Disclaimer: The X-Men characters, and all other recognizable characters are copyright to Marvel Entertainment Group. This work of FanFiction is not meant to infringe on that copyright or defame Marvel Comics or the X-Men and related characters in any way.

Copyright: This work of FanFiction and the original characters described within are the intellectual property of K-NICE and her IRL persona. No copying, distributing or editing of this material is permitted without the express permission of the creator, K-Nice, under United States copyright law. Relax, I won't sue you. I'll just ask my Cousin Tony to choke you with his dreds.

While Sabretooth is in residence at the Mansion.

K-Nice 1999

Nightmares: Gambit


He is not afraid.

Not of anything.

Not even of this.

He was born of the hardy swamp rat variety usually pegged as street rats as they first open their eyes.

He had seen and done things on the streets of New Orleans that made this pale to a shade lighter than the cigarette smoke that dissipates as he exhales. He had killed a man by the time he was nineteen. He has been to every major city, in almost every dank alley and decadent night spot, in half the holding cells and two or three of the torture chambers all over the world.

He'd been beaten, battered, bruised, poked, prodded, probed, spat upon, shackled, shamed, enslaved, experimented on and violated. All in the 24 short years he had lived.

He has learned early and learned well the lessons life taught him. He has survived.

So why is this so hard to do? Why is this special? Why does it bother him when nothing else has all these years?

He can find no reasons, comes up with no explanations for his hesitation--so he plows on.

Something, hunger maybe, gnaws at him, but he does not move to sate himself. He can deal with hunger. With almost all kinds of hunger. Malnutrition, starvation, loneliness, fear, rage and desire: he has lived with them each in turn during periods which presented no easy relief.

Is this a hunger too?

He is not afraid.

He steps calmly over the threshold, slipping his long frame through the half open door without touching it.

Times like this, he regrets that he is no longer a thief. He wishes for an instant that he is back in New Orleans, Prince of the Thieves Guild. That he could walk into any bar, any store, any street, any home and hear his name welcomed. Listen to admiring whispers because he was the greatest among them, Gambit. He wants that back, the pride in his father's eyes, the fear from Assassins, new and old alike. He thinks about it now, longs for it like an untouched lover.

Of course, it also makes a decent diversion from what is at hand. And reminds him why he has come, as if he could forget.

He stands in the darkness, his deep-set mutant eyes glowing red in the silence. For a few seconds he is seize by a powerful emotion. Not, fear of course but . . . something so similar, something from the streets.

Apprehension. A word he could neither spell nor even pronounce the first time he understood what it meant.

He is not afraid.

Swiftly, because he is a man of action, he moves to a smaller room within the darkness.

When the door is sealed behind him, he flicks on the light. Which is odd, because he can shave in the dark with a bare rusted razor and never nick himself. He knows he can because he has. He has lived in the dark all his life, venturing into the sun only occasionally to display his spoils but mostly slinking in the absence of moonlight to stalk out an existance.

Yet, he turns on the redundant--if not painfully bright--light. His eyes shrink back into their sockets and slam their lids shut but it is too late. Going from such utter darkness to such glaring light was a dangerous transition. He clenches his fists at his sides to keep from digging at his eyes. White pain sears the back of his brain and he lets his body rock with the blow.

It has happened many times before, accidentally or as a form of torture. He rolls with it until the waves of anguish subside. He's had lot's of practice so it takes less than a minute for him to reopen his eyes. Very. Slowly.

The light refracts off a thousand white surfaces all over the room. He bites back a grunt of pain but does not struggle to see. His sight will return with time and he does not have a problem with waiting.

He was not afraid.

The eyes adjusted quickly and painfully, as they had since the first time he'd caught a flashlight beam in the face. He is not hoping for a delay. He looks.

And there it is. It had haunted his dreams and shadowed his waking hours. He is close enough to touch it.

He could charge a card with less then a thought and be rid of it.

His fingers itch.

He is not afraid.

He lifts his eyes to the bright corona of light before him.

His face is handsome, rugged. He had not forgotten what he looked like but it was an ego boost to see himself as other saw him.

Intrigued, unable to stop, he gets closer, bracing his hands on it as he leans in.

He sees eyes, old eyes, vicious, cold eyes. Lies eyes. Eyes that he has seen on killers and vermin of every sort. Eyes that glow in the holding cells in the belly of the Mansion.

Desperate, he searches these eyes, demands something. Something like . . . pride, or maybe honor.

He feels the aching hunger again and knows he can not feed it. There is nothing good or pure for him to sate it with. Everything he touches he smears with blood and filth.

But even when he can not touch, just looking places his curse upon things.

He looks into his own eyes. Glittering red and black eyes. Eyes like these are demon eyes just as they were the day his mother tried to destroy him. They glow with eldritch fire, fire that flickers and consumes his soul peice by bloody peice.

He turns away, frightened by his own reflection, letting his fingers charge the mirror glass. Even the shattering of the glass does not distract him now. He has seen what he came to see and it has changed him.

He is afraid.

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