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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
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30


Written by Valerie Jones
Last updated: 03/23/2007 01:26:56 AM

Chapter 18

Remi drew his knees up, hugging them tightly, and stared out at the night sky. He was continually amazed by how dark the night could be here on Earth. On Chandilar, the stars were almost entirely hidden by the glow of the city lights. The capitol city of his homeworld stretched across the entire continent. But here, the stars were incredibly bright, and they had a shimmering quality they lacked when viewed from space.

"Ha. I thought Iíd find you here."

Remi turned to see Cody stepping lightly across the rooftop toward him. He settled next to Remi then used the sloping rooftop as a perfect opportunity to lay back and stretch.

"How did you know?" Remi asked. At home, the roof was his refuge from the chaos that usually possessed the Imperial Palace. It was a place where he could hide from everythingóhis responsibilities, his mother, his tutors, even the guards. Few could climb well enough to follow him, and of those who could fly, few had access to imperial airspace. More often than not, it was Gladiator who was sent to fetch him if he refused to listen to a telepathic summons.

But on Earth, Remi was banned from the mansion roof for reasons he didnít entirely understand. It had something to do with Gambit, of course, but he had never gotten a satisfactory explanation.

Beside him Cody shrugged, his shirt rasping across the shingles. "I dunno. You always seem to go up when youíre upset. Remember the treehouse?"

Remi couldnít help his smile. Heíd spilled chocolate sauce on Jeanís brand new dress and then spent the whole day hiding in that treehouse in mortified terror. Being seven, it hadnít occurred to him that Jean would know what had happened just by sensing the distress in his mind. And although she was upset at having her dress ruined, she had been kind enough to wait for him to decide to come down and apologize. From that day on, the treehouse had become his hideaway on Earth.

"I guess youíre right," he admitted. ĎItís just so... quiet up here."

Cody sat up. "It is that." He looked around, taking in the sporadic lights shining from the decaying buildings and the incredible expanse of stars that outshone the paltry man-made glows. But if he had an opinion of the view, he didnít share it.

He finally turned to face Remi directly. "So whatís up?" His mind was full of concern, mixed with a little of both fear and anger.

"Nothingís Ďupí." Remi really didnít want to talk to Cody or anyone else about the last few days. That was one of the reasons heíd come out hereóto get away from the curious looks that followed him wherever he went.

Codyís anger flared. "You had me and Renee thinking you were going to die, cousin." His voice was harsh. "Thatís hardly nothing."

Remi paused, and for the first time since the Shadow Kingís attack, began to really listen to the echoes from another personís mind. He didnít pry into Codyís thoughts, but he could feel the hurt and anger that tumbled around inside his friend. To his surprise, he discovered that a fair amount of it was directed at himself. Cody was genuinely concerned for Remiís well-being, but he had really come looking for him because the pain inside him demanded answers.

"Iím sorry."

Cody shrugged uncomfortably. "Well, you should be." His anger was undiminished.

Remi stared into the darkness, unable to look at his friend. "I just needed some time to sort things out." He found himself rocking back and forth and forced himself to stop. "I... couldnít cope, Cody." He risked a glance but couldnít read Codyís expression. "Iím sorry I left you guys."

Cody stared at his feet. "You should have helped us bury Rachel." It was hardly more than a whisper.

Remi felt the blood rush to his face. He remembered Cody coming in to tell him that the X-Men were having a ceremony for Rachel. But thinking about Rachel only brought back the memories of Storm and the Shadow King more strongly. Rachel was dead, and he hadnít wanted to think about her. It had never occurred to him that Cody and Renee might have needed him to be there.

Remi closed his eyes. "Iím sorry."

Cody was silent, but Remi could feel his acceptance. He strengthened the link between them, allowing his own feelings to show as plainly as Codyís. It was only fair, and it was one of the unspoken rules of their friendship. Cody trusted Remi not to use his telepathic powers to give him an advantage.

They sat side by side in silence, communing through the telepathic link. It helped to have someone to share the pain with, both ways, and slowly Remi began to relax.

After a while, Cody turned to him. "What did happen to you?"

Remi sighed and stretched his legs out, wincing at the stiffness in his knees. "Other than the fact that I killed Storm?" he asked. He was surprised by how calmly he admitted it.

Codyís expression twisted. "She murdered Rachel. I would have gone after again if you hadnít." Through their link, Remi knew it was true. But Codyís motive would have been nothing more than his hurt and the desire for revenge. That was what made them different. In that short moment when Remi had turned his powers loose on Ororo, he had felt an incredible surge of adrenaline and of emotion. It was heady, exhilarating, even sexually intense. And as heíd felt Ororoís mind darken to nothing, and watched the pieces of her body tumble from the sky in a rain of blood, heíd felt... sated. As if a hunger he didnít know he possessed had suddenly been satisfied. It had frightened him like nothing else.

"Ouch," Cody said softly. To Remiís immense relief, there was no condemnation in his voice, only sympathy.

Remi nodded, but didnít look at him. The shimmering stars held his gaze with their perfect, limitless beauty. He wished fervently that people could be that perfect. That he could be that perfect.

Kitty Pryde looked up as Rogue wandered into the room. She seemed entirely preoccupied as she sank onto the battered couch that was the only seating other than Kittyís bunk. Without acknowledging the other womanís presence, Rogue let her head fall back against the couch and closed her eyes.


Kitty set what she had been doing aside and concentrated on her friend. She hadnít seen Rogue looking so upset in a very long time.

When Rogue didnít respond, she added, "Are you all right?"

In answer, she got a snort of sour amusement. Then Rogue opened her eyes. She glanced sidelong at Kitty, and then fastened her gaze on the water-stained ceiling. Kitty had the feeling sheíd been crying.

"Ah finally met him," she said softly.

"Met who?"

A bittersweet smile lit Rogueís features momentarily. "The man of mah dreams, sugah."

Kitty watched her in concern. Her emotions didnít seem to match her words. "Oh? Who is he?" Kitty tried to keep her tone light, encouraging.

But Rogue only shook her head. "It doesnít matter," she said quietly. "Heís already dead."

"Hey! Renee! Wait up."

Renee paused in surprise at her name. She turned to find Jack trotting across the street toward her. She hadnít seen him since the battle, but so much had happened since then that she really hadnít thought about him. Still, coming face to face with him again, she felt the blood rushing to her cheeks. Her palms immediately began to sweat, and it seemed like a hundred butterflies had suddenly taken up residence in her stomach.

Heís way too old, she reminded herself sternly as he reached her. Heís at least twenty-five.

"There you are!" He beamed at her as if he were truly thrilled to have found her. "Iíve been looking for you for two days."

"For me? Really?" The words came out in a breathless gasp, and Renee mentally slapped herself. He was going to think she was a brainless idiot if she kept talking that way.

"Yes." If he noticed her discomfort, he didnít show it. "Listen, I know youíre leaving for San Francisco soon, but I really wanted to get a chance to apologize."

Renee blinked in confusion. "Apologize? For what?"

He shrugged uncomfortably. "I was pretty hard on you out there." He jerked his head in the direction of the outer wall, and Renee realized that he meant the battle.

"Oh." She noticed then that his eyes were the color of warm cinnamon. Flushing violently, she looked away. "You were right," she managed to say.

"Maybe." There was a great deal of humor in his voice, and Renee wondered if he knew how much he had flustered her. "I just didnít want you to leave thinking Iím always that mean."

Renee dared a quick look at his face. He was smiling, but he didnít seem to be laughing at her. "I... donít think youíre mean" she told him sincerely. He and Kitty had helped keep her alive.

His smile widened. "Well, thatís a relief." Then he paused and crossed his arms as he considered her.

"Renee, how old are you?" he finally asked.

"Sixteen." She tried not to fidget under his scrutiny, but there was something about the way he was staring at her that made her nerves jump. "Why?"

He seemed oddly disappointed. "Thatís what I thought." He sighed and smiled crookedly. "I guess this is good-bye, then. For now, at least."

Renee was surprised by how sad she felt. "I guess so," she agreed.

They stared at each other for a long moment, and then Jack turned away. As he walked away from her, Renee raised her hand in a farewell, but he didnít turn around.


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