Death of a Dream
Chapter 9: Cast Out
Gambit knew he was in trouble the moment he stepped through
the portal and back onto the mansion grounds. Instinctively
ducking and rolling to the left, he nonetheless lost his balance
and hit the ground, hard, as a blast of solid ice took him
in the side. Ribs aching with the impact, he rolled again,
struggling to regain his feet and take stock of the situation.
He had barely made it to his knees when a thin beam of intense
light hit him square in the chest, knocking him backward into
the grass, forcing the air from his lungs and leaving him
gasping for air. Flat on his back, he rested there for a moment,
feigning being stunned while charging the card that he slipped
from his coat sleeve. He knew the identities of the two who
had ambushed them from their powers alone, and he knew that
they would never hit him while he was down.
"So how was your trip down under, cajun?" came
Bobby's voice from just beyond his range of vision, and he
could almost see the sneer on the younger boys face. Gambit
smirked, and continued to play dead. Let them think I'm beat,
he thought, they think they got the upper hand, they'll get
sloppy. Just a little closer, he thought, just a little closer
ice-boy, and you're all mine.
Bobby's face appeared above him, sneering, just as Gambit
had suspected. "Consorting with the enemy, Gambit? They
got a word for that, you know...it's called treason. And you
know the penalty for that, don't you?"
"Yep, dat I do," Gambit shot back smoothly, even
as he hooked his foot around Bobby's ankle and tripped him
to the ground, simultaneously leaping up and letting the card
fly from his grasp. Quickly, he dodged to the side, avoiding
the resulting explosion which hit Bobby full in the face,
knocking him unconscious. "But you see, I have dis strong
aversion to bein' dead.." Yeah, snappy banter, Gambit,
he thought, head turning quickly from side to side and looking
for a way out. That's only half the threat you facin'. Where
Her light blast slammed into him so hard that he thought
he was dead for sure...almost wished he was, his body hurt
so bad. He groaned as he attempted to rise again, not feigning
being stunned this time when his muscles refused to obey.
His eyes rolled within their sockets, and he blinked them
rapidly, trying to refocus enough to see what was going on
around him. With an excruciatingly painful effort, he turned
his head to the side, every muscle creaking in protest. Dazzler
was busy tending to Bobby, probably worried that he had blasted
the boys head right off. He had hit him hard, and the kid
was probably still unconscious, but he would recover from
it soon enough. Gambit planned to be long gone when he did.
Forcing his bruised muscles to move, he craned his head up,
to the West from where he'd come, and was rewarded by the
sight of Gateways portal, still held open, as if in invitation.
Gateway, my friend, he thought, if you listenin', I could
sure use a rescue here.
The portal remained where it was...even worse, Dazzler had
discovered Bobby was still breathing and was about to return
her attention to him. They had gotten the drop on him alright,
either that or he was losing a few steps. Probably a bit of
both, he decided, biting down hard on the inside of his mouth
to keep from crying out as he writhed through the grass toward
the portal. Just a few feet more, he thought, almost there.
He heard a movement behind him and instinctively rolled to
the left. This time his reflexes paid off, even though his
muscles screamed in pain, and the light blast seared the ground
right next to his face. He blinked hard as the smoke caused
his eyes to tear up, and tried not to think about what would
have happened if he hadn't moved in time. Almost desperate
now, he shoved himself forward, fingers just touching the
crackling energy around the edge of the portal. It was enough.
The sound of running footsteps faded behind him as the portal
drew him in and snapped shut around him. An instant later,
he lay facedown in the hot sand of the Australian desert.
Rogue eased back onto her bed, curling up tight within the
luxurious satin sheets. She had missed practice this morning,
for the first time in the past five months she had spent in
the Brotherhood. She expected a knock on her door at any moment,
either Nightcrawler or Creed coming to see what was wrong,
but suprisingly, so far, she had been left completely alone.
She had left Summers in charge of the group in her absence,
knowing how much he relished the mantle of leadership, almost
to the point of hating Rogue for taking the position he thought
was rightfully his. Sometimes, she thought it was only the
thought of his fate at the masters hands if he harmed her,
that held him in check. Boy, if Summers could see me now,
she thought, and chuckled wryly.
She ran a hand through her unkempt hair, and heaved a shuddering
sigh. She couldn't understand what was wrong with her. Ever
since her mutant powers had developed, she'd never been a
sick a day in her life, not even a sniffle or a cough. And
yet, here she was today, curled up on her bed like a baby,
focusing all of her attention on keeping her breakfast at
bay. It couldn't have been the meal, she thought idly. She'd
been eating grits and toast for breakfast for most of her
adult life. So what did that leave?
She rolled onto her side and drew the blankets up close around
her. There was one other alternative, one she didn't even
want to consider. The very thought made her soul shrink in
terror. But if that's what it was...well, everyone would know
soon enough, wouldn't they? Maybe she should just bite the
bullet and schedule an appointment with Black Beast to run
a test for the Legacy Virus. At least then she would know
for sure. But in her heart, she was already convinced that
was what it was. After all, what else could break down her
formidable immune system after all these years?
Laying a hand on her stomach to calm it, she bit down on
her lower lip and concentrated against the nausea that threatened
to overwhelm her. It worked...for about 2 minutes. Lying weakly
before the toilet, arms resting on the smooth porcelain, she
finally gave in to the tears behind her eyes.
"You did WHAT?!" Storm thundered, absolutely livid
as she stared at the two faces before her. Lightning seemed
to leap from her very eyes as her stare bore into them, and
it took every bit of control she had to keep from lashing
out with her power.
"Ororo...what...?" Bobby stared back, utterly confused.
He cast a sidelong glance at Alison, wondering if she had
any clue as to what was going on. But from the look on her
face, she was just as shocked as he.
Storm continued speaking, very slowly, as if she were trying
to contain her emotion by not letting her words come out too
quickly. "You mean to tell me...that you nearly killed
Gambit and then drove him back through the portal?"
"Um..," Bobby looked to Dazzler again, as if for
support, but she kept her eyes downcast. "Well...yeah...,"
he finished weakly, taking a step away from Ororo in case
her anger should explode.
Ororo would have throttled him in that very moment if not
for her years of training in control of herself. Instead,
she spun, turning her back to him as if the lack of his image
would help calm her anger. "Do you realize what you have
done?" she asked, her tone deathly quiet.
"Um...apparently not. I mean I THOUGHT we were saving
the teams collective butt..."
She closed her eyes, bowing her head in sadness as she spoke,
"You've sentenced one of our teammates to certain death."
"But Storm! He would have turned us in to them! And
if it's gonna be him or us, I'd rather it be him."
"You have no idea what is going on here, Robert,"
she said, shaking her head. "But then, perhaps that is
my fault. Were I in your place, I might have done the same.
But then, I am the leader of this team, and report to no superior.
You should have consulted me first, Robert."
He stood, open mouthed and silent, completely taken aback
by her attitude.
"He was working for us, Robert," Storm continued
more gently. "When Psylocke contacted him, it was not
as if he had a choice but to go there. It was either that
or death. I decided that we could turn it to our advantage
by having him report back to us everything he could about
our enemies. I did not tell anyone, except for Logan, because
I did not want to alarm you any more than you already were."
He fumbled for words, hardly believing what he was hearing.
"B-but...how do you know he was working for us, really?
He could just as easily have been telling THEM about US."
"Trust, Robert," she said, moving to the window
and staring out at the coming dawn. "I had to trust him.
More than that, I wanted to trust him. We have so little we
can depend on now...if not each other, then what?"
The question was rhetorical, and for once, he didn't feel
the need to make a flip comment. "But what about Psylocke?"
he asked instead. "She could rip his thoughts from his
mind in an instant and find out everything she needed to know
Storm nodded and leaned against the window pane, considering.
"I thought about that, too. But I decided that it was
worth the risk, to learn as much as we could. If that had
been her objective, she simply would have done it to begin
with." She paused momentarily, seeming to collect her
thoughts. "No, I suspect Psylocke had another agenda.
Though what, I could hardly guess, besides that it will not
bode well for anyone."
Dazzler shifted her weight from one foot to the other, maintaining
her silence though it was clear that she was extremely uncomfortable
by now. Bobby looked back to Storm, suddenly feeling very
guilty for his actions. "You should have told us, Ororo.
We would have found a way to deal with it."
Again, she nodded. "I see that now. But it is far too
late to change things. I can only pray to the Bright Lady
that she helps him with what he is about to face."
Bobby's brow furrowed, and he regarded her intently, trying
to gauge the meaning of her words. "What do you mean?"
he finally asked.
"Because now that he no longer serves a 'purpose' as
a pipeline of supposed information about us...," she
shuddered, not wanting to think about it. "Bright Lady
preserve him, when Psylocke finds out."
"Hey Wagner," Summers called across the room as
he toweled himself off. "What's with your sister lately,
Nightcrawler hung suspended upside-down from the ceiling
by his tail, smiling innocently as he met Summers penetrating
look. "Vas?" he asked, wide eyed.
Summers sighed in exasperation and took a few more steps
toward Nightcrawler, letting the towel drop to the floor,
forgotten. "I said, what's the matter with Rogue?"
Nightcrawler returned his simmering gaze for a long, silent
moment, then finally dropped to the floor, smile broadening
into a grin. "There's nothing wrong with Roguey Rogue.
She's doing just fine...for a woman in her condition,"
he added, his voice dropping slightly, as if he conferred
some great secret.
"Condition?" Summers blinked in confusion, obviously
not understanding the meaning behind Kurt's reference.
Kurt sighed and shook his head in mock sorrow. "Just
like your brother was...so focused on duty that you hardly
stop to notice what's going on around you."
Now Summers eyes did flare, gaze narrowing dangerously upon
his teammate. His expression grim, his words were clipped
as he replied, "Do not ever mention my brother again
if you value your life, Wagner."
Kurt shrugged easily and let the remark slide off. "Whatever
you say, Herr Summers. Besides, it's bound to hit you in the
face sooner or later, given another couple of months."
He cut him a sharp look, folding his arms over his chest
and shifting his stance backward a bit. "Is she...sick?"
"Ja," Kurt nodded, smiling.
"Then...why are you so happy about it?" Summers
Kurt raised his brows, looking genuinely suprised. "Why
am I so happy?" He began to chuckle mirthfully, highly
amused by Summers inability to see what was right before his
face. Laughing aloud, he slung an arm around the younger man's
shoulders companionably. "Because, my dear boy...I'm
going to be an uncle!"
Kurt would have paid money for a picture of the expression
on Summers' face at that moment.
Continued in Chapter
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