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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 13

Sleeplessness. Not even a bottle of wine and a few pain killers seemed to do the trick. She turned and turned, trying to find that perfect position where all of her limbs found comfort. Counting sheep, thinking about all the nice places that she had been.nothing worked. She sighed and finally acknowledged her two companions- fatigue and the throbbing pain in her shoulder caused by a still-mending collarbone.

Outside, a mourning dove moaned. Allison reached across her bed and pushed open the window pane slightly, just enough to allow the frigid autumn air float inside the bedroom. It was then Allison decided that she was simply tired of this small-town setting.

The air was too clean.the people too friendly.the seasons too distinguished. She had grown tired of hearing people talk about how beautiful the foliage had become and how much colder this Fall was than the last. She longed for big city nightlife, to reclaim her space in the limelight in the club scene. Endless nights of high energy, dancing, singing and drinking, hopping from one bar to the next. It was more than a lifestyle. She had become ingrained in the nightlife in NYC. The premier clubs would sell out for her performances. They knew her songs. They sung them back to her. And for their love and their loyalty, she gave them hope and a brighter outlook in an otherwise bleak future.

It seemed like so long ago.

With flashing strobe lights dancing through her head, Allison finally began to drift to sleep.

Something smacked lightly against the window. Barely anything at all, but it roused her from near-sleep. She was about to close her eyes back when it happened again. This time a little louder.

Annoyed, Allison kicked the quilt from off her body and pushed herself to the edge of the bed. It pained her more than a little. Her feet fell to the cold floor and it sent a stinging sensation up her leg. She then finally came to the window and pushed it the rest of the way open.

Below the windowsill, Clint Barton stood with a handful of small rocks. Upon seeing her appear, he smiled broadly and dropped them to the ground.

"Clint?!" she shouted down to him. Allison stopped just short of ripping him apart and accusing him of being an insensitive bastard.

He extended a single finger and brought it to his lips, hushing her. Before she could protest, he made his way to a tree and picked up his guitar, which lay resting against it.

Strumming it, he walked into the light and began his serenade. The words rolled off his tongue like beautiful poetry-he, the finest minstrel, sang to his one-person audience and caught her spellbound, forcing all her troubles to fall away. Within a song, he committed to her a promise, that not even death could wound the bond between them. Through the fires of hell he would come to her.

At the end of it, he breathed deeply and waited. He was paralyzed momentarily, like a man who had just laid everything on the table, waiting on a final decision or judgment. Be what it may. It was all that he had.

Tears welled in her eyes and her lips quivered. A second later Allison disappeared from the window and slammed the doors shut.

And all that was left was the bitter pill of acceptance for Clint. The wave of pain crushed down upon his heart as he turned to leave.

He took several steps as a broken man and then heard the front door swing wildly open. She ran to him barefooted across the frosty ground and jumped into his arms. He swung her around once and then his lips met hers, and they kissed under the moonlight.

Finally, she pulled away and whispered to him, "what took you so long?"

He did not respond, but smiled, and took her hand. "The night is young. Won't you follow me?" he asked softly.

Beaming an irrepressible grin, she pondered "but its late, and I'm not really dressed for it, ahh, what the hell!?", and then laughed excitedly. Clint removed his coat and wrapped it around her narrow shoulders and then took her arm in his own. They walked together down the dirt path through a wooded area. In the clearing, they found a horse-drawn carriage waiting. The driver, garbed in a smart red and blue uniform, stood by the open carriage door and offered his hand to her. She giggled upon taking it and thanked him. He smiled deeply, blushed, and then looked away. Clint shook his hand, entered the carriage, and swung the door shut behind him. Moments later, the horses began a slow trot and they began to move. Allison stared out into the clear night sky, enchanted. She pulled back inside and kissed his cheek before laying her head against his chest. "Where are we going?" she asked gently.

"Just wait. You're really going to love this," he responded confidently.


The turning of leaves from crisp virgin greens to aged reds, browns, and purples marked the seasonal transition. Everyone noticed a gradual drop in temperature, requiring everyone to trade sleeveless shirts and short pants for thin sweaters and blue jeans. The previous year, it took far longer for the autumn to arrive. The year before that, it took yet even longer.

The trail of seasons finally was in equilibrium. The night was October 31st-Halloween-the annual pagan festival of celebrating the crop harvest and the expulsion of evil spirits from the lands in an attempt to prevent a bitter and terminal frost. Pumpkins with faces carved into them sat on every porch, serving as organic fetishes to ward off malevolent beings. Other such decorations, like scarecrows and mock gravestones, were painstakingly created for the occasion. In just a few hours the city streets would fill with the young, masquerading in costumes of hideous creatures, of angels, of devils, of kings and of queens. Their door-to- door quest to acquire treats would stretch late into the night, and at its end, the city would be cleansed of evil.

Until then, hundreds gathered in the central park to hear the Mayor, Eric Lenscherr, orate the tale of Samhain and others related to the holiday. The pit underneath the stage was filled to the brink with children sporting magnificent, multi-colored glow sticks (provided by the town handyman, Forge). Their parents stood off to the sides and were content just to watch the looks of wonderment of their young. The wisely old sage would choose a child at random from the audience and allow him or her to sit on his lap for the fable, switching at its end. Eric would give each child a massive, multi-flavored lollipop and a candy apple just before the grand finale, which was a spectacular ghost story of his own creation with musical accompaniment.

The carriage pulled up to the edge of the field and came to a gradual halt. The driver hopped down and swung around to the door, opening it for his two passengers. They exited and walked onto the filed. Clint carried out a blanket and spread it underneath a great oak tree. As Eric had already begun a story, they were careful not to disrupt his mystified audience. Clint ordered a couple of hot chocolates from a passing by vendor, and they sipped them quietly while listening. She smiled as if to thank him, and cuddled near him to share body warmth. He wrapped his thin, muscular arms around her and kissed her forehead, and then her lips.

From the corner of her eye, Allison spotted Rogue, standing aloft by herself. She felt a profound sympathy for the woman in the moment and at the same time, a tremendous respect. No one to comfort her right now, and yet, she stands so tall and resolute. Her grief is ever-present in everything she does. But she possesses enough courage to face the future alone.

It made Allison feel very safe in Clint's arms.

At the end of the hour, Eric embarked on his grand finale, which consisted of a new array of special effects provided by a specially tweaked synthesizer provided, again, by Forge. Hidden projectors cast images of roaming specters and spirits, causing the occasional shriek. Each child was given a treat bag of their beloved candy (along with a toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste), handed out by a largish, hideously ugly monster. An observant child recognized that the monster was just about the same size as Guido, the town sheriff.

At last, Eric stood and shut his tome of ghost stories. His cloak waved in the breeze. In a coarse, but deep sorcerer's voice, he boomed "GO NOW, CHILDREN, INTO THE NIGHT, AND RID THIS PLACE OF THE EVIL SPIRITS THAT INHABIT IT!" And with that, they rose to their feet, cheering, and raced the hayride trucks they would escort them to the various locations dispensing candy around the town (that same, hideous green monster drove the lead truck).

"Ah, yes, while I have you all here," Eric said, addressing the parents, who would remain in the field until their children would return in an hour, "there is one other order of business on this fine All Hallow's Eve," he paused, allowing the suspense to mount and letting his townspeople ponder over what the crazy old man was up to. "Here's a man that needs no introduction. I trust you will receive him well," he said, grinning widely.

Scott Summers staggered uncomfortably to the microphone.

Every soul jumped to their feet and applauded madly. The fathers, mothers, sons and daughters of the Resistance welcomed back their fallen leader.

Throughout history, culture heroes have risen at the right time to lead their people into a new way of being. Men and women the likes of which legends are made, behaviors are emulated, words are recorded, and who are forever immortalized in the loving embrace of those who followed. Charlemagne, Washington, Gandhi, Churchill, were all held in the same regard as Scott Summers was in this moment.

The applause refused to die young, continuously becoming louder. Laughing, Eric began to raise his arms, signaling them to cheer with even greater ferocity. It made Scott humble, uncomfortable with the reception. He could only shake his head in disbelief. After a very long time, the noise subsided, but only out of want to hear the man's voice after so long.

"Well, thank you for that," he began, setting them off on another tangent, which did not last quite as long as the first. He raised his arms to Eric as if to say "I don't get it", and his old friend simply nodded at him, responding silently with "this is your time". In a truly rare moment, Scott Summers was showing emotion. Smiling. "Yes, it has been a long time since I've seen many of you, and I'm sure that there will be enough time to catch up on old times, but I think that you're anxious to hear about something else tonight," he said over the hushed crowd.

"You see, I've come here to talk about the future tonight. Something that probably isn't discussed a whole lot anymore. Things seem pretty dark right now. People are out there starving, dying of disease, sleeping in ruined cities, preying on one another like animals. Life as we know it is slowly dying off. I've seen it firsthand. There are people out there trying to make you their slaves. I won't subject you to their names right now. And everyday, its seems to get just a little bit more barren, a little bit colder out there. Its almost enough to make you want to give up."

A few people shifted uncomfortably, buckling under the forced realization that life outside of the protected town was harsh, brutal, and dangerous.

"But that has never been our way. To just give up and accept fate? To die off without a fight? Hell no. The time has come to rebuild. Every one of you is an architect of the new world. You carry the wisdom taken from the mistakes and progresses of our forefathers. One day, you will take it out into the sun-bleached land and build from the ashes a society, benevolent and compassionate, that will reach out to every lost soul." "Before that can happen, this great evil must be vanquished. This darkness that is swallowing the world with its insatiable hunger must end. There was a time when I thought that the way to defeat it would be with a great army of committed, disciplined fighters. Not anymore. Not ever again. This is a fight that will be won or lost by the destruction of the depraved ideology that Essex poisoned so many impressionable minds with, and then, the destruction of Essex himself, and those who follow him. I regret to say that the time for violence is here and now, but it is a righteous and necessary violence. In a week, I will leave Calgary, and I will take the war to Essex. In the end, he will be dead, and this shroud that is creeping over the earth will be thrown back. When our work is done, then it will be time for yours to begin," he said, emphasizing this last sentence. He stood for a moment, surprised at his own emotional state-his face beet red and his heart pounding.

Then, he turned and left the stage, thunderous applause chasing him all the way.


Allison ran her hand over his exposed chest, allowing his spiraling hairs to tickle her fingertips. The session of lovemaking had left her breathless and tired. She laid her head upon his chest, content to rise and fall with his breath. "Aren't you going to sleep?" she asked, noticing him staring straight at the ceiling. "Umm, eventually. I'm just thinking right now, Allie."

She bit into her lip not to protest at being called that. Her mind drifted back to when she scolded Gambit for using the hated nickname. But for some reason, it sounded right coming from Clint. "What are you thinking about?"

"Lots of things, I suppose. Mostly what Summers said tonight. It really reached me, I think," he said. It occurred to Allison just then that he indeed had the soul of a poet.

"Oh yeah?" she asked, prodding him further.

"I think that I'm going with him to find Xavier," he said cautiously, unsure of her reaction.

"Alright. Then I'm coming as well," she quickly shot out.

"I don't know, its." he began, but was cut off when she moved up to kiss him. He began to talk again, but interrupted to him and said into his ear, "I love you. We'll never be apart again".

Her delicate face looked beautiful in the moonlight that slid through the window. There was absolutely no way he could protest. She giggled and slid back on top of him, pulling off her nightgown and tossing it to the floor.


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