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Part 4: Traitor's Kiss
In the Garden I was playin'
I kissed your lips and broke your heart
You -- you were actin' like it was the end of the world
-U2, "Until the End of the World"
Above her, the sky: the half-set, bleeding sun, the half-risen,
bloodless moon, and an uncountable number of glittering stars.
Below her, her homeland: stretching forever and ever and
ever to greet the sky, covered by waving grasses and sparse
trees, the occasional wild animal, and one lone river which
wound itself like a mamba far away to the south.
Ororo sat on the highest peak of a single monolith standing
in the center of it, enjoying the wind which whipped around
her and the sights available to her from her perch. There
wasn't anything to hold her in, here, nothing to impose on
her freedom. Danger didn't exist, nor did pain, nor anything
evil. It was only her and her goddess here, her and nature.
Even for a Danger-Room made simulation of perfection, it
was amazingly real.
She needed to be here to clear her head, cleanse her soul,
and to seek answers. The wait for death -- or life, or revelation,
or anything -- had been driving everyone up the wall.
Repeated searches and scans had led to nothing more than rapidly
declining morale. There was nothing to indicate who might
have killed Hank. There was nothing to tell who'd taken off
with Psylocke. There was no hint as to who was preying upon
the GenXers. Not one thing.
No hint that we can see. No hint that we can touch or
smell or feel, she thought. But beyond that, there
must be something.
From far away, she heard a noise- an odd one which didn't
fit into the environment she'd created here. It was like a
long electronic beeping, or the crackle of electricity, and
somewhere in what looked like the distant horizon was a flash
of light. She climbed down from the rock curiously, and walked
toward the disturbance.
It didn't repeat itself. A glitch in the program?
she thought. It seemed most likely. The closer she came, the
more the colors of the simulation seemed just a tad bit too
light or too reddish.
There was another noise, this time behind her. This she recognized
immediately, something horridly familiar from childhood: the
laugh of a hyena.
She turned. There were shining eyes looking at her, at least
nine pairs of them, coming closer. And then they stopped.
She stared at them as they stared at her, she and they like
sworn enemies, sizing each other up and considering both strengths
and weaknesses of the other. It was nearly hypnotic.
She barely had the time to lift up in the air screaming before
all of them plunged forward, and one grabbed on to her ankle.
Its teeth bit deeply, and when she called a bolt of lightning
to strike it away, it took a chunk of her flesh with it, leaving
a gaping wound in her leg which glittered black in the false
Hyennas don't just attack people ... she thought
sluggishly, clenching her teeth to keep from yelping as the
winds carried her higher. She reached down to take her communication
badge from its place at her hip, calling for someone to come
and turn the simulation off. Below her, the pack was getting
angry, snapping at the air and laughing maniacally.
A second later, they all became as discolored as the horizon
had, and then slowly faded away with the rest of the scenery
as the hard metal of the true Danger Room reappeared, and
the foor clanged open.
"Ororo!" Scott called to her from below. "Come
She obeyed, allowing the wind to stretch her injured leg
out before settling to the floor.
"What happened?" he asked. Logan, who'd come running
in behind him, kneeled at her side and began to inspect the
"It went out of control," she gasped, "it
created animals ... they attacked ... "
"Cyke," Logan said, "Look at this." He
meant the gash. "Unless somethin' changed without me
knowin' about it, we aren't supposed to set the room to do
damage like this. Either 'Ro accidentally messed up her codes
"Or somebody else changed them?"
"It had to have been a mistake in the programming,"
she told them, weakly.
"Check the computer for any sign of tampering,"
Scott demanded, ripping away the fabric of his shirt and wrapping
it around Ororo's foot.
Logan did so, scrolling through endless codes in the door's
control panel and searching each intently. "There's nothin'
here," he said, finally. "Nobody's touched it."
"Somebody had to ... "
"But nobody has. Probably just a glitch in the system,
like she said. If there'd been anybody foolin' around with
it, it would show."
"Are you sure?" Scott asked.
"I do not mean to seem ungrateful for your rescue, gentlemen,"
Storm spoke up, "But I think I will pass out if I do
not get to the medical laboratory soon."
There was something beautiful about pain. She certainly didn't
like it, of course, but in a way, it was a wonderful sort
of glass, through which more colors of the world could be
She wasn't so sure that needles could be seen in the same
The Professor drew the syringe back out of her foot, and
then added another layer of bandage around her treated wound.
"You were very lucky," he told her. "It didn't
reach the bone."
She managed to pull her eyes back down to her leg, glad to
see that the injection puncture had been covered, as well.
She hated needles. They came immediately after being
trapped in small, dark, windowless rooms on her list of things
she feared. They were unnatural, something made by the hands
of man and not the wind, the sky, the plains, or anything
else of her goddess's creation. The very sight of one made
her feel queasy.
"I know," she said, wondering if she should stand.
Xavier smiled and said, "I think it would be better
for now if you didn't. Besides, you need rest. You look exhausted."
"I am rather tired," Ororo agreed. "Though
I can't for the life of me think of why."
"Stress," he reasoned, and patted her shoulder.
"I'll leave you alone now, but I think you'd better see
Remy before you sleep."
"He's been hovering around outside your room since you
were brought here. Jean's been yelling at him to stop pacing
for the better part of an hour."
"Do you have any idea why?"
He shrugged. "He'd worried, I suppose. Will you see
He nodded and left, leaving the door open. Moments later,
Gambit's head popped in. "Chere?"
"What brings you here, my friend?"
"I was just wonderin' how you were doin' now,"
he explained, looking sheepish.
"Ah," she said.
"Okay, so that wasn't entirely the real answer."
"I hadn't thought so."
He shut the door behind him and then sat next to her on the
bed, embracing her. "I was real worried when I heard
what happened," he said.
"My injuries were not serious. I should be up and around
"Well, it scared me all the same. If I ever lost you,
Stormy ... " he trailed off, distressed, and hugged her
She patted his arm. "It is not as though I have never
been injured," she told him. "And I believe that
you have the team record for being hurt the most in and out
of battle. This was hardly serious compared to many of your
own breaks and cuts."
"So? Don't mean I can't worry about you."
"I still don't believe that this is the only reason
you would be so worried."
"I jus' told you ... I couldn't bare to loose you. You're
my best friend. You're the only one left on my side."
She lifted a brow. "That is ridiculous. We are all on
your side. And what of Rogue?"
He said, "I haven't talked to her since before all this
began. Not really."
"And why is that?"
"...not sure ... ."
"You got an uncanny way of making me look like a fool
sometimes, 'Ro," he said.
"No more than you have an uncanny way of acting like
a fool. "
"Hey ... "
"You will go talk to her," she ordered, "And
when you are done, please bring me another blanket. I do not
think the Professor would be very happy if I called up a breeze
in here to warm the room up."
Since the moment he'd first met her, Rogue's beauty had always
managed to strike him. She didn't have the exotic look Ororo
or Betsy had, she didn't have Jean's fiery -- and occasionally
almost innocent -- knockout loveliness. What she did have
was eyes deeper than a soul, perfectly kissable unkissable
lips, hair all the colors of fall leaves, an undefineable
"spunk" in the way she moved, and a nose cuter than
a button. At least, if you'd asked him, that's what he'd say.
But beyond the outside was the inside, and that's what he
loved the most about her -- her sadness, her despair, her
loneliness, her charisma, her strength, her sense of humor.
She was nearly the flipside of him, but completely the same.
The same intrinsic sense of honor. The same need for touch
-- and in no way only physical. The same second-hand heroism,
the same haunted dreams, the same misanthropy. Things not
on the surface.
That was why he could talk to her the way that he did. It
was also why he couldn't talk to her about some things,
and couldn't bring himself to say things which would have
slipped off his tongue easily with anybody else.
Possibly because y'can't bring yourself t'lie to her.
Not that every word you say to anybody is true.
In any case, it was extremely difficult for him to look into
her eyes -- which were clouded with something he didn't recognize
-- and try to bring himself to say: "Do you trust me?"
She didn't answer right away, which made his heart twist
unexpectedly. "Do I trust you? What do you mean?"
"Just that. Do you trust me?"
"I ... o' course I trust you," she said, slowly.
She slid up from where she'd been lying on a couch, and watched
him intently with her arms stretched to either side of her.
She looked as though she was bracing herself for something.
"O' course I do."
"I'm serious," he told her. "I need t'know
what you really think."
"I just told you," she said.
"But y'don't sound like you mean it!"
She bit her lip, considering him with her head tilted to
one side. "I do trust you," she said. "Really,
I do. With my life. With my heart. I don't think you'd ever
"But ... ?"
"Dammit, LeBeau ... " she stood with her eyes narrowed,
and then poked a finger in his chest. "You'd never hurt
me, I'm convinced o' that ... and you'd never hurt Storm,
neither. You'd die for us soon as let anybody break our nails.
But I wouldn't ever let you alone in a room with Warren, or
"So you do doubt me," he whispered.
"I doubt you 'cause you doubt yourself so much,"
she said, sincerely. "There's no way you could've killed
Hank. You COULDN'T do it. You're too good to do such
a thing. But you've been actin' like the guilty party since
He took her by the shoulders, and held her at arms length.
"Rogue," he said, "kiss me."
"What're you talkin' about?"
"Kiss me," he said.
"That ain't gonna help a thing ... "
"Do it, an' I'll know that you know I'm innocent. You'll
know everything about me. There won't be a need f'r you not
"You've been drinkin' somethin'," she snorted,
and pushed him away. "There ain't no need for that."
"There is a need for it ... I gotta know that
you're in my corner." He smiled lop-sidedly. "I
gotta make sure."
"I am on your side," she assured him. "Always
have been, always will be."
"But you don't even know ab-"
She said, "I can see the truth without it. The last
thing that I need is you lyin' around half-dead right
He thought on her words for a while, and then raised two
of his gloved fingers to his mouth, kissing them, and then
placing them on her own lips.
"I'd never hurt you," he said with a smile. "I'd
do anything to make sure nobody even broke your nail."
"I trust that you would," she told him.
It was totally unreasonable, a thing he might have laughed
at in someone else, but right now the thunderstorm was scaring
him to pieces.
After all, it wasn't like there weren't storms all the time
here. He'd grown up with them, and the mansion's weather,
since it was most often dictated by the whims and emotions
of Ororo Munroe, had always been a little ... odd. No doubt
it was Storm's fault that the sky was crashing tonight, and
it was all an extension of the pain her wound was causing
her. But every blast still made him feel like grabbing a blanket
to hide under.
Fear was better than grief, at least; grief ate away at the
soul, but fear directed attentions away from oneself and towards
everything else. He very nearly welcomed the change. He hadn't
slept since Hank's death, and Drake's mind hadn't hardly wandered
from the path of "He's gone ... why couldn't I have saved
him? I was right there ... how completely useless could someone
be?!?" since the incident. Jean had tried to reach him.
So had Storm. Even Rogue had tried to bring a smile to her
face, though she'd said hardly anything to anybody lately.
Not that anybody was smiling much now.
Another thunderstrike outside, like the collective crash
of a thousand snare drums. He managed to hold his ground instead
of jumping this time. Why was he so scared? He forced himself
to give himself answers: 1) all bad slasher flicks had gruesome
thunder-and-lightning-scenes; 2) he hated loud noises; 3)
it was dark, it was foreboding, it was ominous. Bad reason,
bad reason, bad reason. C'Mon, Drake- it's just a bunch
of clouds bumping into each other. They can't hurt you.
There was a flicker of white light. One alligator, two alligator
Lightning could hurt, if you happened to be standing in the
middle of a lake, he thought. It brought fleeting questions
about ice and electricity to mind, and then other random images
of Hank guffawing over the stupidity of the whole situation.
Four alligator, five alligator ...
Flicker of light.
One, alligator ...
Oldest trick in the book- calm yourself down using children's
techniques, like counting how far away the lightning real
was. One alligator, one mile.
Two alligators, two miles.
Flicker of light ...
One, alligator ...
Two, alligator ...
Flicker of light.
This wasn't helping at all.
Well, he thought, maybe it would just be better
to try tea. That was what Hank always recommended. Had
recommended. Past tense, Bobby.
He forced himself up, out of his room and on to a "mission"
for the first time since Hank died.
Continued in Chapter
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