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"The Resurrection Gauntlet"

The Resurrection Gauntlet

The sequel to "Death of a Dream."

The Enemy of My Enemy...
From the Grave
Into the Fire
Shifting the Ashes
Ghosts of Past and Present
Of Regret and Remembrance
Deeper into Darkness
Old Habits
Trial by Fire
The Downard Spiral
Life Incarnate

This story is in progress.

The Resurrection Gauntlet

Chapter 12: AWAKENINGS

Rogue was delightfully surprised as she made her way downstairs for dinner. Having thought to grab a snack in the kitchen, she stopped just short of her goal in the dining room, taking in the scene that greeted her.

The large wooden table at the center of the room was covered in a lace cloth and adorned with candles, all of the chairs missing except for two right at the very head. There was a place setting before each chair; china plates and what looked like real silverware, with crystal wineglass set to the side. A smile curving her lips, she folded her arms across her chest and shook her head.

"You like, cherie?" asked a rather smug sounding Remy as he emerged from the kitchen with two extremely large lobsters on a silver tray.

"Ah like, very much," Rogue agreed, her smile broadening as she moved toward one of the chairs. "But Ah don't even wanna know where you got real lobsters from out here the middle of the desert."

Smiling, Remy placed a finger to his lips and winked, setting down the tray between their plates.

Rogue grinned, shook her head again, and couldn't quite keep herself from asking, "And the silverware?"

"Chere, please," Remy did his best to look offended. "Not all thieves steal silverware. Dat's just in de movies. Besides, dis guy owed me, fair and square."

"And why do Ah think he didn't pay up willingly?" she asked.

Remy swept a cloth napkin into her lap and leaned in, kissing her softly on the lips. "I'll be right back with de rest of de food."

"That's what I thought," she chuckled and watched him re-enter the kitchen.

A few minutes later, their plates were filled, and Rogue had to admit it was the best meal she'd had in years. Everyone usually took turns cooking for the team, and there was rarely time to make anything so extravagant. "So to what do Ah owe the pleasure of this dinner?" she asked, starting in on her second glass of wine.

"Well, with de team gone and Illyana keepin' an eye on de little ones, I figured you an' me were long past due for some quality time."

"It has been a while, hasn't it?" she asked with a mild chuckle as she sipped from her wineglass. "Between being parents and part of a super-hero team, we've rarely had any time to ourselves."

"Exactly what I thought, petite," he replied with a wink.

"But there's something more, isn't there?" she asked with just a touch of sadness. "This is wonderful Remy, but I can't help but feel something is out of place."

He lowered his head, staring into the depths of his wineglass intently. "And what makes you t'ink dat, mon chere?"

Rogue shook her head to clear away the dizzying feeling that overtook her before replying, "You've been acting strange ever since Magnus told us about the twins..."

He nodded, not replying as he refilled her empty wineglass.

"And...?" she asked as she lifted the glass to her lips.

"And ... I HAVE been feelin' odd lately, chere. You know as well as I do that dis de perfect opportunity for Sinister to come and take de children. He's even set it up perfectly."

She nodded, wondering how the wine had gone to her head so quickly. "Ah do, Remy. An Ah know how you feel about him ... but Ah still don't understand why you think he'd come after Irinee' and Jean-Luc after all this time."

"Because dey at de perfect age for him to exploit," he said bitterly. "Chere ... you know well as I do how he chased after Scott and Jean's children forever while dey was alive. Our children stand to be even more powerful. What do you t'ink he would do?"

Rogue stared quietly down at her plate for a long time before answering. "Ah think you're probably right, Remy ... but what can we do about it?"

"Nothing," he answered emphatically, his eyes never leaving hers. "Nothing, so long as we jus' sit here and wait."

"And you think there's a better option?" she asked, struggling to keep her eyes focused on his.

"I do," he nodded. "I t'ink Sinister need taking out before he even get de chance to get at our children."

"And you think we can do this together? Even with the X-Men at our side?" she sounded desperate for hope, and her voice tugged at Remy's heart.

"Non," he replied, taking the negative stance again. "The X-Men refuse to, without good cause, an' you, ma chere," he reached across the table and took her chin in his hand. "You are far too precious t' risk against such a monster."

"Remy," she slurred, trying to get the words out as best she could. "You know Ah'll always stand at your side, no matter what."

"I know, chere," he nodded solemnly, leaning across the table to kiss her gently. "An' dat's why I can't let you. De children ... dey goin' to need you if anything happens to me ... you goin' to have to protect them if my gambit," he nearly choked at the play on words, "fails."

"Remy ... what're you talking about?" she asked, jerking her face violently from his hands. "There's no way in hell Ah'm letting you go after him alone!

Again, he nodded. "I know, chere ... dat's why I drugged de wine. Enough in dere to poison an elephant ... figured it should be more dan enough for you ... "

Her face betrayed a number of emotions ... shock, horror, rage, and even, Remy thought, understanding. "Remy, no...," she whispered, reaching out to him even as she fell back into her chair.

"Oh, ma chere," he shook his head, grimacing as he rose to catch her, holding her carefully in his arms. He hated this, having to deceive her in such a way, to trick her as he had tricked so many in his life. His heart welled up almost painfully with emotion, aching in his chest, feeling as if it might burst with love and sorrow. "If dere were any other way, I'd do it in a heartbeat. But I love you, an' our children far too much to leave dis avenue open. Sinister has to go down, an' I t'ink I know de way..."

"But what if you don't, Remy?" she asked, struggling to focus on the words. "Ah NEED you ... Irinee' and Jean-Luc NEED you ... without you, what'll happen to us?"

He wiped the tears tenderly from her cheek, knowing she no longer had the strength to do so. He felt her pain as poignantly as he felt his own ... he wanted nothing more than to carry her up to their room, kiss her tears away and make love to her until everything was right again between them. He wanted to ignore it as blissfully as he had ignored everything else in his life. But that could never happen as long as Sinister was still in the picture ... not for him.

"Ma chere...," he whispered hoarsely, leaning in to kiss her neck gently. "I love you as I have no other, an' as I will never love again ... more even, dan I love our children ... an' dat's why I'm willing to take dis chance for you, for dem. 'Cause you mean more to me dan anythin' else in dis world, an' I'll never see Sinister take dat away." He caressed her hair, smoothing it back from her face, gazing upon its beauty and taking his fill, as if it were for the last time, and indeed, he knew it might be. Her emerald green eyes, the fine line of her jaw, feminine, but so strong, the auburn hair that curled around her delicate face ... she was the most beautiful creature he had ever known. "Understand ... I do dis for US, not me." He searched her eyes desperately for some modicum of understanding, knowing that the mist fogging his vision had nothing to do with the small bit of wine he had ingested.

Her consciousness fading, she reached out vainly with one hand, caressing his cheek for a brief moment, until it fell uselessly at her side. "Ah love you Remy ... .Ah'm so scared ... please ... don't ... don't ... ," she gasped, her body finally giving way to the drug and collapsing into oblivion.

He winced at her words, tears welling up behind his eyes. "An' I love you ... but I cannot do otherwise, ma chere," he whispered, knowing she was already gone. "God knows I don't want to leave you, leave the children. I'm scared t'death of what awaits me on the road ahead. But if you remember nothing else tonight, remember dat I love you here and now, and will into whatever lies beyond. I'll always be with you ... always." Pulling her body close to his, he hugged her tightly, kissing her still lips with more passion than he had known in years. Then, he gathered her in his arms and carried her up the stairs to their room.

Remy LeBeau slipped out into the night, feeling more like a coward than a hero as he made his way from the grounds. He felt like a fool for leaving Rogue as he did, and he knew that when she woke up in the morning, he would be lucky if she ever even spoke to him again, much less love him. He only hoped she could understand that what he was doing was needed ... that he was doing it for them. Magnus didn't seem to feel the same urgency as Remy ... and if he had it his way, the X-Men would never go after Sinister without good reason. He had said as much, right to Remy's face. But if any among them knew Sinister, it was Remy. He had been bound to the man body and soul, once, and he had sworn it would never happen again. His children didn't have that choice ... in fact, they had even less of a choice, considering the danger of their eventual powers. He was a man with one purpose; to remove the one man who could destroy everything he had worked so hard to gain in his life.

He saw no other path to his goal than removing that obstacle, and God be damned if there were another way. And so, he ignored the knife of pain that stabbed deep into his heart at leaving everything he knew and loved behind, knowing full well that he might never make it back to them again. Mentally wincing, he leaned forward as he made his way into the night, one hand rising to his chest as if to stave off the ache he felt there, trying desperately to push it aside and focus on his objective. He needed to look at this like he had looked at so many things in his life; a job that needed doing, and concentrating on the reasons for following through with it would bring him nothing but uncertainty and grief. Sinister deserved death more than anyone else Remy had ever known, his crimes against humanity and mutant alike were enough to sign his death warrant, much less what he could do to Remy's children, given the chance. He could just see the monster hovering over them, healing the damage their powers would do and all the while bending them to his will. And considering Sinister was the best hope his children had at this point, would he truly rather see them dead than indebted to such a man? Damned right he would. Sinister had never brought him anything but pain and heartache, no matter what he had gained from his alliance with the twisted geneticist. This was about his children more than anything else, but Remy also had a personal score to settle, and once again, common sense be damned. It was long past time that all debts were paid in full.

"'Yana?" asked Jean-Luc, pensively. "Can we go see Mommy and Daddy before we go to bed?"

"Yana ... why you crying?" he asked a moment later.

"Because I don't have a choice, once again in my life," she answered, cryptically.

"What?" he asked, looking at his sister to see if she understood what Yana had just said, but Irinee' looked just as confused as he did.

"I'm sorry," she sobbed. "But if I don't, I'm as good as dead."

Jean-Luc didn't understand the depth of Illyana's words, but he understood the fear and pain behind them. "Mommy and Daddy always say we have a choice ... ," he thought long and hard, trying to remember the rest of the words, but forgot totally what he had been saying as a white-hot disc of light appeared before him.

"Your Mommy and Daddy never dealt with Sinister, then," she said sadly as she swept them into the teleportation disc and disappeared.

Madelyne felt it long before they landed in Southern California ... a primal existence on the psi-plane that was so powerful it threatened to overwhelm all of her senses. She had trained long and hard to perfect her powers, but this ... she had been completely unprepared for this!

Her head thrashed violently against the upholstery of the Blackbird seat, waves of power seeping from her head in incoherent patterns. She barely noticed when Magnus rushed to her side, asking what was wrong.

In what was left of New York City, a man named Joey suddenly found himself thinking of a girl he had gone to high school with many years earlier. She had been a captivating girl, Jean Grey ... there was something special about her that defied all description ... he'd had a mad crush on her for many years, all the way up until her final death in the war, years ago. He bit down on his lower lip and stared at the campfire in the shelter camp, wondering why he had thought of her just now, after all these years ...

Elizabeth Strauss had overcome many of the hardships of the mutant war, managing to keep her brownstone apartment in one piece, despite the recent Sentinel invasion of her native city of Chicago. Thus, it was a surprise to the refugees from the human camp that tended to hang out in the alley below her apartment, when she threw open the window to her room, crying out "ALIVE! I'm ALIVE!" and threw herself to the concrete street below ... .

In the city of Orlando, Florida, Andy Blackford shivered in ecstasy as he thought of soaring blissfully through the stars, at one with the entire cosmos

In a reclusive camp in Ohio, John and Elaine Grey found themselves thinking of their long-dead daughter Jean, her pealing laughter an almost haunting sound within their minds ...

And so it was, across the world, each person suddenly touched by a consciousness, a feeling of emotion not quite their own, united as one for a brief moment in time as a voice cried out in rapture, born again in the ecstasy of life and love.

And then, the Phoenix opened her eyes.

Sinister smiled in satisfaction as Illyana teleported in with the two children. "Very good, my pet," he acknowledged, and then seemed to forget that she existed as he examined the frightened faces before him.

"You're a bad man," Irinee' proclaimed, rather profoundly for a six year old, cuddling close against her brother for strength.

"Not at all," Sinister contradicted. "I am the best friend you will ever have. You may call me ... 'father'".

"We already got a daddy," Jean-Luc said solemnly.

"You'll soon forget all about that," Sinister said, the rarest of joyous smiles touching his cold face.

And then all hell broke loose.

"What the hell is going on?!" Magnus bellowed to the cabin, even as he grabbed Madelyne's tongue between his fingers to prevent her from choking to death.

"What the hell is going on?!" Sinister bellowed as the two children before him collapsed into convulsions. Fixing Illyana with a murderous stare, he admonished, "If you have any part in this, I'll have more than your soul, Darkchilde."

Illyana shook her head in fear, not understanding in the slightest what was happening. "It's not me, master."

"Then the Gods be damned ... he's succeeded in his quest." He turned away without another word, already reaching for the equipment that would carry him through this crisis.

Remy didn't have the slightest idea what was happening as he felt a consciousness brush briefly against his soul, but he knew that he suddenly felt filled with power, as if he could do anything, accomplish anything. Pulling back on the handles of his motorcycle, he roared ever faster into the night.

"Logan ... what is it, my love?" Storm asked in anguish, feeling completely lost as her lovers head dropped hopelessly into his hands.

"It's Jeannie, 'Ro. An' God help us all, she's awake."

And in the mind of Madelyne Pryor, as with so many across the globe, one word rang out in hope of supplication.


Madelyne would have choked with laughter if she hadn't already been choking on her own tongue. Out of luck, sweetie. she sent across the psi-plane. He's been dead for a LOOOONG time ... just like you ...

Sinister could feel it just as strongly as everyone else, now, now that he knew what to look for. Irinee' and Jean-Luc LeBeau sat complacently before him, metal bands twined around their small heads, blocking out most of the resonance of power the Phoenix was putting out. He had exactly what he had wanted, now, but did he have the time to do anything with it?

He hoped, perhaps for the first and last time in his life, that the X-Men would prove victorious this day ...

Dr. Henry McCoy danced joyously as his latest creation sprang suddenly to life.

"SCOTT!" she screamed, from the depths of her lungs and soul.

And though it wasn't what he had hoped to hear, he thought that was just fine ... just fine, oh yes.


Continued in Chapter 13


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