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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 10: Revelations

Psylocke paced agitatedly back and forth through the central chamber of the complex. Things were not working out according to plan.

She had already received word of Gambit's speedy return to Australia and his expulsion from the X-Men, an event that sent her scheme spiraling out of control. His 'purpose' as a pipeline of information from the X-Men was now rendered invalid, completely destroying her plans for reintegrating him into Rogue's life. Now that he no longer served a purpose, the master would surely decree the cajun's death. He had only survived this long on the master's good graces, which Psylocke had pleaded from him. She had convinced him that the cajun could eventually lead the X-Men right into their laps, given adequate time to regain their trust, avoiding the need to confront them on their home ground. And to avoid a battle in the X-Mens backyard was something the master wanted to avoid at all costs, something all of them wanted to avoid.

The Shadow King had succeeded in killing all the telepaths in the world, save herself, whom he had spared, but the end result of that was something no one could have forseen. Each of them had died an agonizing death, their brains shattered into a thousand tiny fragments by the psionic wave the Shadow King had unleashed upon the world. That part, at least, had gone according to plan. But he had not counted on the psychic residue their horrible deaths had left behind. Dying in so much anguish, the psionic energies left behind in their passing became the Shadow King's greatest bane. It was ironic, Psylocke thought, that even from beyond the grave, the former X-Men still thwarted him. Their combined psionic energy, concentrated in the place they had died, created a psionic shield around the mansion grounds with a backlash hard enough to fry even the most hardened telepaths brain. Their dying mental screams still surrounded the mansion, forming a 'telepath kill zone' where even the Shadow King could not enter. One could not even get within a mile of it before developing a monstrous headache, she knew from experience. So they had reformed their attack strategy. It would be easy enough, they had supposed, to send their lackeys to take care of the X-Men where they could not. But as they soon came to realize, even those who had been touched by the Shadow King could not enter there. The Shadow King had not followed the tenets of most telepaths, he did not use his power simply to touch or communicate with the mind of another. Instead, he reached into the mind forcibly and twisted things, bringing the darkness of ones soul to the fore and destroying all else. They had his touch upon them, however slight, the manipulation of their neural passages and brain waves making them succeptable to the deadly psionic energy surrounding the mansion. They had died in less time than it took to scream. The surviving X-Men, it seemed, were safe and sound tucked away in their home.

At least from anyone twisted by the Shadow King or herself. That was why the Brotherhood needed all the willing recruits they could round up, though those were few and far between. Rogue herself had the touch of master upon her, and far too much of his attention, as well, in her own opinion. Gambit had been the first hope to come along in some time...he could lead the X-Men to them, which Psylocke highly doubted though she had convinced the master of such. Or, more likely and far better to Psylockes liking, he could persuade Rogue back to the team and take away the threat to the masters empire. Rogue might be leader of the Brotherhood, but her heart remained that of a hero. By the same token, the master was far too fond of Rogue, a weakness created by the host body he wore, no doubt. That weakness could be far too easily exploited, and Psylocke meant to see that it never came to that. If the master lost his hold on this world, everything she held dear would crumble around her. She would die before she let that happen. And if the master ordered the cajun dead now out of some strange form of jealousy, her best chance at eliminating Rogue as a threat would be gone. Would that she could simply kill the girl and be done with it. But she knew that if she did, her own death would follow at the masters hand, another testament to his remaining feelings for Rogue.

Damn, she mentally cursed her own misfortune. She needed the cajun, he was no good to anyone, dead. But the master would surely see to his death...unless she could convince him of another use. Her pace increased, fueled by her restlessness as her mind searched desperately for a new plan. She needed more time.

"P-pregnant?" Rogue mouthed the word, unable to find her voice as she echoed the Black Beast's pronouncement.

"Why, Rogue," the Beast said with feigned surprise, "you look so terrified that one would think I had just told you that you DID have the Legacy Virus."

Nightcrawler snickered from his perch atop the lab table, but remained silent as he caught a simmering glance from his sister.

"H-how far along?" she asked, forcing the words from her throat. She had hardly gotten them out when another wave of nausea hit, causing her to groan and clutch at her stomach.

"About two months, I would say." The Beast turned back toward his monitor, entering a few more pieces of data from his notes.

"" she asked, more to herself than anyone else, completely shocked by the revelation.

Nightcrawler snickered again, and this time, was unable to hold his tongue. "Sister, if you need to ask 'how', I believe there is a certain cajun who would be happy to show you the correct procedure. Again."

She flushed bright red, embarrassed as much by her own question as his response. "Ah know HOW, Kurt. Ah just can't believe it." Her mind reeled with complete and utter astonishment. All her life, she'd never even been able to touch anyone, much less kiss or experience anything more intimate. She'd given up hope long ago of ever having a family, that dream with the little cottage and a white picket fence, it hadn't been meant for people like her. She'd never imagined that she'd even be able to touch another person without fear of draining them of their memories and abilities, much less have children with them. And now...she was...

The Black Beast's voice cut into her thoughts, continuing in his calm, methodical way. "The fetuses are extremely healthy; developing at the normal rate, all vital signs stable. And, according to the DNA samples I managed to extract, male and female."

For the second time that morning, her jaw sagged against her breastbone. "FetusES? As in more than one?" she asked, her voice rising with panic.

"That much more to love, liebling," Nightcrawler soothed, leaping to her side and kissing her on the cheek. She stared at him as if he had lost his mind, then decided that he probably had as he grabbed her in a tight hug and grinned like a fool. "We're going to have twins!" he proclaimed excitedly, seeming overjoyed.

Rogue moaned and clutched her stomach again.

"Angel--" Bobby nearly fell backward down the steps in an attempt to save his face from being caught in the slamming door. Regaining his balance, he sighed and put his hands on the door frame, continuing his sentence to the hard wood in front of him. "Angel, you've got to come out of there sometime." He flinched and nearly fell again as he heard a glass object shatter against the other side of the door in the general vicinity of his face. "Alright, have it your way," he sighed in a resigned voice, turning away from the door and starting down the hall.

"Girl troubles, Drake?" came a raspy, slightly amused voice from just around the corner. A moment later, Logan stepped into full view.

"Yeah, you could say that." Bobby sighed again, looking back toward the closed door. "You think she'll ever forgive me?"

"If there's one thing I learned in this life, Drake, it's that anything is possible. 'Course, I wouldn't go holdin' my breath if I were you." Logan chuckled and lit a cheroot, squinting at Bobby through the resulting cloud of smoke.

Bobby waved the smoke away in annoyance, his face drawing up in a disgusted expression. "I think holding my breath would be preferable to inhaling that rot."

"Puts hair on your chest, Drake." Logan puffed cheerfully on his cheroot and leaned against the railing.

"You get any hairier, Logan, and we'll have to put you on display as 'The Missing Link'," Bobby chuckled. Already ducking from the expected blow, he was surprised when Logan only cut him a sidelong glance, one corner of his mouth turning up around the cheroot.

"Well, that'd be two X-Men you put in the pages o' history, wouldn't it?"

Bobby immediately looked chagrined, smile fading from his face as he muttered under his breath, "Looks no one is ever gonna forgive me..."

"Well, 'ro's still plenty mad at you, that's for sure," Logan said, keeping his voice non-committal.

"Speaking of which," Bobby said, looking around, "where IS good old 'ro today? Last I remember, she almost fried you alive for smoking in the house."

"Out tendin' the gardens. She'll be gone for the better part o' the day. And you'd best be worryin' about yerself, Drake, 'cause when she--"

"Logan!" Ororo's voice sounded angrily through the house, and both Bobby and Logan flinched as a door somewhere downstairs slammed shut. "Sounds like she's close," Bobby whispered, his grin returning.

Logan nodded, looking right, then left, thoughtfully.

"Logan! I know you are here, I can smell the smoke!" Her voice sounded much closer.

Logan looked at Bobby, then down the hall again, calmly taking another puff of his cheroot. "Race ya to the doghouse, Drake."

They both took off running down the hall like all the demons of hell were at their heels.

Gambit was sitting at her bedside, nursing a glass of bourbon when Rogue returned to her room. She stopped dead, not having expected to see him for several days. "What're you doin' here, Remy?"

"Jus' couldn't stay away, petite," he said, smiling charmingly as he set his glass aside and rose to meet her. His expression changed rapidly from happiness to concern as she passed right by him and threw herself down on the bed. Frowning, he sat down on the bed beside her. "Petite? You alright?"

She buried her face in her pillow for a long moment, not answering him until he nudged her gently. Sighing, she rolled over and met his concerned gaze with a wan look. "No, Ah'm not alright, Remy."

"You are lookin' a little green 'round the gills, chere," he agreed, observing her pale complexion. "Was wrong?"

"You don't wanna know," she replied, rolling her eyes up toward the ceiling.

"C'mon, ma cherie. You can tell ol' Remy," he coaxed, slipping into what he apparently thought was his charming, third person speak.

Finally annoyed, she sat up, meeting his gaze firmly this time as she asked, "How do you feel about bein' a daddy, Mr. LeBeau?"

She watched with complete satisfaction as his jaw fell from its socket.


Continued in Chapter Eleven


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