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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

The Cast of Shadows - REVIEW THIS STORY

Written by NicoPony
Last updated: 04/17/2007 12:31:02 AM

Chapter 10

"Dis place is a mess," Remy grumbled as he swept a mop across the tiled floor. He bent over double to stare at the stain on the kitchen floor. "Whatís dat?" he said to himself. "Red goo?"

Rogue smiled at his backside, the temptation too great. She wound up the dampened dish towel and snapped it at his rear.

He shot upright. "Ow! Damn you, girl!" Remy cried, turning to face her while rubbing his back. "That hurts."

Rogue smiled her widest grin. "Quit screwing around and help me with the dishes." He scowled at her but complied. While he turned to set the mop aside, she took off her soapy rubber gloves and set them on the counter. She then dunked her bare hands into the water.

Still rubbing his backside, Remy came to stand beside Rogue at the sink. "Move over," he said. "I can wash, you rinse." He plugged the second basin and turned on the water to fill it. They worked quietly together; he would wash each dish and give it to her with a soapy hand. She watched his movements carefully, hesitating each time before taking the dish from him. Their hands came dangerously close to touching, but he did not seem to notice. Rogue splashed some water at him playfully. He flicked water back at her.

"Hey, thatís dirty water," she said, splashing him back. "Gross!"

"Quit," he told her. "I just cleaned the floor. Quit, I say!"

Ignoring him, she swung the wet towel at him and hit him in the face. He looked so irritated, she began to laugh. Remy wrenched the spray nozzle from beside the kitchen faucet. "You wouldnít dare!" Rogue cried and then shrieked as he began to spray her. She grabbed at him with one hand, trying to block the flow of water with the other. He easily overpowered her, laughing as she caught the spray full in the face. She pushed up on his arms with both hands so that the nozzle pointed upwards, raining water on them both.

"Let go!" he cried. "Hey!"

"Let go of the trigger!" Rogue cried, wrestling the sprayer until they were holding it between them. The water bubbled up like a fountain, soaking the fronts of their shirts.

"Okay, Iíll stop if you let go too. All right, on three..." Remy told her. "Ready? One, two...two and a half..."

"Stop it!" Rogue cried. Remy obliged for a moment, then gave her another short spray before letting the nozzle go. The hose retracted back into the sink. "Youíre a jerk," Rogue said, wringing out her shirt.

"You started it," he replied. "Youíre going to get me into more trouble." Remy moved to retrieve the mop and Rogue considered hosing him down with the newly freed water nozzle. She paused with her hand on the trigger. She was carefully aiming when the kitchen door flew open. Instantly, Rogue let go of the sprayer which retracted itself.

Remy looked at the door and muttered: "Youíre too late if you want dinner. We thought you done run off." He looked back over his shoulder at Rogue, eyeing her and the sink warily.

"Where is my watch?" Wolverine growled. Rogue winced at his angry tone. The older man looked much the worse for wear; his clothes were dirty and there were twigs stuck in his hair.

"Your watch?" Remy repeated in an uninterested voice. He took up the mop and began to wipe the floor with it. "Is that why you were late? You lost your watch?"

"I didnít lose it," Wolverine said as he stomped over to Remy. "You took it."

Remy rolled his eyes. "Oh, you mean this watch." He produced a stop watch from one of his pockets. "I didnít know you meant this watch." He dangled it from his fingers. "Well? You want it back then?"

Rogue instinctively backed up a few paces. Wolverine moved to snatch the watch from Remyís fingers, but he jerked it away at the last moment and graced Logan with a haughty look. Wolverine grabbed Remyís wrist, causing the boy to wince with pain. Remy squirmed, refusing to relinquish his grip on the watch.

"Stop it!" Rogue said, grabbing the nearest thing she could find. She began swatting at the wrestling men with a wet dish towel. "Knock it off you two!"

Remy had doubled over, holding the watch to his stomach in an effort to keep it away from Logan. Finally, Logan pulled it from the boyís grasp and held it triumphantly in front of Gambitís face.

"You are in big trouble," Logan told him, biting off each word forcefully.

"Bite me," Remy replied, turning away. His hurt and frustrated expression drained away as turned to face Rogue. He smiled at her mischievously as he flashed her a set of keys which he quickly put into his pocket. Rogueís eyes grew large, but Wolverine failed to notice. He stormed out without another word.

"Remy," Rogue hissed when the door swung shut. "Give him back his keys. You are cruisiní for a bruisiní, boy."

"No way," Remy said, grabbing the mop. He then said more quietly: "Iím going to make his life hell until it makes up fír what he done tíme."

Rogue didnít reply, but turned back to the dirty dishes. She looked at the red marks on her bare wrists, left there from when she and Remy had grappled. She touched them experimentally and smiled softly. "Guess Ah wasnít dreaming after all," she said to herself.

The late day sun stretched Madelyneís shadow across the dock, casting her back into darkness. The sunlight made a halo of golden red light around her head. She glanced over her shoulder at him as he approached. Scott stood on the grass, his toes just overlapping the first plank of the dock. He watched her for several long moments and she smiled at him before turning back to look at the water. She was so quiet, so beautifully serene, he couldnít help but stand and stare. After awhile he approached her, his footsteps the only sound save for the soft lapping of the water against the shore. His fingers touched her shoulder as he sat on the end of the dock.

"Hi," she said to him, her voice was a low whisper.

"Hi," he replied, just as quietly.

She continued to look out at the water. The sunlight played on the gentle waves. "Are you in very much trouble?" she finally asked.

"No," Scott replied. "The professor had nothing else to say after he found out about your baby."

Madelyneís hands were resting on her stomach, which was still very slight despite her relatively advanced pregnancy. "What about my baby?" she asked, though she all ready knew. There was more to her pregnancy than just the mystery of its happening.

"Heís a mutant," Scott answered.

Madelyne nodded.

Scott cleared his throat nervously. "Professor Xavier tried calling your parents at the number you gave him."

"Foster parents," she corrected, somewhat harshly.

"Right," Scott said. "The number was disconnected."

When Madelyne didnít answer he continued. "We had Information look for them, but they couldnít find anyone under that name."

Madelyne frowned. "They couldnít have disappeared?" she asked.

Scott looked at her closely. "Professor Xavier wants to talk to you sometime...privately."

"Scott," Madelyne returned his scrutinizing look. "You donít think Iím lying, do you? I gave you the only phone number I remember! I donít know what happened to them!"

"Of course I believe you, Maddie. The professor just thinks that he can help you remember things. From before your accident."

"I---I donít know, Scott. I get the feeling that I donít belong here."

"Donít say that," Scott said. "The baby completely justifies your being here. I mean, this is an opportunity of a lifetime! Your son will get to grow up around other mutants. I wish I could have been so lucky."

Madelyne nodded. "You know I want whatís best for him," she said. "And Iíd do anything to be able to stay with you."

Scott felt his face grow hot. "I feel a íbutí coming on."

"But...I canít explain it. I have to go, Scott. There are answers somewhere. Iíve got to find them. Starting with my foster family."

"You canít go off on your own. Not...like this," Scott said. "Wait until the baby comes."

She had begun shaking her head before he had even finished his sentence. "No. I need to go now. There isnít time."

"What do you mean? Thereís plenty of time. You can talk to the professor---."

"You donít understand, Scott. Even I donít understand completely. I need to go, and soon."

They shared a long look. "At the risk of sounding like an idiot," Madelyne began, "I wanted to ask you if you believed in destiny."

His eyes searched her face. He wanted to tell her yes, that fate and destiny and the crossing of stars all made perfect sense. But that wasnít him. That wasnít the leader of the X-Men talking. "I think the future happens because of our own actions. We make our own future," he said.

"When I first saw you," Madelyne replied, "I knew we were meant to meet. Something sent me to you. That maybe we were made for each other."

"I donít know about any of that," Scott replied. "But you and I are here now, together. And I promise I wonít let anything happen to you. I wonít let you go off alone. Just tell me youíll wait a while longer. At least until my brother goes back home."

She hesitated, but then nodded. "All right." She smiled when he reached out and put a hand upon her cheek. Her hand covered his, pressing his hand closer to her face. "Youíre the kindest person Iíve ever met," she said. "How did you get to be so perfect?"

"Iím far from perfect," he replied. She leaned close and pressed her lips to his.

Leaning back slowly she said, "Are you sure? Thatís as close to perfection as Iíve ever come."

Shadow stood just beyond the edge of the forest watching as the two teenagers embraced. Their kiss was far from interesting to him. His focus was entirely absorbed by the young woman. The man was of no consequence. Shadow ran his hands down his newly acquired body, savoring the sensation. He lifted his face to the breeze, breathed deep the scent of the forest, listened to the water on the shore and the leaves underfoot. The experience brought about a seething fury in him. Heíd been denied for so long. Shadow would destroy Xavier for what he had done.

The girl on the dock leaned against the boy. He put his arm around her and they stared out at the water. Shadow felt a hunger, his mouth watered at the thought of possessing the girl. She was empty, a perfect host. There was something about her, something powerful that was just lying inside; untapped potential. Shadow was certain he could exploit it. He turned away from the lake and the golden sunset. Such pleasures held no appeal. There was only anger and pain, the desire to hurt, feelings of confusion and hatred. That was what made life worth living. The reason why heíd wanted to escape for so long. The time for waiting was over, the time for revenge had begun.

The Astral Plane

I had lost the feeling in the tips of my fingers. My hand trailed against the brick wall, the rough texture abrading my skin until I no longer felt the sensation. Emma held onto my other hand, plodding along silently. I walked slowly so her short legs could keep up. I did not mind the slow pace, I was exhausted. Night had fallen shortly after I had pulled Emma and myself from the castle moat. The air grew cooler and the two of us huddled together in our wet clothes. We sat under the shadow of the palace, wondering what to do next. I might have dozed for a few moments, but I was awakened instantly by a sound that raised the hairs on the back of my neck. A strange grating of something being dragged across stone, then a crash. It the earliest hours of the morning before the sun had risen. We both started, our attention fixed on the darkened palace. One of the windows shattered outward, and we hurried away from the front of the palace. A burning object flew from the window, twirled through the air and landed with a crash in the lawn. I caught a glimpse of what it had been; a steel chandelier from one of the main halls, in the shape of a ring with an X-shaped bracing. The burning rope which had once held it to the ceiling trailed behind the still lit chandelier like a cometís tail. Fiendish laughter echoed in the darkness. Several more windows burst, followed by the sound of more laughter. Emma pointed, her arm rigid, up to the tallest tower. Flames had begun to sprout from one of the broken windows. Emma and I turned and began to run.

In the distance, I could still see the trail of smoke that hung above the palace. It was a ways behind us now. We had been walking for a very long time. We came to the wall which surrounded my world about mid- morning, and had been following it since. I looked up at it, angry at myself for making it so high and thick. Every so often I would stop and angrily rip out the thorny bushes that had grown up against my wall. They werenít mine, and they didnít belong here. The bushes were a sickly dark green and made a horrible stink when the branches were broken. Emma would stand aside and watch with a frightened look on her face as I ripped at the bushes. I cursed and screamed as I worked. Eventually, the bushes grew too thick, too high, too prickly for me to remove. My hands were too torn from the thorns. My fury had burned itself out. Now when we came upon one of the bushes, we would walk around it and join back with the wall on the other side. The grass was long and pulled at our feet with every step. The sun reflected off the wall, making us squint in the glare.

Emma let out a sigh and sank to the ground, her legs crumpling beneath her. I let her pull me down beside her, thankful for the rest. I looked at my raw hand, my fingertips red and shiny where the skin had rubbed away. I wondered if my real body were experiencing the same injury. Professor Xavier told me whatever happened to my Astral form, would also happen to my real body. I thought about my other self, my real life self; what had happened to me? Was I still sitting at Cerebro? Had someone found me unconscious and discovered they couldnít revive me? Was I lying beside Emma in the MedLab right now, pale and lifeless? My throat tightened. The thought was more bearable than the alternative. Was my body even mine anymore?

I began to cry.

Emma looked up at me, horrified. "No!" she cried. "Stop it!" Then she slapped me, but my tears did not stop. Emma stood up shakily and began to run. "No!" she shrieked.

I felt my gut twist as I watched her run. "Emma! Come back!" I got up and scrambled after her. I couldnít bear the thought of losing her. "Emma!"

Emma fell down in the long grass and I lost sight of her for a moment. When I found her, she tried to pull away from me. "Iím sorry!" I cried. "Iím sorry. Look, Iím okay. I wonít cry anymore." I was stupid to have cried in front of her. She was just a kid, and I was the only thing she had. "Everything is going to be okay," I told her, pulling her into my lap.

"I want my daddy," she sobbed against me. Her breath was hot and wet against my shirt-front. "I want my Mo!"

Mo? I wondered, then made the connection: Moira. That woman Hank had tried to introduce me to. "I know," I told her. "Weíll find them." I felt guilty about lying to her. "Calm down now, okay? We have to try to get to the woods before dark. I need you to help me."

She swallowed and nodded her head. I stood and set her on her feet. "Do you know how to ride piggyback?" I asked her. I crouched down in the grass and she locked her arms around my neck. "Hold on tight now." I grasped her behind the knees and hefted her onto my back. Leaning forward, I began to trudge towards the stand of trees on the horizon.

It was a long walk to the forest. I had to stop periodically to catch my breath. Emma is small, but she felt as if she were gaining pounds as I walked. I could just make out the individual trees when I was forced to stop. I nearly fell, but held my balance long enough for Emma to climb off of my back. I lay down in the grass for a moment, sucking in the cool damp smell of the earth. I felt faint.

"Only a little further Jean," Emma said, leaning over me and patting my cheek gently. It was the same place she had smacked me earlier. "Come on Jean. Weíre nearly there."

I got up on my hands and knees and crawled a few paces before climbing to my feet. Emma held my aching hand and led me to the woods. She seemed more confident now that we had reached our goal. The forest seemed much darker than I remembered it. The sun was setting and I wasnít sure I wanted to stay in the woods after dark. Especially after the weirdness that happened at the palace. Thinking about the shattering glass and crazy laughter made me frightened. I looked up at the sun, which hung like a great orange ball just on the top of the mountain range.

"Weíll need to make a fire," I told Emma. "Can you help me get some wood together?"

Emma trotted along the edge of the forest, picking up twigs and small bits of wood. I cleared an area of pine needles to expose the bare earth beneath. I found some rocks and set them in a ring. I started a pile of dried leaves and needles, then stared at my handiwork. I really hadnít the faintest idea about how to make a fire without matches. Emma came over and dropped her pile of sticks beside the ring. She looked at me expectantly.

"I guess we need to rub two of these branches together," I said, selecting two of the straighter pieces of wood from the pile. I began to pick off the loose bark. I stood one of the sticks on its end in the center of the pile of leaves and rubbed the other furiously against it. The stick slipped, my hand was too sore to hold onto it. "Can you hold this?" I asked Emma. She gripped the stick and I began again in earnest. The sticks did not change, there was not even the faintest hint of smoke to encourage me. I stared at my stick and touched it. It was barely even warm. I was getting pretty angry by this point. How the hell did dumb idiot cave men make fire in the first place? How did the human race even begin to propagate when all they had were two stupid sticks? I jumped to my feet and flung my stick out into the forest. Emma watched as it whizzed overhead, then looked back at me.

"Why is this so hard?" I cried. "I made all this!" I swung my arms out, gesturing to my surroundings. "I made this! I want fire now!" I stamped my feet against the ground. "Dammit, I own you!" I screamed at the earth. "I--am--your--god!" I stamped my foot with each word. I finished my tirade by falling to my knees and ripping out random patches of grass that I found offensive. White hot heat came out of me in a great rush. I sunk my fingers into the dirt, feeling the granules dig under my nails. My hair fell all around my face in sweaty tangles. I listened to the sound of my own ragged breathing, caught beneath the curtain of hair and loud in my ears. I wasnít going to cry again.

"Jean?" Emma said softly. I looked up at her through my hair.

"What is it, Emma?" I asked. I was surprised at how calm my voice sounded.

She pointed at the pile of sticks. I blinked, uncertain at what I saw. A brown leaf curled, and a tendril of smoke appeared. The leaf folded over, as a line of red-orange appeared along its edge. I crawled over to the circle of stones. A flame licked at a clump of dried grass.

"How did you do this?" I asked Emma as I fed the flame more dried leaves.

"I didnít," Emma said. "You did."


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