Disclaimer: The X-Men belong to Marvel. No money is being made from this work of fiction, nor is any desired. The song quoted belongs to the band Bush.
Notes: X-Men Continuity-Wise, this is set a bit after Onslut, but before OZT (or during, since I could ignore that mess, anyway). Therefore, Quicksilver is no longer bunking at the mansion, and Chuckie has been carted off.
Dedication: To Timey and Drea. Punk Stryfe!
"There is no where left to hide.
There is nothing to be done, no people to be saved.
No pets we've never named, 40 miles from the sun." - Bush '40 Miles From the Sun'
It was silent.
The fight had been won, the battle finished. The bad guy sent off his tail between his legs.
Scott leaned against one of the halves of the mansion staircase, Jean gently bandaging his scraped wrist. He let her do it while studying the other X-Men.
To one side, Bobby and Logan held on to Warren as Hank set his shoulder properly, the pain causing the man with the angel's wings to pass out. His friends caught him and laid him gently on the ground, careful not to bother his shoulder too much.
Warren's current girlfriend wandered the rubble, leaning over to inspect pieces here and there. If it hadn't been for the Crimson Dawn tattoo she had acquired not too long before, Scott might have worried. But the occult power that had saved her life had also changed Betsy Braddock. He wasn't sure into what yet, but he wasn't worried. Yet.
Doing her best to seem normal, Rogue was beginning to stack the scattered beams from the ripped-out mansion ceiling. Considering the amount of times it had been destroyed, she was getting good at it.
Amusingly, Bishop and Joseph stood to one side, each attempting to 'guard' something. Bishop was guarding the whole mansion, sure that it would be under threat again. Joseph was guarding his secrets, determined never to be Magneto.
Storm and Sam were beginning to help Rogue, the weather-goddess limping slightly from a torn ligament. The three avoided a section of floor, intent on stacking debris and removing anything that might have been an objects d'arte. They weren't having much success finding the porcelain shephardess someone had given the Xavier Institute for Easter.
He'd disliked it, anyway.
Jean had finished his hand, and cast a look at the center of the floor. The spot that they were trying to avoid. With a soft smile at his wife, Scott Summers stepped across the space between himself and what lay on the floor.
The man had once been considered a flamboyant womaniser and cardshark. Glassy black eyes stared at nothing, the red pupils dimmed to burnt umber. He had died needlessly, attacking too quickly, before Jean could shred the broadsword that had gutted him into tiny displaced molecules. It had been too late, of course. Battle had already been joined, others engaged in stopping the destruction of their home.
And he had died, calm in his eyes and mind, knowing there was no chance.
Jean had told him that, while she bandaged his hand.
He knelt and carefully closed Remy's eyes, saddened at the loss of life. And heartsick that another of his 'family' was lost. First Charles, and now Remy. It was silly, really. He and Gambit had never been close.
Rogue finally stopped her cleaning and came towards him, tears in her eyes. She stared at Gambit for a moment, then turned away, heading into the mansion. Others began trickling out, Bobby and Logan supporting a still-groggy Warren to his room. Betsy half-heartedly stalked after them.
A hand touched Scott's shoulder and he looked up at Hank. The blue-haired scientist held out a white sheet.
They wound it around the body, careful to add extra cloth over the wound so the red wouldn't seep through. And then Hank carefully hoisted their fallen comrade and disappeared to the medical laboratory.
Cyclops stood, and realised that only he and Jean were left. She reached out for his hand, and they silently left the hall.
Rubble stayed. Strewn around was broken glass, shredded swords, half-burnt wood. To be rebuilt or not, it was all the same to the mansion. It was used to this sundering and rendering. It had to be.
It was as hot as they could stand it, the kneedles of water slicing down at them, penetrating sore muscles and exhausted emotions alike. Jean cried in his arms, her shoulders barely moving as if she were so tired there was nothing left to give for her grief but tears.
Scott supported them both as they dried, then curled around his wife as they fell into bed, drained of anything except the need for comfort and touch.
They had removed to the boathouse, silence still wrapping them as they tried to get on with the movements of living. Shower, sleep. Cuddle.
Rogue would have envied them, if she'd thought about it. Instead she wasn't thinking at all, trying to ignore even the possibility of thought as she downed her fifth shot of tequila. There had been a bottle in one of the kitchen cupboards. It was probably as old as Chuckie, but it was alcohol. And the fire it caused as it slid down her throat was a better excuse for her sudden tears than anything else.
Envy was on Warren's mind, as he lay on his side, pain slightly hazing his vision. Betsy was pacing his room, restless and maybe even bored. He couldn't tell, his mind sensing that she was shutting him out. Locking everything away.
It drove him nuts when she was like this. As if a part of her wasn't her anymore. He missed the old Betsy, the one who had impulsively kissed him. She had disappeared with her life's blood when Sabretooth had gutted her months before. But he couldn't help hoping that his Betsy would come back. He just... had to believe that she would. That she could.
Meditation was the key to self-control. Both Storm and Betsy had long believed that. Ororo Munroe had found meditation an essential part of her own emotional control. Let the bad flow away, let the inner calm remain undisturbed.
But it wasn't working this time.
Jagged slices were being ripped in her inner peace. A madman with a chainsaw was destroying the calm wall she had long built between herself and the outside.
Ororo had never thought she loved Remy LeBeau. In fact, she'd thought him rather a silly and undisciplined younger brother at times. Ironic, since they had first met when she was physically a pre-teen.
His death was destroying a small piece of her soul.
He'd made her laugh so many times with his brash attempts to flirt. Caused her to feel old at times when he seemed to view the world as his stage, with everyone else merely players to his directing.
And it hurt.
Meditation was a way of calm. A storm raged in her soul, the only outward appearance the tears which slid icily down her composed face.
Things had never been settled between them. A mistaken kiss, and too many bad memories. Rogue sipped at a shot, and wondered if she'd become wiser while on her road trip or if it had just been a colossal waste of time.
Considering her recruitment of Joseph, maybe it had just been stupid.
The man who would be Magneto. Or might have been. Or might will have been could be... was training. He wasn't sure why he was, but he was. And Bishop was squared off against him.
It's possible the Danger Room would never be the same once the would-be Messiahs were done with it.
Down in the medical lab, the man who was on everyone's mind lay wrapped on an examination table. A slight amount of blood had finally seeped through the sheet, but you wouldn't notice it unless you looked.
Hank McCoy wasn't looking. Instead, he was reading a book on Pokemon.
Since he was reading it upside-down--er, while perched upside-down, it appeared to actually be making sense to him. Hank McCoy was a genius who liked to kick back once in a while. And being able to keep up with Jubilee when she called was always a useful skill.
The body on the table shifted slightly, as dead things tend to do. He glanced at it and sighed.
Another sheet would have to be procured soon. Funeral arrangements would need to be made, as well. With that in mind, Hank put down the Pokemon book and moved to open the freezer. He hadn't been thinking, or he would have done this the moment he got down there. With care, he placed the body of Gambit into cold storage, and closed the door.
Now he could read in peace.
Outside a bitter wind had blown up. If Logan were suspicious, he might have assumed it was Storm's doing. Since he wasn't (or possibly didn't care) he hadn't checked.
It howled, though, wrapping around the body like a jealous lover. Pulling at hair and skin, as if wishing to remove it quickly. Cold caused his teeth to chatter, but he ignored it as he worked up a sweat.
Trees and bushes lay in his wake, shredded and torn as if by a wild animal.
A second earlier.
If he'd been a second earlier, if Gambit had been a second later...
A crude 'G' was carved by one bone-claw into a tree trunk.
Not really a fitting tribute, but it was all he had.
Logan considered, and decided to head for Harry's. At least there would be warmth there. And possibly booze.
Inside the kitchen, Rogue finished the last of the tequila. It was rather disappointing, and she tried to stand, intent on checking the cupboard for a further bottle.
Her legs refused to hold her and she flopped back into the chair, giggling softly.
Sam sat in the living room, and thought. If he had known Gambit more, maybe it would have hurt. But he hadn't. It wasn't like the Cajun had been a member of X-Force, or even the New Mutants.
A shiver touched him. At least they'd known he was dead before the end. No one had thought he was just playing around and nudged him cheerfully.
Doug Ramsey had died alone. Remy LeBeau had not.
And yet both had died in the middle of a battle, a fight going on all around them. But Remy had known he was cared for as he died. The evidence had been his killer's sword turned back on it, then shattered into a million pieces to glitter balefully.
Doug had taken a bullet, dying in a puddle of his own blood the last words said to him a playful insult from Rahne for saving her life.
How must it have felt like?
Sam shuddered and decided to leave his morbid thoughts for another time. It had felt good to be part of the X-Men. A life-long dream come true, in a way.
A soft giggle echoed through the mansion, and he wondered who it was, welcoming the distraction.
Bobby Drake absently tossed a sock at the poster of the Spice Girls on his wall. They weren't doing anything interesting, but it was something to do.
A knock echoed loudly, and he bounced over to open the door.
Sam Guthrie stood there, eyes a bit wide. He caught Bobby's arm and pulled him from the room. Iceman went willingly, expecting that there would be at least something interesting going on where Sam was leading him.
They arrived at the kitchen, and Bobby blinked at the sight presented him.
Rogue was crawling on the floor, intent on the kitchen cabinets. An empty tequila bottle lat nearby, shattered. Bobby knew it was tequila because he had bought the bottle himself over a year before. there had just never been a time to drink it.
Apparently, now had been the time.
He walked over to Rogue, and studied her for a moment before carefully touching her shoulder. She jerked and looked up at him, eyes unfocused.
Bobby considered for a moment, then knelt and wrapped his arms around the still-befuddled Southerner. She stayed stiff for a moment, then gave a sigh and relaxed into his hold. No tears came, and there were no sobs.
There was simply a sad sort of acceptance.
Sam left them there and slipped away. He needed sleep. Tomorrow would be another day to grieve and begin to rebuild.
Final note: I've done way too many dialogue-only fics. I thought I'd try a 'silent' one.