Death of a Dream
Chapter 1: Homecoming
"What de hell happened here, Stormy?" asked Gambit,
a look of sheer astonishment on his face as he stood overlooking
the graves about him.
"The Shadow King," she stated simply, as if that
explained everything. "And do not call me that Gambit.
You push your luck just by being here."
He could not even feel grief. Not yet. It was too soon, too
much of a shock. His brain was still trying to assimilate
the information she had given him. His eyes roved the grave
markers and their loving epitaphs with utter disbelief. It
couldn't be, it just couldn't. So many X-Men dead.... His
eyes searched the stones, looking for one name in particular.
He had not seen her among the remaining X-Men, and now, he
could not find her here, either. Living or dead he could see
no trace. He had to ask. "Where is she, chere?"
Storm stared at him levelly for a long moment, something
like anger flashing in her ice blue eyes. "Gone, like
the others," is all she replied, turning slightly away
from his gaze for the first time.
He forced himself to form the word, pushing it painfully
through his rapidly tightening throat. "Dead?" he
asked, putting as little emotion as possible into the question.
"No. Not dead. Just gone."
Relief coursing through him, he could hear her voice tightening
with anger, and knew that he should not continue this line
of questioning lest she become truly angry. He could not afford
to alienate the X-Men now, not with the world in the state
that it was. And still he could not seem to help himself.
She spun on him, blue eyes flaring white with her power as
lightning crackled into life about her form. "I do not
care!", she shouted angrily, stepping menacingly closer
"Whoa, Storm. What Rogue did was unforgivable, but it
wasn't his fault." It was Kitty stepping between them,
Gambit recognized her from the brief time they had met once.
Shadowcat, she called herself, as he remembered. Right now
though, she seemed to be the voice of reason as Storm calmed
herself, lightning fading with a hissing crackling of energy.
"Perhaps not, Kitty. But I find it almost as hard to
forgive him for what he has done." With a last glowering
glance at Gambit, she turned and stalked from the graveyard.
He sat in silence for a long moment, giving only a passing
glance to Storm's retreating back before returning his gaze
to studying the young girl before him. "Tell me, Kitty,"
he began, pausing to light a cigarette and puff on it thoughtfully.
"What de devil happened here?"
She turned her eyes upon him, face set so hard that it may
have well been carved from stone. "Exactly as Storm said:
the Shadow King happened. What do you care anyway, Gambit?
Rogue is alive, not here, but alive. There's no reason for
you to stay, or pretend to care."
"Dat's harsh, petite. Despite what I did in my past,
I fought alongside de X-Men for a long time. Shed blood and
tears with dem, laughed and loved wit dem. Dey were de closest
ting I ever had to a family," he crouched down, rocking
back on his heels to look up and meet her gaze firmly.
"Funny...Rogue once said the same thing. It seems a
villain always returns to his roots though...Magneto, Rogue...probably
"Save it!", she snapped. "You wouldn't even
be here if our numbers weren't so decimated right now. You
want a place with us, Gambit? Earn it, prove it, be willing
to die for it. Because if you betray us this time, you won't
live to see another chance." And then she faded out of
existence, cutting the conversation short and slipping through
the ground as easily as a phantom. No doubt taking a shortcut
to the base of operations below ground, he mused.
Sighing, he crushed out his cigarette in the grass, eyes
drawn once again to the gravestones before him. So many dead,
Rogue cast out from the group for some horrible crime he couldn't
even imagine, finding himself back among his former teammates
who would have sooner seen him dead than fight beside him,
if things were different. Yes, the world was fast becoming
a very strange place.
Storm stood before a massive bay window within the mansion,
arms folded over her chest as she watched Gambit, still sitting
in the graveyard as if he had been frozen there. Sensing a
presence behind her, she did not turn as she began to speak.
"Am I being too hard on him?", she asked, her voice
taut with the tension of conflicting emotions.
"I dunno, 'ro", came the gritty voice from behind
her. She could hear him moving closer, and a moment later,
she sagged back into his embrace as he wrapped his arms around
her waist. "I think that's up to you, darlin'."
"Oh, Logan...", she sighed, comforted by his very
presence, "with everything that has happened in the last
two years, I cannot even seem to remember a time preceding
this. I can barely recall a time when we fought for the good
of humanity, a time before genocide."
He nuzzled his head against her neck, kissing it softly before
replying. "And that's exactly why we need everyone we
can get right now. Even Gambit. Everybody has done things
they regret, 'ro, and some of those mistakes can never be
made up for."
She could hear the change in his voice as he spoke, from
gentle to deep sorrow in the space of a few words. "Logan",
she turned, wrapping her arms around his shoulders as she
faced him, "You did what you had to do...the Shadow King
had her wrapped so tightly around his finger that there was
almost nothing left to try and save-"
"That's just it, 'ro. She shoulda never even been there."
He drew back from her embrace, his face suddenly looking much
older with the weight of emotion. "She was just a kid.
We sent her away from the X-men to try an' keep her safe,
an' he went after her anyway." He ran a tired hand through
his hair then, heaving a resigned sigh. "I keep going
through it in my head, over and over again after all these
years. You're right. I never had a choice. It was kill or
be killed. But that don't make it right."
She moved to him, placing a hand upon his shoulder to comfort
him. "I know Jubilation was like your own daughter, Logan.
I am sorry it had to happen that way." It was all she
could say. There were no words to soothe that kind of loss.
"See, 'ro?", he turned toward her, taking her hand
and looking at her earnestly. " I can't change what I
did. I'm always gonna hate myself for it, I can never live
it down or outrun it. I can't even make up for it. As much
blood as I've had on my hands, hers is the only stain that
don't wash clean. There's no forgiveness for me, and probably
none for Gambit, either. The only thing that keeps me going
is the good I'm doing. That...and you."
She smiled then, leaning up to kiss him gently. For all that
had been lost over the last two years, for all the death and
pain, at least they had finally found each other, she thought.
At least something good had come from it all. "What do
you propose, then, my love?"
"I say we give the boy a chance. He's never gonna forgive
himself for what he's done, but you can bet he'll spend the
rest of his life trying to make up for it. We need that kind
She nodded, then frowned. "But what of his love for
Rogue? Do you not think that will have any bearing on his
choosing of sides?"
His eyes grew dark as he looked at her. "If it does,
darlin', then I'll do what I have to do."
And in a citadel halfway around the world from her former
teammates, the new leader of the Brotherhood awakened with
Continued in Chapter
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