through
him at Iceman's obvious pleasure and approval.
"Mais oui. De best part o all dis, is dat dey won' even know de
bonds are missing from de vault until dey actually go t' use dem.
Gambit got in like smoke an' left no trail. Smooth job, if I do say
Gambit took a brief moment to preen and pose, truly proud of himself
and the job he had pulled. Not only had it been a smooth job without
a single hitch, he hadn't had that much fun in a long time. He had
been afraid that he'd gotten rusty with lack of practice. His sojourn
with the X-Men had severely cut into his lifestyle as a thief and
more often than not, the only B & E he had done was for them to
By the time he had pulled his mental woolgathering back out of his
memories of the pinch, Bobby was muttering happily to himself, flipping
through his personal phone book and pulling something up on his computer
all at once. An indulgent smile spread across his face at the sight
of it. Bobby was acting like a kid at Christmas with a new toy to
play with. Money did that to bookkeepers. Now all Bobby had to do
was launder it and render it untraceable.
Shaking his head in amusement, Gambit started to make his way to
Bobby's office door when his partner's voice called out to him.
"Oh. Before I forget. One of my clients in the city and I were chatting
the other day. For some reason, the discussion made it's way to the
new exhibit at the Met. He just happened to mention that he'd be willing
to pay an obscene amount of money for this Renoir that he's
had his eyes on. I'm not an art critic, so I don't know if it's worth
Gambit turned back around and saw Bobby holding out a scrap of paper
that looked like it came from one of Bobby's notepads. Reaching out
to grab it, he unfolded it and saw that it contained a single phone
number. With a grin and a shrug, he refolded it and tucked it into
a pocket of his trenchcoat.
"Cezanne be more t' Gambit's style, but dere ain't no'ting wrong
wit' y' friend's taste in art. Renoir be a master o' de craft. Good
investment, dat. An' a challenge t' get his hands on one, neh?"
They shared a brief conspiratorial smile and then Gambit turned
with a swirl of his trenchcoat and walked out of the office to leave
his partner to deal with his half of their bargain.
It was late at night as Gambit pushed his big black Harley Davidson
up the driveway towards the Mansion. He had come to a stop and turned
off the engine a mile back in deference to Wolverine's extra sensitive
hearing. Now, with the gears firmly in neutral, he pushed the heavy
machine the remaining distance. It had taken Gambit a while to figure
out just how far down the way he had to quit the engine to avoid waking
his feral teammate, but once he did it usually depended on his own
mood as to whether or not he let the man sleep by sneaking onto the
grounds or waking him up by roaring into the driveway.
This night he didn't want anyone to be aware of his entrance any
more than he had alerted his teammates to his leaving. He knew the
codes to the gates and the security systems, so he didn't have to
even worry about breaking in or setting them off. He also knew the
blind spots that the security camera's missed and he stayed to those
blank areas as much as possible. He even managed to avoid Bishop on
his rounds. That was not normally an easy task, but Gambit was still
riding the high from his most recent pinch and Bishop didn't even
realize that he was there.
It was only a matter of moments to get his Harley into it's customary
spot in the garage and then he was making his way through the mansion
proper. He wandered the halls like a ghost, brief in his passing and
leaving no trace of his existence. All too soon, Gambit found himself
outside of his partner's office. Pale light spilled out from under
the door and a small smirk crossed his face. Quickly punching in the
doorcode, Gambit made his way inside.
Iceman was on the telephone, his eyes sparkling in a tired face.
Bobby silently waved him in and over to the chair with the blue dyed
teddy bear in it. Gambit sauntered over and picked up the lab coat
wearing "Hankmiester" and hugged it tightly before sitting down in
the chair. Looking over at Bobby, he saw that the Iceman's face was
dark with stubble and his t-shirt was wrinkled.
"Yes. Yes. My client feels strongly about this and all of her research
indicates that the area will be most tolerant of her activities. She
also feels that this portion of the continent would benefit greatly
from having a Morning Star Chapterhouse open and available to the
less fortunate mutant population."
Instantly, Gambit's attention was snagged and held firmly in place.
For some reason, the name "Morning Star Organization" was familiar
to him, even if he couldn't place it at the moment.
"That's fine. I will be happy to pass on your concerns to my client.
I'm sure that she'll want to investigate into them further. However,
at this time my instructions are clear. She would like that location
to be purchased immediately. Once she has ownership of the building
and the lands, she intends to begin the remodeling and construction
phase of her plans so that it will be open to the citizenry as soon
Listening in, Gambit tried to pull the information out of his mind,
but the only thing that he could come up with was that it had something
to do with Storm. But what, he had no idea.
"As her factor, I will expect you to facilitate the purchase of
this property. Contact me with any and all financial concerns. I will
make certain that any necessary funds are available. These other concerns
should be pulled together into an organized report and forwarded to
me as well. Any proof to back up your claims should also be included.
Anything that can give my client a full and complete picture of the
situation would be helpful."
There was another pause in which Gambit's imagination pondered just
what this "Morning Star" was and how come he thought Storm was involved.
"Yes. Yes. That would be fine. I'll speak to you then. Okay. Good-bye."
Bobby hung up the phone and sighed. He palmed his tired face with
one hand and then shook his head. With a wane rueful smile, he glanced
up at Gambit.
"Wha' was dat all about, homme?"
His partner shrugged and shook his head.
"Storm wants to open up another orphanage for mutants overseas.
So far, her privately funded company Morning Star has five of them
up and running around the world."
One of Remy's auburn eyebrows shot up over the rim of his sunglasses
even as the information clicked in his mind. He now remembered reading
in her financial files that she funded various charity work and that
must have been where he had seen the name Morning Star from.
"The main problem with mutant children is that they are often abandoned
by their families and end up on the streets with no home, no food
and no medical care. And even those children whose families stand
by them get the short end of the stick because most schools refuse
to admit them, so they get no education and have no real future to
look forward to. So, Storm got the idea into her head to copy what
the Professor had originally opened up this school to do. She
gives orphaned mutants a safe place to live with healthy food and
a medical unit right on the premises. She also sets up a schedule
of classes and has them taught to the students that live there as
well as any mutants that commute to school from their family homes
during the day for purely educational purposes."
"It's a great idea and the five schools that she has started have
done real well in terms of her ideals. Money wise they don't do well
at all. I try to keep her assets flowing and I invest them as carefully
as possible, but the schools eat up money a hell of a lot faster than
they make them. Now, she wants to open a new one and the resources
... well, they just aren't there. I've pulled money from other places
when and where I could, but..."
Gambit frowned at this.
"If de money is so tight, why's Stormy openin' dis school. Why not
wait till de money's better?"
"The area she's interested in has a high concentration of mutants.
You know as well as I do that some area's have a higher ratio of mutations
per human then others. This area has one of the denser mutant populations
in it, so the need for something like this is great. How can I tell
Gambit looked at his partner and saw for the first time that he
was not only tired, but stressed as well. And to be honest, he didn't
blame the man. He could never say no to Storm, especially when he
knew that she was right and when the situation was so important.
Almost guiltily, he glanced down at the brown leather briefcase at
his side. It was the reason that he had snuck out of the mansion tonight
and it was also the reason that he had come to see the Iceman. Guilt
poked his conscience with a sharp pointy stick. With a soft sigh,
Gambit gave in to all the arguments that he knew he'd be having with
himself if he just ignored what he knew was the right thing to do.
Standing up, Gambit picked up the briefcase and plopped it down on
Bobby's desk and quickly flicked the locks open so that the many neat
and orderly stacks of hundred dollar bills were visible.
"Here. Dis needs t' be cleaned up, but when it is, donate it t'
Stormy's Morning Star House. Use it t' by de chil'en food or somet'ing."
Iceman glanced down at the small fortune sitting in the briefcase
on his desk and crooked one eyebrow up at Gambit.
"You sure about this? That's a lot of money."
Gambit sighed and nodded his head.
"Oui, de chil'en need it more den Gambit does."
Iceman nodded his own head and peered at the money for a long moment.
Then, he looked up at Gambit with a serious expression on his face.
"You're a good man Remy LeBeau. Don't let anyone ever tell you differently."
For some reason, hearing Bobby say those words made him feel better
and more alive then pulling off a job ever did, and he smiled.
Gambit sat down at the table that the hostess had led him to. It
wasn't one of the more posh places in the city, however it was an
excellent and well frequented place for business lunches. And this
is what this would be, a business lunch with his partner.
A waiter wandered over and Remy quickly ordered one of the better
wines and a light appetizer to tide him over. Bobby should be here
soon and then they could get down to business. It had been the Iceman
who suggested this meeting away from the Mansion. Bobby had some business
this morning down in the city with one of his clients, but he had
asked Gambit to meet him here for lunch. To discuss what, Remy didn't
He didn't have too long to ponder it however, just as the waiter
was bringing his appetizer, the hostess was escorting Bobby back to
the table. It wasn't long before both of them had placed orders for
a light lunch and the waiter left again. Bobby had a slightly disgruntled
look on his face that was only highlighted by a faint scowl. Finally,
he looked up at Remy, the very picture of frustrated annoyance.
"Would it be wrong of me to flash-freeze one of my clients as punishment
for sheer stupidity?"
Gambit couldn't help the smirk that lifted up the corner of his
lips. The Bobby that most of the X-community knew and tolerated was
a whiny big kid who was more interested in practical jokes and goofing
off then doing any real work. That Bobby was just a facade, however.
The real Iceman was calm cool and collected at the worst of
times and for someone to elicit this level of frustration in him required
a special type of stupidity.
"Naw, don' do dat. Jus' drop de fool as y' client. Y' got more important
t'ings t' worry about anyway. An' if de fool has got anyt'ing of value,
jus' point ol' Gambit in de right direction an' I'll be more than
happy t' fix dat problem as well."
"I already told him that I could no longer be of service to him.
I informed him that I have a severe allergic reaction to idiocy and
as such, I had no choice but to avoid him from now on. I gave him
one of my competitor's cards and wished him luck."
Bobby grinned then. It was a nasty sort of grin that made Remy's
stomach flutter for some reason that he didn't want to think about.
"And if you want to go visit his home some night, that's fine. His
father was a collector of antiquities and he's got some rare and valuable
books, statuettes and paintings scattered about the place. I don't
know too much about that stuff, so I'll leave it up to your discretion."
They shared a brief conspiratorial smile for a moment. Then the
waiter arrived with their lunch and the connection was broken. As
delicious as everything smelled and looked, Remy was just a little
upset at being interrupted. With an internal wince at the absurdity
of that thought, Gambit pushed it aside and patiently waited while
their plates were set out in front of them and their wine glasses
Once they were alone again, Gambit reached into an inner pocket
of his trenchcoat and pulled out a small green velvet bag with a string
tie. Carefully, he placed it on the table and slid it across to his
"Wasn't sure if dis was anyt'ing dat y' could do somet'ing wit.
Figured dat I'd ask first. If not, den I've got ot'er contacts dat
can handle it fo' m'."
He watched with calm eyes as Bobby laid down his fork and untied
the strings holding the bag closed. Gently tipping it over, Bobby
poured out several cut and polished gemstones onto his hand. They
sparkled beautifully in the lights of the restaurant. Then, just as
calmly, Bobby slid them back into the bag and retied it. The Iceman
pushed the bag back over to Remy.
"All of them? No. My first reaction is to advise you to check with
Hank and Forge before you do anything else with them. Both of them
tend to use high quality crystals and gemstones in various machines
and gadgets, so they might make you an offer."
Gambit felt one eyebrow raise up at that. He had never even considered
that angle before, but it did make sense. Normally, he would be a
bit concerned about working for a scientist. He had learned that
lesson the hard way, but Beast and Forge were different. He knew that.
"I can get them appraised for you, but that would be their base
value as jewelry, and not their value as machine components. I could
also liquidate some of them, but not that many. At least, not all
at once. To many all at once lowers the value and makes people ask
questions that I don't want them to even consider in the first place."
Gambit considered it for a moment while he chewed his food.
"Fine. I'll talk t' Hank. I'll let him contact Forge, t'ough.
He knows de man better den m'. Once dat's done, I'll give y' half
de gems t' liquidate an' keep de o'ters in a safe spot dat I got."
Bobby nodded his head and gestured with his fork.
"Good decision. And if you want, I'll even act as your factor with
Hank. Tell him that the offer to sell the gems are from an anonymous
client of mine."
Gambit considered that for a moment.
"Naw. I'll jus' tell him dat y' suggested dat I talk t' him 'bout
it. Hank knows I'm a t'ief an' he never gave m' any problems 'bout
it b'fore. He's a smart man. He'll put two an' two together an' come
up wit' de answer dat whenever he needs a gemstone, he can hire m'
directly t' get it fo' him."
"You're a wicked wicked man, Remy LeBeau. That's what I like about
Remy smirked even as he ruthlessly ignored the warm fuzzies that
threatened to wash over him at Bobby's words. He enjoyed his partner's
grin for a moment, but then Bobby's face grew serious and his eyes,
usually the only true indicator of his inner feelings, grew cold and
"That's not why I asked you to meet me though."
Gambit merely lifted an eyebrow in a silent request for more information
even as he enjoyed the delicate spicy taste of his lunch.
"I recommended you for a mission to the Professor last night."
He very carefully didn't show any reaction to that statement. Only
years of practicing keeping his face neutral allowed him stay visibly
"An' wha' mission might dat be, homme?"
Bobby sighed and stirred his pasta for a moment as he gathered his
thoughts. When he looked back up, Gambit was instantly aware that
he was once again facing the real Iceman. Ruthless, intelligent
and willing to go to any length to reach his goal.
"The Professor plans to send Logan down into South America to meet
up with some illegal gun runners. Not that we need the weapons,
but they deal mostly with private paramilitary groups. Their most
prominent client is the FOH."
Iceman paused a moment while Gambit absorbed that information.
"The Professor feels that if we can get our hands on the majority
of those weapons then that will be less for the FOH to buy. Logan's
got the connections to get in the door and be taken seriously. So
that's why he's going. I, on the other hand, disagree. The more of
a demand that an item has, the more a supplier will; one, make you
pay for it and two, supply it. That's why I want him to send you."
Gambit nodded and speared a piece of his food with his fork.
"An' wha' do y' t'ink dat I can do, homme?"
Iceman lifted up his glass of wine and gazed into it thoughtfully.
"I want you to find out where their base of operations is. Let Logan
handle the deal and get the guns. When they split up, follow the gun
runners back to their base. Once we know where they are operating
from, then the X-Men can solve the problem at it's source as a team."
Gambit considered this as he watched his partner drink his wine.
It made a lot of sense and the logic behind it was strong. There was
just a few things that bothered him.
"Jus' one t'ing, homme. Why y' telling m' dis? De Professor could
a done dat jus' as well."
The Iceman considered him for a long moment and then nodded as if
making a decision.
"Truthfully? Because it was my idea to send you and to follow the
weapons dealers back to their base. You have a lot of very specialized
skills that can be highly useful to the team, but frankly, they are
rarely used. I'm not saying that you aren't a great ground
fighter, but let's face facts Gambit, your mind and knowledge are
far greater weapons than your ability to blow things sky high. I plan
on making sure that the Professor is aware that your talents are being
underused by recommending you for tasks that, frankly, no one else
Gambit nodded his head slightly in acknowledgment of the praise
with a slightly ironic sense of amusement. When he had first discovered
that Bobby Drake was much more than he let on to the world at large,
he hadn't considered the fact that he would be essentially letting
the man in on his own secret. He worked hard to project the image
of a poorly educated wild child from the streets of New Orleans and
for the most part, that's exactly how people saw him. But now, the
Iceman knew better. And he planned to use that knowledge as ruthlessly
as any other tool in his arsenal. He smirked inwardly, the more he
got to know Bobby, the better he liked the man.
"Secondly, and more importantly, I wanted you to be forewarned because
Scott is going to oppose this idea. I love the man like an older brother,
but he's got certain blind spots."
Gambit snorted. It was no secret that he and their fearless leader
had butted heads on more than one occasion and that Scott always seemed
to ignore Gambit's ideas or assertions that he could handle any given
job. Almost as if Bobby had read his thoughts, he began to speak again.
"Cyclops isn't that bad, Gambit. Honest. He will assign even the
most dangerous of missions to anyone as long as he feels that they
can handle the job. Scott doesn't know you or your talents."
Gambit shook his head and held up one hand.
"Non. De man knows dat I be a t'ief an' yet he has turned
down m' offer t' do ot'er jobs for de team b'fore."
"That's because Scott doesn't think of you as the type of thief
that you actually are."
Gambit frowned in confusion and Bobby sighed even as he put his
fork down on his plate.
"Gambit, Scott thinks of your skills as being on the same level
with Storm's. And let's face it, as much as I love and adore Storm,
she's not a highly skilled thief. Picking pockets? Yes. Shop
lifting? Once again, yes. Trailing highly trained international criminals
to their high security base of operations and returning undiscovered
with the layouts and plans of that base? Never in a million years.
And because Cyclops tends to think of the two of you as being on par
skill wise, he'd never go for it. He'd either want to veto the operation
or bog you down with backup that would only get in the way and make
the job twice as difficult as need be."
Gambit considered that idea. It made sense in some weird way. It
certainly explained many of the conclusions that Cyclops had made
over the years. Some of those judgments had seemed like poor tactical
decisions to Gambit at the time, but in light of this new concept,
they made more sense. If Gambit's skills were that shaky, then
Scott had done the right thing by stopping or reassigning various
jobs in the past the way he had done.
"So, Gambit would either have t' convince Scott dat he's a whole
lot better o' a t'ief den he believes or risk him mucking up y' plans."
Bobby nodded his head.
Another thought occurred to Remy then. If Scott had assumed that
he was a poorly skilled thief, then all of Gambit's assertions that
he could do a job alone were seen by the man as nothing more than
outrageously arrogant lies instead of mere statements of fact. That
would go a long way to explaining why Cyclops didn't like him personally.
"Wha' I don' get is why de man would t'ink dat. Stormy was m' apprentice
fo' God's sake. Why would a t'ief take on someone t' train dat already
had all de same skills as dey could teach? Don' make sense."
Bobby shrugged and grinned at him again.
"Scott's knowledge of the criminal underworld is fairly limited.
He's aware that I occasionally twist, bend or break the laws to do
what I have to do. On the other hand, he has no real clue as to how
I do it or how far over the line I go. Nor does he want to
know. The only difference between you and me is, Scott knows
that he can hand me a job and say "get it done" and it will be. The
how's and the why's don't concern him because I've proved myself to
him. That's what you need to do as well."
Gambit nodded and looked thoughtful as he continued his meal. It
was a calculated risk that his partner was proposing. Not so much
the gun runners as sitting down and confronting Cyclops. It was something
to think about.
A smile on his face and a heavy leather bottomed backpack slung over
his shoulder, Gambit quickly punched in the doorcode to the Iceman's
office and sauntered on in. He was greeted by the sight of Henry McCoy
hanging upside down by his feet from the reinforced ceiling fan and
his partner lounging back in his chair with his feet propped up on
"Bon jour, mes amies."
Hank's wide grin was full of sharp teeth.
"Greetings and salutations to you as well my Cajun compatriot. And
how fairs you, this lovely spring day?"
With a wide grin, Gambit swung the backpack off of his shoulder
and dropped it down on Bobby's desk. The distinct sound of metal clinking
against metal resounded throughout the small room. With a flourish,
Gambit unzipped the bag and reached in to pull out a shiny brick made
of pure gold.
"Gambit is beaucoup bein. Vraiment."
Hank adjusted his spectacles from his inverted perch even as Bobby
whistled and held out his hand for the gold bar. With a dramatic sweeping
bow, Gambit deposited it onto the palm of his partner's hand.
"This is beautiful, Gambit. I'm assuming that it's pure and not
Gambit grinned at the tone of Bobby's voice. No matter how much
money one might have or control, there was just something about solid
gold that spoke to the heart of a criminal in a way that nothing else
could. Other substances might have more monetary value per ounce,
but there was an almost mythical quality of this most renowned metal
whose very chemical compound and inherent softness made it almost
useless for anything other than pour ornamentation or as an indicator
"Oui. De gold is pure. Dere's five more o' dese beauty's in de bag.
Twenty more hidden out in de city."
Bobby chuckled and gestured to the bar of gold in his hand.
"This makes me have the urge to lock it and it's friends up in a
big iron box with a rusty key, bury it under the floorboards of my
office here, and then hoard it forever."
Hank's deep booming laugh echoed around the room.
"Oh, but that's not any fun at all for Gambit and my own blue furry
self if you sit on it playing Dragon Hoard. No, I vote that we play
Pirates with it. Gambit and I shall be the ruthless pirates and you
shall be the Queen's valiant Navy Captain set to guard her riches.
Then, we shall steal it from you and sink your battleship."
"That's not very fair! If you and Gambit here manage to steal the
gold, then the Queen will be angry at me."
Bobby's pout slowly melted into a smirk.
"Why, the White Queen would probably paddle my bare ass and make
me do degrading things ... like serve her dinner while in the nude..."
Gambit exchanged an amused smile with Hank as Bobby's eyes began
to glaze over slightly.
"Um, guys? Should I call Emma over and ask her if she wants to play
pirates with us?"
His and Hank's ribald laughter visibly yanked Bobby out of his little
day dream. He looked vaguely insulted at their amusement at first,
but then he too broke down into soft chuckles.
"Okay, okay. I know. As much fun as that would be, it's not a good
idea, I know."
With that, Bobby placed the bar of gold back into Gambit's backpack
and zipped it back up.
"Let me make a few phone calls and I'll see what I can do with this."
With his smile still lingering, Gambit picked up the backpack and
slung it over his shoulder once again. As soon as the heavy weight
of it was sitting comfortable, Gambit began to pat down his trenchcoat
pockets in search of his elusive cigarettes. Finding the pack, he
opened it and slid one out.
"Merci, Bobby. Gambit jus' gonna go and stick dese ones up de bedroom.
Den he gonna jump in de shower. It's been a long night, c'est ne pas?"
Bobby nodded once and then Gambit turned around and stuck the cigarette
in his mouth. A flick of a single finger against the tip combined
with a tiny charge of kinetic energy and it was lit. It briefly amused
him that with all his knowledge of stealing and all his skills at
fighting, he was still little more than a glorified cigarette lighter
"Um ... one moment if I may, my dear Gambit. I seem to be in a bit
of a quandary and I was hoping that I might be able to acquire your
unique and ... ahem ... artisan vocation for a small fee."
Pausing at the door, Gambit turned his head to look over his shoulder
at Hank. The large blue scientist was still hanging upside-down from
the ceiling fan, only this time, he held his delicate wire framed
glasses in one oversized paw and was painstakingly cleaning the lenses
with a soft cloth. The expression on his face was one of grave seriousness.
Carefully, Gambit decoded what he had said out of Beast-speak and
into plan English. A slow grin settled across his face even as he
blew out a smoke ring.
"Wha' y' need ol' Gambit t' steal fo' y', mon ami?"
Hank carefully replaced his glasses back on his face and peered
through them at Remy. He paused a moment as if gathering his thoughts
and then a look of genuine concern flashed across his face.
"I often find myself in a unique position in the medical and scientific
communities. Many of my colleagues tend to shun me due to my status
as a mutant while other's seek me out due to my status as being a
member of the Avengers, even if it is only on a reserve basis. In
such a case, I am often excluded from research projects that I am
perfectly qualified for and would, indeed, be an asset to the group
and yet, they cannot hide their study or results from my immediate
knowledge due to my vast wellspring of 'underground support', so to
Reaching up, Gambit pulled his cigarette from his mouth and tried
to see where Hank was going with this.
"So, wha' y' saying is dat y' got friends in high places."
Hank smiled a sort of self-mocking smile.
"Yes. Quite. I can't say that I blame them, I am quite lovable.
However, the point is, that some few of my more friendly colleagues
have mentioned to me that the Center for Disease Control, or more
fondly known as the CDC, has made some type of breakthrough in regard
to the specific strain of the Legacy Virus that pertains to the human
population. While this particular treatment would not be suitable
for mutants, it would help the human citizenry effected with
this terrible disease."
Gambit was confused. Hank didn't sound as happy as this type of
announcement should have made him. He had been working long and hard
to find a cure and he just wasn't the sort that would be angry that
someone else had found something that he hadn't.
"But, dat's a good t'ing, right?"
Hank shrugged. It was an odd sort of thing to watch since the large
blue furry mutant was still hanging upside-down.
"That depends entirely on whether or not the information that I
received in regard to their research is correct. My sources tell me
that the scientists at the CDC have taken their studies in a direction
that I had not even considered worth going. It seems that the esteemed
doctors and researchers at the CDC have taken it into their heads
that the best way to defeat the Legacy Virus is to use a mutated and
more easily controlled form of DNA taken from the last remaining Phalanx."
Against his will, a shiver of remembered horror traveled down his
spine. Being a prisoner of the Phalanx was not something that
Gambit recalled with any type of fondness at all. It was the type
of memory that surfaced during his more intense nightmares. And for
once, he was positive that he wasn't alone in that regard. However,
it was Bobby that made the connection before he could.
"Douglock! Hank, do you think that they are experimenting on Douglock?"
There was a blue blur of movement as Hank leapt from the ceiling
fan, flipped himself over in mid air and then landed solidly on his
feet. One long muscled arm swung out and grabbed gentle hold of the
badly dyed blue teddy bear wearing the small lab coat which was identical
to the one that the real Hank was wearing. Then, with a single bound
that left him perching on the chair, Hank cuddled the 'Hankmeister'
to his chest and sighed.
"Honestly? I don't know. That's one of the things that I need to
find out. My source of information was not from one of the team researchers,
but from a colleague of theirs working on an unrelated problem. I've
tried to go through official channels to find out more details, but
I continually find myself stonewalled with bureaucratic redtape and
the term classified information."
Gambit nodded his head in understanding. An unsubstantiated rumor
wasn't enough to call the full X-Men team out on. If the rumor wasn't
true, then a full scale assult on the installation would simply cause
more trouble for mutants with no benefits to balance the scales.
"Dat's wha' y' need Gambit fo' den? To sneak in an' see if Douglock's
"Yes, essentially. I'd also like to get my hands on the research
notes as well. If they are doing something that involves the
Phalanx, then we need to know as soon as possible. Once before they
thought that they could control it, but they were sadly mistaken.
The Phalanx is not just a mere living organism such as a virus or
bacteria. It is a sentient form of life, and as such, it will work
and adapt and change itself until it can break free of it's
captors once again. They are playing with fire and it seems that it
is the innocents that get burned the worst in such cases."
Gambit considered this all for a long moment, cigarette smoke swirling
around his head. Finally, he looked up, his burning eyes glowing intensely.
"Let m' go on up an' get m' shower an' a nap. Den later on today
Gambit an' y' will sit down an' y' can tell m' all dat y' know about
Hank nodded, visibly relieved.
"And what payment do you require in return for your services?"
Gambit tilted his head in thought and then smirked a nasty grin
at his friend.
"Gambit want t' be dere t' watch y' inform Wolverine dat he due
f' a checkup complete wit' a prostate exam."
Hank paled beneath his fur and Bobby howled out loud in amusement
as Gambit turned and nonchalantly sauntered from the room, cigarette
smoke swirling about his head.
It was early evening and the mansion was filled to brimming with
various X-Men relaxing in their own ways. Logan, Sam and Ororo were
arguing over the television. Logan wanted to watch the hockey game,
Sam wanted to watch an action movie staring some overly muscled actor
who couldn't act and his beloved Stormy wanted to watch some special
gardening program focusing on perennials. Gambit put his money on
Ororo to win that argument.
He walked passed the door to the rec room without even peeking in.
If he did, then he'd be drawn into the argument and he didn't
want that. It would only draw it out longer then necessary. And he
already knew how it would end. It was the same whenever any
of the X-women wanted to watch something during a guy flick or a game.
The female would watch her show, the movie would be taped for later
viewing and the guys would all go down to the local bar to watch the
game there. It was only male pride that made them argue about it at
all in the first place.
In Gambit's mind, the trick was avoiding the argument process, but
being available to be invited along to the bar once it was over. Hopefully,
his business with Bobby wouldn't take very long and then he and the
Iceman could go out with Wolverine and Cannonball to Harry's. He could
even twist it around in his head to make it seem like they were owed
a night out drinking. After all, a gardening special on the television
almost guaranteed that the men were going to soon be drafted by Storm
to help spread fertilizer in her garden. Or something equally distasteful.
Mulch, for instance, was not one of Remy's favorite substances.
Making his way swiftly through the hallways, he punched in the doorcode
as soon as he reached his partner's office. Swinging the door open,
he walked in to the sound of furious typing. His face set in the stern
lines and angles that he had come to think of as the 'Iceman', Bobby
was focused completely on what looked to be some sort of email program.
A quick glance at the computer screen let him know that Bobby was
using Cerebro for the email, so Gambit knew it wasn't one of Bobby's
normal flatscan business contacts.
He waited patiently for a few moments, letting his eyes play over
one of Bobby's supermodel posters while his partner finished up. Finally,
with one last punch on the keyboard, the sounds of typing stopped
and he heard a soft sigh escape the Iceman's lips. Turning his head
away from the poster, he looked directly into the cold hard eyes of
"What'cha got for me tonight Gambit?"
A cocky grin spreading across his face, Gambit placed his brown
briefcase on top of Bobby's document covered desk. Flipping open the
locks, he lifted the lid and showed his partner the neat rows of stacked
"Jus' dis. A little somet'ing dat I picked up somewhere. Careless
of de bank t' jus' leave it lying around where anyone could pick it
One of Bobby's eyebrows arched up and a slight twist of his lips
sketched a cruel smirk.
"And where did you find it 'just lying around'?"
Gambit's grin widened.
"In de vault."
Bobby let loose with a sharp bark of laughter.
"Yeah, I can see how that was negligent of them to do so. What were
they thinking putting it under lock and key where nobody but a skilled
thief could get to it?"
Gambit chuckled and bowed down low at the praise.
"I t'ought so too."
When he stood up, Iceman's expression was once again serious, but
there was a gleam of triumph in his hard eyes.
"Have a seat Gambit. I've got some good news that I'd like to share
with you. And on top of that, I've got a new business proposition
for you to consider."
Intrigued, Gambit walked over to the overstuffed chair that he was
beginning to think of as his. He swept up the blue dyed teddy bear
in his arms and flopped down into a graceful sprawl.
"So, wha's up, homme?"
Bobby grinned a shark's grin, all teeth and no morals behind it.
That ruthless expression made the butterflies in Remy's stomach flutter
about madly, but he didn't have any sense of fear from it, only excitement.
Self analysis being what it is, Gambit ignored this now familiar reaction
to the Iceman showing his true colors as a hardened criminal.
"The good news is that I've managed to secure you, and several other
teammates, Shi'ar banking accounts. On the Thrownworld itself, no
less. I was able to accomplish this by hiring a factor, someone to
oversee the accounts and transmit all of the documentation from the
Thrownworld to Earth and back again."
The small flutter of excitement in Gambit's stomach grew larger
and his small smirk shifted into a full blown smile.
"Dat's great news, mon ami. But who is dis factor dat will be handling
t'ings f' y' over dere? Y' sure y' can trust him?"
"As far as I am aware, this person is completely trustworthy and
he has impeccable references. But do I trust him? No. I don't
trust anyone, Remy, you know that."
Gambit chuckled and nodded. He did know that, and what's more, he
agreed with the philosophy wholeheartedly. To the point where he practiced
that lack of trust himself.
"My factor was recommended by the Majestrix herself. Apparently,
he's some great-great cousin four times removed from her. However,
he's supposed to be a genius with money and he does carry the
house name Neramani. That is one of the things that made me willing
to deal with him. Stabbing me in the back would dishonor his entire
family, including Lilandra. And she wouldn't stand for something like
that, family member or not."
Gambit nodded his head in understanding. Bobby could use his status
as a X-Men and his familiarity with the Majestrix to browbeat his
factor into playing it straight with him. It was a hold that he wouldn't
have on someone else.
"Dat's true. Lil's a lovely femme, but she does have a nasty temper
when she don' get her way."
Iceman chuckled at that statement of fact and they shared a brief
"The other thing that I wanted to discuss with you has a direct
bearing on the Shi'ar accounts. Specifically, how to fatten them up
as fast as possible. It's not really possible to simply transfer money
from your Earth accounts over to the Shi'ar accounts. The money systems
are incompatible and Earth money has little to no value on the Thrownworld
or any of the subject worlds beyond that of a collector's item."
Gambit's smirk shifted instantly into a thoughtful frown. He shifted
slightly on the chair and flung one leg up and over the arm even as
he pulled the 'Hankmeister' in close to his chest for a hug.
"Didn' t'ink o' dat. If simply transferring funds ain' gonna work,
den wha' will?"
Bobby smiled and spread his hands wide to gesture with.
"See, that's why I needed a factor. If it was just a matter
of an electronic transfer, then I could do that from here. What we
need to do is provide him with material things from Earth that could
be sold to interested parties. Precious gemstones and crystals that
are indigenous to Earth would be popular with jewelers and the scientific
community. Artwork and literature would be collectors items to those
noble families that pride themselves on their vast cultural archives
and knowledge. Just about anything can be sold as long as it's in
good condition and you know where to sell it."
Gambit nodded his head. It made perfect sense to him now. What Bobby
was referring to as his "factor" was actually more in the line of
a well paid and highly respected fence.
"I can see how dat would work. It's actually a real good idea. De
question t'ough, is how y' gonna get all dis stuff t' y' factor on
Bobby chuckled and shook his head in amusement while tsking softly.
"Gambit, you're not thinking. How do we get anything from
the Shi'ar Empire? How do we always send stuff to them?"
Gambit's eyes opened wide in astonishment.
"Y' gonna use de Starjammers t' send stolen goods across
"Are y' nuts, Bobby? Scotty'd kill y' if he found out wha' y' planning."
Bobby just waved his hand through the air as if to brush away Remy's
"Don't get your panties in a twist Gambit. It's no big deal. Look.
Corsair only stops by to drop off shipments from Lilandra once a year
and I've already worked out the deal with him anyway. He's a space
pirate by trade so he knows how to work with and for criminal types.
For him this is a nice break from the smuggling business. It's easy
money. And he knows not to spill the beans to Cyclops because it'll
make him look just as bad as us. As far as Scott figuring
out what's going on, maybe in a few years he'll catch on to it, but
by then, who cares? We just have to make sure that everything will
be crated up and ready for delivery to my factor. Then, when Scott's
having his annual brood fest over his relationship with Corsair, we
sneak it on board the ship."
Leaning back in his chair, Gambit let all this information swirl
around in his head. On the surface, it sounded like a good plan and
a great deal. It seemed as if his partner had thought of everything,
but Remy needed time to consider all the angles. Which was fine. Corsair
wasn't due for a visit for at least another four months, so there
was plenty of time to figure out all of the details and study them.
Just for his own peace of mind, Gambit decided that he would have
to hack into Bobby's email and read through all of the communications
between him and this mysterious factor as well as the communications
between him and Corsair. Then, if he spotted any holes in the plan,
he could bring it to Bobby's attention and demand that he fix it.
"Oui, sounds good so far. Gambit'll have t' look into seeing what
he can find t' sell t' de idle rich o' de Shi'ar Empire, neh?"
Glancing up at Bobby, his partner wore an expression on his face
that let Gambit know that he wasn't fooled for a second. Iceman knew
that Gambit planned to check into this situation on his own, and Gambit
knew that Iceman knew. Neither one really minded though. Business
was business, after all. Still, the intensity of the moment was building,
so Gambit flashed his most charming smile at his partner and reached
up with one hand to slide his sunglasses onto the top of his head.
"Stormy's gonna be taking control o' de tv tonight. How 'bout we
grab up Logan an' Sam an' den head on over t' Harry's? Could be fun."
Bobby grinned back, but shook his head.
"I don't drink very often Gambit. You know that."
Remy shrugged. It was true, Bobby didn't drink very often, and even
more rarely did he drink to excess.
"Oui, mais why is dat, mon ami? Y' need t' relax jus' as much as
de next X-Men. Mebbe even more den most."
Bobby grinned another one of his surprisingly boyish grins.
"Because when I get drunk, I forget that I'm supposed to be nice
to people. Obnoxious prankster aside, Bobby Drake is a nice
guy. I loose sight of that fact when I drink too much."
Gambit smirked at him.
"Den y' turn int' de Iceman an' mess wit' everyone's head?"
Bobby chuckled darkly.
"In a manner of speaking, yeah."
Gambit smirked back at him and nodded.
"Don' worry 'bout it. Gambit likes de Iceman better anyway. Come
on, y' can cheer m' on as I hustle Sam at pool fo' all his money."
Bobby laughed even as he stood up and began to walk around the desk.
Grinning unrepentantly, Gambit also stood up and put the 'Hankmeister'
back down on the chair. Bobby glanced back over his shoulder at him
"You are a bad bad man, Remy LeBeau."
"Oui. Mais dat's why y' love m'."
Grinning like a fool, Remy followed the trail of Bobby's deep amused
laughter out of the office and down the hall.
END: Brief Meetings, Odd Jobs and Money Deals
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