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"Death of a Dream"

Death of a Dream

Chapter 1: Homecoming
Chapter 2: Old Ghosts
Chapter 3: Strange Bedfellows
Chapter 4: Melancholy Memories
Chapter 5: Of Love and Betrayal
Chapter 6: Innocence Lost
Chapter 7: Of Friendship and Discovery
Chapter 8: First Blood
Chapter 9: Cast Out
Chapter 10: Revelations
Chapter 11: Of Love and Hope
Chapter 12: Stolen Lives
Chapter 13: Bad Dreams
Chapter 14: The Ties that Bind
Chapter 15: A Hero's Life
Chapter 16: Old Wounds
Chapter 17: A Time of Last Things
Chapter 18: The Final Countdown
Chapter 19: Battlezone
Chapter 20: Zero Hour
Chapter 21: A Glimmer of Hope

The sequel to this story is "The Resurrection Gauntlet."

Death of a Dream

Chapter 4: Melancholy Memories

Logan found Storm out by the pool, relaxing in the afternoon sunshine. He stopped, smiling as he took a moment to admire her, reflecting with some amazement how things had grown between them over the last two years. They had always been the closest of friends, but it had taken the extraordinary events of the Psi-War to bring them together. After Jean had died, he had wondered if he would ever love again. She had been the last, the only woman left alive that he felt true love for, despite her marriage to Cyclops, he had always loved her in his heart. When she died, it was like something in his soul had been ripped out of him. There was still a place within him that would always be hollow from the loss of Jean, yet with Ororo, he found that part of him was fulfilled as well, a feeling of being made whole. Storm shifted her position on the lawn chair then, distracting him from his reverie, and he walked out to meet her.

"How goes the battle, darlin'?" he asked.

"It goes fairly well," she replied, smiling as she moved slightly to the side, giving him room to sit. "With all the training in the last few months, the team seems to be working well together, overall, and most of them have accepted Gambit as a part of them now."

"Hmph," he snorted. "I can guess which one of 'em still ain't too thrilled."

"Yes," she said, sitting up to retrieve her sunglasses. "Robert has yet to make peace with our newest teammate of old."

"Can't say I blame the boy. It ain't never easy to watch the girl you love fall for someone else," he said, feeling just a passing twinge of pain with the comment.

She nodded, regarding him thoughtfully. "As it was not easy for you to watch Jean and Scott. I wonder sometimes, Logan, how different things would be now if Jean had survived."

"'Tween me an' you?" he seemed mildly surprised. "Darlin', what I felt for Jean...that was something special, something you find maybe once in a lifetime...but only 'cause we could never be together. What I felt for her, what I imagined, that was dream, and dreams can't touch reality. What you and I have is reality...and it's more special than any unrequited love ever could be," he said, smiling as he leaned down to kiss her.

She stopped him just before his lips reached her, laying a finger upon them. "But Jean did love you, Logan."

"I know, darlin'" he said quietly, eyes searching hers. "But it was nothing compared to what she felt for Scott. Those two were meant for each other."

She nodded again, sighing as her gaze fell upon the sky above them. "I can still hardly believe they are gone..."

"They still live on, darlin'. Inside o' us," he said reverently, then was suddenly distracted. "Speak o' the devil...we got company 'ro."

"Hey guys," Firestar called, waving and smiling as she made her way to another lawn chair nearby.

"This a private party, or can anybody join?" asked Bobby with a grin, emerging from the mansion a moment later with Dazzler and Lasher right behind him.

"You're more than welcome, kid. Just don't go freezing the pool again this time or I'll make icecubes outta you," Logan shot back.

"Tough talk, old man," laughed Bobby. "Good thing I'm more interested in having some fun today." With a mischievous wink he ran forward, grabbing Firestar around the waist and jumping into the pool with her.

Logan watched them frolicking in the pool for a moment more, then turned to Ororo, whispering, "Where is the cajun today, anyway?"

"Out running reconnaissance," she replied, turning to look at him. "He'll be gone for most of the day."

Rogue snarled viciously as she hurled her unconscious opponent to the ground with a resounding thud.

"Such a waste, Creed," she hissed, her features contorted with the animalistic rage she had absorbed from him. ""Always usin' brawn instead of brains. It's a wonder you've survived this long." Dusting off her hands as if she had touched something distasteful, she suddenly paused, her heightened senses picking up the scent of a familiar presence.

"If you are done beating up on the old man, dear sister, there is someone here to see you whom I think you will find most interesting," came a voice from the shadows of the ceiling.

"Who?" she asked curtly, not even bothering to look up. If his scent hadn't already given him away, his accent surely would have, she thought.

"I think you should see for yourself," came the teasing voice. "He's out in the hall."

She nodded, already moving in that direction as she replied, "See if Creed needs any help, he should be waking up soon." Already she could feel Sabretooth's siphoned powers fading. It was just a good thing she hadn't hurt him too badly while she still possessed his healing factor, she thought. The Brotherhood would need someone with his ferocity.

She stepped out of the practice room and into the main hallway, idly musing about who her mysterious visitor might be even as she appraised the technology of the new base. Combining the genius of several super-villains, her superiors had seen this former Reaver's base transformed into a technological wonder that rivaled even the X-Mansion in its glory days. Several factions of the Brotherhood had already taken up residence in the massive complex, all under her command. If only Mystique could see me now, she thought, the memory of her foster mother sending a sharp pain through her heart. She shook her head, marveling at the wonder of it all. If not for Mystique's death, she wouldn't be where she was right now. The hallway began to fade out of view as the memory of that fateful battle replayed itself.

It had been several months after the devastating battle with the Shadow King where so many died. The defense systems in the mansion had detected an intruder, but no one could seem to locate the threat despite scouring the mansion. It hadn't been until Rogue checked out the War Room that she realized the nature of their intruder....

"Mystique, no!" she had shouted, recognizing her shapeshifting foster mother even in the assumed form of Storm. She had been in the process of activating a bomb planted in the machinery of the war room. She knew Mystique had been subverted by the Shadow King, but this? To kill all of the X-Men? To kill her own daughter?

"Stay out of this, Rogue," her mother had shouted, turning one of her laser guns threateningly on her foster daughter. "If you had any sense, you'd leave here with me and come home where you belong." Her fingers had moved faster over the keypad, entering the code that would bring about the destruction of the remaining X-Men.

"Ah can't let you do this, Momma," Rogue had declared, flying in on a dead run at Mystique.

Mystique had gotten off one shot at Rogue before the girl touched her and drained her power. Even as she had collapsed to the floor, falling unconscious, Cyclops had burst into the room. He had changed so much, Rogue remembered, become as bloodthirsty as his enemies. He didn't even think as he unleashed his optic blasts on the helpless Mystique, pulverizing her body before she even hit the floor. Rogue had been so completely shocked by his actions, the speed at which it had all occurred. She had acted on pure instinct as she turned toward Cyclops and--

"Rogue?" came a voice from just ahead of her, startling her from her thoughts.

Startled from her memories, the world suddenly came into sharp focus as she recognized her visitor. She blinked once, twice, then found her voice. "Is it done?" she asked, her voice shaking just a bit.

"It's done, chere. They've accepted me as part of de team." Remy LeBeau smiled, and in the semi-darkness of the hallway, his eyes began to glow a deep, crimson red.


Continued in Chapter Five


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