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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 12

Home again, though the leaves were shedding their green for gold and purple and the days were growing darker and colder. The week had been plagued with a constant overcast but had yet to rain. The days may have been gloomy, but the mood of the town did not reflect it. The turning of the season, the coming of autumn, and at last watching some of the natural phenomena that occurred before nuclear holocaust, suggested that times were changing. There was a new excitement here. Scott Summers had returned. This place needed a hero. This place needed revitalization in its hope.

The streets were full tonight. Hundreds of jubilant and excited voices merging into a cacophony. Peter Rasputin tucked his hands deep within his coat pockets and walked on. A man leaning against a lit and flicking street light ahead was handing out fliers. He reached out to Peter and offered him one, though he ignored the man, who was apparently trying to hype the town's traditional All Hallows Eve celebrations.

The melancholy that inflicted Peter made him a pariah here. So he walked on, to his normal haunts, where the sleazy bars and strip joints lined the sidewalks. The streetlights were poorly maintained. In the alleyways, the drunkards found their rest. If they were unlucky, the town sheriff, good ol' Guido (Strong Guy was his street nickname) would round them up and throw their sorry asses straight into the drunk tank for the night, where they would have to endure the incessant wailing of the local crazy, a Resistance vet named Steven, who was now more like a local legend. Still, there was never any malicious behavior here. This a safe place for the hedonistic and the morally ambiguous to retreat for the normal niceties of daily life. It was somewhat comforting that even in this small-town utopia, the dregs of society still had their place.

Peter descended a short flight of concrete stairs that led into a basement strip joint. While it was otherwise unmarked, the loud music and cat calls coming from the lower half of the building suggested that there was quite a little party going on. Once downstairs, there was a doorman much smaller than he, stood arms akimbo, doing his best to look intimidating. Jokingly, he asked, "you're not here to cause any trouble, are you?

"Neicht. I only want a drink."

"Very well ,very well, my good man. There's a ten dollar cover charge." Absentmindedly, Peter retrieved a bill and slapped it into the man's hand, who then opened the door, stood to the side, and said something about having a good time.

He walked into a dank room filled with a smoky haze. Behind a dark pair of sunglasses, Peter entered a world that was quite familiar to him. There was a topless girl dancing poorly. Dollars showered the stage. She dropped to her hands and knees and crawled by her most generous patrons, thrusting her ample breasts just inches away from the faces. One of them stretched out his tongue towards her dime-sized erect nipple, making a mocking effort to lick it. His friends laughed heartily. Turning around, she stretched her ass towards them, fingering her thong along the waist. It drove them into a near-frenzy, even prompting one to slap her ass and proclaim that he had a hard-on just for her. She smiled at this, though through beer goggles, few could tell that it was uncomfortable and even phony.

There was a smallish table not terribly far from the stage. It had two chairs facing one another. He sat there, and ordered a pitcher of beer with two glasses, and a bottle of vodka with two shot glasses. The female bartender brought them out promptly, and Peter tipped her well.

He immediately poured each shot glass full of vodka, and placed one in front of the empty chair. Peter lifted his shot glass, raised it in toast to his drinking partner, and downed it.

When the girl finished dancing, the lights came back on and she left the stage. They cheered for her loudly. It mattered little that she could not dance. She could work a crowd well, selling her body to their eyes and fantasies. The master of ceremonies announced her name as being Daisy, or something to that effect. Nobody remembered it, but she received numerous requests for table and private lap dances when she toweled off, sprayed on a little more perfume, and made her rounds.

Peter continued drinking. Each time, raising his glass to the empty chair across from him. Before the next performance started, he emptied the entire bottle of vodka.

Then the lights dimmed once again, and a slow song began. She simply wore a black bikini-bottom. The crowd's disappointment at her appearance, much less endowed than the last girl, was obvious at once. This dancer was smaller than the last. And unlike the last, she was not performing to the crowd, but for the crowd. She used her body unlike any other. The crowd grew restless and agitated. Each dance step was full of absolute beauty and grace. Peter watched her, spellbound. Her movement was poetry, in perfect rhythm with the slow-paced song. Her talent was unmistakable. Just like Illanya..

Once finished, there were a number of boos and sneers. They were all drowned out from the thunderous clapping of Peter, who was on his feet in a sign of respect.

A while later, the same girl began making her rounds for private dances and was declined each time. Flustered and embarrassed, she stopped before Peter and shyly asked him if he wanted her to dance for him. The burly man adjusted and grimaced. The girl could not tell his response, as his eyes were shielded behind dark glasses. When he finally spoke, he said "not now, but perhaps later." Desperate now, she began making small talk. Had to pay the bills, after all.

"Waiting on somebody?" she inquired, beaming him an unstable smile. He found himself unable to answer immediately, almost telling her that he was drinking with a ghost tonight, but instead shook his head. "Are you sure that you don't want a dance? I'll make it very special." she said in a sultry voice, running her fingers through his dark hair. Her eyes told her story clearly. She needed the money. And she needed to be told that she was beautiful, and that she was worth something. Peter set her free.

"No. I want you not to dance here. For any of these animals. I want you to leave here now and to live as you deserve. I am giving you all the money that I have. You will take it."

Her jaw dropped in utter astonishment. "No, you don't understand.this is my job. I."

Peter opened his wallet, removed more money than she had seen her life, opened her hand, put it inside, and closed it. The fortunes of war had been tremendous for Peter, who collected much wealth from the battered eastern capital of the Southern Cross. "You are better than all of this. Do not waste your time here. You will be a great dancer one day. And you will forget this part of your life," he said in a stern and authoritative way. She began to speak, but he raised a single finger to her lips, and shook his head. Without words, the girl told him that she would never forget him, and turned to leave. She staggered out in a trance and never saw him again.

And finally, Peter forgave himself of Illyanya's death.

The night wore on. He continued to drink, leaving the single shot glass of vodka in the front of the other chair. Several times, someone attempted to take the empty chair for their table. Each time, Peter would grab their hand, nearly breaking it with the impact of his strength, and told them to leave it be.

The restless ghosts of his past were all but gone now. There was now only one left.

Peter took the last shot glass, raised it high, and whispered "das vidanya, Remy," and drank to his fallen friend. .

Her mind brought her back to the painful place again. They were wrapped tightly in each other's arms, barely able to move after the battle with Essex. That thing emerged from the mirror. An image that would haunt them all forever. Something that never should have stepped into this world. It all but destroyed everyone in the room. Quicksilver died within the first few seconds. It was unopposed. It would certainly kill them all.

And this was the hardest part of the nightmare. Remy pulled away. This time, she tried to grab a hold of him but every muscle was frozen. All of this would have changed, had she not let go. But now it was too late. He was running with the devil.

A few seconds later, he gave her a final look, and charged full force into the monster, knocking them both through the mirror. It shattered with them inside. He was dead. Nothing could be done about it. . Rogue awoke with a jolt, breathing heavily and covered in a cold sweat. It was the same recurring dream. She smashed her fists into the bed in helpless anger. It rocked and the ground underneath it creaked. Many springs within it broke instantly. She threw back the quilt and rushed to the bathroom. She turned on the faucet and ran her hands under the cold water, splashing it into her face. It would not wash away the pain, no matter how hard she tried. She was tired of crying. And it never helped to fill that empty void in her life.

Calmly, she looked into the mirror, noticing the bags under her eyes. She swung her arm across the sink and threw numerous objects into the wall. "GODAMNIT!" she screamed, and punched her hand through the wall. Rogue then crumpled to the floor, pulled her knees to her chest, and fell into herself.

It wasn't right that she tortured herself over him. For something that was so right-Remy died so that they would all live. She had lived through more pain than most people could begin to imagine. She could live through this.

Rogue eventually stood up and walked back into the bedroom. The clock on her dresser read 5:07 AM. The sun would rise in an hour or so. Watching it would be a good beginning to the day. Rogue found a comfortable pair of jeans and a white turtleneck sweater to wear. Over the sweater, she put on her leather bombardier's jacket. She walked outside and was greeted by the cooing of a mourning dove.

Following an old path behind her house that was overgrown with weeds, Rogue walked in solitude amidst the brisk autumn air. Morning dew covered the grass. The symphony of crickets and frogs had yet to cease. When she exhaled, a trail of vapor encased her breath. The foliage had grown beautiful. These were the things that she noticed while walking.

The path eventually led to a gated garden, whose rusty iron doors were ajar. She discovered that there were blueberry patches and honeysuckle bushes inside of here on a previous walk. Her bare feet were becoming quite cold, and at once, she wished that she had not insisted on braving the elements. Still, she carried on, listening to the morning birdsong and watching as a brilliant copper-red tone erupted in the sky. The traces of a gray-blue sky began to emerge. It was another reminder that she found yet another morning, and she was still alive.

There was a single spot up ahead that would be ideal for watching the final moments of the sunrise, just past a grove of tall trees. A thick stone wall stood, facing the east. When she came upon it, she was surprised to find her place already taken. "Good morning," she said softly to Scott Summers.

If she startled him, he hid it well. "Yes, it will be," he said distantly. "I thought that I was the only one that got up this early."

Taking a seat next to him, Rogue said "Guess not. Woke up and couldn't get back to sleep, so I thought that ah'd come and see the sunrise. Mind if ah join you?"

"Not at all," he said without looking at her.

"How did you know about this place?" she asked him.

"Well, like I said, I usually get up pretty early. I fill the time by going on walks, and happened to come by here by accident."

"Have trouble sleeping?" she asked offhandedly.

This time, he turned to her, looking through dark ruby-quartz sunglasses. "Yeah," was all that he said, leading into a momentary silence as the sun began its final ascent. It gradually rose, casting brilliant luminous light from its throne in the sky. Rogue felt its warmth touch her skin. She closed her eyes gently. It was his voice brought her back down.

"Marie.I have something for you," Scott said, while retrieving a folded letter from his pocket. "Its from Hank, and there a part that is addressed specifically to you."

She reached and took it from his hand, carefully unfolding it. What she saw was unmistakably Hank McCoy's handwriting, sloppy as all hell, just like most doctors, though she had no trouble reading it. He explained his reasons for leaving, and after reading them, her anger towards the man was dispelled. More than anything, she longed for his presence here among strangers. He needed to start a new life, the letter explained, far away from here, where he could wage his own struggle to redeem his past transgressions.

Rogue found herself unable to stop reading at that point. A little further down the page, she nearly dropped the paper. Her eyes stretched wide and when she looked up at Scott, he only nodded at her.

"You're his half-brother," she said.

"Yes," he responded simply.

"And you never knew.".

"No. I never knew it. Not until Hank wrote me of it."

"How does it make you feel?"

He sighed deeply. His answer was so unlike him somehow-the constant professional that could keep his emotions isolated. Even Scott noticed the slight break in his composure. Why did he feel so comfortable talking with her? Because they shared this pain? Regardless, he opened to her.

"Marie, I suppose I feel angry that I had something else taken away from me. First my father, then my childhood, my brother Alex, and now my brother Remy," he paused, taking a rock from top of the wall and hurling it as far as he could. "And it pisses me off because I have no right to gripe, not while things are the way they are. In the grand scheme of things, the source of my misery is insignificant. And there are too many people vesting their hope in me right now for me to be floundering around in my own self-pity."

"You're rationalizing."

He began to snap back in defense, but could not. She was absolutely right.

"Scott, you can not remove your heart from this-if you do, you will fail. Is that what you're afraid of? That your love for your family and your friends will make you weak in the moment when you need strength the most?"

"Rogue.you don't understand. For years, I ordered people, knowingly, to their own deaths during the Resistance. Do you think I could have done that if I allowed one shred of humanity to influence my decision? No. I'd have gone myself and would have eventually died. Essex would have no viable threat any longer. The end," he said excitedly.

"You're right about that, Scott. I would never understand that because I am not a leader. You are. But you're wrong about one thing. You preserved yourself because of their sacrifices, and because you honored them, and because you loved them.

Angry now, he accused her of speaking nonsensically.

Rogue sighed and hopped off the wall. "Scott, have you ever thought about why we never just stop and go into hiding?"

He would not answer her. She continued. "Because we have an obligation to everyone that died before us to keep on fighting, living, and God forbid, to find happiness. That is what honors their sacrifices. You know that! You're just too tired and scared of failing to realize it!" she said, looking straight through his sunglasses. "You know what to do. Once you decide to find Xavier, let me know. I have at least as much at stake in this as you do. I want you to swear to me that you will not pursue this without me" she said softly, handing him back the letter.

"Okay, Marie, I need some time, that's all. But I promise, even if its just the two of us, we'll find Xavier."

"Alright, but don't you dare shut the others out. They have a right in this, too. And don't wait too long. Might be too late then," she said, walking away from him.

He folded the letter back and placed it carefully in the front pocket of his shirt. The road ahead was as black as usual. The first step is always the hardest. He dropped to the ground and began walking back into town. . While she walked away, Rogue found a new inner peace. She quietly thanked Remy for showing her the way, and felt him inside her heart finally.


"When the dark wood fell before me, and all the paths were overgrown, when the priests of pride say there is no other way, I tilled the sorrows of stone.

I did not believe because I could not see, though you came to me in the night. When the dawn seemed forever lost, you showed me your love in the light of the stars.

Cast your eyes on the ocean. Cast your soul to the sea. When the dark night seems endless. Please remember me.

Then the mountain rose before me, by the deep well of desire, from the fountain of forgiveness, beyond the ice and the fire.

Cast your eyes on the ocean. Cast your soul to the sea. When the dark night seems endless. Please remember me.

Though we share this humble path, alone. How fragile is the heart. Oh give these clay feet wings to fly, to touch the face of the stars.

Breathe life into this feeble heart. Lift this mortal veil of fear. Take these crumble hopes, etched with tears. We'll rise about these earthly cares.

Cast your eyes on the ocean. Cast your soul to the sea. When the dark night seems endless. Please remember me. Please remember me".

-Dante's Prayer, Loreena McKennitt


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