Remy "Gambit" LeBeau had a hard upbringing: his father abused him, and he fell into the clutches of an abusive man who trained him as a pickpocket. As a young adult, he fell under the influence of sinister scientist Nathaniel Essex, who controlled him by threatening a woman Remy loved. Remy eventually ended up living in an abandoned subway car beneath New York, performing card tricks for money. One day, he was approached by a young girl who had witnessed a crooked cop named Hammerhead murder her mother; seeing he could perform "magic", she asked Remy to bring her mother back to life. Gambit took her in while he tried to figure out what to do, but Hammerhead snatched her while Gambit slept, sparing LeBeau since his boss Silvermane owed Essex a favor. Gambit tracked Hammerhead down, and,in a savage fight, blew up the top of Hammerhead's metal skull. Gambit rescued the girl and entrusted her to a homeless shelter, feeling she was not safe around him.
Gambit later began losing control of his powers, charging objects unintentionally. The Von Struckers, mutant capitalists who owned Fenris International, fixed his powers in return for his services as a corporate spy. Wishing to recruit the X-Men Rogue, they sent Gambit to kidnap her from Coney Island fairground. After battling her fellow X-Men (notably blowing most of Wolverine's face off), Gambit delivered Rogue to the von Struckers' penthouse, where she stole a kiss from him, thus absorbing his powers and witnessing glimpses of his brutal past. The von Struckers gave her a special suit to control her powers, but she still rejected their job offer. When the von Struckers refused to accept this, Gambit angrily backed her up. Working together, Rogue and Gambit overcame the von Struckers and fought their way out through Fenris' Wolfpack guards. They were confronted at the building exit by Wolverine, eager for a rematch, but Rogue stopped the fight before Gambit wanted to finish it. The other X-Men had also come to rescue her, but Rogue explained that she had decided to remain with Gambit, and the pair departed.
They worked their way across the States, robbing Fenris holdings along the way, until they ended up in Las Vegas. The super-criminal Juggernaut, looking for Rogue, challenged them outside the Fenris Resort and Casino. Gambit battled him, eventually bringing a construction site down on both their heads. Rogue dug the injured Gambit out, then flew Gambit to the nearest hospital. Until Juggernaut is stopped and Rogue is safe, Gambit won't rest.