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Chapter 1

Wings of Azrael - REVIEW THIS STORY

Written by Lucia de’Medici
Last updated: 04/29/2007 12:33:29 PM

Chapter 1


Wings of Azrael

“Come on, angel, don’t you cry…”


Through the shifting curtain of darkness, that fine, gossamer shroud cloaking her vision before her eyes roll and those surrounding Rogue’s spasmodic form in the med bay are shunted to the sides by a frantic Dr. McCoy, she sees him.

The silhouette’s little more than a dark smudge, sliding between the coarse-faced Wolverine and the lightly steaming Iceman, and disappearing into the shadows faster than she can reach for him.

She’s still straining blindly as someone clasps her firmly about the wrist and straps her down to the rattling bed frame.

“Don’t leave –”

The steady shrieking of her heart monitor drowns out the feeble protest.

“Rogue, lie still. She’s burning up – Bobby, I need you to move back. Now.”

“What in the hell did he do to her?”

“Strain-88 is behaving retroactively. T-cell count is plummeting, WBC count is off the charts, systolic pressure rocketing, temperature five degrees over average –” Henry paused, reaching past Logan for a syringe, “She’s expending too much energy, any more strain on her system and she’ll go into cardiac arrest. Rogue’s system is literally cannibalizing her body from the inside out.”

“I can help.”

“I am afraid not, my friend. She’s far too unstable to predict how an absorption of your mutation would react with the virus.”

“This is bull –”

“She’s seizing!”

There’s a place deep inside the psyche, a constant nucleus that dampens the glare of the overheads, that removes her from the convulsions as she seizures again – it’s the calm center, the eye of the storm that she so often seeks when the voices beat against the inside of her skull.

She can’t go there today, though the white is comforting in its blinding brilliance. It’s a shelter made of light, growing from a pinprick into a stream of sunshine that warms her face as the med bay disappears, and the bed falls from under her with its mangled, sweat-stained linens.

And the silence falls with her.

And falls.

And it’s beautiful.

And it’s an unconditional invitation.

But he’s not there.

Rogue turns, little more than a shift of air above herself, her consciousness spreading like so many shards of fractal light reaching outward, searching – always searching, just to know he was with her one last time – in the heat of the battle, at the end of the line, after all their words are wasted and all their missed embraces are counted and measured against them.

After they’ve faced their final judgement, and he’s bled for her time and again, and she’s left him wounded, and his stubborn insistence kept them huddled together above it all on the rooftops of the Institute in a place where no one could ever touch either of them.

And the light is beautiful, but it’s not home without him anymore.

The med bay, the bed with the worn leather shackles binding her bared arms, the tearing, throbbing ache that wrenches her frame upwards as her spine twists involuntarily against the infection that’s spread like plague through her blood – it all crashes over her. The pain grips her heart like the hand of the jackal-faced god who wants to weigh her sins before she takes the final passage, and that journey, she thinks with a bubbling, fierce burst of lucidity, is not one she’s willing to take alone.

It’s not one she’s meant to take alone.

And the light winks out with the crisp, bitter assent of a prize being ripped away at the earliest opportunity.

She can’t feel the acute loss; the sensation burbles away as the injection begins to finesse her numbing limbs. Instead of acquiescing to the torpid, sluggish euphoria, Rogue opens her eyes wide and clenches her teeth through peeled-back lips.

Ragged, frantic breath turns to steam as Bobby leans over her, wanting to offer comfort but only getting in her way.

Through his torso, though the lines shift and become hazy as the drug takes over, the shadows converge in the corner of the room, growing with each struggling hiss of the respirator.

He’s come back, she thinks, following the glowing red coals of his eyes set like rubies in obsidian as the darkness unfurls hungrily around his shoulders.

“Remy,” she rasps, her voice lost beneath the shrill sounds of the medical equipment that register her stuttering heartbeat. She barely notices the good Doctor McCoy frantically extracting the large syringe from her chest. He’s reaching for the defibrillator, shouting at everyone to move back.

The bed lurches as Wolverine tries to throw his bare arm across her forehead, to let her absorb him, and he almost succeeds. There is a struggle, and a charge goes off, but the sounds are distant now.

When he looks at her, everything softens, dimming to perpetual twilight.

The darkness slides from its place in the corner, the welcome comfort of slumber trailing from its cloak as it uncoils around the bed. In the blackest night, she knows Remy feels the most at home. She closes her eyes momentarily, and with the patience they’ve cultivated together after so many years, each waiting for the other, she feels the featherlike twine of his fingers through her matted hair.

Rogue sighs; breath expelled involuntarily like a long-awaited release, a fist unclenching, night blooming heartsease opening to the welcome dark.

And like always, even as horrible as he seems, and for everything they’ve ever done to disfigure the other, she finds him beautiful.

“I’ve missed you.”

And they embrace, the depths of their shadows merging as he draws her into soft folds of his cloak.

The seconds elongate, growing steadily thicker as the whine of the ECG drones on. Dr. McCoy, setting down the paddles of the defibrillator, takes a moment to swipe at his eyes beneath his spectacles, before looking at his watch.

It is another moment before he Bobby sobs, glacial fingers gripping the sides of Rogue’s bed, as her hands fall slack from where they were reaching.

And another before Logan rams a fist into the howling machine, sentencing it to silence.

And another before Dr. McCoy murmurs, “Time of death, 3:12 a.m.”

And many more, before the traces of these shades will fully disappear.



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