As Remy approached the first of the med lab doors, he heard a small explosion. He bolted through both doors to find Rayne coughing and waving her arms about.
Jean had met him at the interior lab door. She was in the outer room working when she heard the blast.
"What's goin on?" He looked at the comical site that was his sister.
Over the hospital gown she had on his long duster, it dragged the ground as she moved about, and the sleeves fell over her hands so that they flapped as she fanned the air. "S'aright Remy, don' worry none." She coughed as she watched the smoke billow from the counter where she had come from. There were tiny popping noises coming come within the base of the cloud and an awful stench.
Jean’s jaw dropped open. She didn't even hear Rayne get up, much less hear her building a bomb. She stammered for something to say.
Gambit looked at the doctor accusingly, "Ah tought yo' was keep'n an eye on t'ings in 'ere?" He pulled Rayne out into the other part of the lab that wasn't full of smoke.
Jean ran over to Afterburn’s bed and she heard the girl giggling from under the sheets. "Are you ok?"
Afterburn laughed and pulled the sheet away from her head. "Is it always so much fun in here? I have seen drama and fights and now explosions. There's never a dull moment in this place. Can i stay here?" She laughed harder and tears came to her eyes. Jean helped her out of bed and ushered her into the other room where Gambit and Rayne were.
Rayne was saying ouch in between her coughs, because with each exasperation her broken ribs ached.
"Ah'm sorry Dr. Grey. Ah'll clean up de mess."
"What in blazes were yo' doin' Rayne?" Gambit looked at his sister with concern. "Ah can' leave yo' alone fo' two minutes girl."
Rayne raised her eyebrows at him. "Ah was jus' tryin' ta make somet'in ta settle ma stomach some."
Remy was exasperated, "Why didin’ yo' jus ask da doc fo' somet'in?"
Rayne lowered her head and looked at him from under knitted brows. "An me'be ah coulda asked yo' for somet'in, if yo' cared 'nough ta be here. An don' bother tellin me any story cause ah ken smell her on yo'." She added with a low growl.
Jean intereded, "He wanted to stay here last night with you Rayne, but we thought it was best that you got some sleep, and we sent him away. We were afraid that if you knew he was there it might keep you awake."
Now Rayne felt ashamed. She hung her head and stared at the floor. She admonished herself for butting into Remy's life in the first place. 'He's a grown man. He can do whatever he likes now. You just stay out of it.' She sighed and coughed again. "Ow."
Jean knew that Remy and Rayne needed to talk, so she excused herself by escorting Afterburn to her own room, now that the girl seemed well enough. Jean told Rayne that she would bring her back some clothes to wear for the funeral.
Rayne looked at Gambit, "What funeral?"
"Well, actually dere's gonna be two."
Rayne's eyes flew open wide. "Two!" She let out a whistle. "Who died?"
"A girl named Willow from the labs, and Oliver Adams." Rayne jumped up from the table they were sitting at. "No way am ah gonna go ta his funeral." She growled at him, and paced around the room. "Dat was what da talk was in dere yesterday." She pointed to the other room that still had a cloud of smoke wafting around. She stopped pacing and thought things through.
"Dat homme in the chair, he said he was Adams brother ?" She searched her brothers face, "What kinda crazy place is dis ?"
Remy shook his head, "Ah ask me'se'f de same question, petite. But believe me, dey are good people. Give 'em a chance, ok?" He cleared his throat and continued. "Speakin' of which. Hayley is a good person too, Rayne."
Rayne spun on her heel and stared at her brother. She wanted to tell him he was crazy for having anything to do with a woman that was pregnant, and didn't know who the father was. She wanted to shake him until he came to his senses. But, he was old enough to take care of himself, and suddenly she felt ashamed again of hurting him by not respecting his wishes.
"Remy." She floundered for what to say next. "Ah apologize for being so quick to judge that woman." She sat down in a chair and put her arms on the table. "It's none a my business anyway."
Remy reached across the table and held her hands. "Ah'll always care what ya think, petite." He smiled at her. "Don't worry, ah won't get hurt. Not dis cajin. He too crafty, non?"
Rayne looked into his eyes. She truely hoped that would be so. "Yeah, dat's right. Yo' da slick one, Remy."
Gambit's squeezed his sister's hands. "Rayne, where did they take you after you left the assembly?"
Rayne's hands lightly trembled as she held back the tears. She inhaled as deep as she could without her side complaining. "Dey put me on a train from N'awlins ta Los Angeles."
"Dat's it ? Dey sent you to L.A.?" His thoughts whirred as he remembered trying to find his sister off and on for years. Never once did he check the City of Angels.
Rayne snorted, "Sent? Yeah, das right. Dey put me on dat train, no money, no nothin' " Her face flushed with anger. "Elevin years old and ah was tossed out with de trash." She sighed. "Den again, S'not like ah wasn't used ta being on my own. Started dat way didn' it? You too. Jus' a coupla stray pups. No real home. No real fam'ly. Until Tanti and Pappa. Dey became our fam'ly. We were fam'ly. But..." Raynes eyes flashed an amber light that made Remy jump. " Yo' dead ta me now Remy, and ah'm dead ta yo'." She slapped her hand on the table. "Dat's da way it is now an dere ain't nothin' we can do 'bout it."
Gambit started to rebuff Rayne’s statement when Jean walked back into the room with some clothes. Jean noted the tension in the room but reminded them that the funeral for Willow was very soon.
"Dat's alright." Rayne said, "We all finished 'ere." She took the clothes from Jean and wandered to the bathroom to change.
Justice held Jordan’s little hand in his as they stepped onto the lawn and blinked into the light. Jordan’s hold on his hand increased, and Justice looked down at his daughter.
"Daddy, I am scared."
"It’s okay, we are all here." He pointed to Alex who was seated with Beast on a bench, "See, there’s your Aunt Alex." He wondered where the other two were.
"Don’t worry daddy they will be here soon."
Justice chuckled, and wondered if he would ever get used to her abilities. He reached down and picked her up into a hug, and then he put her back on the ground quickly.
Jordan nodded and the two moved slowly towards the crowd. Jordan eyed the coffin skeptically. It was closed and would never be opened, and she narrowed her eyes, puzzled by the enigma. Her daddy explained that it would be best for her friends to remember her the way they knew her in life.
Daughter followed her father’s lead to right up to the padded stand before Willow’s coffin. He let her hand go and he knelt down, making a hand gesture she didn’t understand but the child mimicked her father, and placed her knees on the pad next to him as he did.
Jordan watched her father’s eyes tear and she placed her hand over his.
“It will be all right, Dad," the little girl reassured her father.
He smiled warmly and wrapped his arm around her. Imp saw him stand again so she stood then imitated the hand gesture again. She grabbed his hand and met his eye, "Did I do well?"
"You did fantastic," Justice wiped his eye, brought to tears by the sweetness of his child, and given hope through her innocence. He swept her into his arms but this time he wouldn’t put her back down. He wanted to hold her.
Justice spied Alex and Beast standing before Oliver Adams coffin with a crest fallen expression. The casket sat open and Alex held a tissue for both fallen and new tears.
Justice made his way next to Alex, who smiled at the sight of her brother and niece. She promptly snatched Imp from his arms and kissed her. The little girl wiggled to the ground when she saw her father’s somber actions.
Justice grabbed Beast’s hand and shook it solemnly as he kissed his sister’s tear stained cheek. They made no words for their feelings because there were none needed.
Justice walked to his father’s side and he felt the tears sting his face. He bowed, and then he knelt on the padded rest next to his father‘s quiet repose. This time the tears he shed were more for the life lost, rather than the pride for his daughter’s honest actions. He felt a touch upon his hand and looked to see Jordan standing beside him. Jordan made the hand gesture he had done earlier and then she nudged him.
"You forgot to do this," She whispered. Through his tears he smiled at her, grateful for her support.
Warren joined the mourners, taking in the sad scene before him. He took a seat at the back row of chairs.
He watched the Adams’s and their graceful manners. He noted that Alex and Justice had visited Willow’s coffin first, and he knew they felt some responsibility for how she died.
Xavier headed in Warrens direction, and Angel noticed Charles’s tired features. Warren wasn’t fooled by the professor’s staunch demeanor, and he knew Xavier was weary. The same rang true for many of the other mourners.
"Warren," Charles addressed him. "Nice to see you in attendance."
"Professor," Warren stood and shook his hand. "Of course."
Charles sighed, "I didn’t expect such a large turn out." He smiled at the multitude of students, family and friends combined. "It makes me proud," he gestured to his students, "For them to show such support when many didn’t even know Willow or Oliver."
"You have a great deal to be proud of," Warren crossed his arms but his gaze went to Gambit and Hayley who just arrived on the lawn. He narrowed his eyes at the sight.
Xavier caught the look, "You have met Hayley?" though he was sure Warren had.
Warren nodded and noted the supportive arm Gambit had around Hayley’s waist. "I guess I don’t see the attraction there," Warren mumbled.
Xavier understood right away as he watched his niece approach Willow’s coffin.
Warren’s eyes didn’t leave her. "Indeed," Charles smiled. "They have a lot of different traits."
"She’s beautiful," Warren sighed. Then blushed, realizing he had said it aloud.
Charles didn’t usually intercede on a
family’s behalf but he could see that Warren thought he was taken with
Hayley. Xavier smiled to himself because he knew that it was because
Warren didn’t like Gambit, not because he was in love with Hayley.
"Warren, are you aware that she is expecting a child?" Charles offered hoping to squelch his enthusiasm.
"Really?" Warren muttered and rubbed his jaw thoughtfully, "I thought they had just met?"
"Her child is not a product of her relation with Remy."
"I see," Warren noticed charles didn’t offer the real father’s identity.
"Like many, she has a," Charles paused, watching Hayley leaving Willow’s coffin, "Complicated life."
Warren smiled, "I think we all do."
Charles knew that Hayley was quite capable of causing trouble, and he wondered if he could get through to his niece before more males came to blows again over her.
Aramis kept her tissues with her because this place was a pit of depression. She watched the twins and Tyler tumbling to the outside doors. They were oblivious to the pain and sadness the older people felt, though Jordan was saddened by this day. The babies lifted the empath’s hopes and made some of her feelings lighter, but still she felt overcome by everyone’s strong emotions. Anger, Sadness, aggression, confusion, hate, sorrow, anxiety, the children only offered smiles to her and it was comforting.
She watched Amber and Michael with their happy smiles. She watched Ally and Logan’s mixture of emotions. They kept long faces but would try to replace it with a smile when the children caught their attention.
Aramis marched forward taking baby Tyler in her arms. "I can keep them with me," Aramis forced a smile. Ally looked dubious and stared at her children and then the people covered lawn.
"They aren’t any trouble," Aramis offered. She knew they wouldn’t leave them too quickly but she knew they needed time for closure with the deaths.
"Are you sure?" Ally asked.
"Al, she’ll be fine," Logan reassured. "We’ll only be a couple feet away."
Ally pressed her lips together into a tight line. A habit she had gotten from Logan years ago. She was trying to make up her mind if she wanted to leave them on this day of all days.
"Here," Aramis took Michael’s hand. He responded with a happy squeal, "We can take them to the lawn with Tyler."
"Okay," Ally agreed. She knew this was their grandfather but had been worried of what they would do seeing the parents go through this.
Ally looked at the people already gathered. She saw the new mutants near Willow’s casket. The coffin was shut and she knew it was because of how Willow had died, scattered into pieces. Willow died a gruesome death and in Ally’s mind it was because of her. She felt responsible and she walked to Willow’s coffin hesitantly.
She felt Logan’s hand trying to comfort her but she shrugged him off and went to coffin. She knelt and folded her hands as if she was pleading with Willow’s spirit rather than praying.
At length, Ally pulled herself away remembering there were other people who wanted to make their peace too.
When she turned to leave she found her
siblings standing there and Charles gave her a concerned look. She wiped her
eyes, now aware of the tears she had shed and slowly joined the family waiting
Ally saw Alex standing there without Hank and also wondered where Logan was. Then she spotted their significant others off to the side talking in hushed tones. Gambit was talking to Jordan and Beast, and Logan was talking to Storm. They were speaking to one another but their eyes were on the twin sisters.
"You okay?" Hayley finally broke the silence as Ally came closer.
Ally nodded but set her sights on her father’s face peeking out of the satin lined bed of the wooden coffin.
Justice touched her arm lightly and then touched her mind, ‘Not your fault sis.’ He managed to turn a corner of her mouth a little.
Ally nodded and went to Xavier and hugged him tightly. She knew he felt as divided about this as she did.
"Take heart." Charles whispered. Ally began to cry harder at his words. It was something her father should have said to her at one time. Her Uncle Charles was everything she had wanted her father to be, and it saddened her even more to think of this after her father’s burial. She pulled herself together and she kissed him on the cheek.
"I thought there was to be two services?" Ally stood slowly.
"The Minister’s time was cut short," Xavier explained.
"Oh," Alex mumbled, but they all seemed to know what Xavier was dancing around. Many didn’t think Oliver should have his own service. It was hard emotionally for everyone.
"It’s probably for the best," Justice took a deep breath and absent mindedly stared at the students.
"Just say it," Hayley scoffed, "Nobody gives a rat’s ass."
Nobody made a sound until Justice spoke, "Speaking of rat’s," He nodded in the direction where Jean showed with Rayne in a wheelchair. Xavier coughed uncomfortably trying not laugh at his nephew’s remark. Alex and Ally smiled at Justice’s goofiness. Hayley met Rayne’s dead on stare.
"What has she got against you, Hal?" Justice mumbled to his sister.
Remy jogged over to Hayley and whispered in her ear. She nodded and Gambit jogged off in the direction of his sister.
"Oh!" Justice said finally understanding, but decided to play it up to lighten the mood. "Why, I do declayah !" He flopped his hand on his chest for effect. He looked at Hayley’s stubborn stare, and snapped his fingers. "Not like you didn’t do the same thing to Chloe when I dated her," Justice challenged.
Alex gave a low whistle when she saw Hayley narrow her eyes at Justice, "Low blow, bro."
"I need to move on," Xavier smiled, realizing they would be all right.
"Let it go, Hal," Ally sighed.
Alex made her way over to a small figure sitting on Willow’s coffin. The tiny fairy, Minnie sat where Willow’s head would rest. The tearstains on her face were evident as Alex cam closer.
"I need to know," Minnie sniffled, "Where you there?"
Alex nodded, "You were very close?"
"Yes," she didn’t bother to go into the explanation of how they came to the labs, "How did it happen?"
"This isn’t the time or place," Alex sighed, "Now is the time to make our peace and reconcile within our selves." She was surprised at her words because it sounded like something Beast would say.
Minnie nodded and new tears came.
Alex gave her a small smile, "Need a ride to a seat?" She looked at the folded chairs on the lawn. "They are about to begin," She offered the tiny girl a palm to stand on.
"Sure," Minnie stumbled onto Alex’s clammy palm and laughed, "I think you are just as nervous as I am."
Riptide walked up after Alex and Minnie found Dr. McCoy. He knelt down and shook his head.
"I am sorry," He wanted to protect and help Willow. He felt useless then as he felt useless now.
A hand on his shoulder made him turn. He looked into the identical eyes of Kamikaze and Bonsai. "Wasn’t your fault man," One of them said.
Jason laughed because he wasn’t sure who was who. Riptide stood up, "Vaminose," he smiled.
"What?" one twin squinted at him and Riptide realized this was Kamikaze because Bonsai had picked up enough Spanish around him at the labs.
"Means lets go," Bonsai said quietly.
"Oh, right." Kamikaze started away and Bonsai patted Jason’s back.
"I guess it was hard there, huh?" Bobby sighed watching the others visiting the coffins. Rogue and Aubrey who sat with him, didn’t answer. Bobby wanted to make them laugh. It was too depressing and he couldn’t stand to see them so sad. A thought crossed his mind and he leaned forward on his knees to meet them. They both leaned forward to hear what he wanted to say.
"I see dead people," He smiled hoping to make them laugh.
Aubrey giggled but Rogue rolled her eyes, "It’s not funny Bobby."
Aubrey sighed. "Rogue was there," Aubrey looked at Bobby, "and it must have been awful to see that," Aubrey touched Rogue’s gloved hand.
"I guess I understand," Rogue looked at Bobby, "Its not all that real to you." Bobby shrugged not quite understanding what she meant.
Amber was on watch in the high
security office keeping an eye on the other mutants. She was to make sure they
didn’t get out. She pouted at the lame assignment, she was sure she was
destined for something more than this. She gave a long sigh and took a drink of
her soda. She ran her finger against the cool buttons and lights she saw on the
panel in front of her. They felt real enough, cool and smooth but sometimes she
had a feeling that things were not as she saw them.
The previous lab had always been her home and as long as she could remember, it was her job to help take care of those awful mutants. Tears stung her eyes. Where was her father? He left the labs, and when she had come back he was nowhere to be found. There had just been a mess and significant signs of a battle. She would find him soon. She had left her father several times and always came back to the safety and sanctity of that home.
She quickly picked up a familiar scent and sat up straighter. Even though Pietor was trying to be stealthy, she could smell him a mile away. She didn’t bother to turn in his direction. ‘Let him think he’s slick.’ She growled. She wasn’t really in the mood for company.
"Thinking?" Quicksilver called from behind her.
"Want some company?"
"Do I have a choice?" She scoffed.
"Sure you do," He smiled at her, and then gestured at the door he came in, "I can go if you want to be alone."
She looked at him hard. ‘I have a choice?’ she chuckled nervously at his dumb smile. "Stay if you want, you don’t bother me," She said nonchalantly.
He pulled up a chair and looked at the monitors with her, "Anything new?"
She kept her arms crossed but stretched her legs, "Nope."
He cleared his throat nervously. He glanced at her hands, her knuckles in particular. Her claws were sheathed but he had to admit he was in awe of her capabilities. She caught his stare and clenched her fists, then crossed her arms. "Well," he started, "You going this time?" She nodded. He watched her quiet, aloof demeanor. She could even be called intimidating. He had been like that once too and he figured it was a front, "You don’t have to do this."
"Do what?" she turned to face him.
"It doesn’t have to be this way," He leaned forward on his knees, hoping to show her he wasn’t afraid of her. Amber shrugged and leaned forward on her knees as well. They both began to stare at each other, one not able to admit to the next one they had faults. Amber finally laughed in his face, ‘This is dumb.’
"What are you talking about?"
"Give in Amber," Quicksilver whispered, "He will embrace you, just like your father." He sat back, "My father is like yours, in a way." She stared him with a hard look and he knew he was in danger of blowing this, "He has a greater purpose at hand."
Amber laughed, "Sure." She stood up. He used his speed to get in front of her. He soon realized she had quick reflexes too, when she unsheathed her claws. She instinctively lunged for him but he put his hands out in submission. She smirked at the sight of the blood that ran down one of his arms and drew her claws back in, ‘Speedy, huh?’
He looked down in disbelief at the crimson that covered his handsome costume. Her instincts were great all right, or he had telegraphed where he would end up. "What you get for playing," she tossed her head back slightly.
He gripped the injury not because it hurt but hoping to play on her sympathy. "I just wanted to get your attention."
"What else?" she crossed her arms taking steps towards the door again. "I just wanted to help you Amber." He said pleadingly. "That’s all."
She sighed, "How are you going to help me?"
"Become one of the Brotherhood, they can show you more." He knew he was losing he attention again, "How to take control of your abilities," She opened the door. "Or even your past."
She shut the door and he knew he had gotten to her when she turned to face him. "What about it?" She hissed defensively.
He stepped closer to her. Now that he knew her weakness he wasn’t as afraid of her. "They can help a great many ways." He touched her face surprised she let him.
"Let us help you." She nudged him away. "How long have you been alone?" he said slowly. He kept his stare into her eyes hoping to reach her.
"I am fine, "she said a little breathless. She shook her head and not to let her emotions get the better of her. She stood straighter and found the doorknob quickly.
"I am fine," she repeated. "I will also be an asset today." She narrowed her eyes at him, and glanced back at him. "I have fought battles before."
He smiled and leaned back against the panel of lights and knobs. He turned up a corner of his mouth. "Sure," he said as if to dismiss her.
‘He reminds me of Eric,’ she thought and left quickly. Quicksilver smoothed his hair and watched the monitors.
‘If she only knew.’ He laughed to himself.