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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

Follow Me Until the End of the World: A Place Worth Saving? - REVIEW THIS STORY

Written by Sandman
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 11

New York City

It was often said that every single part of the city, no matter how small, had a story to it. As he strolled down the frontier streets that were once his olden haunts, Bobby Drake recalled a tale for nearly everything. Graffiti. Storm drains. Crack houses. Bent street signs.

Those were darker days.

It was now such a ghost town. Barren of patrolling soldiers of street gangs, wandering, shifting drunkards and crack addicts, women of the night scouting out for the potential Johns, and those that were like him- the lost souls that were drowning in the city that never sleeps. He remembered caffeine sipping and cigarette smoking in the dank coffee houses until early morning with John with their meager circle of friends until cast out into the harsh and unwelcoming night.

Home was where they slept. Usually beneath of a broken overpass, or an abandoned drug den. There were faces. Some with names, others he couldn’t remember very clearly anymore. It was a strange family, who knew each other’s addictions, hopes and dreams, deepest fears, and broken pasts. And it was a mutual dependence that bound them. Ever need a smoke? Ever need a quick fix? Someone to talk to? A quick, meaningless fuck? You know who to turn to. They know you would do they same for them. Love makes the world go round, so they say.

The nocturnal predators were a constant. There were the plotters, the con artists, and thieves. The worst they could ever do was to take your wallet and pride. And there were the local street toughs, who would pull you into a dark alley where three of their friends were waiting, all hopped up on heroin and their own blind aggression, waiting to dispense their savagery upon the weak. Survival of the fittest right? Bobby recalled being beaten with sticks, fists, a tire iron, and even a broken bottle, which left the worst scars of them all. The trips into the alleyway lingered still in his memory like freshly concocted nightmares. The pain. The helplessness. Praying for an end to it all, or maybe just a hint that it would end at all. Sunlight maybe. A good Samaritan. But that sort of stuff never really happened, anyway.

But even pain was temporary, and usually, the beatings could be avoided. What never, ever, went away was the street. The pain of it all, knowing each morning that the next day sure as hell would not be better than the last. Maybe you wouldn’t wake up at all. There were a few kids that never did. So what do you do? Just grinning and bearing it sure as fuck wasn’t easy. Why not just numb out the pain? Go and see the local handy-dandy candy man. That magic man with the pills and the juice to makes all the pain just go away. He brought you solace and Space Mountain. He could let you touch the moon if you so desired. But don’t you ever dare cross him, cause he’d bite back on you just as hard as old Scratch himself. He’d strut down the walkways in his expensive long coats, packing heat, and smiling with a line of gold teeth, sometimes twirling a cane. Ah, yes the cane was the real gimmick. Bobby saw him once deliver a beating to an overdue client with the cane. The grand finale of the show was when Cleon (that was the man’s name) pulled a hidden shank out of the handle of the cane and cut off the victim’s thumb. Later, old Cleon put a rope through that thumb and wore it around his neck, just so he could remind the deadbeats what happens when they fuck with the candyman.

The easy way out never appealed to Bobby, but touched him anyway. Since the Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters was forcibly disbanded, he traveled with his age mate and best friend, John St. Clair. That was the last chance for both of them-both orphans of the era of parents refusing to claim their mutant children.

John fell for the seductions of the nightlife almost immediately. There were many mornings when Bobby would just sit, huddled, watching the sunrise and praying to God that John was not dead in a ditch somewhere. Most of the time he came home with a few bruises. Then he started coming home with pinholes dotting the outlines of his veins. He got hooked on that good old feeling that came with each hit. Sweet heroin changed the introspective, if erratic and often hyperactive, John into a junkie. The kind of junkie that would abandon anything and everything for that next, sweet, hit.

By the time they were eighteen, they acquired enough street smarts and respect to garner a fair reputation. But that didn’t matter when it came to dealing with the candyman.

They were walking back from a shoplifting from a local mom-and-pop dollar store. Bobby remembered the sky was a funny purplish color, like maybe something that a psychotic artist would paint and then spill his own blood over, just to make it real. Some kids were playing with a fire hydrant that was spraying water all over the broken, potholed road. There was an old woman hanging wet laundry out her window. He was smoking a cigarette and John was snacking on licorice. John threw some to a stray dog, and smacked it happily between his nearly toothless mouth. It was a time when Bobby was trying hard to save his friend. Nearly of year of use had left John emaciated, bony, and nearly outside of reality. He drooled. He mumbled. And when Bobby was talking to him, he always had to say it twice.

John finished his pack of licorice and reached for a cigarette, pausing to behold the sun that had just peaked out from behind the storm clouds. Bobby then felt a thud against his head, and then fell to the ground.

The bottle that was thrown so hard that it shattered. A rain of shards came down over him, now nearly unconscious.

It was the candyman. This one wasn’t named Cleon , but Benny, a tattooed monster John met in a rave a while back. Benny came bounding from an apartment building’s porch, shouting at John.

“Hey there, Big John…hold up a minute…you better stand still you skinny little fucker!”

John stood bewildered, staring at Bobby, and then back again at Benny, his brain too fried to register what the hell was going on.

Benny began shouting about a debt that John swore up and down he didn’t owe. Benny nodded, admitted that he might have made a mistake, and then pounded his ham hock sized fist into his stomach. John reeled over, and Benny began searching through his clothes. He pulled a few dollars from his pocket. Not nearly enough.

“I don’t want to do this, John-boy, but you see, I can’t let you slide on this. See all these nice folks all around here? If they see me let you slide, then they’ll thick I’m some kind of a punk. Can’t have it. Sorry John-boy.”

He wrapped a pair of brass knuckles around his fingers, which barely squeezed through it. Then he began punching John.

Bobby watched the beating, focusing on the tattoo of Jesus Christ upon a cross drawn into the man’s forearm. He realized that John would probably die from the beating. At least he would sustain permanent injuries. For him, Bobby flew at the unsuspecting Benny and chopblocked him, driving his shoulder into the back of the candyman’s knee. He toppled over, screaming bloody hell. Bobby continued attacking, kicking his face and chest until Benny caught his foot one time, and twisted it around.

His ankle snapped and Bobby fell to the street. Gravel met his face. He heard the snickt sound of a switchblade being drawn. Benny pulled John over and held it to his throat. “Listen you little shit, I know you fuckin’ junkees are all alike. That little pisspot friend of yours just ruined my favorite fuckin’ jeans. I want you to kill his ass-I don’t want to godamned pigs on my case. Do it and I’ll forget that little debt you owe me and give you some extra for this week. Don’t act like you’re giving it serious thought, John-boy, I know that you’d fuck your own mother for a hit of this stuff.”

John reached up and took the blade, and then hovered over Bobby for a moment. He was close enough that Bobby felt his friend’s sweat drip upon his face. Short inhalations and labored moans were the only sounds coming from John. He was so far gone now he didn’t know who was who.

Instead, John turned the knife on old Benny, and jabbed it straight into his trachea, slicing through it with ease. He stared back at John for a moment with pleading, desperate eyes. It caused John to turn vicious. He turned the knife around, collecting the older boy’s throat around it. A moment later, John fell to the ground beside Bobby. He was hysterical, but seeing very clearly. “Bobby….you alright mate? C’mon, we need to get the hell out of this place before the pigs arrive. Its okay mate, the bloke is dead as stone.” The face of his friend appeared in warbles, like Bobby was looking up at him from underwater. It stretched back and forth in an accordion fashion. Fresh, flowing blood poured over his eyes, creating a screen. It bubbled from his mouth as well. And while he lay in the street, hurt worse than he ever had been, all he could do was think about the funny color of the sky today.

Whether he made it on his own or John carried him all the way, Bobby was never sure. He lay sprawled across a cement fixture leaning slanted into a storm drain. Someone applied a wet cloth to his wounds. He felt a torrent of emotions. Anger at being cast to out to this life. Sadness at having to watch his closest friend kill a man. Guilt for not being able to stop it. Confusion about not wanting to stop it.

John was sitting, not too far off, blowing smoke rings into the air. They were temporary little halos that faded too soon. Like their youth.

“Yeah, well, we all have stuff in our past, huh?” was all that Scott offered when Bobby finished. Perhaps it wasn’t the content of what he said so much as the tone. It was said with about as much warmth as a rusty nail through the foot.

But then again, the man had been through a lot over the past few months.

Still, he looked well. Even healthy. Cyclops wore a short- sleeved red and black flannel shirt, aged blue jeans, and a pair of thick hiking boots. It struck Bobby odd that the greatest warrior of their time looked more like a blue collared worker that labored in a steel mill than anything else. But underneath it, the fighter was there. Steel-jawed, thick shouldered, meaty forearms and legs, and the look of a Centurion.

When he thought that Scott had finished, the older man then added in his calm, almost stoic voice, “one thing that you should never forget, Bobby, is that all the trials and tribulations that we face in a lifetime mold us into the men that we are now. I don’t think you really ever get over all of it. Or maybe any of it. But years down the line you’re scarred but smarter and stronger. In our line of work, that’s not a bad thing.”

Moved by Cyclops’ words, Bobby could not bring himself to look at him. So he stared at the ground.

This was the man he remembered that spoke at illegal meetings that inspired men and women from all walks of life to enlist in a near-hopeless cause. When Scott Summers spoke of it, the future never seemed so bleak. Bobby and John had come to him, filthy and aimless, and found themselves in a cause so much larger than either of them at one of the meetings held in an abandoned warehouse. By candlelight and soft-spoken words, Scott Summers won their hearts so many years ago.

And it was the same man who had the guts to send people to their deaths for the sake of the rebellion. That was the kind of people he drew to him, and his leadership brought out the best in whoever followed. Through his own virtue and compassion, he could send people, knowingly, on suicide missions, without them showing the slightest hesitation.

And it was the same man that climbed that stage on the black day in November when the Battle of New York took place. It was Bobby’s baptism of fire. His birth into the life of a fighter. He was a face in that crowd Scott Summers spoke before. Firefighters, nurses, construction workers, bakers, storekeepers, private businesspersons-all drawn to the same cause by this single man that was bigger than life itself in Bobby’s eyes. It was Scott’s finest hour. And his words would live forever in the minds of those who fight and lived on that day against the onslaught of the Southern Cross. He led mere hundreds against their several thousands, armed with heavy weaponry, artillery, and even several tanks. Scott Summers was the first man on the urban battlefield and the last one off it. While he charged the Southern Cross forces, it was if the trumpets of angels sounded his battlecry. It was a bittersweet defeat. The Southern Cross sustained a body count that was nearly six times higher than the rebels, lost all their major pieces of artillery, and their Field Marshall was slain by Scott’s own brother, Alex (who betrayed him later in the day, causing Scott to fall in battle against Nathaniel Essex).

The scant survivors followed Eric Lensherr, the commander of the Rebellion north into Canada and into the destroyed city of Calgary, mourning the loss of their greatest general. But he was still alive.

And he was still their last, best hope.

Shuffling his feet, Bobby could not find the words to convey his appreciation at what Scott told him. He began to speak, but then Scott suggested that they grabbed some coffee.

They entered the small coffeehouse and were met with the fragrant aromas of cooking coffee beans, cakes, and fresh cream that made their mouths water. It was nearly empty, aside from the owner and his son (who was occupied sweeping the floor) and a man reading the local newspaper. Bobby scanned the headline, which read “SOUTHERN CROSS PREPARING FOR MASSIVE OPERATION AGAINST REBELS IN RESPONSE TO LATEST ROUND OF ATTACKS”. In subcaption was written, “Attack on civilian target in Marietta, Georgia killed 406”. It was the same old story. They controlled the media and were able to pump out any message that they desired. This was what Scott had called brainwashing at his underground gatherings, an effective tool for despots and authoritarians that use fear as a weapon and a mechanical tool to sustain their own crooked empires.

Bobby smirked and walked to the counter, where he ordered for both of them. He walked over to the corner table that Scott claimed, noting its position far away from the window, yet close to the backdoor. He set the cup down in front of Scott.

“Do you want cream, sugar, anything like that?”

“Nah. I’ll take it straight black.”

“Alright,” Bobby said, taking a seat and beginning to pour two packages of creamer into his cup. “How does it feel to be back?”

Scott looked up for a moment, eyes hidden away behind thick ruby-quartz sunglasses. They made him very hard to read at times.

“I don’t know, Bobby, maybe I feel a little anxious to get things moving again. It will be the best thing for us all.”

He knew exactly what Scott was talking about. After the loss of Gambit and to a lesser extent, Quicksilver, the team was fairly demoralized, thus being vulnerable to being caught in a lull of their own grieving. More than anything, they needed focus. But also they needed time to mourn.

“What happens when we get back to Calgary?”

After taking a sip of the coffee and then setting it back down, Scott responded, “well, it all depends on how fast Valerie recovers and is able to work with you. That will give everyone some time to heal. After that, I suppose it makes sense to go and find the professor.”

Such tact, thought Bobby. He was careful enough not to use Xavier’s name in public.

“It’ll be me and you, definitely, and probably Wraith. I’d say that Allison’s out for awhile, and probably Clint as well. Peter is up in the air. He seems a bit too distraught to have his head on straight.”

“What about Marie?” Bobby offered.

“I’m not sure. Haven’t worked with her before. I know that she had some past with the Cajun, but I’m not entirely positive that she is on the same page as us.”

“I can vouch for her. She’ll be one helluva an asset,” Bobby said excitedly. He noted Scott’s unconvinced look, and then began nursing his coffee.

“We’ll have to see when we get back,” said Scott, dismissing the subject.

A few minutes of silence followed. The owner locked the front door, as the coffeehouse was closing for the night. The man behind the newspaper shuffled it, folded it, and then left it on the table when he left. Bobby waited patiently as he watched Scott slowly drink his coffee, unaffected by the closing.

Finally, he finished it, and pitched the empty cup into a trash dispenser. Scott waved goodnight to the owner, and they entered the streets once again.

It was nearly dusk. Transients huddled around a burning trash can for heat while one of them played the saxophone. An empty case, filled with scattered change, lay in front of him. It would go to pay for the bottle of wine that would keep his friends and he entertained all night.

“What a place…,” Scott said offhandedly. It actually surprised Bobby that he actually instigated conversation.

“You don’t like it?”

“Could be worse.”

“If you weren’t fighting to save the world, Scott, where would you be?”

“I don’t think I could wake up in the morning and respect myself if I never did anything about it.”

”No, I didn’t mean that. What if things were…different?”

“Like how?” Scott said, coming to a halt.

“What if the war never happened and we had peace. Humans and mutants living harmoniously. Order and not anarchy. You know, everyone living the kind of life they choose to live.”

“You’ve been thinking about the professor a lot lately, haven’t you?”

“Yes, but I’m just curious what you would do.”

They began walking again, entering a run down park. A man slept underneath a thin sheet of newspaper along the cobblestone walkway. Litter was carried across the lawn by the night’s heavy breeze.

“To be real honest with you Bobby, I never gave that much thought. But now that you asked, I think that I would like to just sail for a while. Just to build my own boat, pack her up with enough supplies to get me by, and just go off into the sunset.”

”You can still do it,” Bobby said, and then added “once this is all over.”

“This won’t be over in my lifetime.”

“Are you always this pessimistic?”

”This realistic, yes.”

“Do you know how to sail?”

Scott found a bench in front of a grove of willow trees and sat on it. He watched as its long branches swayed in the breeze.


“Then what the hell are you going to do on a boat?”

“Hey, its my fantasy,” Scott said, stretching out and looking into the looming sky. He even cracked a smile.

Bobby couldn’t help but laugh. “Maybe there’s hope for you, yet.”

The smile across Scott’s face stayed. Bobby leaned against a tree and lit a cigarette, smoking it in a comfortable quiet.

“Hey Bobby,” Scott said after several minutes.


“What would you do?”

Taking a final puff, Bobby then flicked the cigarette butt off into the grass. “After all this is done…I’m going to write it all down. That way maybe we’ll all learn how fucking close we came to wiping ourselves off the face of the earth with our own stupidity. Don’t worry, I’ll write everyone in it-you, John, Will, Allison, Clint, Peter and even Remy.” He then waited for a comment from Scott that criticized his optimism that people could ever learn from the past mistakes. Instead, Scott turned to Bobby and said, “Just make sure you spell my name right.”

Bobby smiled and nodded, appreciating this new side of Scott Summers.

“C’mon, we better head back to the hotel. It’ll be a long drive to Calgary in the morning, and I’m expecting some difficulty getting out of the city.”

Hank McCoy stumbled out of the elevator, drunk from his own fatigue. He removed his spectacles and rubbed his eyes. The night had been spent by the bedside of Valerie Allgood, whose hotel room had been converted into a hospital room. With these archaic tools, there was not much more that he could do. Most of the remaining damage was psychological, so it was a very good thing that her sister was with her all the time. Alexis was the only one that was able to get her to wake from her near-catatonic state. She was, in Hank’s mind, yet another one of his victims.

And there were others, oh yes. Scott, Marie, Remy…everyone that ever let him get close he burned. Since breaking Essex’s mental chain around his neck, Beast did all that he could to amend his misdeeds. Some would never be undone. Valerie’s torment would never be erased. Rogue would never forget the hours of waiting for her own death that never came. And Remy was gone forever.

He walked down the empty hallway to his room, putting a key in the lock and disarming it. Hank walked into the room and pulled out the letter that he wrote to Scott, regarding his blood relationship with Remy as his brother. He had another letter, this one addressed to Rogue, of a more personal nature. Goodbyes were always so much easier this way.

Absent mindedly, he tossed his keys on the bed and walked over to the glass sliding door that led to the balcony, where he pulled it to the side and walked into the brisk, autumn night.

The chill caused his hair to stand on its end. The high rise hotel had sixty-four floors, and he was near the top. The city looked peaceful below.

“I have set forth my life with my own actions”.

The railing felt cold on his ungloved hands. A sudden wind blew his lapel up, brushing against his neck, made sensitive from his heightened awareness. Adrenaline pumped viciously, almost painfully, throughout his body.

“I am a victim of no one.”

He was waiting now-for Rogue to burst through the door, embrace him, forgive him, and assure him that everything was going to be all right. But she never came. Hank doubted that she would ever forgive him. He would not give her the chance, anyhow.

“In a few moments, I feel the empowerment of control, followed by a sudden and overwhelming pain. When I wake, I will be in hell.”

It was one of the pure and simple moments in life where peace seemed near. Just need to get through these few rough minutes and you’ll be home free. Hank admitted to himself that he hadn’t felt this way for some time.

Still gripping the rail, he kicked his first leg over it, and then the other. The tiny bit of concrete that reached past the rail was barely enough for his giant feet, just enough to hold his heels. It was the final stretch. He would let go soon, and then fall, and then fall again.

There was still that feeling that something would stop him. Divine intervention, a sign of some sorts, someone knocking on his door. But nothing like that happened.

He watched the moving lights below crawl by like distant fireflies. Hank closed his eyes, taking in his last breaths, and then pulled himself back to the other side.

He fell to the patio floor, and huddled with his knees drawn to his chest. Hank bit into his lips and felt the panic surge through his mind, body, and soul, searching for the reason he had not carried out the last solution, and found himself reciting the words of someone whose name he had forgotten.

“No man lives only for himself.”

He understood them now.

The moment of lucidity had been the culmination of repressing the one truth that could save him. His time was not yet done here. There was much, much more to do.

“I am a master of my own destiny,” Henry McCoy said, coming to standing.

He gathered his few belongings and left the city that night, heading west. Every morning for years, Hank looked out into the east, watching the sunrise, and wondered about the friends that he left behind.


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