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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 16: Old Wounds

Bobby was completely stunned when he answered the knock on his bedroom door to the discover Angelica standing there, tears streaming down her lovely face.

"C-can I come in?" she stuttered, trying to bring her voice under control.

He stood aside so that she could enter, completely dumbfounded. Still, it was not often that Bobby Drake was left without anything to say. "Angel...what is it? What's wrong?" He consciously resisted his natural impulse to take her in his arms and comfort her. He was so used to resisting such urges by now that it almost seemed like second nature. So much so, that he was completely flabbergasted when a moment later she threw herself into his arms, sobbing helplessly.

"Oh..Bobby...," she gasped out. "I'm s- suh-so sorry."

Every alarm went off inside of his head and he tensed without knowing quite why. Whatever it was that had upset her so badly couldn't be anything good, he thought. Fighting against his natural impulse not to touch her, her forced himself to bring his arms up and embrace her, hugging her close. It felt completely unnatural and awkward to him, somehow, though he had fantasized this moment over and over again in his mind many times. But that didn't matter right now. What mattered was that she was upset and she needed comforting. "Shhh...," he soothed, brushing the awkward feelings aside. "Just take it slowly. Start from the beginning and take your time."

Her sobs lessened a bit and she drew back from him, moving to take a seat on his bed. Wiping half-heartedly at her tears, she glanced up at him to gauge his reaction, thinking she must seem like a fool right now to him.

Bobby watched her for a moment, then moved to sit next to her. When she glanced up and met his eyes, his breath caught in his throat. God she's beautiful, he thought. Even tear-streaked and sobbing, she still had a natural beauty that shone through, made almost childish by her timid glance at him. Realizing that he was staring, he quickly sat down next to her and waited, knowing she would tell him when she was ready.

"This isn't easy for me," she began brokenly, as if he couldn't tell by the sheer emotion in her voice. She wouldn't meet his eyes yet, but he kept his gaze fixed on her nonetheless. "I don't even know where to begin, really..."

"The beginning?" he prompted gently, just the hint of a smile touching his lips.

She nodded, then took a deep breath to steady herself. "When I was with the New Warriors, ages ago, it seems, there was someone else on the team who became very dear to me. His name was Vance Astro. We fell in love and planned to marry someday, when the time was right. It never was though. One crisis and hardship after another marched relentlessly into our lives and there never seemed to be time. We weren't in a hurry, anyway...I mean, we thought we had forever, right?" she chuckled bitterly at the last statement. "We went through so much together...we were closer than I ever thought two people could be. When we finally joined the Avengers together, it seemed like everything was finally falling into place, like our dreams were starting to come true. And then...the Shadow King came."

She broke off then, seeming to struggle with herself for a long moment before continuing. "He...he died in the ensuing battle when the Avengers went up against him." Tears began to fill her eyes again as she spoke. "At first, I didn't believe it. I man, we had nearly lost each other so many times just seemed impossible that he was gone, just like that." She snapped her fingers to illustrate how quickly it had happened. "I never loved anyone like I loved Vance," she whispered almost reverently. "He was the sweetest, kindest man I had ever known. I really thought we'd be at each others side forever. When I lost was like my whole world ended. I shut off my emotions, I locked myself up tight inside my mind and threw away the key. I never wanted to hurt like that again."

Bobby listened with rapt attention, his eyes softening with sadness as she told her tale, and this time he could not help himself as he reached out and touched her shoulder. Gratefully, she reached up and took his hand, squeezing it tightly, as if it somehow gave her the strength to continue.

"Bobby...I know I...I know I haven't been fair to you all this time. You've never done anything but care about me, help me and try to protect me. When I look back at how I've acted..." she shook her head. "I just can't believe how horrible I've been to you. And there is no excuse for it. None."

Now Bobby shook his head, leaning toward her and meeting her eyes. "No, Angel. I've always been the one who's pushed you too hard, tried make something happen that wasn't there. You can't blame yourself."

"You're wrong, Bobby. You've been so kind, so loving, so wonderful to me, and all I've done is lashed out at you and hurt your feelings, over and over again for it. In fact, every time you've reached out to me, I've thrown it back in your face. I can't even believe you could still care about me after the way I've treated you. I don't deserve it."

"Angel--," he started to protest, and she laid a finger upon his lips to quiet him. It was such a simple gesture, and yet so intimate. Bobby felt his lips tingle where she touched them, the feeling like a warm buzz of electricity that spread through his whole body. Even if she had wanted him to continue now, he couldn't have remembered what he was going to say.

"You didn't deserve to be treated that way, period. I was so caught up in myself over what happened to Vance that I shut myself away from the world. I wouldn't let you in because I didn't want to care, I didn't want to take a chance on getting hurt like that again. So I hid from any and all emotion. When I lashed out at you, it was because you were threatening what little safety I felt I had. The world is such a terrible place now...I thought I was being strong, not letting anything get to me. I thought I was adapting to survive in this harsh new world. But all I was really doing was running away. I see that now."

He watched in silence as she spoke, eyes never leaving her face. So much sadness, he thought as he looked at her. No one should ever be that sad. He wished he could just wipe away all of her pain, take it into himself if he had to, anything if only she wouldn't look so lonely and afraid.

She looked up and met his gaze then, blue eyes shimmering with tears. "I'm sorry, Bobby. I know it doesn't make everything better, or make everything I've done go away, but it's all I can say for now."

"You're already forgiven," he said softly, barely aware that the words has passed his lips as he lost himself in her eyes.

She smiled just slightly then, the sadness in her eyes receding a bit. "I know...I knew you would say that Bobby, because you're too sweet not to. But it will be a while before I forgive myself for it."

He nodded, understanding that feeling all too well. Forgiveness was always easy when you were giving it to someone else, but forgiving yourself seemed to be more like an experiment in prolonged, self-inflicted misery. Still, he wished she didn't have to go through that, though he knew she would have to.

"I didn't just say it because it was the right thing to say, Angel. I said it because I...," he trailed off, turning his eyes away from her, the sudden ache in his chest silencing him.

She reached out tenderly, slipping a finger beneath his chin and guiding his eyes back to hers. "Because you love me," she finished.

He nodded, too embarrassed of his admission to speak. After all, he was being silly, saying such a thing. He knew she didn't love him like he loved her, he should know better than to even indulge in this feeling, much less burden her with it.

She leaned forward and grabbed him in a sudden, emotional hug, turning her face toward his ear and whispering, "Well guess what, Drake? I think I love you too."

His whole body felt as if it ground to a complete halt. For a moment, his heart didn't beat, his lungs did not draw or exhale air, his brain ceased to think. The jolt of shock that rocked his body was like being hit with a sledgehammer to the midsection.

"No.." she whispered. "Don't say anything. You don't need to. I know this is a sudden change for you...even for me, to finally admit how I really feel. It's too new right now to act upon, we both need time to think and sort things out."

He suddenly remembered to breathe again as she finished speaking, and finally, he acted on impulse without a second thought. He pulled her tight against him, hugging her so hard that she thought she might break. Angelica smiled and returned the emotion of the embrace, tears of joy mixed with sadness slipping down her cheeks. They held each other in silence for a space of time that seemed to stretch out into eternity, both taking comfort and happiness in the feelings shared between them. "I...I think I should go now...I've traumatized you enough for one night," she joked weakly, drawing back at last.

"You haven't," he said, smiling. "In fact, I'd love to be traumatized a whole lot more."

She cracked a smile then, shaking her head at his irrepressible spirit. "I hope you mean that, Bobby, cause it's bound to be a rough road."

"I do," he replied sincerely. "Any dream worth having is worth fighting for, right?"

"That's what the X-Men say," she agreed, nodding.

"Well, then we must be in the right place, huh?"

She smiled and kissed him softly on the cheek. "Yes, I do believe we are."

"Any word yet, chere?" Gambit asked as he stepped into Rogues room and eased into a chair, careful not to move to quickly and strain his already aching muscles.

"Nope, not a word," she responded, barely turning to look at him. She stood near the window of her room, one hand placed protectively over her stomach which was just starting to swell with the fourth month of pregnancy. "Maybe they're gonna wait til after the children are born."

He could hear the uncertainty in her voice, touched with hope and a bit of fear. They had both hoped whatever mission the Brotherhood was planning against the X-Men would be launched after the children were born, but they knew it was unlikely. With Rogue's invulnerability, the children would probably be safe inside her, but still...neither of them wanted to risk it.

"Dey sure are takin' dere sweet time about setting dis up, whatever it is. De way Psylocke was talkin'. I thought it would happen right away."

"The wait is killin' me, Remy," she sighed and walked over to him, sinking down in his lap.

"It's all we can do for now, chere". He replied, leaning up and kissing her on the forehead. Then he slipped one hand onto her belly, as if feeling for the presence of the two lives that lived within. "How are little Irinee' and Jean-Luc today?" he asked, using the names they had both selected from their parent figures. Irinee' Raven and Jean-Luc Etienne LeBeau. He loved the sound of their names and could hardly wait to see them born and grow.

"They're bein' quiet as usual." She smiled as she said it, sparing a fond glance to her stomach. "Although they've killed any urge for spicy food I might have once had." She grimaced then, and made a face, and he chuckled and pulled her close to him.

"Well, dat'll pass soon as dey're born, chere. And den we'll get you all de spicy food you can handle."

She smiled and hugged him back, trying desperately to push aside her fears for their children.


Continued in Chapter 17


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