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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


The shades moved among the branches of the trees with the grace of spiders within their webs, encircling Will and Rogue. They were silent, staring down at them with unblinking eyes whose soft, eerie green light shone through the leaves.

Will gestured to Rogue, indicating that she should stay where she was. Seeing her worried look, he gave her a reassuring smile. Taking a step forward, he looked around at the figures. "Who are you," he said in a loud voice, "and what do you want?"

Whispers echoed through the trees, dashing from side to side, but never staying still long enough for Rogue to get a bearing on them. They had a dry, hissing aspect to them, reminding her of wet wood steaming in a hot fire.

"You are the guardian..."

"Tale keeper..."

"Call me what you choose," Will told them, crossing his arms. "What do you want of me?"



"I have made no compact with you," Will said firmly. "I am under no obligations."

"It does not understand..."



"Burden not yours..."

"I do not understand," Will confessed.

"Our obligation..."

"Our bond..."

"Help you..."

"With what?"




Rogue stepped forward so that she entered Will's field of vision. "You're talking about Will's fight with Apocalypse?"

The whispers intensified, becoming angry and menacing. "Apocalypse..."



"You want to help Will fight Apocalypse? That will help you fulfill your oath?"


"Free us..."


"What kind of help are you offering?"





"How can you do this?" Will asked.

"Ancient One's pupil..."

"Will lead you..."

"We will protect..."

"Guard from within shadows..."

"Call on us..."

"We will come..."

"And who are you?"

The whispers were silent for a moment. "We have no name."

"You were never finished?" Will asked, shocked.

"No..." they replied in a despairing moan.



Will sighed regretfully. "What a waste."

"What's wrong?" Rogue asked him.

"There are certain entities that don't become fully sentient until they find a way to differentiate themselves from the rest of the collective consciousness. They need a name to complete the process, and become fully self-aware. Without one, they can never grow, never change. They'll live in a continuous state of semi-existence. They're asking me to name, and define, each of them, and complete a cycle that was interrupted long ago."

Rogue whistled. "That's... one heavy burden."

"The heaviest." He looked back up. "You will wait until your task is complete?"




"Then I will call on you when the time is right." He started to turn away, then faced them again. "Until then, you will guard the members of the X-Men and Excalibur from any magical attacks directed against them. Do you understand?"



"Good. I will seek the one you spoke of. Please return us now."

The world darkened for a moment, and the light from the street lamps reappeared around them.

"Are we back?" Rogue asked timidly.

"Yes," Will replied. "And I doubt that..." He sighed, then closed his eyes and took a deep breath. When he opened them again, his eyes had stopped glowing. "I doubt that any time passed while we were gone," he said in his normal voice.

"So what do we do now?"

"We head back home, I guess. I'm going to have to get up early tomorrow and make a call."

"To who?"

"I have to make an appointment with a doctor in Manhattan."

"The Doctor will see you now."

"Thank you," Will said, closing his magazine and putting it back in his briefcase. He looked at Rogue. "Coming?"

Rogue nodded and stood up. They followed their guide through a set of double doors.

"Your eleven o'clock appointment is here, Master." The guide said to the man at the desk.

"Thank you, Wong. Please bring in some tea for our guests."

"Yes, Master."

Stephen Strange stood up, walking up to Will and shaking his hand warmly. "A pleasure to meet you at last, Mister Riley. Your reputation precedes you." He was dressed in a rather dapper blue suit with a red jacket.

"As does yours, Doctor. And please, call me Will."

Strange nodded in reply, then greeted Rogue. "It's been a while, Rogue. How's Xavier?"

"Still the same. Still bald."

"Is there a reason you came along?"

"I'm keeping an eye on him to make sure he stays out of trouble."

"Fine," Will said, "but who's going to keep an eye on you?"

Strange looked at Rogue sympathetically. "You have my pity."

"Thanks. I can use all the help I can get."

Strange laughed. "What seems to be your problem?"

They gave Strange a detailed account of their conversation of the night before, filling in details regarding Will's powers and his conflicts with Apocalypse. "So I was advised to come to you," Will finished. "Do you have any suggestions for me?"

Strange thought for a few moments. "I can think of a few approaches that might work, but they're all a bit risky."

"Doctor," Rogue said pointedly, "You've probably heard about what happened in Syria. Do you think that he's the type to avoid risk?"

"The risk that's involved is more psychological than physical. Once you open certain doorways of perception, you see, they can never be fully closed again."

"Pandora's box," Will confirmed.

"Not quite. Pandora's box was filled with limitations, horrors, and obstacles to growth. What I'm describing is more along the lines of learning how to ride a bike."

"Once you learn how, you never forget," Rogue finished.

"Exactly. It won't be an easy process, I'm afraid. You'll be tapping into aspects of reality that most rational people would avoid like the plague."

"Well, I'm not known for my rationality," Will replied, "and I don't think a plague could kill me."

"We're agreed, then?"

"Yes. How often would you like to meet?"

"One afternoon a week seems sufficient."

"I'll have to clear the time with the Xavier and the top brass of the X-Men."

"Of course. Just call me when you have everything worked out." Strange stood up. "I'd like to get some idea of your strength, if you don't mind. Would you be willing to let me monitor you during a display of your powers?"

"Completely," Will said in an agreeable tone. He also stood up, joining Strange in an area of the room where the floor was bare.

"What would you like me to do?" Will asked once Strange said that he was ready.

"What's your default mode for your powers?" Strange asked.

"I don't understand the question."

"He means whether they're on or off whenever you're not thinking about them," Rogue supplied. "Kitty's default mode is off, and mine is on."

"Oh. I suppose that they're on, then. I keep blocks up, and lower them when I need to, but I'm always aware of the Chorus to some degree."

Strange nodded, then made a few gestures. The area that Will was standing on was slowly surrounded by a circle of white light, which settled on the floor. "A safety precaution," he reassured Will.

Will nodded. "Ready?" he asked. At Strange's nod, he lowered his shields and opened his mind to the Chorus.

Rogue watched as Will's eyes acquired their familiar glow. What she was not expecting, however, was the silver and purple aura which surrounded him. She looked at Strange. "Are you doing that?" she asked him.

"I'm making it visible," was his reply, "but it's all coming from him."

Rogue nodded, entranced by the sight.

The aura started to brighten and expand, filling the circle, then moving beyond it. "Is that dangerous?" Rogue asked.

"No. It's just a visible reflection of his power." Strange looked at Will with a look which mixed respect, awe, and a small dose of fear. "It's unlike anything I've ever seen." Seeing Rogue's worried look, he smiled reassuringly. "He's more powerful than I had expected, that's all." He inclined his head towards the aura, which was still expanding. "Most people have an aura which extends about three feet in any direction. His psyche is so strong that it's reflected in his aura, and..." He paused as he noticed that the aura was expanding past the confines of the room. "We'd better follow that." He offered his hand to Rogue. "Are you familiar with astral travel?"

"I did it a few times with the Professor back when I first joined the team," she replied. "You don't have to actually touch me, do you?"

"No. Being in contact with your aura is enough."

"All right." She took his hand, and a moment later she felt herself floating out of her body, and through the ceiling of the building. Looking down at herself, she saw that she was little more than an idealized outline, surrounded by a red aura which was close to her 'body'. She turned her gaze to Strange, and found that his astral form was much more precise than hers, nearly indistinguishable from his physical body. "Your astral form gets more complex with practice?" she guessed.

"Yes. And I bring many of my talismans and magical aids with me when I travel on the astral plane." They left the building and floated up, looking for the outer limits of Will's aura. "Buddhist legend says that the Buddha's aura was visible for three miles."

"I think I see it," Rogue said. After a few more seconds, they passed through a light, narrow fog of purple mist. "Was that it?"

"Yes." They looked back down.

"Oh, my," Strange said. They were nearly a mile above the ground.

"Does this mean we're in trouble?" Rogue asked.

"No, but it does mean that I have my work cut out for me. He hasn't had any training?"

"Not that he's told us about. We'd better get back and have him raise his shields before he fries half the city's computers."

"Right." They started to descend. "Does he disrupt electronics regularly?"

"He shorted out everything Apocalypse had in his base, from what I was told."

"You weren't there?"

"I was, but I wasn't in any condition to notice."

"Ah." They passed back through the roof of the building, and lowered themselves back to the floor where their bodies were. "Here you are," Strange said, as he dropped her back down. "Take a deep breath once you're back in."

Rogue felt a slight jolt, and filled her lungs with air as she opened her eyes. "That's quite a rush," she admitted.

"It's tempting to stay too long," Strange agreed. He looked at Will, whose eyes were staring into space. "That's enough, Will," he told him.

Will closed his eyes, and the aura contracted rapidly, with occasional pauses. When it had reached a distance of about nine feet around him, he opened his eyes. "Was that what you wanted?" he asked Strange politely.

"It told me what I needed to know. I think I'd better talk with Xavier face to face regarding your instruction. If you don't mind, I'd like to call ahead and let him know that I'll be accompanying you to Salem Center. Please excuse me while I call him." He left the room.

"Was it that bad?" Will asked Rogue with a worried look.

"Let's just say that you and he are going to have some long talks."

Strange politely declined Will's offer of teleportation, choosing to use his own, magical resources to get to the mansion. He was only a few seconds behind them, materializing on the front porch and politely knocking.

"Why do you bother?" Will asked as he opened the door.


Xavier left his office and greeted Strange. "How have you been, Stephen?"

"You just threw me a curve ball, Charles." He pointed at Will. "Meet my new project."

Xavier looked at Will and sighed. "What did you do now, Will?"

Will raised his hands in surrender. "Only what I was instructed to do."

"It's not that he's done anything," Strange clarified, "it's just that he's far too powerful to be walking around untrained. Everything that he's done so far has been intuitive, but intuition only gets you so far. I'd like to arrange a schedule where Will would, barring an emergency, come to my residence to get some lessons in focus and control."

Xavier considered that. "It does make sense. I certainly don't have the resources."

"I'd like to come along," Rogue announced. When she found three surprised looks directed towards her, she explained. "I may not have any magical skill, but somebody's going to need the background to tell if anything's going wrong with Will outside of the lessons. And I have to admit, there's a part of me that wants to learn some of what I was able to do against the Adversary."

"Do you have any objection, Stephen?" Xavier asked.

"As long as you don't interfere with what we'll be doing, Rogue, you're welcome as an observer. But I'll let you know now that there will be times when you'll be asked to leave."

"I understand."

They all agreed to four hours of instruction per week, starting the following week. Strange and Will shook hands on the agreement, and Strange left.

"It seems that you've had a busy day," Xavier commented as they all entered the kitchen.

Will nodded in agreement. "Putting all those blocks back up was a pain. I think I'm going to rest for a little while. I'll be in my room." He went up the stairs.

"Was he that powerful?" Xavier asked Rogue once Will was out of earshot.

"Strange was really impressed by him, and I get the feeling that he's not an easy man to impress."

"What's the real reason you want to go along?"

"I want to make sure nothing happens to him. I realized last night that he's really vulnerable right now."

"How so?"

"Well, think about it. For weeks, he was geared up to fight Apocalypse. Now that he's done it, he has to find something else to focus on. You've seen the way his attention wanders."

"That's true, but how does that make him vulnerable?"

"Let's say you're one of those magical groups who hides in the shadows, and you want to take one of your enemies down. What better way than showing up to Will as one of those weird events that keeps happening to him, and convincing him that your goal is a way to help the Chorus?"

"I think Will's too cynical to be that gullible."

"Maybe, but I've seen his powers in action more than you have. If there's any really strong magic in the area, it's going to be attracted to him, and it'll have some kind of effect on him. I want to be able to recognize the signs that something's happening to him, so I can snap him out of it if I have to. I may also be able to learn how to help him recover faster when he's drained."

Xavier nodded thoughtfully. "I can't argue with your reasoning. I just hope you know what you're getting yourself into."

"I've been hip-deep in it ever since I met him. I'm just making it official now."

Warren and Betsy returned to the mansion a few hours later, and promptly started showing off the things which they had bought during their shopping trips. As Warren recounted a chance encounter with a starlet to Bobby and Henry, Will politely tapped Betsy on the shoulder. "Can I speak with you privately for a moment?" he asked. Betsy nodded, surprised, and they went up the stairs to the main hallway.

"There's no easy way for me to say this," Will said after taking a deep breath, "so I'll just say it. I owe you an apology."

Betsy tilted her head quizzically. "For what? You haven't been rude to me once since you came here."

"Yes, I have," Will disagreed. "I've just been doing it in my own way." He sat down at the top of the steps. "I've been letting my ancestry interfere with my objectivity. I was determined not to like you when I first got here, solely on the basis of your background. I haven't been giving you the credit you deserve for supporting me against Scott, or for your willingness to go to bat against Apocalypse on my behalf." He stood up again. "I'd like the opportunity to start over again." He held out one hand. "Hi. I'm called Will Riley."

Betsy didn't even hesitate. She shook his hand firmly. "Pleased to meet you, Will. I'm Betsy."

As Will and Betsy came back down, Rogue motioned for Betsy to come over. "Can you help me with some shopping?" she asked softly.

"Do you need some fashion tips?"

"I do, but not for me. I want to get Will something."

"All right." They announced that they would be out for a while, and took the Saab 9000 that Warren had kept at the garage of his penthouse. They reached the Salem Center Mall a few minutes later.

"Have you got any ideas?" Betsy asked.

"I don't know," Rogue admitted. "I'm not sure if clothes are the way to go. Let's just look around and see if anything catches our eye." They didn't find anything in the bookstores, and agreed that Will was not the type to wear any of the clothes which were popular at the moment.

They were about to fall back on that old masculine standby, a tie, when they passed a window display. "Betsy," Rogue announced, "I think I've found it."

Betsy looked, then smiled. "The one in the back, right?"


She nodded. "I think it'll be perfect. We should let Charles know." She closed her eyes for thirty seconds or so. "He says no problem."

Will was relaxing in the sitting room, reading that week's Time, when Rogue and Betsy returned. "Everybody gather 'round!" Rogue announced. "We've got a surprise!"

Will put the magazine down, and joined everyone in the living room. Rogue was carrying a large gift box, topped with a red ribbon, which she put on the table.

"Will," Betsy said, "between coming back for us, and then sending us all off on free vacations, we felt that we owed you something small in return. After talking about it, Rogue and I decided that this was meant for you."

Will looked at the box dubiously for a moment. "You didn't have to get me anything," he protested.

"No, we didn't," Rogue agreed, "but we wanted to. And if you don't take it, I'm going to become sad and start crying."

"Well, we wouldn't want that, now would we?" Will sat down on the couch and lifted the top off the box. As he looked in, they all watched his face switch from surprise to delight. "Oh, my..." he breathed.

"What is it?" Bobby asked.

Will didn't answer, but reached into the box slowly, lifting out a black, grey, and white cat, who looked at all of them with wide green eyes.

"Aw," Bobby said in a soft voice, "she's adorable."

Will gently set the cat on the floor. She looked at all of them in turn, then meowed softly. "Does she have a name?" he asked.

"The store didn't know," Betsy said. "She was on display from the local shelter. She was scheduled to go back at the end of the week, and she would have been put to sleep. She's been spayed and declawed."

The cat walked over to Will, who put his hand out for her to sniff. She touched her nose to his hand, then rubbed her head against it.

"She seems to like you," Bobby said to Will.

"She's marking me with her scent," he replied. "It's a message to other cats that she's my owner."

"Don't you mean that you're her owner?" Warren asked.

"You've obviously never had a cat."

The subject of the conversation was now walking around the room, sniffing at each of the X-Men in turn. She seemed to be a bit confused by Xavier's chair, batting at it once or twice. She finally hopped onto the couch, curled up into a ball, then fell asleep.

"I'll have to go out and get some litter," Will said as he stood up.

"We got some already," Rogue told him. "The store gave us a package deal. We have a litter box, a bag of the litter she was using in the cage she was in, so she'll be used to it, box liners, a week's worth of food, a food and water bowl, and a flea collar."

Will nodded as he went back over to the sleeping cat and stroked her gently. "Betsy, Rogue... thank you."

"Our pleasure," Rogue told him. "What are you going to name her?"

He didn't answer, but placed his hand on her head and closed his eyes for a few seconds. "I think I'll call her Smoke."

"That's a good name for a magician's cat," Logan agreed.

"We'd better put her things in the kitchen," Bobby suggested. "It'll be easier to clean up that way."

A few minutes later, everything was in place. "That should be easy to clean up," Will said. Then he glanced at the clock. "I'd better get started on dinner. If Smoke wakes up, could someone bring her in here and show her where the litter box is?"

"No problem," Logan said. "What's for dinner?"

"The roast chicken I told you about when we went shopping. Should be ready by six or so."

"Need any help?" Rogue asked.

"I think I can manage."

As everyone filed out of the kitchen, Will took the chicken out of the refrigerator and prepared it for roasting. After it was in the oven, he started to prepare the stuffing, then turned to look at the items for the cat. His eyes brimmed with unshed tears for a moment. Will composed himself, smiling idiotically, then got back to work.


Continued in Chapter 32

Author's Note: This chapter is dedicated to Juno, my cat (AKA: She Who Must Be Obeyed).


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