THE ARCHETYPE ASSOCIATION
"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
"And you couldn't teleport the deer without killing
"And you told me that, when you panic, you teleport
"Exactly." He looked out the window of the car.
"How long do you think it's going to take them to get
"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?"
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
"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
"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
"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
"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."
"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
"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
"May O'Hara?" Warren asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Long story," Will and Rogue told him at the same
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
"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
"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?"
"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?"
"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 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
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
"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,
Dieter left the room with as much dignity as he could muster.
"Goddess save us from amateurs," Will said under
"That isn't an amateur coming our way, though,"
Rogue told him, looking across the room.
"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
"I expect to have controlling interest within this financial
"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
"How are you planning on that?" Emma asked, curious.
"If you just terminate the project, the government will
"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
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
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.
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
"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
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
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."
"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
"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
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
"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 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
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