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"The Archetype Association"

The Archetype Association

Author's Notes
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33
Chapter 34
Chapter 35
Chapter 36
Chapter 37
Chapter 38
Chapter 39
Chapter 40
Chapter 41
Chapter 42
Chapter 43
Chapter 44
Chapter 45
Chapter 46
Chapter 47
Chapter 48
Chapter 49


"Get up," Rogue said to Will, pulling a pillow off his head.

He squinted his eyes against the morning light. "Have you no respect for the dead?" he groaned.

"Yeah, but since you can't die, the question's irrelevant."

"Ha, ha." He glanced at the clock, squinting blearily, then back at her. "And why, pray tell, have you woken me at six A.M. on a Saturday morning?"

"I'm keeping a promise I made to you."

He thought about that a moment. "Okay, I give up. What promise was that?"

"Today, you learn how to drive. Don't worry," she assured him, seeing the apprehension on his face, "we'll be staying on the mansion grounds, so there won't be any other cars. Nothing can go wrong."

"Well?" Bobby asked Henry. "What do you think?"

"I can't figure it out. Warren?"

"Well, Jean said that she didn't do it, and Ororo didn't even know about it." He looked around. "I don't see any angles of approach that would do it either."

As Warren finished speaking, Jean approached them. "Well, there's a first," she commented. "I wonder what their explanation is."

"How am I going to explain this?" Rogue said to herself, burying her face in her hands.

"Look," Will said apologetically, "I'm really sorry about this."

"It's not really your fault," she replied. "I guess what you did made sense, in a way."

"Well, I didn't want to kill the deer or damage the car..."

"And you couldn't teleport the deer without killing it..."


"And you told me that, when you panic, you teleport straight up."

"Exactly." He looked out the window of the car. "How long do you think it's going to take them to get us down?"

"Bobby'll probably want to take pictures first." She glanced outside. "You know, I'm really amazed that the roof can handle this much weight."

"Are you busy this weekend?" Warren asked Will at breakfast. He had risen early, and no one else, outside the two of them, was up yet.

"Not especially. Why?"

"I've been invited to a charity dance. There's going to be some big money there, and I remembered that you wanted to get acquainted with high society, so I wrangled an extra invitation for you."

"What's the dress code?"

"Black tie."

Will frowned. "I'll have to dig my tuxedo out of mothballs. Could I get away with a silver tie and cummerbund?"

"I think so."

"Good. Is an escort expected?"

"The invitation's made out for two."

"I'll let Rogue know about it, then. Will Miss Braddock be accompanying you?"

"I haven't actually asked her yet, but I'm sure she'll say yes."

"Let's see, then," Will said thoughtfully. "Today's Tuesday, so they should have just enough time."

"To do what?"

He broke into a grin "Finish shopping for new dresses."

"What is taking them so long?" Warren muttered as he paced around the foyer. "We're going to be late."

"I'll teleport us if it comes to that. Let them have their fun. I think it's genetically programmed in them, anyway. Some Austrolapithicines probably waited around for Lucy to come out of her cave, and women have kept the racket going ever since."

"I wouldn't let Rogue hear you say that."

Will snorted. "I'm not that crazy," he said as he got up, donned a grey overcoat, and slipped his gloves on.

"We'll be right down," Rogue's voice announced from above them.

"You may want to activate your image inducer now," Will advised Warren as he twirled his hat with one finger.

"Good idea." Warren took the device, designed to look like a cellular phone, from his suit pocket and activated it. A few moments later, his skin shifted from its normal azure to a Caucasian hue.

"I'll be keeping my powers in check tonight, so you shouldn't have any problems with that," Will remarked.

"You two all set?" they heard from behind them.

The next sound heard was that of two jaws hitting the floor as the men turned around.

Rogue was dressed in a subtle outfit which combined a dark green body stocking with an autumn red velour dress, shoes and gloves. The dress hugged the curves of her body closely, showing off her striking figure. Betsy wore a silk gown whose color straddled the line between being violet and black, and which was both backless and slit up to her hip.

"Well?" Rogue asked.

"What do you think?" Betsy interjected.

"Eep," Warren chirped.

"Oog," Will added.

"I think they're impressed." Betsy said to Rogue.

"What gave you that idea?"

Will recovered first, getting Rogue's coat from the closet and offering it to her. After she slipped into it, he crooked his arm to her. She smiled and took it gracefully.

Warren followed Will's lead and offered the same service for Betsy. "I'll drive," he offered.

"We're taking the Rolls, right?" Betsy asked.

"It seems appropriate," Will answered. "Anything else would be out of character."

"That one slipped by me," Rogue confessed.

"Warren is old money, while I'm nouveau riche. He'll drive the Rolls because anything else would be below him, and I'll be in one as a way of showing that I'm ready to join high society."

Warren thought about that for a moment. "You're right. If we're going to play the role of ultra rich, than that would be in character."

"Do you have the tape recorder?" Will asked Rogue.

She nodded. "It's in my purse. It's got a range of five meters, it'll last for four hours, and activate at any of our voices."

"Perfect. Let's get going, then."

Will held the front door for everyone, and Warren pulled the Rolls Royce out of the garage a minute later. Will held the back door open for Rogue, and let Betsy into the front.

"No cane?" Rogue asked.

Archetype shook his head. "Won't fit with the role."

"What role?"

"If this were solely a public function I'd bring it along, so that I could project an image of a kindly, beneficent philanthropist. This is mostly a business function, though, so I have to come off as someone who has a great deal of drive, with the intellect and experience to back it up." He turned to Rogue. "Can I borrow your make-up mirror for a few minutes?"

"Sure," she said, digging it out of her purse and handing it to him.

"Thanks." He opened the mirror and looked at his own face. "Okay. My name is Will Riley," he said, talking to himself under his breath. "I'm a certified genius in the financial world. The companies that I own are becoming the best in their industries. Millions of dollars rest on my every decision. My vision is making me a force to be reckoned with. I have the seasoning of experience behind me, I've paid my dues, and I'm ready to enter your world."

He closed his eyes. Rogue watched, fascinated, as his face acquired lines, the set of his jaw strengthened, and the pockets of skin under his eyes sagged slightly.

When he opened his eyes again, they were intent, watchful, and penetrating. They were the eyes of a predator. "What do you think?" he asked Rogue.

"How did you do that?" she replied, wide-eyed.

"The trick is to get into the right mindset. Once I start thinking a certain way, I let that way of thinking reflect itself in my face. If I went there looking the way I did before, no one would take me seriously. This'll also serve as a rudimentary psi-defense."

"Not bad," Betsy said, impressed. "You look like a timber wolf."

Will nodded to her in acknowledgment. "What name will you be going by for this?" he asked Rogue.

"Why don't I go by May O'Hara again? We're both used to it."

"May O'Hara?" Warren asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Long story," Will and Rogue told him at the same time.

They reached the club about an hour later. They left the car in the lot, and, after leaving their coats in the check room, they entered the social hall of the club.

Some hall, Rogue thought. Looks more like a football field. The room was massive, decorated in a Gothic Renaissance style which had been popular in the mid-eighteenth century. High-backed benches lined the walls, broken up at regular intervals by large fireplaces. About twenty tables, set for eight each, were placed throughout the room, and a large entranceway at the opposite wall was hosting a cocktail party. An orchestra was playing soft jazz in one area, and some couples, mostly older ladies and gentlemen, were slow dancing to the music.

"Gee, this is going to be exciting," Rogue said sarcastically under her breath.

"Appearances can be deceiving," Will told her. "Watch and learn." He walked straight to the gathering of people near the bar, Rogue following closely behind him.

"Scotch and soda," he told the bartender. "What would you like, May?"

"The same," she answered, puzzled. He had told her he didn't drink.

After the bartender had given them their drinks, Will told her, sotto voce, "It'll look strange if I don't have a drink in my hand." She nodded in understanding. "Is the recorder on?" he asked.


"Good." He gestured with his head. "The penguin suit over there is big in mining. He owns some of the larger mineral deposits in the Southwest. Name's James Broadmoor. I met him about a year ago. Play along." He walked over to the older man, who sported a balding head and a handlebar mustache.

"Jim!" he said, enthusiasm in his voice. "Haven't seen you in a while. How have you been?"

Broadmoor looked at him closely. "Riley? Is that you? Haven't seen you since the Leinster deal." He had a pronounced Texas drawl.

"I've been traveling. Wanted to get a first-hand look at my holdings. May I introduce May O'Hara?"

Rogue took that as her cue and inclined her head towards Broadmoor gracefully, flashing him a brilliant smile. "Pleased to meet you, sir."

Broadmoor's smile widened. "Ma'am, I am utterly charmed. May I ask where you're from?"

"Mississippi, sir."

"You have no idea how refreshing it is to meet a flower of the South here among these New England zombies. How did you and Will meet?"

Will and the others had discussed how to answer this question before they had left. "Will's helping to finance some research at the institute where I work."

"And may I ask what your specialty is, Ms. O'Hara?"

"I'm doing dual work in avionics and biologically imposed synaptic trauma." Well, it's not exactly a lie, she thought to herself.

Will watched Broadmoor's eyes glaze over, as he had expected them to, and decided to make his move at that point. "I'm new to this crowd, Jim. Can you make some introductions?"

"No problem," answered Broadmoor, who seemed grateful to be back in familiar territory.

Over the next hour, they made the rounds of the room, and were introduced to most of the people who Broadmoor considered influential, as opposed to those who were, in his view, living off the success of their predecessors. He included Warren in this list, as Worthington Industries was no longer under his direct control. Warren had, apparently, also earned Broadmoor's scorn because he was a member of the Hellfire Club.

"What have you got against the Hellfire Club?" Will asked.

"Riley, the only reason I'm here at all is that this is a charity function. I don't mix it up with the high and mighty rich folk around here because they annoy the hell out of me. I became rich by working hard, and by being very lucky, just like you did. Those Hellfire Club types, the ones who are in every social club in the books, but haven't worked a day in their lives, have some damn nobless oblige idea that the world is theirs to run behind the scenes."

Will snorted. "I know the mentality."

"And there's a big example of it over there," Broadmoor said, gesturing with his glass to a young man who was mingling through the crowd. "Johann Dieter. Parents died a few years ago in a boating accident in Malta, and he inherited the family fortune. Does nothing but attend parties and flirt with girls. My friends tell me he averages a girlfriend a week."

"A waste of perfectly good carbon, in other words."

"You got it. Rumor has it he does a lot of blackmail to entertain himself. He must have spies or something, because he learns secrets that people thought were buried forever. Oh, great," he groaned, "here he comes."

"Mister Broadmoor!" the young man said with obviously feigned pleasure, "how wonderful to see you again. And who are your companions?" He had an accent which Rogue, through her association with Nightcrawler, was able to identify as Austrian.

"This is Will Riley, and Miss May O'Hara," Broadmoor said, as he gave Archetype a look which said that he was sorry to put them through this.

Rogue felt a familiar sensation then, a prickling at the front of her head. She was being lightly psi-scanned. She wasn't too worried, as she had been taught psychic defenses by Professor Xavier, and it was a sloppy attempt at a scan at best.

Looking at Archetype, she saw that he was aware of it too. His eyes narrowed a moment.

Dieter's eyes widened, and he blinked, shaking his head as if clearing it of something.

Will looked at Broadmoor. "Jim, can I have a moment with Mister Dieter? I have a business proposition that I'd like to discuss with him."

"Sure, Will. I need a refill anyway. Be right back." Broadmoor walked off towards the bar.

"Mister Dieter," Will said in a voice so low that only Dieter and Rogue could hear, "I would strongly advise you not to try that again."

"I don't know what you're talking about!" Dieter protested.

"That is a lie," Will said flatly. "Again, don't try that on me or my friend here."

"Are you threatening me?" Dieter asked, his voice rising slightly. "I'll have you know that I am..."

"I couldn't care less who you are," Will said, cutting him off. "I'm simply offering you advice. However, if I were going to threaten you, I'd say something like this: If you ever pull a silly-ass stunt like that on me again, I will have certain people in my employ arrange it so that you will no longer be a biped. That's threatening you. See the difference?"

Dieter's face went absolutely white. "Yes, I see."

"Good. Now run along home. You were just leaving, weren't you?"

Dieter left the room with as much dignity as he could muster.

"Goddess save us from amateurs," Will said under his breath.

"That isn't an amateur coming our way, though," Rogue told him, looking across the room.

"Who's that?"

"That's Emma Frost."

"Got it." Will had been studying the history of the X-Men in chronological order, and had just reached the Dark Phoenix incident.

Emma crossed the room gracefully, acknowledging Rogue with a nod. "Very impressive, Mister Riley. I've wanted to do that to Dieter for months."

"I appreciate the vote of confidence, Miss Frost. Any reason for the visit?"

"I just thought we should talk for a minute. We both seem to be covering the same ground, and I don't want us tripping over one another."


"How has your takeover of the Interim Conglomerate been going?"

"I expect to have controlling interest within this financial quarter."

"Good. Do you plan to fire all of the board of directors?"

"I think that one or two of them can be persuaded to vote along with me." Seeing Rogue's look of confusion, he explained. "Interim has a division which is developing a bio-technological chip which my spies say is slated to become part of the next generation of Sentinel. I plan to scuttle that project."

"How are you planning on that?" Emma asked, curious. "If you just terminate the project, the government will get suspicious."

"Not if it's part of a reorganization of the entire company. I think that a few forced resignations in the right place will send the whole project down into flames."

"You'll lose a fortune."

"I can absorb it."

"You'll still be under contract, though."

"I'll just give the engineers seventy-two hours to throw something together. It's not like that isn't standard industry practice."

"Good point."

Will studied the room for a moment. "I should do a bit more mingling. Here." He pulled a business card from his jacket pocket and handed it to Emma. "That has my personal e-mail address and the phone number of my financial advisor. He also serves as both my attorney and personal secretary, so he can make all the necessary arrangements if you want to talk with me."

"You're his only client?"

"I am now. All the others are dead. Of natural causes," he added hastily, as he saw the looks that Emma and Rogue gave him. "He worked for an old family."

"Oh," Emma said, recovering. "Well, enjoy your evening." She nodded to Rogue again and melted back into the crowd.

"I think she was impressed," Rogue remarked.

"Are you hungry yet?"


"I made reservations for the four of us at Delmonico's. Why don't we grab Warren and Betsy and get going?"

"Sounds good to me." After a few minutes of searching, they found the two of them dancing, cheek-to-cheek, to one of the slow songs. Rogue was about to tap Warren on the shoulder, but Will restrained her by the shoulder gently. "Let them finish out this song," he said in a quiet voice. "They get too little private time as it is."

"Will," she said, smiling, "I don't believe it. You're a romantic."

He shrugged. "We all have our weaknesses."

"Who said that was a weakness?"

As the song ended, they gestured for Warren and Betsy to join them. "You two ready to eat?" Archetype asked.

"I could stand a bite," Warren replied.

"So could I," Betsy added.

"Shall we get going, then?" They wove their way towards the door, gathered their coats, and got into the car once the valet had brought it over.

"Which way?" Warren asked.

"You got me," Will shrugged. "I'm still learning how to drive, remember?"

"Great," Warren grumbled.

After a false start that put them in the wrong direction, they arrived at Delmonico's, and enjoyed a wonderful meal, during which they discussed Warren's opinions of the various clubs he'd frequented during his playboy days. Will insisted on picking up the tab, and again gave his personal thanks to the chef, a habit that Rogue assumed he had picked up during his days in cooking school.

As they made their way through the darkened parking lot back to the car, Will stopped for a moment, listening. "Get down," he snapped, pushing them to the ground.

A moment later, they heard a crack, and Will spun around, collapsing to the ground, his hand grabbing at his left shoulder. He was up before anyone else could make a move, his eyes aglow as he glared at the surrounding buildings. A snarl curled across his face as he vanished.

"Rogue, get after him!" Warren snapped as he pulled off his jacket, handing it to Betsy. A moment later, his shirt tore apart into shreds as his wings unfolded.

Both he and Rogue were in the air in seconds, scanning the tops of the buildings. Warren found Will a few moments later, chasing after a figure who was running wildly. "Got him," he said tersely as he dove towards them.

Johann Dieter had been seriously unnerved by his encounter with Will Riley.

A large part of the success that he enjoyed was due to his telepathic power. It was low-grade, to be sure, but it allowed him to get a good idea of what the people around him were thinking. Since the people he usually dealt with were utterly paranoid about respectability, they tended to keep the things that they wanted kept secret near the tops of their minds, so to speak, making them easy to scan. He had made quite a bit of money by demanding payment from his victims to keep quiet. This Riley person was putting that in jeopardy, and Dieter was far too fond of the good life to put his future in the hands of a damned Irlander. He had followed their car as they left the club, keeping his shields up to make sure that Riley couldn't pick him up.

He ran as soon as he made the shot, because he knew that he had inhaled as he fired, throwing the barrel off slightly. Riley might still be alive, and he had no desire to see that man again.

He heard a scraping sound behind him a few seconds later and turned around, immediately wishing that he hadn't.

Riley was coming after him. His left shoulder was still bleeding, sending rivulets of blood down his arm and soaking his shirt. His eyes were glowing like a pair of lanterns, and he had a look on his face that could only be described as murderous.

Dieter started panicking at that point and stopped watching where he was going. He tripped on the short wall in front of him, and tumbled over the edge of the building.

A hand grabbed him just as he was about to fall.

Riley's hand.

Dieter looked up into Riley's face, looking for some trace of compassion, some sign of mercy that told him he wasn't going to die.

He found none.

"Well, what have we here?" Archetype said in a deceptively friendly voice. "If it isn't my friend Herr Dieter. Tell me, what's a nice boy like you doing on a rooftop in the middle of the night?"

Dieter was so terrified that he could only respond in German. Archetype shook him. "In English, you idiot," he said in a disgusted voice. "Oh, never mind."

"You could have killed one of my friends down there," he informed Dieter with a growl. "If you wanted my blood, I would have been more than happy to give you satisfaction at one place or another. This was way over the line. If you want to play with the big boys, then you have to be willing to pay the entrance fee."

"Will, don't!" Warren yelled as he landed. "He's not worth it."

"He's a parasite," Archetype said clinically. "No one would miss him."

"We'll let the police take care of it."

"He'll buy his way out of jail and be out of the country in a day."

"Please don't, Will," Rogue asked him as she landed with Betsy in her arms.

"Wonderful," Archetype said sarcastically. "You realize you three just blew your identities, don't you?"

"We'd prefer that that over seeing you become a murderer."

He stared at her levelly. "What makes you think I'm not already?"

"Because I know you won't kill for no reason."

His face softened at that for a moment, then stiffened again.

"Nice try." He looked back to Dieter. "Auf Wiedersehn."

He let go. Dieter screamed as he fell.

All of ten feet. A Door opened below Dieter, depositing him back onto the roof.

"I wasn't going to kill him," Archetype said quietly, "but he needed to be taught a lesson."

Rogue swallowed, putting her heart back in her chest. "I understand."

He looked back at Dieter, who was still on his back, gibbering in terror. He walked over to him and grabbed him by the collar. "Listen to me very closely," he said. "You are going to take the next international flight out of America. If I were you, I'd bring as much money as I could carry, because within the next week, I'm going to own every company that you hold stock in. There are going to be bellhops worth more than you. If I ever see you again, I'm going to finish what I started here."

He let go of Dieter, who kept babbling, then looked at Betsy. "Can you do something that'll keep him from remembering what you three look like?"

"Yes. You want him to remember your face?"

"I want my face to haunt his dreams," he told her in a bleak voice.

"How's your shoulder?" Warren asked Will as they made their way back to the car.

"I still have to get the bullet out." He was carrying the rifle in his good arm, since they didn't want it lying around, and he had recovered the casing.

"There's a first-aid kit in the car," Betsy said. She opened the trunk and removed one of the Portable Triage Units that were standard issue for the X-Men.

"Just give me the forceps."

"No anesthesia?"

"I'll live." He gave the rifle to Warren, who unloaded the bullets, and took the forceps from Betsy. He shrugged out of the jacket, handing it to Rogue, then sat cross-legged on the ground. He held the forceps in his teeth while he dug his wallet out of his back pocket, then replaced the forceps with the wallet in his mouth, biting down on it as he removed the bullet with the forceps.

Rogue felt slightly sick as she watched him. "Why don't you wait until we get back to the mansion?"

He didn't answer until he had removed the bullet, glaring at it for a moment before spitting out the wallet. "Because I'm going to start healing in a few minutes, and I'd rather not be cut open again because this thing was still in my system." He closed his eyes and breathed deeply.

After a few seconds, the hole started to close. Once a scar had covered the wound, he got up. "That'll do for now. I can take care of the rest in the car. Let's get going."

Henry studied the scar when they returned to the mansion. "Looks like a clean wound," he remarked to Will as he swabbed it with disinfectant. "You did a good job."

"It should be healed completely by morning," Will replied. "Were any of the others hurt?"

"Betsy has a slight scrape on her knee."

"You did good, rookie," Logan said as he leaned against the opposite wall. "I didn't think you had it in you."

"I scared the hell out of Rogue."

"She'll get over it."

"What did you do with the rifle?"

"Put it in the armory. I thought we could use a sniper one of these days."

"Good. Are we done here?" he asked Henry.

"That should be it. Are you going to bed?"

"Once I shower this crap off of me. Some night off."

As he exited the medlab, Will saw Rogue leaning against the wall next to the elevator. She had changed out of her dress, and was now wearing a sweatsuit with the school insignia on it. "How are you feeling?" she asked him.

"A little sore. I should be okay by morning. How are you?"

She was silent for a moment. "You scared me," she said in a quiet voice.

"I know," he said, just as quietly. "I'm sorry."

They said nothing as they entered the elevator. After a few seconds Will spoke again. "I didn't even think. I saw that he had put the three of you, especially you, in danger, and a part of my mind  went into automatic. If any of you had been hurt, I probably would have killed him." He leaned against the elevator wall and sighed. "That's a frightening thought. I knew I was dark, but not that dark."

"You would have killed for me? For any of the X-Men?" she asked, wide-eyed.

"In a cold minute. You're my family now. That puts certain obligations on me."

"To kill?"

"To die, if necessary."

"I didn't realize you felt that strongly about it."

He looked slightly embarrassed. "Well, now you know," he said gruffly as the elevator doors opened. "Good night."

"Wait a second," Rogue said suddenly, restraining him by his uninjured arm. She looked down the hall and saw Ororo coming up the stairs. "Storm, can I talk to you for a second?"

"Is there a problem, Rogue?"

"I just want you to do something for me. Will, stay here a second, okay?"

"Uh, sure," he said, confused.

Rogue spoke quietly with Ororo for about half a minute, then they both returned.

"Rogue asked me to give you something for her," Ororo told him. Then she kissed him lightly on the cheek.

"Thank you," Rogue said in a whisper.


Continued in Chapter 20


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