Death of a Dream
Chapter 7: Of Friendship and Discovery
Alison Blaire lit another cigarette and watched as Bobby
paced restlessly along the perimeter wall. She'd gotten to
know him pretty well in the last two years or so, well enough
to know that when he was in a mood like this, there was rarely
any reasoning with him. She exhaled a cloud of smoke with
an exaggerated sigh, and rolled her eyes in his direction.
"So tell me again what it is we're waiting for here,
He stopped pacing for a moment, long enough to make a hush
motion with his hand and stand, listening intently for any
sound he might have missed while she was speaking. She shook
her head and sighed again, leaning back against the cold,
damp wall in resignation. "Earth to Bobby," she
said, in a loud whisper. "Come in, Bobby."
Finally he walked over to join her, pacing in smaller circles
in front of her as he chewed thoughtfully on his thumb. "I
don't know what we're looking for yet," he whispered
back. "But I'll know when we see it."
"This is about Gambit, right?" she asked, taking
another drag from her cigarette and looking up at him.
He stopped in mid-pace cut her a sharp look before returning
to the repetitive motion. "Yes."
"And what conspiracy theory have we concocted this time,
Dr. Drake?" she asked with a flippant grin.
"You know, you didn't have to join me," he replied
in a heated whisper.
"Hey," she spread her hands in a gesture of peace.
"Just trying to lighten the mood a little."
"I know," he sighed, shoulders slumping in defeat.
Normally, it would be him trying to lighten the mood, cast
a little humor on an otherwise bleak situation. What was he
"Penny for your thoughts."
"I don't think they're worth that much, Dazz,"
he said, sinking down the wall to sit beside her. "This
whole thing with Angelica and Gambit has me so screwed up
I can hardly think straight."
"They have a thing now?" she asked, feigning surprise
with just a touch of cynicism.
He cut her "that look" again, the one that said
she was treading on his last nerve, "No, they don't have
a 'thing'...yet. But Angel's got her sights set on him, that's
"And it's making you crazy, isn't it?"
He nodded, almost ashamed at his inability to deal with his
own feelings. "The question is, why? I mean, it's not
like Angel and I have ever had anything, right? I've been
in love with her for a long time now, sure, but she never
gave me reason to think that feeling might be returned. Why
is it so hard to watch her go?"
"She's not going anywhere, Drake," Alison said,
bluntly. "It's obvious that Gambit doesn't have any interest
in her, despite the way he flirts. He flirts with all of us
"I know." He ran a hand through his hair, gripping
it by the roots and resting his face against his upraised
knees. "She just refuses to see that. And it's going
to get her hurt."
Alison shrugged. "So let her hurt, Bobby. Live and learn.
You can't protect her from this life any more than Charles
Xavier could have protected us. He wanted to, with all his
heart, to be sure, but the thing is, every child has to grow
up sometime, throw away the night light and learn to walk
on their own. We can't truly live, or grow, unless we're free
to make our own choices."
He stifled a bitter chuckle, cutting her a sidelong look.
"You learn all that in Mojoworld, Dazz?"
"Part of it," she agreed. "Longshot's battle
for his people's freedom taught me a lot about the things
that are really important in life. But most of it, I learned
right here, on this world, as an X-Man. Now, and then."
His expression softened as she mentioned Longshot. He knew
how hard it was for her to talk about it, even after all this
time. When the X-Men had sent out a rallying call to all of
their allies, Dazzler and Longshot had been among the first
to offer their help against the Shadow King. He wondered sometimes,
that if they had known then what would happen, if they would
have agreed so readily. Longshot's soul, so pure and innocent,
had been a true feast for the Shadow King. He had taken great
pleasure in twisting Longshot's motivations and turning him
into an evil parody of his former self. At first, Alison had
been unable to accept the change as irrevocable. She held
hope for so long...longer than anyone would have thought possible.
But in the end, she'd been forced to kill him herself, knowing
that Longshot would have wanted it that way, if he had had
any free will left. And he would have wanted her, only her,
to do it. So she had performed what she rationalized as a
mercy killing...but it had changed her forever. The carefree
Dazzler of old, the songbird whose voice always carried hope
and beauty, was gone forever, leaving behind an embittered
shell. She had become a master at hiding her feelings, he
thought. Maybe she didn't even have them anymore. Or maybe
she just didn't realize that she did. Whatever the case, she
was a stronger woman now than she had ever been...but the
cost was so very high.
"Hmph," he mumbled, unable to think of anything
"Cat got your tongue, Drake?" She grinned and ruffled
"How do you do it, Dazz?" he wondered aloud. "How
can you laugh in the face of so much pain?"
She looked down at the ground for a long moment, then shrugged
just slightly. "Because I have to, Bobby. I have to laugh,
have to keep it at a distance, or else I'd start screaming
and never stop." She flashed him a smile then, her expression
changing like quicksilver in the moonlight. "Same could
be asked of you, my oh-so witty pal."
"Hmph," he grunted again, keeping up the grumpy
fašade for an instant longer before giving in to her infectious
grin. "Yeah...I suppose." He chuckled and stood,
turning to offer her his hand. "What do you say we head
back to the mansion for a gallon of cherry vanilla ice-cream?"
"Yuck!" she made a face, taking his hand and rising.
"Besides, I thought ice cream went the way of the dinosaur....you
know, along with grocery stores?"
He grinned and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "Never
doubt the magic of these hands, babe."
"Hey!" she shouted, wiggling out of his embrace.
"You ain't felt nothin' yet, lightengale," he said,
grinning as his form began to ice up.
"Don't make me fill you full of pinholes, Drake,"
she shot back, already aiming one of her light blasts at him.
A brilliant flare against the night sky from the west, stopped
them dead in their tracks.
"What do you suppose...?" Dazzler began to ask,
but Bobby was already gone, ice sled carrying him hurriedly
in that direction.
Using her light powers to form a blast and send her shooting
toward the flare, she arrived just after he did. "Bobby,
what...," she trailed off, eyes following in the direction
of his rapt stare.
The two stood wordless as they watched the gateway close
around a trench-coated form, vanishing in an instant as if
it had never been.
"What do you make of that?" asked Bobby, his voice
tight with suspicion.
Dazzler shook her head, not quite believing what she had
just seen. Bobby wouldn't know about that, she thought, he
hadn't been with the X-Men then. But she remembered that power
signature plain as day. How many times had Gateway transported
she and the rest of the X-Men across the world in moments?
"I'd say Gambit, or his evil twin, is taking a trip
down under," she replied dryly.
"To Australia? But isn't that...?"
She simply nodded, the ramifications not lost on her either.
They stood still as ghosts in the moonlight, staring at each
other in silence.
Continued in Chapter
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