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Instincts
        By "Ro"

Part One

"Okay, people, listen up," Cyclops spoke over the babble in the Briefing Room. "Here's what we know: Sabretooth has been spotted in New York. What he's doing here we don't know yet, but he seems to be tracking someone." His eyes came to rest first on Gambit, then on the girl who now called herself Cougar. "Since he was last known working for Sinister, it's a good bet we know who he's after."

"He gon' have a fight on his hands, he try t' take us back," Gambit said lightly as he continued to shuffle a deck of cards idly. He appeared relatively unconcerned, but the others knew it was an act. "Gambit not go wit'out a fight."

Cougar growled. "Bring him on, Cougar rip him up. Ain' goin back, die first."

"Easy on that, darlin," Wolverine said as he lit a cigar. Cyclops glared at him, and he merely glared back. Cyclops dropped his eyes first, with a shake of his head. "We won't let him take you. Either of you." He took a glance over at Gambit, then returned his gaze to Cougar, watching her carefully.

She gazed back at him steadily, widening her eyes slightly. He looked away quickly. "Not nice, darlin," he growled. "Ain't ya supposed ta save that stuff for the bad guys?"

She grinned. "Wouldn't have worked anyway, mon ami," she chuckled. "Got de lenses in." Abruptly she sobered. "Don' never take dem out, not no more. Too little control, no matter what Cougar been taught. Don' want t' hurt nobody like dat, never again." She pulled out a cigarette and looked around at Gambit. He lit it with his fingertip. "Showoff," she grumbled. "But t'anks."

Cyclops glared at her, pointedly watching the cigarette. She grinned. "Homme, I don' hear y' tellin Wolverine t' put out his cigar, neh? Den don' tell me not t' smoke. Compris?"

He threw up his hands. "Fine, smoke all you want. Now can we get back to the point here? We need to be ready for anything. From this minute, we're on full alert. Extra drills, and stay on your toes, people. I'm sure we all know how serious this situation is."

He heard the groans from around the table and sighed. He knew the idea of increasing the Danger Room exercises wasn't going over well, but they needed to be prepared as well as they could be. "Any more questions?" Only silence. "Then let's get started on the day's schedule, people. Check out the chore list in the kitchen to find out who's on what detail today. And stay on your guard Anything suspicious, anything at all--- I don't care if it's a squirrel you haven't seen before--- gets reported. Stay ready. Danger Room drill in two hours. Be in combat dress." They began to file out of the room quietly. "Cougar, Gambit, I'd like to talk to you for a minute, please."

Cougar and Gambit exchanged glances, then moved back to sit at the table. Wolverine moved to sit beside the girl, and Cyclops glared at him. Wolverine had gotten very protective of her lately, which Cyclops thought might not be such a bad idea, the situation being what it was. Most people would think twice before taking on Wolverine.

Of course, most men wanted to protect her the first time they saw her. He supposed he could credit that to her size; she was such a little thing. She was small enough that even Wolverine had to look down to make eye contact with her. He pulled himself back to business. "Thank you for staying, both of you. Wolverine, quit glaring at me, I'm not going to yell at them. I just want some answers."

Cougar put a gentle hand on Wolverine's arm, and he subsided somewhat. "Fine, Slim, but I'm stayin," he growled. He then proceeded to take a seat next to her.

A knock on the door interrupted, and Cyclops looked around to see their resident physician/geneticist/researcher silhouetted in the light from the hallway. "Sorry to interrupt, Oh Fearless Leader," Beast said with a tinge of excitement. "But I have completed the genetic scans I have been working on and there is something here you should be aware of. All of you."

"Hank, can't this wait?" Cyclops grumbled, but deep down he knew it wouldn't. *Call it a hunch, but I think I'm about to get my questions answered before I even ask them.*

Beast was spreading a chart on the table and they all moved to be able to see it. "What y' point, Henri?" Cougar said softly. "What did y' find?"

"Well, as requested by our Fearless Leader---"

"I really hate that, Hank."

"--- I took genetic scans of both Cougar and Gambit. Both of them seem to have had their original gene structure tampered with, presumably by Sinister, but the original sequence is still evident."

"Get to the point, Fuzzy."

"When I began to compare the two, I encountered some rather startling results."

"Homme, can' y' speed dis up? Cougar gettin nervous here."

Beast took a deep breathe and dived in. "It seems, according to this scan, that there is a rather sound basis for Gambit and Cadie--- sorry, Cougar--- to act like siblings, as they always do. Gambit has been the protective older brother, Cougar the younger sister, is this correct?"

"Henri, Gambit don' like all dem big words, homme. Why not jus tell us, hehn?"

Another deep breath from the scientist. He was about to continue in detail, when he saw Wolverine's scowl. "It appears that you truly are siblings, my friends. The DNA structure is simply too closely matched to allow for any other conclusion."

"Great, Hank, just great," Scott grumbled. "So what's the connection with Sinister? That's what you were _supposed_ to figure out."

"Oh, that. Well, Scott, please consider this; if _I_ am dancing around hoping for a chance to study their physiology, what must Sinister be doing? I must admit, the composition of the DNA itself leads to some interesting questions, some of which---"

He was drowned out by a sudden flurry of Cajun French erupting from Gambit and Cougar as they embraced each other. He sighed, and this time the sigh was echoed by both Cyclops and Wolverine.


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