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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 14: The Ties that Bind

Gambit awoke feeling as if his head were on fire. Every nerve stood on end, screaming in searing pain, every muscle locked tight in the paralysis of his misfiring nervous system. Reflexively, he opened his eyes, then shut them tight as a red flare of agony blossomed behind them, protesting the bright light of the room.

Psylocke chuckled as she watched him clench his eyes shut in pain, dabbing a bit of drool from his chin as he stirred. "Well, it seems you are still part of the living, LeBeau." She paused, taking another moment to admire her work. "Doesn't it feel wonderful?" she asked with a malicious smile.

Her voice grated painfully against the pounding in his head, sending sharp knives through his brain. He tried to grunt in protest of the sudden, excruciating intrusion, and succeeded only in firing off another wave of agony throughout his body. Incredibly, he pushed past the pain, managing to slur out a few words through his numb lips.

Amazed that he could even do that much, Psylocke leaned down to hear him better. "What did you say?"

Gambit gritted his teeth and stared her straight in the eye with all the burning hatred in his heart. "You...bitch," he slurred again, this time slightly more coherently.

Psylocke threw back her head and laughed, causing his head to flare with fire again. He squinted against it, but kept his eyes on her, waiting for her to retaliate. She leaned close down to him after a moment, so close that he would have recoiled from her if he had been able. Her breath was hot against his face as she spoke.

" haven't seen ‘bitch,' yet."

The truly frightening part, he thought, was that he believed her.

Rogue was absolutely livid as she paced the length of the room, emerald eyes fairly shooting sparks into the semi-darkness. "She did WHAT?"

"Please, chere, not so loud," Gambit moaned, holding his still throbbing head remorsefully.

Rogue seemed not to hear him, or even expect an answer to her question as her fury increased. "Ah oughta go down and rip the little hussy's head off," she fumed as her pace increased.

Gambit sighed, feeling something like resignation settle over him as he watched Rogue vent her anger. Her moods had been alarmingly amplified of late, a common symptom of pregnancy, he had been informed, and he was slowly growing used to her sporadic emotions. Still, he felt she was missing the larger point, here. "Chere, I ain't to happy wit her myself, right now. My head still feels like it's about to split in two...but dat ain't de point."

She stopped her furious pacing and turned to look at him with seething green eyes, anger smoldering just behind the calm set of her face. For a moment, he considered the wisdom of trying to reason with her right now, wondering if he might not inadvertently turn the full force of her rage on him. Then he recalled his day up to this point and decided that he didn't have much left to lose. Besides, if she clocked him, he'd be rid of this thudding ache in his head for a bit.

"What's more important," he continued, keeping his voice deliberately low and neutral, "is what she took from dis head o' mine." He had her full attention now, he saw, and plunged ahead before he could screw it up somehow. "Before she knifed me, she hinted that whatever information she was taking from me would be used against de X-Men. Now, I wasn't wit dem for too long, but in four months, I learned a lot about their home, their security, and a lot o' other things. Whatever she managed to sort out from this brain o' mine might just be de key to the final destruction of de team." He shook his head helplessly. "But I don't know what it might have been."

Rogue continued to stand in stony silence as he spoke, waiting for him to finish.

He ran a hand through his hair and looked to her helplessly. "I...just don't know what to do," he added finally. "We can't warn them if we don't know what's coming."

"Shugah, we couldn't warn them if we DID know what was coming," she responded, a bit more sharply than she had intended. "First off, all transmissions from this base are monitored. Second, that would be an ultimate betrayal of the Brotherhood, which ah am supposed to lead. Do you know what the penalty for that is?" she asked, her fiery eyes never leaving his.

He nodded once, knowing she didn't really expect an answer. Of course they all knew what that would mean; instantaneous death for anyone involved. "But chere," he pleaded. "Isn't there something we can do?"

She sighed and turned away from him, her heart torn between loyalties. She, too, wished that they could do something to help her former teammates, but by doing that, she would destroy everything she had built up here. And what exactly did she have here? asked a little voice in the back of her mind. She reflected on that for a long moment, wondering what exactly it was that made her cling to her position here so desperately. Was it perhaps because she had nothing else in her life? But that wasn't exactly true, anymore, was it? Not now that Remy had returned, and she was pregnant with their children. The Brotherhood might be her last alternative to live the life she had once known, but what about the life she had always longed to have? The one with picket fences and everlasting love? That was within her grasp now...did she dare to take the chance, or was she too afraid?

She frowned and tried to clear her mind, realizing that these were not questions with easy and immediate answers. God knew she didn't want to raise her children within the Brotherhood, but if she wasn't with them, then she was against them, which meant her children would have even worse lives. The Brotherhood would never stop hunting for them. Worst of all, the X-Men would not offer her asylum, regardless of her reasons for seeking it. She sighed in frustration, feeling as trapped as a fly in a spider's web.


"Sorry...was just...considerin'," she replied, forcing herself to push the useless speculation aside. Regardless of however much reasoning she tried, she couldn't deny the truth in her heart. She had always known it would come down to this...that she would be forced to choose between the X-Men and the Brotherhood, but somehow, she had always managed to avoid thinking about it. Until now.

She moved over to Gambits side and sat down on the bed, snuggling up to him. He leaned over and wrapped an arm around her, resting his chin on top of her head and holding her tight. She smiled and nuzzled closer, marveling at how wonderful it was to have someone who would support her, no matter what her decision. But then, he probably already knew her decision. They had always been similar at heart, struggling against their dark pasts to become true heroes.

"Whatever we do, shugah, the consequences are gonna be terrible. You know that?"

She felt his head shift against hers as he nodded again. "I know, chere. Been thinkin' about dat."

"And...?" she asked, almost daring to hope that he had an answer.

"I don't know....," he sighed. "But I know dat I have to do what's right. And I know dat you will, too. Maybe we can't warn them in advance, but we'll know de plan soon enough. If we're going after de X-Men, de best way we can help 'em is during de battle."

Now it was her turn to nod. It made good sense, in that they could do little else right now but wait. They'd be more effective helping them on the battlefield once they knew what was going on, anyway.

"But then, what happens to us?" she asked, her voice a whisper.

"We live happily ever after," he responded immediately with a confidence he didn't feel, leaning down to kiss her on the forehead.

She smiled again, and squeezed him tight, pressing her head against his chest. She couldn't see his expression at that moment, but if she had, her smile would have died stillborn.

Wanda Maximoff sighed and turned away from the window that gave view to the courtyard, not wanting to watch Bobby and Angelica argue anymore. Young love, she thought wryly to herself, always such a tortured thing. They always make it harder than it has to be. She supposed though, that the same could have been said about her and Vision in the past. Their love had always been a struggle, a hope against hope, and in the end, doomed to failure. They had parted ways before the Psi-War, Vision having told her that he no longer retained emotions in his new form, and therefore felt nothing more for her. It had crushed her entire world to hear that admission, to know that he no longer loved her and was not capable of ever feeling so again. The wounds had taken a long time to heal, but Wonder Man, sweet Simon, had helped her through it all. Whatever had begun to bloom between them, however, had been cut short by the creature known as the Shadow King, she reflected sadly. Simon, Carol, Steve...Vision, all gone now. Only she and Firestar had managed to survive, with the X-Men's help. When the battle had ended and they retreated, the X-Men had offered she and Firestar a place alongside them. They had both accepted, having no home to return to at that point.

And she had never regretted the decision, she thought, sinking into the window seat, her back to the glass. The X-Men had always made her feel at home here, and they had become more and more like family to her over time. With Pietro and Vision dead and her father possessed, she had precious little in the way of ties left. She had heard, over the last two and half years, though, rumors that Steve Rogers still lived, not dead after being buried beneath a ton of rubble by the Shadow King as everyone had presumed. In a way, she hoped that it was true, that he really was raising his own underground army to face off against the evil that now ruled the world. It gave her hope. But despite her former ties to the man known as Captain America, she had come to feel her place was here, among her fellow mutants, among her new family. She had no desire to seek him out, but she wished him all the best.

She was startled from her reverie by a sudden presence. She lifted her eyes to the doorway, expecting to see Wolverine, or Storm perhaps, surprised to find the young Morlock, Lasher, instead.

"Sorry, Witch. Am intruding?" he asked in his normal, quiet way.

"Not at all, Lasher." She smiled warmly, genuinely glad to see the young mutant up and about. With all the tension in the house over the last couple of months, he had made himself scarce. "And please, call me Wanda."

"Okay...Wanda," he said with a faint smile, the expression giving his features a handsome cast. "And you can call me Jonathon."

Seeing that he still seemed a bit ill at ease, she wondered how it was that they had not gotten to know each other better over their time here together. Perhaps it was time that they finally did so. She smiled and patted a spot on the seat next to her. "Well then, Jonathon. Come over here and have a seat. I was just taking a moment to reflect on my life before I became part of the X-Men."

Rather timidly, he came closer, settling uneasily into the seat next to her. Still, his discomfort could not mask the admiration that shone brightly within his eyes. "You were an Avenger, yes? One of the earths mightiest superheroes?"

She smiled again, having grown unused to the praise the Avengers used to receive regularly when they still existed. "Yes, yes I was."

"Tell me about them?" he asked eagerly, his burning curiosity consuming him utterly.

Ah, to be that young again, Wanda thought wistfully. "Alright, Jonathon. But when I'm done, I want to hear all about being a part of the Morlocks."

He nodded quickly in agreement, and she began speaking, starting with tales of the earliest days, when she had been part of the Brotherhood and a foe of the X-Men. Jonathon listened with rapt attention, and they talked long into the night, forgetting about the world around them as they relived the glories and triumphs of their pasts.

It was a peaceful night, she thought as they continued to talk into the wee hours. Despite the X-Mens occasional differences and arguments, the mansion had been a place of peace and safety for them all. She thanked whatever Gods might be listening for their good fortune, and lamented that it surely couldn't last for very much longer.


Continued in Chapter Fifteen


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