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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 17: A Time of Last Things

"How goes the battle, darlin'?" Wolverine asked as he stepped up behind Storm and slipped his arms around her waist.

"It goes, Logan," she said with a faint smile as she turned toward him. "How are you today, my love?"

"I think a better question is how are YOU, darlin'?" he said, watching her wan expression with concern.

"I was just...thinking. About our lives here. We have been so very fortunate so far. Protected from our enemies by this psionic shield, living our lives out so complacently, so normally as compared to the world outside. It almost does not seem fair somehow."

"I happen to think we've earned it, 'ro. Bout time the X-Men took a little time for themselves."

She nodded thoughtfully. Still seeming troubled. "But is that really what we are doing, Logan, or are we just hiding from the world?"

"You're itchin' for a fight aren't ya darlin'?" he asked with a roguish smile.

"I...well, perhaps," she said, smiling slightly again. "We have been inactive for so long now, so busy training and laying strategy that we seem to have forgotten that there are battles out there waiting to be fought."

"Darlin', we can't save the world this world by ourselves this time. Even if we manage ta beat the Shadow King eventually, there're a lotta pieces that need pickin' up and puttin' back together, a lotta groups of the Brotherhood left to be fought."

"I know...I just feel so helpless, locked behind these walls."

"Usually I'd be the one spoilin' fer a fight, but the battle's sure to find us sooner or later, darlin', somehow or nother. I say we should just enjoy the time we got left."

"Sometimes I wonder what I would do without you, Logan," she said fondly, reaching down to stroke his cheek. This man knew her so well, touched her to the depths of her soul. He was her lover, her soulmate, her best friend, confidant and counsel. Between the two of them, they formed an almost prefect union, one that she still marveled at. She truly didn't know how she could exist without him at her side. "I fear that when the battle does find us that we may lose each other...," her face saddening as she spoke.

"The thought o' losin' you tears me up inside, darlin. I don't even like ta hear ya talk that way. But it's a fact o' life, and that's why we should make the most of the time we do have together', he said softly, leaning in to kiss her.

"You are right, as ever, my love," she replied, kissing him back, holding him close for a long, lingering moment before drawing back. She should not be dwelling on sadness today, not while they still had time together. "And did you have a plan for how best to spend the time today?" she asked with a wicked grin.

"I think I just might, at that," he grinned back and covered her lips with his own again, letting the passion carry them where it would.

"So where're Wolvie and Storm today?" Dazzler asked as she carried the picnic basket up the hill.

"Three guesses, Alison," Bobby replied with a chuckle, earning him a playful smack from Angelica.

They all laughed then, and Alison paused to fully enjoy the moment. It was such a beautiful day, one of the last the fall would offer, she was sure. She had been so motivated by the warm weather that she had invited the whole team out for a picnic, ala her culinary skills. Everyone had turned out, too; Wanda, Lasher, Bobby, Angelica, Kitty and Colossus. Everyone except Storm and Wolverine, that was. But she was in too good of a mood to care today. If they were having fun, wherever they were, that was all that mattered. She reached the top of the hill and waited for Lasher to catch up and spread out the blanket for their meal.

As they all settled in, Bobby stopped Alison as she reached for the food. "I'd just like to give a prayer, to say thanks."

Everyone looked at him strangely, but offered no protest. He cleared his throat and closed his eyes, speaking in a reverent tone. "Dear God...we have gathered here today to give thanks for this food we are about to partake of..."

Everyone bowed their heads and closed their eyes as he began, but Kitty shot Colossus a furtive, questioning glance as he continued.

".... please watch over us with care..."

Now everyone was glancing at each other in surprise, and Alison in particular seemed awed by Bobby's words.

"... and do not let us die from Alison's cooking.....Amen."

Everyone sat in startled silence for a moment, then laughter erupted as what he had said sank in. Alison leapt from her spot and blasted him with a playful light blast. "Gee, thanks a lot Drake," she said dryly, though she, too, was smiling.

"Oh, I see how you wanna play," Bobby shot back, beginning to ice up. "Well, so much for lunch," he added with a wicked smile, pointing one icy finger at the basket of food.

This time they didn't hesitate as all six of his teammates leaped on him at once.

Alison looked around at the mess they had made and shook her head. They had ended up wearing more of the food than they had actually eaten, but that was okay, they'd all had a great time covering Bobby head to toe in various types of food. The gathering had broken up shortly after the food fight ended, Colossus and Kitty slipping off into the woods and Bobby and Angelica heading back to the mansion for showers. Wanda and Lasher had gone down to the gardens to continue their conversation, so that left Alison all by herself, which was just fine with her. She had one more visit to make before the day was out.

Rising and brushing off her legs, she headed back toward the mansion.

Piotr and Kitty sat by the lakes edge, watching the sun as it dipped low toward the horizon.

"What a beautiful day," Kitty sighed as she snuggled closer to Piotr.

"It almost makes one forget about everything else, doesn't it?" Piotr asked, sharing in her wonder.

"Almost," she agreed, then sighed, this time much less happily. "I'm going to end up having to kill him, you know."

Piotr was so taken aback by the comment that it took a moment for him to puzzle out who she meant. "Nightcrawler? Katya...I know he hurt you badly, but you were made for gentler things."

"I know...but if I don't do it, one of the other X-Men will...and as close as he and I were, despite what happened between us, I feel I have more right than anyone. I was closer to him than anyone else..."

"And that makes you the perfect choice for his executioner?" he asked, the disapproval obvious in his voice. "If and when that time comes, it will not be up to you to decide. The battle will play itself out in its own way."

She could see that he didn't understand, that he probably never would. Despite the fact that he himself had killed before, he, the sensitive artist with the heart of a poet, he could not imagine her doing the same. She didn't really know why she was dwelling on it today, anyway. This day seemed to be made for happier things. "I suppose," she said, her voice neutral. "I don't even know why I'm letting it bug me today, really. We should just be enjoying the day."

"I agree," he said, smiling again. "What do you say to a swim, Katya?"

"Nah...let's just snuggle up and be lazy for a change," she said, smiling.

"Alright then," he smiled back and pulled her back into the grass with him. Side by side, they watched the sun set as they spoke of happier times.

"Okay, Angel, your turn," Bobby said, smiling as he emerged from the bathroom, a towel around his waist.

"Oh, I think it can wait," she replied smiling back from her seat on his bed.

"You sure?" he asked, eyeing her.

"I'm sure," she nodded as she watched him walk over to his bureau.

"Okay..well, um...I need to get dressed," he said awkwardly as he pulled open the dresser drawer.

"In a minute," she interjected, motioning him over to her.

Still feeling a bit awkward, he walked over to her and stood.

"Bobby, we've been taking this in baby steps for the last month or more, and don't get me wrong, it's been very nice. All the talking, all the quiet walks, the snuggling. But I think it's time we took another step forward," she said, her eyes sparkling with just a bit of mischief as she looked at him.

He gulped. "Um...okay...," he tried desperately to figure out what she meant. He didn't want to say the wrong thing, or misinterpret what she had said. What exactly DID she mean? "If you're sure," he added, stalling for time.

She smiled then and yanked the towel from his waist, pulling him down onto the bed with her. "I've never been more sure."

Wanda and Lasher sat in the gardens, never with a shortage of things to talk about. Wanda was grateful for his companionship, what with all the couples that lived in the mansion. She didn't feel anything more toward him than sisterly love, but that was enough for her, and for him, apparently. In this short time, they'd come to be the best of friends and shared more with each other than she ever had with anyone, except for Vision, perhaps. She watched the sun dip below the horizon and smiled, listening to him speak.

"Hey there, lover," Dazzler said softly as she kneeled before Longshot's grave. Gently, she brushed her hand across the gravestone, wiping the dust from his name. "We had a really great day today...the kind of day you would have loved. Beautiful weather, the best of friends, and nothing but fun. I could almost imagine you there." She smiled and closed her eyes, the vision of his face just behind them. "Things haven't been easy these last two and half years, and the worst is yet to come I'm sure, but we're doing pretty darn good. I just wish you were here to share it all with me...I hope, wherever you are, that you're as happy as I was today, lover."

She laid the rose at the base of the headstone and sat in silence for a long moment, remembering their times together. "I miss you, Longshot," she whispered and touched the gravestone one last time before rising and walking back to the mansion.

Gambit hurried to Rogue's room as fast as he could without running. When she'd contacted him over his com, she'd sounded extremely upset. He keyed in the security code to her door quickly and was inside before it had even opened all the way.

"What is it, chere?" he asked, panting only slightly for breath.

She turned to look at him and her eyes were haunted. "Word just came down from Psylocke...we leave for the Morlock tunnels tonight."

Gambit felt his heart stutter in his chest as the blood drained from his face, staring at her in shocked silence.


Continued in Chapter 18


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