K Nice <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Get Some [Gambit, Rogue, PG]
Disclaimer: Characters belong to Marvel, Donald Trump, DeBeers and other mentioned real life entities belong to whoever it is they belong to. Some innuendo ahead. This story follows the continuity of and falls in between "And the Wall's Came Tumblin' Down" and "Happiness (is in the eye of the beholder)" but it can be read independantly.
"C'mon, chere, just a little bit more . . . "
"Can ya feel it?"
"Don't rush me. Oh, oh, oh God! Yes! Almost!"
"Higher . . . higher. Almost."
"Oooooh! Slow down . . . Ah'm so clooose!"
It is a moonless night at the Trump/Concord. The Donald's newest venture is a 23 story luxury hotel on the edge of the Borscht Belt, prime to soak up all that metropolitan money. Excess is the norm and decadence oozes from gilded walls. Among the rolling Catskill Mountains, Manhattan's wealthiest business people hold corporate retreats and sneak away for fun in the country with their mistresses (or boyfriends, depending on which closets you look in).
On the ninth floor, a weary group of merging executives return to their rooms after 36 grueling rounds on the Monster golf course and 6 hours of drinks and stories at The 19th Hole. The briefcase full of bearer bonds in the suite safe is just that. They can't even hear a whisper of the revelry on the eleventh floor, where the DeBeers diamond company is celebrating the U.S. launch of its new design line with wild abandon. Even at 3 am there are four armed guards and Hakaishu Sercuity technology protecting all $31.2 million worth of product.
If any of them knew there was an unrepentant thief and a semi-reformed terrorist on the tenth floor, panic would ensue. But forty miles from their idyllic Westchester residence, neither Gambit nor Rogue is particularly interested in a forest of bearer bonds or an avalanche of diamonds.
In fact, at this moment, they are interested in little but each other. They are fully occupied by the heat of body against body. Their bodies intertwine, bathed in the purest dark imaginable. It runs over them in sensuous rivulets, pooling where soft curves meet hard muscle. Secluding them from their daytime heroics and their nighttime self-doubts, darkness urges them to complete the clandestine acts that have brought them here tonight. Gambit's arms stretch above his head, holding on for all he's worth, as Rogue slides slowly up his body.
It is as if the whole world has faded away, leaving them wrapped in a tight, hot haven. They writhe against each other with urgency, knowing the private moments can't last, that discovery is always just around the bend. Face to face, they pant small encouragements, losing their grips on reality and grasping the moment like it will never end.
They are partners, united in the shared fervor to bring just one iota more of satisfaction into their short, feverish lives. They pause, as if to catch their breath, and begin their dance anew, struggling to make the moment last as long as the world will allow.
Even in the security and anonymity they have garnered for themselves, every moment has to come to its inevitable conclusion. Straining against every impulse in his body, Remy manages to maintain a tenuous sense of self-control. Sweat streams over his face to his chin, dripping onto to Rogue's reddened cheeks. Every muscle seems to quiver, taunt against letting go but it is a losing battle. "Chere . . . I can' hold on much longaaah." His whispered words end in the groan of a man on the brink.
He barely hears her reply. "Wait for me. Ah'm almost theah." Rogue twists her body against him, arching her back and any other part of her still willing to move. It is like she is crawling toward a freedom she has never known before, moving so slowly, yet moving toward her goal. Grunting, she prepares her legs for a final thrust, anything to get her where she is so desperately heading.
With an urgent exhalation, "I can'!" Remy's eyes shut tight with the hopes of mining one last shred of energy.
"Ah'm there. Oh Gawd. Yes!" she breathes, feeling an almost unimaginable pleasure shivering up her spine.
Remy's groans, a near silent rumble in his throat as he finally experiences release.
They lie silently, trembling with the enormity of the moment they have just ended. Rogue smiles in the silence, mentally patting herself on the back for finally doing something she could have done a long time ago. All the barriers she has created to protect herself have only held her down. She feels like a butterfly emerging from a steel chrysalis. At last, she is on the other side, and the air does taste differently. Self-satisfaction shudders through her.
Remy is not nearly so enthralled himself, although he can't help a small amount of pleasure at what this means for her. The look of triumph on her face fills him with a momentary joy. When he thinks about the hurdles she has jumped, the demons she has faced to lie beside him, his chest swells at her accomplishment.
This too must pass, as choked breathes explode from his chest. As soon as they start, Remy remembers how to breathe barely seconds before his situation becomes critical. He sits up slowly, silently, unsure of the ceiling height above them. As he rubs feeling back into his strained arm muscles through the black leather sleeves of his uniform, he turns to Rogue. "Next time I tell you to pack climbing gear, maybe you listen to me, huh?"
Grimacing, Rogue rolls over to peer down the narrow aluminum passage. "How was Ah supposed ta know it would get too narrow for flyin'. Momma never taught me nuthin' about scaling ventilation shafts." In retrospect, she is amazed they found any room to maneuver--she has seen coffins that were less claustrophobic. Not that she minds the intimacy it has created between them. She wonders how long it will last.
"Yeah, well, I ain't ya Mama." He grins wryly, not knowing how much like her mother it makes him seem.
Exactly according to schedule, the huge ventilation fans begin their roar once again. The thief and the terrorist pull their ski masks into place and return to the business at hand.
Whispering to be heard under the mechanical cacophony, Remy orders, "See if dem t'ings are salvageable. Dey aren't meant to support dat much weight." He smirks, playfully swatting her thigh with his gloved hand. Through long practice, he ducks her answering blow without missing a beat and starts preparing their gear for the next step.
She lifts the heavy steel grate with far more ease than he did and removes the suction activated hand-holds. The handles are bent and scratched from Remy's boots, but still operable. Stowing them in her back pack, she closes the grate and creeps towards her partner.
The low ceiling of the maintenance passageway forces them to crouch. Shuffling along single file, they quickly come to a small hatch in the floor. According the blueprints from the construction companies advertising packet, it is the only entrance onto the floor from the complex system of custodial access tunnels. Rogue can feel the pressure mount again, her head sweating under her ski-mask. This is the truly difficult part of their excursion. Scarcely wide enough for a Teamster, the hatch is the focus of the entire tenth floor security system. Just to make things interesting, all the pertinent wiring is on the other side of the door.
Gambit holds a V.O.M. out to her and settles back on his haunches to watch. As he has gone over with her in their exhaustive training sessions, Rogue sweeps the instrument around the perimeter of the door. The voltage-ohm meter has been altered significantly, making it sensitive to the currents flowing in wires, even through metal and insulation. Ironically, for all the time he put into suping it up, Gambit himself can't use it. His kinetic powers negate whatever yield the meter might otherwise have. He keeps his distance and waits for her to do her job.
The dial spikes twice, to the left and right of where the handle should be. After completing a thorough sweep, Rogue springs into place, pouncing on the area with enthusiasm that surprises even herself. Taking his position behind her, Gambit proffers another piece of equipment, holding out his left hand to accept the meter. She fumbles the backward pass but his experienced hands salvage the transition. They aren't quite a fine-oiled machine yet, but they press on.
Rogue stares at the tool in her hands. It looks remarkably like a battery powered . . . something. Between her eager excitement and embarrassed edginess, she draws a complete blank. Racking her brain, she glares at the floor, half hoping for a voice from heaven.
There is voice out of nowhere. "You do know how to use a scroll saw?"
She jerks her eyes upward, which of course sends her head back and into Gambit's face. She turns, expecting him to moan and berate. It's what Pyro or Avalanche would have done. Instead, she finds him rutting through his pack, apparently ignoring his bloody mouth and split lip. She watches, forcibly keeping her mothering instincts at bay, as he dabs the cut with alcohol soaked-gauze. Suddenly, the calm and purpose in his actions clicks with something she learned with the Brotherhood.
Getting another alcohol dressing from their provisional first-aid kit, she wipes the floor, effectively destroying pesky DNA evidence. Gambit nods at her, the appreciation in his eyes a powerful forgiveness. Rogue smiles. In Screw-Ups vs. Do-Rights, the score (she is sure he is keeping score) is 4-2, but for some reason she seems to be winning anyway.
This latest crisis passed, they return to their work. Affixing a blade from the holder in the handle, she turns the saw on. It's high-pitched whine is so loud she immediately shuts it off and turns, slowly, to her "supervisor."
Checking his watch impatiently, he indicates she should continue. He is not overly concerned about the noise, seeing the building is keeping up quite a racket on its own. "Just be careful not to bust through the sound proofing on de ot'er side."
They don't have any more time for delays. This may be the Home Depot School of Thief/Terrorist Basic Training, but that doesn't mean he has to lower his standards. If she doesn't get the door open before the fans are scheduled to shut down, he will make her wait through the entire 9 minute cycle before trying again. If she figures out that the sound proofing eliminates the need to use the fans to mask the noise, he will have to find something else that qualifies as work but lets him sit behind her while she bends over.
He has drilled her about how dangerous it is to let your mind wander when on the job. Recalling the way she rolled her eyes, he is sure Mystique was as . . . creative at teaching self discipline as Jean-Luc. Of course, he's never had this much temptation to daydream. Even when he was working with Zoe or Sek, that disquieting "You're probably--make that definitely--going to die any second now," feeling kept him on his toes. Not to mention the nagging quality of "You're supposed to be in love with someone else, remember!!" However, the Mengos are in Latveria, the job is a cake-walk and the someone else is right here--even if the love thing isn't--so it takes every scrap self-control just to stay on task.
Before he can drift any farther, she hands back the saw, moving to the side of the passage to display a clean, narrow channel in the metal and foam. Gambit slides in, his tools slipping into the crevice she has opened for him. He dives right in with his cutters, prepared to work from memory. Just before making the first snip, he swings his tiny flashlight around the area. Sucking in a sharp breath, he starts counting the wires. Instead of the standard wiring associated with a PyungTek key pad, there are upwards of forty separate intertwined pairs. Rather than the standard red/blue/yellow/green, they are each different shades of gray, most of which even Sherwin Williams would have trouble identifying.
Crouching motionless, Gambit lets his mind work over this new wrinkle. Ninety percent of those wires are accessory, serving no real purpose except confusion. He mentally chastises himself for getting lazy. This is something he should have checked on long before starting this job. Cursing the Donald, he begins tracing the wires from the keypad to the door lock to the alarm, searching for the ones he needs.
As much as she would like to watch him work, Rogue must examine the sketch of the hall below them. According to the layout, which she helped Gambit make by watching the Trump/Concord promotional video 12 times in a row, there should be security cameras on both ends of the hall. Both cover the area they are concerned with. Rogue removes two palm sized black squares and a roll of electrical tape.
Flying low and tight, she is grateful Gambit has not imposed his own reluctance to use his powers on the job upon her. In fact, he hasn't imposed anything on her. She had been a bit apprehensive about asking him for help to begin with. They gave up their own bizarre version of Romeo and Juliet a long time ago. They are seeing other people--at least she is--but she is thankful for his patience with her. They devote countless hours to planning jobs they never do or simulating jobs they never plan. She takes their sessions seriously and enjoys the playful friendship that has developed between them. Smiling rueful at how much trouble she could get into for ruminating when she should be working, Rogue finds the place she has been looking for.
Directly above where the security camera should be, she locates the correct panel and exposes its inner workings. At this point, a cup of water could do the trick, but she couldn't carry the bottle in her pack. Instead, she takes one of the degauzers and depresses the button, securing it with several circuits of electrical tape. By running the degauzer over the camera she hopes to create enough static to obscure the hallway. Taping it into place, she begins to worry about the time constraints they must now operate under. The battery won't last long, but it is the best solution she came up with during the planning session.
Rogue begins to wonder at Gambit's delay as she darts back to the hatch from setting the second degauzer. She has seen him rip through security with more ease than if he had a key to the door. To conceal her anxiety, she focuses on why she is here in the first place. During the time they were both leading the X-Men, she had tried to emulate the leadership the team had always had, just adding her own flair. It took Remy pointing it out for her to realize her own flair came from her time as a terrorist. Even after relinquishing the team once Cyclops returned, Rogue was plagued by the thought that her former life would always haunt her. She eventually decided that if she had to have to guilt she might as well had the skills to go with it. With her powers finally under control, it is finally time to test out her other aptitudes.
There are sparks from the alarm system just as the fans power down. Gambit compliments himself on both his ability to memorize alarm systems and his track record of making really good guesses. He whispers a warning, "Get ready."
Rogue catches the spring loaded door as Gambit finally connects the right wires. Holding it open to a sliver, she doesn't even blink as he crawls under her to see what is in the hall. Feeding a fiber optic sensor through the crack, he watches the hallway through a small video display. Rogue's eyes narrow, envious of his high-tech equipment. He won't let her play with the high-dollar stuff until she proves herself with lower-end tools.
Two men walk down the hall from the elevators, another, a busboy, rolls a cart toward one of the rooms. The security cameras are right where they should be and he thanks heaven for small favors. If he was on his own, he would have at least three different gadgets to handle the problem. He needs to have faith in Rogue's skills--that's the only way she'll learn to trust them herself. He puts his tools where they belong and slings his pack over his back
He signals clear, snaking down the hatch as soon as she lifts it. He takes the ten foot drop rolling, creeping behind a Queen Anne table. For the next thirty seconds they have to rely on luck to avoid discovery by wandering guests. Rogue alights beside him and holds out the floor plan they devised.
Quickly orienting themselves, they dash for the door of their target. She had figured out how they were going to get past the key-carded door, and without waking up the whole floor. In seconds she has the wire hanger straightened and under the door. Before they left the mansion, she wrapped duct tape on the hook, making it solid enough to grip the handle without sliding off. Hours of practice on her closet pays off and there is enough strength in the tips of her fingers to pull the hanger back, thus opening the door. Smoothly pushing it open just enough for a human body, she follows him into the room.
Consulting a sketched layout of the three-room suite, Remy estimates the position of their target. Daniel Brown is on a business trip for GetTech.Com. According to his interview with CNet, no matter where he is, he believes in "early to bed, early to rise." In other words, he is supposed to be asleep right now.
Unfortunately, Gambit's calculations don't take into account enlarged prostates.
Ducking behind the couch just as the room's occupant stumbles out of the bathroom, they hold their breaths and stop their too-loud hearts.
Rogue closes her eyes and prays he won't collapse on the couch. Gambit, on the other hand, wills the man to make it back to the bedroom. Whether the credit belongs to his charm, a guardian angel or dumb luck, Gambit exhales, free of the latest crisis.
Checking her watch, Rogue taps him. She holds up three fingers. Remy checks his own watch and holds up four. The batteries will run out before the fans start running again. Either way, they don't have much time.
In tandem they slink around the couch to the coffee table. Extensions cords run from the desk and its convenient outlets to the array of office equipment on the low table. Rogue watches the doors to the hall and bedroom while Gambit pulls the plugs from the phone jack, printer, scanner, and power strip. Tucking the laptop into his pack, he stands watch while she gathers stray disks and shoves them in her bag.
They retreat silently, not even allowing the door to "click" as it closes. The hatch's security system blinks a deceptive green as Rogue opens the door. Leaping up through the aperture, he grabs her wrist and smiles. They have 23 seconds to spare. Plenty of time.
She retrieves the degauzers while he rewires the alarm system. There is nothing to be done about the gash in the metal, but he shoves the insulation back in. With time and soldering equipment, he could leave less of a back trail, but since nothing about this could ever lead back to him, he has to let it go. It is small comfort but it isn't the first time he's had to cut corners either.
The security crew should already be in the hall below them, and Remy begins to feel the intoxicating rush of running for your life. Most people hate the tightness in the gut and the pounding of the heart, but with his history, he has the choice of becoming a paranoid schizophrenic or an action junkie. He counts himself lucky for having an addictive personality.
Standing on the grate that had almost defeated him less than 20 minutes earlier, he watches Rogue open their escape route. The ventilation shaft is the exact opposite of the one they came in through. It returns the tenth floor air to the main system. Taking one of the hand holds from her, he waits as she enters the conduit.
It is slow going up the shaft. She stands on a hand hold while he hangs from it. He passes her the other and she pulls herself up to stand on that one. They continue the cycle until they reach the main duct. Not as exciting as their entrance, but decidedly more effective. She doubts he will let her live her earlier mistake down, but for now, she is taking the lead.
Rogue grins mischievously. Here it is wide enough to fly. Grabbing Gambit by the back of his coverall, she navigates smoothly until they reach the top.
The three fan blades create a thunder that makes conversation moot. Rogue slows and hovers in front of an accessory tunnel. It is dusty, narrow and low. Remy climbs in first to lead the way to the grate. They shimmy their way there without pause. The slats are barely wide enough for his fingers. He picks the padlock nonetheless. Pushing it open, they step onto the roof.
Instead of immediately breaking out his repelling gear, Remy finds himself dumb-struck by the beauty around them. He has been as high as several hundred stories up, but it was always in the middle of a city. Here, they are surrounded by rolling hill country. The lake glistens with light from the hotel. Houses look like candles in the dark and a corona of reddish light places a large town off to the far left.
There isn't much time to enjoy the view. "I'll admit, you bought us some time wit' de flyin' in dere, but we go down de traditional way."
Rogue is tempted to sulk, but she knows he is right. They need to follow the plan. An idea strikes her. "Gambit, wait. Ah was wrong. We can' repel down this building. Everyone and their brother'll see us."
Gambit's only response is a raised eyebrow. She is on her own when it comes to figuring out a better way. Gambit stares absently at something across the roof and Rogue tries to hide her aggravation with his less than helpful attitude.
Those same people will see them if they fly away from the roof top. The same goes for jumping a trusting her invulnerability to save them both. Pacing, she creates and discards scenarios as quickly as she wrings her gloved hands.
When he starts smirking, she knows whatever she is missing is very obvious. Taking a chance, she follows his line of sight.
Standing out against the night sky is their way out. The service elevator.
Sitting at the kitchen table and drinking very hot coffee, Remy pushes the laptop over to her. It is late morning, and this is his fourth cup, but he still looks like, well, like he spent the morning driving through the woods on a dirt bike.
Rogue enjoyed that least of all. Having to turn her uniform inside out--so that the biking emblems were on the outside--while riding a hotel service elevator, with a half-naked Gambit two feet away was not nearly as bad as getting hit in the face with pine branches at 45 mph. After a while even invulnerability didn't make much of a difference. She smiles with bruised cheeks. They had ridden right past the hotel's gates, looking like a couple of locals out for a ride.
There is an emblem on the laptop, one she recognizes as some Silicon Valley start-up with a big advertising budget. Poking at their prize, Rogue asked, "So what's on this thing? Product designs for the next micro-micro chip?"
Shaking his head to get the caffeine flowing, he pulls the laptop back, and opens it up. He does not look forward to hacking it. "Nope, a detailed record of how much money this M. Brown's embezzled from his company over the last four years." There is the off chance that he can con Kitty into doing it, but that would require a lot more effort than he can muster at the moment.
"Oh." She had hoped for something more interesting. The last time they did this sort of thing, a one day trip to Pennsylvania had netted them all the Hershey's chocolate they could possibly eat or use for bribes over several weeks. This take seems like a waste. "All this just to expose a corrupt Internet executive?"
Remy shrugs and pours himself another cup. He could go to bed, but then he would miss his Danger Room session and he really doesn't feel like getting yelled at today. He has had his fill of loud noises. Grinning at her through his bangs, he says, "Oh yeah, and the access codes for de Swiss Bank Account he keeps it in."
There is no one in the kitchen or even the rooms beyond. Still, she has to force herself to say the right thing. "So we can, uhm, return it to its rightful owners, of course."
They share a look. Rob from the rich to give back to the rich. "Or not." Remy smirks.
Rogue laughs. "We're more Bonnie and Clyde than Robin and Marion, anyway."
Chuckling tiredly, Remy quips, "You got dat right. I migh' wear fushia but I draw de line at tights."
They laugh until fatigue dampens their sense of humor. They sit, quiet and content, until Neal and Betsy bustle into the kitchen with every intention of making lunch.
Remy pushes away from the table and places his mug in the sink. Walking with great deliberate he almost makes it out the door. Rogue clears her throat to get his attention. He sighs and leans over her to retrieve their prize before it becomes a topic of idle conversation.
As he moves away again she smiles coyly and whispers, "Either way, we make a great team."
Remy nods and begins the long walk back to his bedroom. He turns, one last time, as he swings the kitchen door open. "We always did."