Wolverine takes a deep breath, noting the scents of floor wax, animal hide, preservatives, and underlying it all, the dry scent of bone and rock. Another day, another adventure, this time a mutant threat at the Natural History Museum in Washington.
The call had come in last night, so they had plenty of time to get set on site, to make plans and create a trap, and if this one wasn’t easy, Wolverine doesn’t know what easy is. Hell, he’s nearly bored. All this museum stuff is interesting and all, but the threat is pretty mundane. As far as Wolverine is concerned, Storm is taking it all a little too seriously, but then, she is a school teacher, and she loves this stuff. Probably be lucky to get out of there without her throwing a pop quiz.
For some reason, on arrival schoolteacher Storm had felt the need to take both him and Gambit aside for a strict reminder to not break anything precious and irreplaceable in the fight.
Wolverine sometimes tries to be a good, respectful second in command, most especially when Storm gets That Look in her eyes -- the no dessert for a year look, Bobby calls it - so Wolverine had nodded and looked grave and said he would be careful. Had snagged Gambit by the collar and made him say he would be careful too.
Like good subordinates, they waited until she left the room to bust out laughing. Since when had Wolverine ever been in a fight where he didn’t break the place up? Seriously. Gambit wasn’t exactly a leave no trace behind fighter either. Gambit had broken big pieces of the mansion right off not that long ago. Hell, they were still picking limestone out of the garden.
Even now he can barely catch Gambit’s eye without a snort of helpless laughter, which is probably why Storm put them on patrol in the main rotunda and the more featureless halls outside the exhibit spaces instead of inside the exhibit rooms where they could break shit.
Wolverine leans against the rail on the second floor, overlooking the huge elephant in the rotunda, enjoying himself. Right now, he feels good. This is life. This is what he’s good at. And he’s got damn good people at back.
Speaking of Gambit, where the hell did he get to? Storm had told him privately to keep an eye on Gambit, to make sure he didn’t get distracted by all the highly portable and extremely valuable shit surrounding them at every turn.
Wait a minute, was that the hall of gems and minerals back there?
Wolverine ducks back to find Gambit before Storm realizes he left him unchaperoned in the nation's treasure chest.
He hears voices before he gets there.“Remy Le Beau! I know casing the joint when I see it!”
Damn it. Storm got there first. Now they’re both in trouble.
Storm marches Gambit out of the hall of gems by the scruff of his neck.
Gambit looks innocent.
Storm turns to Wolverine. “I told you to watch him.”
Wolverine rolls his eyes. “He’s sneaky.”
Storm points at Gambit. “I am frisking you when we leave.”
“Sounds like fun,” Gambit says.
She turns back to Wolverine. “I don’t want anything ‘accidentally’ going home in his pockets - and yes, I know there are secret pockets in your coat, Gambit -- if any cases get smashed. And don’t tell me we need to test the case alarms. We don’t need to know any more about security arrangements because the bad guys already broke in. So behave.”
Storm looks at both of them.
“Hey, no problem, boss. We’re on it,” Wolverine says.
Gambit nods, looking appropriately contrite.
When Storm goes back to securing the hall of mammals, Wolverine turns to Gambit. “What were you doing, really?”
“Casing the joint.” Gambit gives him one of those sunrise smiles. “There’s some really shiny stuff in there.”
“That big diamond is supposed to be cursed, you know,” Wolverine says. Gambit is pretty damn superstitious.
“Hmmm,” Gambit says, uneasiness alternating with calculation behind his eyes. “It’s not like I’d be keeping it. Not for long. A day. Two. Tops.”
“No fence is going to touch the Hope Diamond,” Wolverine says, goading.
“I could just ransom it back,” Gambit says, looking over his shoulder.
“You hate that idea,” Wolverine says.
“I hate that idea.” Gambit sighs. “It’s just so shiny. And it‘s not doing anybody any good just sitting there, you know.”
Wolverine snorts. “Maybe we can knock over a jewelry store on our way home.”
Gambit runs a hand through his long hair, rolls his shoulders. “I do not ‘knock over’ stores, homme. I am a master thief.”
“Yeah, I noticed,” Wolverine says. “Except where you never steal anything anymore. Unless it belongs to me.”
“Ah, well, there’s very little challenge out there right now,” Gambit says.
“So I’m a challenge?”
“Yes. The biggest,” Gambit says, deadpan. “The way you leave your door unlocked, your things sitting around, the motorcycle all by its lonesome. Has me sweating.”
Wolverine snorts. Upstart whelp. No respect.
A soundless shockwave shakes the building.
“We’re on,” Wolverine says, claws spiking through his skin.
Gambit tips the staff from his shoulder to parallel the floor, ready to run, cards shimmering between his fingers.
A tremendous crash echoes through the rotunda. Hall of mammals, sounded like to Wolverine. He exchanges a look with Gambit.
“Not our fault,” Gambit says.
A little smile plays over his face, the expression he gets at incipient mayhem, and Wolverine grins back. He can’t believe he gets paid for this.
A whirlwind of dust and broken glass rises through the rotunda to the second floor gallery, and barrels towards them.
Gambit breaks left, Wolverine breaks right. The whirlwind reverses toward Gambit, but the thief throws himself forward, just ahead of the leading edge. He leaps onto the railing overlooking the rotunda and whirls his staff, building up energy, flexes to leap - and near falls flat on his face as the whirlwind spins back toward Wolverine.
With a snarl, Wolverine throws himself into the churning air, only to get caught by what feels like hard air and flung into the wall. He catches himself, shoves off the wall, and staggers after the whirlwind.
The flying winds envelop Gambit.
Wolverine roars and throws himself into the heart of the tornado. He hits flesh, more fat than muscle, and his claws sink in. The winds drop away and Wolverine falls to the ground, a fat, middle-aged man impaled through the thigh and arm under him. Shards of glass and dust fall out of the are and spray across the floor.
Gambit rolls as he hits the floor and comes up in a fighting stance. He’s coughing. He spits out a piece of glass. Another.
Wolverine gets worried, wants to go to him and make sure he's okay. "You breathed that stuff? Swallowed it?"
“I’m fine.” Gambit shakes glass out of his hair. His face is bleeding in three or four places from shallow cuts. “That the guy?”
“Yeah,” Wolverine says. He withdraws the claws. The mutant looks dazed, but he doesn’t really want to baby-sit him. “Hand me some cuffs, would you?”
“Always with the cuffs,” Gambit says. He twitches a set of plastic cuff strips from his back pocket between two fingers and tosses them to Wolverine.
“You wish,” Wolverine mutters, who has never, for the record, cuffed Gambit for any purpose other than a prank.
Gambit nudges the trussed mutant with the toe of his boot. “You know, all that glass he was carrying, I bet he did a hell of a lot of damage downstairs. They‘ll be weeks cleaning it up. Who knows what kind of damage he could do up here?”
“Don’t even think about it,” Wolverine says, stepping over the guy on the floor. He gets in close to his friend and looks Gambit over.
“Storm will never know,” Gambit says. He gazes longingly at the hall of gems.
“How about,” Wolverine says, carefully blotting blood from Gambit’s cheek with the back of his hand, “I give you something else to think about?”