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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 12:31:03 AM

Chapter 20

Jean was stunned and terrified. Shadow’s laughter followed after her as she ran. She did not know where she was going, but there was something nearby that pulled at her attention. She followed a trail of thoughts that she sensed were in close proximity to her physical form. The thoughts and her Astral presence were currently occupying the same plane, one she feared was closer to the plane of death.

“Hello!” she called out. “Where are you?”

Something in the distance turned towards her. It was a shimmering black shape of a man. Jean began towards it at a sprint. “Hey!” she called, waving her hand.

She came to an abrupt halt when she saw the gaping black void appear before her. The black clad figure was standing on the precipice, seemingly unaware of the ever-widening hole. His gaze was locked on her.

“Jean?” he asked.

“Remy!” Jean exclaimed in recognition. “Look out!”

The pit was expanding, and the ground beneath Remy’s feet disappeared and he fell. Jean lunged forward, falling hard on her stomach, and grasped his hand. He looked up at her from inside the darkness of the hole. “Jean, what are you doing?” he asked.

“Saving your life!” Jean cried, inching backwards as the hole continued to grow. “Give me your other hand!”

“I’m dead,” he said to her tiredly. “I felt myself die.”

“If you’re here, you’re not dead yet. Now help me help you!”

He reached up and took her other hand. Jean struggled backwards, but the pit was moving faster than she could retreat. Remy reached up and took hold of the crumbling earth surrounding the pit. Once some of the weight dragging on her arms had been relieved, Jean was able to back up and grasp Remy by the back of his jacket and pull him onto firmer ground. They both struggled to their feet and began to run from the void.

“I’ll send you back,” Jean gasped as she ran. “I’ve found a link.”

“That isn’t possible,” Remy told her. “We’re only holding off the inevitable.” He glanced behind. The void seemed to have sensed their escape, and the ground behind them was crumbling at a rapid rate.

“No,” Jean said, “I have it, here!” She grasped Remy by the shoulder and they turned sharply to the left. “Now go!” His strange red on black eyes looked to her in surprise, then suddenly, his Astral form dissolved into multicolored ribbons and he vanished. The same way Xavier and Emma had departed. There was a weak and trembling thread in Jean’s hand. It was of sparkling red. She could feel the tug of her physical body at the other end. The void loomed closer. Jean took a deep breath and pulled down the thread, just as the void overtook her. And everything fell into darkness.

Wolverine’s shadow fell over Rogue’s limp form. She had pillowed her face in her arms as she sobbed uncontrollably. “Your fault,” she cried. “This is all your fault. You kept pushing him. Now he’s dead…he’s dead…”

Wolverine lowered himself to a crouch. He placed his big, square hand on Rogue’s back. She flinched away from his touch in fear. The gaping wound in his chest and abdomen was slowly closing, as were the wounds in Rogue’s side…wounds he’d inflicted.

“Stripes,” he said softly, his voice gruff. “C’mon kid, let’s get outta here.”

“No!” Rogue wailed, pressing herself against the floor. “Stay away from me!”

Wolverine shook his head slowly, trying to clear the last cobwebs of angry thought from his mind. The pressure he’d felt to kill had evaporated, leaving him with the dead weight of fear in his stomach. He put his arms beneath Rogue and picked her up. She screamed and kicked at him while he cradled her in his arms. “Take it easy. We can’t stay here. I didn’t mean to do what I did. I wouldn’t hurt you intentionally.”

The fight seemed to go out of the girl, and she hung limply. Her eyes squeezed shut and tears spilled down her cheeks. “I’m sorry,” he told her. “I’m so sorry.”

Jean drew in a sharp breath, and immediately let it out in a scream of pain. She clutched at her wounded side, doubling over in agony. The voices of those surrounding her came dull and muffled at first, as she became more and more aware. Someone was trying to hold her flat to the hard floor. Somewhere, in the distance, came a thin wail. The sound faded as quickly as it had begun. Jean opened her eyes, and gasped. Storm was leaning over her. The white haired woman’s lips moved, but Jean could not understand the words she spoke. At first, Storm seemed to be speaking down a long tunnel. Then the world slammed into focus. Jean managed to pull her wits together. She found the wounds with her fingers first, then focused her telekinesis to stop the bleeding and hold together the ragged cuts. She struggled to calm her breathing.

“Storm…” Jean moaned weakly.

“Thank the Bright Lady,” Storm looked upwards as she whispered her prayer of thanks.

Jean struggled to sit upright, but Storm restrained her. “No, Storm, don’t,” Jean said. “I’m okay, really.”

Storm shook her head in disbelief, then gasped in shock as Jean managed to stand. Scott was sitting on the floor, leaning up against a table. His hands hung between his knees, his head low and shoulders slumped. On the nearby examination table was a body covered in a white sheet. Blood dripped from the edge of the table and onto the floor. Beast was holding a small bundle in his huge hands.

“He’s not going to make it,” Beast announced sadly.

“Give him to me,” Jean said, extending her hands. “I can help him breathe, keep his heart beating with my powers. I won’t let Christopher die.”

Scott’s head snapped up, staring at Jean in shock. Beast reluctantly handed the too small baby to Jean. Jean looked down at the baby. His skin was pale and blue veined, his tightly clenched eyes seemed too big for their sockets. The baby’s thin hair was red. Gently, Jean touched the baby’s cheek with a forefinger. “I’ll take care of you,” Jean whispered. “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you.”

“‘As for Matilda, she continued to sit motionless at her desk. She was feeling curiously elated. She felt as though she had touched something that was not quite of this world, the highest point of the heavens, the farthest star,’” Moira read, her voice soft in the still room.

“‘She had felt most wonderfully the power surging up behind her eyes, gushing like a warm fluid inside her skull, and her eyes had becoming scorching hot, hotter than ever before, and things had come bursting out of her eye-sockets and then the piece of chalk had lifted itself up and had begun to write. It seemed as though she had hardly done anything, it had been so simple.’” (6)

Moira paused, picking up a glass of water from nearby table. She took a long sip. Her lips were dry and her throat sore. She looked at little Emma, lying still and quiet on the bed. In the bed second bed, Charles Xavier lay equally as silent. Moira felt tears prick her eyes. With Xavier gone, what hope did she have for Emma’s recovery? She set the glass down and reopened the book. A small noise gave her pause.

“Mo?” came a tiny voice.

The book fell from Moira’s lap, forgotten. “Emma!” she cried, rushing forward to clasp the girl’s little hand. “Ye’re awake!”

Emma’s eyes squinted, her nose wrinkling. She stuck out her tongue. “Bleah,” she said. “I can’t go to school today. I’m sick.”

Moira gasped, half sobbing, half laughing. “That’s fine, Emma,” she said, kissing the girl’s face.

“Mo-oh!” Emma exclaimed. “Cooties, yuck!”

(6) Excerpt from Roald Dahl’s book, Matilda.

In his dream he was beneath the ocean. The air he breathed was thick and his movements slow and weighted. Above him, light filtered through the greenish water. A shape appeared on the water’s surface. A man’s face came into focus, his skin the paleness of white clay. The man’s hair was black and his eyes the color of garnets. Trapped below the water’s surface, he dreamt of a struggle to swim away, to sink deeper into the sea. But there was no escape, and the white skinned man reached down…

Remy drew in a deep breath as he awoke. He found himself looking upward into bright florescent lights. He squinted in the glare.

“Where am I?” he asked himself as he looked around. “A hospital?”

He found that his limbs felt like lead, and he was unable to lift his head. “Am I reincarnated?” he wondered. “I hope I’m not a woman. I don’t think I can handle the menstrual thing.”

A strange sound drew his attention. He turned his head on the pillow to see Rogue. She was sprawled in a chair, her head back and mouth open. She was snoring.

Quelle belle ‘ti fille,” he thought with a faint smile.

Rogue snorted, then a coughing fit caused her to wake. Between coughs and gasps, she scrubbed tears from her eyes with the heels of her hands. Blinking the water from her eyes, she locked her gaze with Remy’s.

“Remy!” she gasped.

“Hi,” he whispered.

“You’re awake,” she cried, seizing his hand. “It worked! You’re alive.”

“What worked?” His lips barely managed to form the words.

Rogue’s expression instantly clouded with nervousness. “There was an accident.”

His brow knitted in confusion. A blurry blue shape appeared at the end of the bed. Laboriously, Remy managed to turn towards it.

“Rogue,” Hank said. “I thought I told you not to---.”

Rogue looked away guiltily and she began to stand.

“Never mind,” he waved his hand at her. “Go on, sit yourself down. I have something to give you.” He reached into his lab coat and handed her an amber colored bottle of pills. “Take two a day,” he said.

“For how long?” Rogue asked, taking the bottle from him and studying the contents.

Hank cleared his throat and straightened his bifocals on his nose. “Every day. Indefinitely. I’m afraid there won’t be a cure, only a treatment.”

Rogue looked at the bottle glumly. “Couldn’t you have made them smaller?” she muttered. “What’s in this?”

“Hexadecyloxypropyl-cidofovir,” Hank replied, and Rogue stared at him blankly. “The HDP is the transferring agent, the CDV is the active ingredient. The best I can do is to keep the virus from replicating. It’s only thanks to Christopher we have this much.”

Confused, Remy closed his eyes. Hank’s hand closed on Remy’s foot, and he gave him a squeeze through the sheets. “How do you feel?” he asked Remy.

“Dead. I died.”

“Not quite,” a new voice said. Professor Xavier appeared to the left of Remy’s bed. “Jean found your psyche on the Astral Plane.”

“De what?”

“Do you remember the void, do you remember falling?” Xavier asked.


“Jean found you,” Xavier continued slowly, each word distinct. “And she found a thought pattern in the physical world that she believed belonged to you. So she returned your mind to a body. Do you understand?”

He shook his head. “No…” he turned to Rogue, who was chewing her thumbnail anxiously. “There was an accident, you said.”

“Your body died, Remy,” Xavier was saying. “You tried to reincorporate the energy from the particles you’d charged. Only you were charging at a faster rate than you could handle, and your body became unstable and burnt out. But Jean found a different, blank body. She didn’t know what had happened. When she found you on the Astral Plane, she only thought you to be lost.”

“What do you mean, a different body?” Remy cried out in a hoarse voice.

“The two mutants you encountered, the pair that looked like Polaris and Sabretooth…They were replicas,” Beast said. “Clones. Cyclops had fought a clone as well, on a lower level of Sinister’s base. Your clone.”

Remy stared at him in horror for several long moments. Then he turned to Rogue as if she could verify what he’d been told. She blinked furiously and looked away.

“I’m sorry,” Xavier said, and turned away, but not before Remy had seen the look of exhaustion on his face.

“Let me know if you need anything,” Hank said, giving Remy a final pat.

“What kind of freaky X-files, Twilight Zone shit is dis?” Remy whispered.

Rogue leaned over him. “But you’re alive,” she said. “That’s what’s important.”

“Tell me…if I’m a different body, what do I look like?”

“You look the same,” Rogue said quietly. “But different.”

“Different how?”

She reached out and touched the side of his face gently. “Like a blank canvas,” she said. “So you’ve got a second chance. Don’t screw it up, all right? And try not to do anything stupid.”

“You’re stupid,” he muttered.

There was an image on the computer screen. A digital snapshot taken from a web camera. She was making a weird face, as usual, with her tongue sticking out of the side of her mouth as she looked at him from the corner of her eyes. It was the only picture he had of Madelyne, the only thing left of her other than a few e-mails he’d saved.

He rolled a ring between forefinger and thumb. It was his class ring, the one he thought he’d lost forever. The last time he remembered having it was on prom night. When he couldn’t find it, he assumed he’d lost it somewhere in the woods during the fight (7). He was shocked when it turned up in Madelyne’s few belongings. She had had it all along; she was even wearing it on a chain around her neck when they first met. She must have found it somewhere, maybe in Sinister’s base, and fabricated a story to go along with the ring.

She wasn’t lying, Scott reminded himself, her life wasn’t a lie. Though it was hard to believe Madelyne had been real at all. He clenched the ring in his fist, pressing the metal into the fleshy part of his palm until it left a mark. Anger boiled up in his chest, threatening to spill up his throat like bile. Compulsively, he swallowed. He wouldn’t scream or cry, he couldn’t lose control. That wasn’t like him. Scott Summers was unshakable, he had restraint. He couldn’t, wouldn’t change.

But God help him, Scott Summers didn’t want to be Scott Summers anymore.

Jean tried pushing her wheel chair further into the room, but the strength left her arms and she merely sat, exhausted. She wasn’t even able to muster her telekinesis to propel herself forward. She’d been told to stay in bed, and the logic of the order suddenly struck her.

Scott was standing on the far side of the room. From where Jean sat, she could see the warm glow of the incubator. The tiny baby lay inside, wrapped tight in a blanket. A small stocking hat, taken from one of Emma’s stuffed bears, was on the baby’s head. He was so small they could dress him in doll’s clothes. Scott was staring listlessly at the baby, his face an unreadable mask. He’d noticed Jean enter the room, but he made no move to help her.

“How is he?” Jean asked. Scott glanced up at her, then tapped the side of his jaw with a forefinger. His face was bandaged, and she knew that his jaw had been wired shut. ::That’s no excuse,:: she projected mentally. ::You can still talk to me.::

::I have nothing to say to you,:: he replied. ::Leave me alone.::

::I’m sure you can think of something to say,:: she said. ::Given all that’s happened, wouldn’t you rather face things together instead of on your own?::

::You can’t possibly understand what it’s like,:: he told her, his thoughts were cold. ::You can read my thoughts, feel what I’m feeling, but you don’t have to *live* what I’m thinking or feeling.::

::I understand,:: she said. ::And I’m sorry.::

::Sorry for what?:: Scott snapped. ::Sorry for what happened, or are you sorry for me?::

::Both,:: she answered. ::What I did lead to Maddie’s death. Of course I’m sorry she’s gone.::

::You didn’t even know her,:: he said.

Jean thought about the encounter on the Astral Plane, and the object Madelyne had given her. She chose not to make mention of this to Scott.

::I loved her,:: he continued.

::And you feel guilty for this?::

::What else am I supposed to feel?:: he screamed. ::When it turns out she was my biological daughter?::

Jean winced at the force of his thoughts. ::How could you have known? She was part of me, as well. I didn’t know.::

::Does it matter?:: he said bitterly. ::I took her to that place. I let her go.::

::Did you take her, or did you follow her? She had a homing device in her head. She would have gone with or without you. At least you were by her side.::

His laugh was short and angry. ::Oh, and it just gets worse. I would have married her, because then Christopher would have had a father.:: Jean’s throat tightened at Scott’s conviction. ::It’s obscene,:: he whispered. ::And what do you feel about all this? How do you like being a grandmother at the age of seventeen?::

::I try not to think about it that way,:: she responded quietly. She was unsure if Scott had even heard her reply. ::Christopher means more to me than I can say, and he’ll come to mean more to mutantkind in the future:: Jean continued. ::He couldn’t be loved more even if he were my own. He couldn’t have better care.::

::It was just as Sinister said,:: Scott said glumly. ::That he’d be born and live with the mutant virus. Part of me hates that Sinister was right.:: (7)

::The antibodies he was born with gave Beast a starting point. Without them, Rogue and Gambit would die.::

Jean heard the pneumatic hiss of the Med Lab door and turned in her chair. Moira stepped into the lab, followed closely by Emma.

The little girl’s mouth went wide. “Jean, you’re not supposed to be out of bed!” she declared, and she smiled mischievously as she looked up at Moira. “Is she is trouble?” she asked.

“Aye, lass,” Moira patted Emma on the head. “Big trouble. Now keep your voice down.”

Emma ran past Jean towards the incubator. “I want to hold the baby,” she said, her voice was lower, but still quite loud.

Moira took hold of the handles on the back of Jean’s chair and steered her towards the baby. “I’ve told ye,” Moira said. “He’s too small t’hold just yet.”

“Jean gets to hold him,” Emma grumbled.

Jean looked down at the small baby, who was attached to numerous tubes and monitors that kept him alive. She reached through the plastic into the warmth of the incubator and touched his cheek gently. Emma continued to sulk.

“You’re in trouble, remember,” the girl told Jean.

“I know, I know,” Jean said.

While Moira checked the various fluids and monitors, Emma turned her attention to Scott. He had stepped away from the baby when Moira had entered the room. Emma waved her hand at Scott, beckoning him closer. Compliantly, he leaned towards the girl.

“You’re cute,” Emma whispered coyly to him. Scott raised and eyebrow, and the corner of his mouth quirked. Emma pointedly looked at Jean, and then grinned at Scott. “Will you by my boyfriend?” she asked sweetly.

“Ach, Emma,” Moira said, flustered. “Quit botherin’ the boy.”

“Why don’t you help me to my room?” Jean asked Emma.

“Okay,” Emma said, instantly distracted. She placed her hands on the back of the wheelchair and began pushing Jean to the door.

“Emma, you’re pushing me the wrong way. Emma…look out for the wall. Emma…! Ow!”

(7) both of these events happened in the last story: Stolen Lives


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