Categories > Cartoons > X-Men: Evolution > Between Life and Death

Preparations

by slickboy444 0 Reviews

A mission gone horribly wrong leads Scott Summers to make the ultimate sacrifice to save his friends. But is he really dead? Or something more sinsiter going on? Scott/Jean, Kurt/Kitty, minor hints...

Category: X-Men: Evolution - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama, Romance - Characters: Cyclops, Gambit, Iceman, Jean, Magneto, Mystique, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Shadowcat - Published: 2006/03/07 - Updated: 2006/03/07 - 7426 words

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Between Life and Death
Chapter 19: Preparations


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Six metal orbs touched down on the front lawn of the Xavier Institute as everybody was still recovering inside. Magneto, Mystique, and the rest of the Acolytes stepped out of their transports...Only to see the destruction left in wake of the Nasty Boys and from the looks of it, they were already long gone. Such a sight was not too uplifting for Magneto to say the least, who was worried enough after he heard that his daughter had been rushed to the institute infirmary on the brink of death. Now, his anger towards Sinister was greater than ever. That madman had gone beyond simply fighting against him and actually struck where it hurt the most...His children.

"Whoa...Looks like they had some party!" said Pyro as he and the rest of the Acolytes took in the destruction.

"Dang...And we missed it," said Sabretooth, not looking too thrilled to be in the same place as his arch rival, Wolverine.

As they approached the front door, they all saw the broken front door. Everything around them looked so freshly done...As if it had just happened. Perhaps if they had been there a few minutes sooner, they could have helped in the fight as well. For both Magneto and Mystique, it was a bitter blow, knowing they had been so close. Yet now, neither of them had any idea just how bad things were and just how complicated they were going to get.

"We're too late..." said Mystique as they all entered the doorway, "They were already here."

"So it seems," said Magneto, "And I have a bad feeling about this."

The master of magnetism then removed his helmet as he looked up to the top of the stairwell to see his old friend, Charles Xavier standing there with Logan, Ororo, and Beast near him. Blake and Jean Grey were there too. He noticed the solemn look on all their faces, hinting that his bad feeling was about to be vindicated.

As soon as Logan saw Sabretooth with them, he unsheathed his claws and they both let out an angry growl. However, Ororo held Logan back while Gambit held Sabretooth back.

"Easy Logan...They're not here to fight," said Charles.

"Yeah right!" grunted Logan, never one to be quick to assume that such bitter enemies could ever be more than just that...Enemies.

"He's right Wolverine..." said Magneto, "And the same goes for you too Sabretooth."

The two feral mutants continued to exchange death glares, but they were both held back. There had been enough fighting for one day already and they didn't need old rivalries compounding their problems, but knowing their history together...That was going to be easier said than done.

"You know why we're here Xavier," said Mystique, "What's going on? What happened here?"

Looking over towards the still confused and distraught Blake, Xavier's expression fell. Magneto's son Pietro and Mystique's son Kurt had been kidnapped by a shady group he had not dealt with before. But after everything Blake had told him, he knew there was still far more to this issue than meets the eye and if anybody could explain it, Magneto and his Acolytes could.

"I'm afraid that's a rather complicated story," said Xavier, "Logan, Beast...Go down to the infirmary and tend to the injured. Ororo, Blake, Jean...Stay with me. We have much to discuss."

*************************************************

As the Nasty Boys rode triumphantly along in their specially modified transport van that Sinister had provided them, they rode with confidence that they had just gained the upper hand in this conflict. There was no doubt in any of their minds that this was going to get fairly ugly very soon. Now they had the some of Mystique and Magneto's children...Not to mention one of Charles Xavier's students. Two of their biggest foes were now under their control because they had some of the most effective bargaining chips to keep them at bay until they got what Sinister truly desired.

"Not bad this time," said Ruckus as they turned off the main highway and made their way down the winding roads to Sinister's complex on the fringes of the city.

"Yep! We got exactly what we came for," said Gorgeous George in agreement, "And on top of that, we managed to put the smackdown on those Xavier grunts in the process! I doubt they'll want to fight us again any time soon!"

"Don't get overconfident Gorgeous," said Vertigo, who was watching over the still bodies of Kurt and Pietro along with Betsy and Emma, "Now that we have our hostages, it will no doubt anger both Xavier and Magneto."

"Who cares..." said Ruckus as he took out the cell phone they had been using to keep in contact with Sinister, "All that matters now is that we have the bargaining chips we need to finally put these fuckers on ice!"

Both Emma and Betsy looked noticeably unenthusiastic about this victory and Betsy was still worried over the data she gave Xavier. It had been a very quick and unplanned shot of telepathic information and there wasn't a whole lot of time to organize it, but Charles Xavier was one of the most powerful telepaths on the face of the planet and if anybody could decipher and use it, he could. Both young woman looked back at the two unconscious teens with sympathy in their eyes, for they knew they were both in for some major hardships once they arrived at Sinister's. Knowing what that madman was capable of, it was a pretty good possibility that the both of them weren't going to leave Sinister's custody alive...Even if he got his precious test subject back in the end. They were the children of two of his most bitter enemies...And what better way to make them pay the price for their constant pestering than to hurt their kids?

Both Betsy and Emma stayed silent as the heard Ruckus dial the specified number on the cell phone to reach the big bad boss himself. It wouldn't be long now...They could all feel it. Both Magneto and Xavier were now deeply involved with this and if either side wanted to win this secret war...Then they would both have to be willing to fight.

"Ruckus...Report," said Sinister as he answered the phone after only two rings.

"We got em boss!" said Ruckus confidently, "It was one hell of a fight, but we took on those Xavier punks with ease and extracted two hostages just like you said."

"Excellent," grinned Sinister on the other line, glad to hear some good news for a change, "Who did you get?"

"We got Magneto's son, Quicksilver and Mystique's son, Nightcrawler," answered Ruckus as he looked back at the two unconscious teens lying motionlessly in the back, "They put up quite a struggle, but they weren't too hard."

"Perfect..." said Sinister, feeling it was all beginning to come together, "Now I have both Magneto and Xavier right where I want them. They'll have to give up Blake if they want their precious kids back. And they'll be the perfect bait to take them out of the picture...Permanently."

"Good to hear," said Ruckus, "We've all been itching to pay old bucket head and chrome dome back too."

"That's good...Because you'll need that desire for what's to come," said Sinister ominously over the other line, "They will all pay in the end...It is only fair, especially for Magneto after having gone back on everything we once worked together on. What about my test subject? Was he there?"

"Yeah, he was there alright," answered Ruckus, "And he probably would have blasted us all to kingdom come if we didn't have those hostages with us."

"Leverage Ruckus...Never underestimate the power of a little leverage," replied Sinister, "I doubt my fine little experiment will want to go back on his desire to protect and guard those two little insignificant specks of flesh, but I know full well that he's not going to surrender so easily."

"Then how are we going to get him back?" asked Ruckus, "That little time bomb of yours could blow us all away easily."

"Do not concern yourself with that just yet," answered Sinister, "I already have major plans to make it so he doesn't have a choice. And the sooner we get him back, the sooner I can complete my ultimate experiment."

"Sounds good to me," said the loud mouthed mutant as he neared the scarcely populated streets where the hidden complex was, "We'll be there in under five minutes."

"Good, I already have special cells waiting for our new 'guests,'" said Sinister over the line in a dark tone, "And once their here...We'll begin the final plan to retrieve my test subject while all those who have stood in my way pay dearly for it."

"Right...Ruckus, out," he said as he hung up the cell phone and focused back on the road ahead as they drew nearer and nearer to their destination.

In the back, Betsy and Emma had heard the conversation over the phone and had a bad feeling about where this was heading. However, they kept quiet, not wanting to arouse too much suspicion among the rest of the Nasty Boys. Sinister had already made it clear that he didn't fully trust them and there was no use trying to change that at this point. However, they also knew that Sinister could not be allowed to win this conflict. After everything they had learned about him and his intentions over the past month, they knew just how sick and determined he was. The rewards that they had been fighting for now seemed almost meaningless, for it was fairly doubtful that Sinister had any intention of paying them for their services anyway. Both telepaths did not like the situation thus far and after hearing Sinister's confident musings, it only made things worse in their minds.

'Bets...I have a bad feeling about this,' sent Emma telepathically to her friend as they neared the base.

'Yeah, I figured,' she replied, hiding the expression on her face from the rest of the Nasty boys, but not hiding the weariness she felt in her mind.

'Whatever Sinister has planned to get that test subject of his back, it can't be good...Especially for Xavier and Magneto,' she added, knowing full well Sinister's ruthlessness.

'Yeah...I'll have no love lost on Magneto, but Xavier and his students don't deserve any of this,' sent Betsy, 'I respect Xavier and I admire what he and his students have done. Now they're stuck in this fucking thing just as much as we are.'

'Well what choice do any of us have at this point?' mused Emma, not seeing any way out of this that didn't involve more fighting and bloodshed.

'Hey, don't worry...There's still hope,' said Betsy as she remembered what she had done just before she and the others left the institute.

'Not when it involves Sinister...' said Emma in response.

'On the contrary...Sinister isn't holding as many cards as he thinks,' said Betsy with a suggestive tone in her thoughts.

'What are you talking about?' asked Emma, feeling very curious as to what she was implying.

'I'm talking about the one key thing Xavier has that Sinister doesn't know about,' she answered, sounding as though she was very determined to hold onto this one glimmer of hope.

'And what might that be?' asked Emma, sounding quite skeptical.

'Knowledge...' answered the purple haired telepath, 'Sinister is assuming that Xavier is in the dark now and has no other choice but to follow his orders out of concern for the safety of his student. And he's probably betting that Mystique and Magneto wouldn't allow him to try anything too drastic out of fear for what may happen to their kids. But I know that Xavier has the data he needs to surprise Sinister...And maybe turn the tide of this conflict.'

'And how in the hell can you possibly know that?' asked Emma, not believing her at first.

'Simple...I told him,' she said.

'You didn't...' said Emma, trying to hide the grim look in her face.

'I did...I showed him where this complex was...I showed him what we saw during that experiment...And with this, I think he'll be able to strike back before Sinister can set any more of his crazy plans into action.'

Emma was silent for a moment as she thought about what Betsy had just told her. On one hand, this leveled the playing field against Sinister...But on the other, it could only incur more conflict and fighting. Even if they could take Sinister by surprise, there was no guarantee that it would be successful. Even after Magneto destroyed his first lab, he had a backup plan waiting in the works...So who's to say that he didn't have another one for this kind of thing? But it was still better than Sinister having all the advantages. Now that just left one more issue...Them.

'You know that they will strike back Betsy...And both Xavier and Magneto will do it in full force,' mused Emma as she thought about the complicated situation at it was now, 'Success or not...How in the hell do you expect us not to get caught in the crossfire? And don't you think Sinister will be a wee bit suspicious once he finds out that his two biggest enemies know where he is?'

'That's why we'll just have to stay alive Emma,' answered Betsy, 'We must hold out as long as possible and do whatever we can to make sure that Sinister doesn't win. I know it means sacrificing everything he promised us...But right now, I doubt he's even considering paying us at this point.'

'No argument here on that...' said Emma in rather disenfranchised tone, for it meant that after all her struggles in working with Sinister, she was going to be no closer to clearing her name from the Hellfire Club than she was before, 'But do you really think Sinister is going to allow us to do anything else at this point? Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if he up and tried to kill us right after he finds out.'

'Then we'll just have to play it cool...' said Betsy, 'I know it sounds kind of stupid...But when the time comes, we'll have to give all the help we can in order to take this bloke down once and for all. Are you with me?'

'Do you even have to ask?' replied Emma, flashing her a slight grin, but quickly hiding it before anybody else could see.

They decided to keep their minds and their voices silent as the van soon pulled into the large, inconspicuous building which housed Sinister and all his advanced machinery below. With the two unconscious hostages now safely in their possession, Xavier and Magneto had plenty of incentive to be vigilant in the inevitable confrontation to come.

*************************************************

As much of the students at the institute rested and recovered from the intense fight against the Nasty Boys, Xavier and Blake filled them in on what had happened. While the rest of the Acolytes waited outside, Mystique and Magneto met with Xavier, Ororo, and Blake in a rather depressing meeting that did not at all boost their hopes in winning this very personal war with Sinister.

As hard as the story was to tell, it hadn't been any easier for Magneto and Mystique to take. It was one of their worst fears come to life...Mr. Sinister had their children. They knew he was an insidious, evil man...And there was no telling what he would do to them. But there was little doubt in their mind that whatever he did, it would serve as payback against them for getting in his way.

Blake was also unusually quiet throughout discussion, for he couldn't bring himself to look Mystique and Magneto in the eye after having let Sinister capture their kids...Which he had sworn to protect. Even with all the power that he had been given, he had been unable to use it when it mattered most. Add to that, his head was still spinning with incomprehensible flashes and unfamiliar feelings. Ever since Jean had gone into his mind, she had set something off that was still going strong despite his best efforts to make sense of it. He kept his distance from most everybody, but Jean tried to stay close to him...Unable to fight the lingering feeling that maybe...Just maybe there was something more to this.

Upon hearing the final detail of what had happened with the abduction of Kurt and Pietro, Magneto and Mystique were truly at a loss...For this conflict now seemed all too unwinnable. Sinister had the ultimate bargaining chip...He had all the advantages now. And they had nobody to blame but themselves for allowing their kids to get captured.

"So now Sinister has Kurt and Pietro..." said Mystique angrily, "That bastard...That madman...Has my son!"

"Yes...I'm afraid so," said Xavier, feeling somewhat sympathetic to both her and Magneto's situation. As cold as they often made themselves out to be...He never doubted that they did love their kids.

"This cannot stand..." said Magneto, clutching his helmet tightly in bitterness as the thought of his old ally turned enemy with his son made his skin crawl, "We MUST get them back!"

"Sir..." said Blake, breaking his long standing silence as he stood up and made his way over to the two people he had failed, "I take full responsibility for this. Pietro and Kurt were my responsibility...I should have been there. I'm sorry...This is all my fault."

As much as Magneto could use a scapegoat at this point, he chose not to let himself get any angrier at the situation. He knew that wouldn't change anything and it would only make things worse.

"No Blaze...Blaming yourself will not do us any good," said the master of magnetism as he struggled to hold back his anxiety and his emotions, "I know Sinister...Nothing would have stopped him from getting them one way or another...Not you, not me...Nobody."

"He's right Blake. This is personal...This is his payback," added Mystique, finding it hard not to feel so helpless at the though of her son being in possession of that madman.

"Payback?" said Ororo, "What do you mean, payback?"

Magneto let out a deep sigh as he reflected everything that had happened in wake of Apocalypse. Since then, this seemingly unending war with Sinister had raged on...Driven by their past with one another and fueled by his betrayal of everything they had once worked for.

"Sinister and I have been in somewhat of a secret war since Apocalypse," explained Magneto, "We use to work together for the same goal. He was the one that helped me create most of the technology that drove Asteroid M."

"And he also was the one behind the process that gave Kurt the disposition he has today," said Mystique, "We both have a long history with him."

"So you could understand why he was very angry with me when I went back on all our ideals and goals after Apocalypse," said Magneto, "He sees my newfound attitude to be the ultimate betrayal and has declared me his new mortal enemy. Now he seeks to use some of the data and technology that I helped give him to fulfill the goal that he has worked so hard on for so long."

"And what goal might that be?" asked Xavier, surprised that so much of this had been going on in the shadows without his knowledge.

"He wants to create the ultimate mutant...Beyond alpha class and more in control than the omega class," said Magneto, knowing Sinister's goals all too well, "And because of the help I gave him earlier, he finally developed a working machine to do just that to anybody who possessed an X-gene...Which is why young Blake here has had his DNA so warped. Right now...He is the only one who has been through that machine. My team and I managed to destroy it...But Sinister had a backup and I think now he's very close to activating it."

So far, the situation didn't look very bright. In the span of a little over a month, Sinister had gone from being in ruin to being on the brink of success. Clearly, they had all underestimated him and his resolve. He may have been crazy, but he was by no means stupid.

"If that's the case, then why does he want Blake back?" asked Charles still trying to piece a few things together with the strange array of thoughts and images he had picked up just before the Nasty Boys left, "If Sinister has the machine and it's nearing completion, why would he need him?"

"Simple...Because Blake was the first test subject," answered Mystique, who had just as much stake in this as Magneto, "The process was successful in enhancing his mutation, but it wasn't complete. His body contains all the information from that experiment and if Sinister wants to activate his creation quicker without going through all the steps he went before...Then he'll need Blake back in order to bypass all the logistics and make it fully functional."

Blake rubbed the temples of his sore head, for he felt so much riding on him at this point that he didn't know if he could take much more. Because of him, two of the children of the people who had saved his life were now in danger. He was so confused about so many things that his mind couldn't make sense out of it. He was beginning to lose his grip on everything he thought was the truth, for there was just so much going on in his head that didn't add up and now all he wanted was just a single speck of clarity in the vast sea of confusion that was his mind.

"So this all about me..." said Blake, looking visibly distraught and dazed, "Everything...The kidnapping, the attacks, the injuries...It's all simply because Sinister wants me back so that he can carry out his goals."

"And now the odds have shifted in his favor," said Magneto, feeling as though he had failed in his long standing attempt to rectify one of the mistakes he regretted most in his life, "He has two powerful bargaining chips and there's no doubt he'll use them to get Blake back."

"Well don't worry...We won't let that happen," said Ororo, finding this situation to have nothing but grim prospects.

"But if we don't...He'll make sure that Kurt and Pietro will pay the price," said Mystique as she swallowed the lump in her throat that had formed upon thinking about what that madman may do to her son.

"Then I guess there's only one thing left to do..." said Blake as he let out a defeated sigh, "I must turn myself over. If he wants only me, then there's no use in making other suffer because of it."

Magneto simply shook his head in response, for he never once considered doing such a thing with someone as heinous as Sinister.

"No Blake..." he said with assurance, "I will not let you do that."

"But..." he began to argue, however Magneto quickly cut him off.

"Turning you over would be the worst thing we could do at this point," said the master of magnetism, "If Sinister used you to fully activate his machine, then we would all suffer as a result. And don't forget...I know that madman. I know him all too well...And there's no way he'll simply give up Kurt and Pietro. He's too much of a deceitful liar and he's too determined to make sure I pay for my betrayal."

"Then what do we do?" said Blake, feeling that they were out of options.

A heavy silence soon fell over the room and Blake hung his head low, for he was the center of this whole things. However, Professor Xavier had been thinking about this situation and they all negated one thing...And that was the images he now had as a result Betsy's little 'lapse.' And if this Mr. Sinister was as dangerous as they said he was, then he knew there was only one courses of action left if they were to stop such a madman from fulfilling his dreams.

"I believe that there is only one thing left to do now...Fight back," said Xavier with a sense of determination in his tone.

Hearing such a plan only made Magneto scoff at the idea, for there were so many things working against them and Sinister had already proven himself to have every conceivable advantage at this point.

"Charles, as noble as that sounds...It's downright impossible at this point," said the old holocaust survivor to his long time friend, "Sinister's men now have two hostages that they are definitely not afraid to use, they all have nearly all the resources they need to ensure the activation of the machine, and on top of that...We don't even know where the hell they are!"

"As grim as it seems Eric, consider this...What if we did know?" said Charles with a suggestive hint in his tone.

"What are you talking about?" said Mystique, not seeing how that was possible since neither she nor the rest of the Acolytes could find a trace of Sinister after a month of intensive searching.

"I'm talking about knowing exactly where Sinister and his machine are...As well as Kurt and Pietro," said Xavier, seeing that there was some hope in this fight in his eyes.

"Impossible..." scoffed Magneto, "My team and I did an exhaustive search of the whole state for the past five weeks and we didn't come up with a single trace. Sinister has made himself completely hidden and has most definitely learned from the mistakes he made last time, so I doubt we'll be able to find him in time to do much about this."

"But answer me this one thing old friend..." said Charles as he looked at the desperate look in the old man's eyes, "If I knew where to find Sinister...Would you and your acolytes be willing to work with me and my X-men to put a stop to this madman once and for all?"

Magneto, Mystique, Blake, and even Ororo looked at the Professor curiously, knowing he would never ask such a thing without a good reason.

"What are you saying Charles?" asked Ororo, not understanding what he was getting at.

"Just before Sinister's henchmen left...I got a brief image sent to me by one of their members," explained Xavier with hope in his eyes, "Apparently...Even members of his own team are weary of his madness. And now, I know exactly where he's hiding. And if we all work together, we can surprise him and overwhelm him before he gets any closer to his final goal."

"You know where he is?!" exclaimed Mystique as the thought of rescuing her son now became her top concern, "Then we have to get going! I have to get my son out of there!"

"Don't worry Mystique...We will," assured Xavier, "We're going to get Kurt and Pietro back safe and sound...But we're going to have to organize our teams. If we are to have any chance against Sinister, we must work together and make sure that he never accomplishes that which he is willing to go so far for."

"Agreed..." said Magneto without hesitation, for he had a feeling that one day he may have to team up with his old friend in order to put a stop to this madness and now it looks like they were going to once again fight alongside one another, "If you can get your X-men ready...I'll help with my Acolytes."

"And so will the Brotherhood," added Mystique, knowing they were going to need all available muscle to make this happen.

"And so will I..." said Blake with a renewed sense of determination.

Magneto then turned to see the memory wiped young man with a dazed look on his face, hinting at the true turmoil that was going on in his weary head. Ever since he and his team found him in the heart of Sinister's lab, Blake had proven to be a powerful and loyal ally with just as much reason to fight as him. He had shown himself to be a strong, upstanding man who had actually come to see both him and Mystique in a way few did. Part of this was probably because of his amnesia, but in working with him he had found a new way to help mutants who needed it...And in many ways it was getting the both of them to see the world differently.

"Blake...I know you have a lot of anger towards Sinister and I can't say I blame you...But I think it would be best to keep you as far away from him as possible. Remember, he still wants you and as long as you aren't near him, he can't use you," he said, hoping to coax him out of partaking in this fight.

The dazed and confused young man simply shook his head, for in his mind...The maelstrom that Jean Grey had set off was still going strong and giving him many strange feelings and images that he couldn't make sense out of. And at the center of it all was Sinister...He was the one responsible for this lack of clarity. He had taken away so much from him and he would surely take even more if he ever gave himself back to him...But that was a chance he was willing to take in order to make sense out of his ever tumultuous mind.

"I'm sorry Magneto...But I can't do that," said Blake as he turned to leave the room, "I have just as big a stake in this as you. Sinister still has the one thing I want more than anything at this point..."

"What do you mean?" asked Mystique, worried that he may do something extreme if he went up against this madman.

"Answers..." said Blake, "Sinister knows the truth. I can't take living in this daze anymore. I can't take living in a reality that doesn't feel real with a mind that doesn't feel complete. I need to know...And the only way to find out for myself is to face him myself."

Before anybody could respond, Blake was already out the door. However, as he made his way down the stairs and towards the elevator where he would have to prepare for the ultimate confrontation with the man responsible for all his confusion...Jean Grey watched him from around the corner, sensing the true turmoil in his mind. He was in pain...True, unabated pain. His mind was incomplete and it was festering like a fresh, bloody wound.

Yet at the same time, she felt something within his mind that seemed...Familiar. There was something more driving him than his desire for clarity...Something that seemed undoubtedly linked to her. She could feel it although she couldn't make a whole lot of senses out of it...But despite this, she couldn't deny it's power and she was determined to fight with him and help figure out just what it was that was causing them both so much uncertainty.

*************************************************

As Xavier briefed the students who would partake in this tense mission and Mystique briefed the Acolytes in the same way, Magneto made a special visit to his daughter, Wanda...Who was still unconscious in the infirmary. While the Professor and Hank said she was going to be okay, it didn't help ease the pain he felt for not having been there to protect her and Pietro when it mattered most.

For so long now, Eric Lensherr had caused a great deal of pain in the lives of his children and he had come to regret such actions with every fiber of his being. Even if he had all the power, control, and rule over the world...He would give it all up in a heartbeat if it would just undo what he had done to his kids all those years ago. He knew that Wanda probably still hated him, but if they were successful in beating Sinister he vowed that he would find a way to make it up to her and win her and Pietro back. It would definitely take a lot of repenting on his part...But he was willing to do that and so much more in order to get his children back.

"I'm so sorry Wanda..." said Eric in a soft voice as he looked at his daughter's unconscious body and gently stroked the short strands of her hair, "You've grown...So much. And I've never been there for you. You've become such a beautiful young woman...You remind me so much of your mother. And I swear...I swear that once this conflict is over, I'm going to make it up to you and Pietro. I'm going to be the father I should have been all those years ago. I promise you...With everything I am."

After placing a soft kiss on his sleeping daughter's forehead, Magneto swallowed the lump in his throat and wiped some of the moisture from his eyes...Knowing he was going to have to be strong if he was going to win in the fight to come.

Then, as he made his way out of the infirmary, he came across Todd, who was still waiting dutifully by the doors as he had been ordered to. It was clear that he had been very concerned over Wanda as well and he made no secret that she held a special place in his heart. And as Magneto put his helmet back on and prepared to meet up with the others for the final departure to Sinister's complex, Todd had one last thing he wanted to talk to him about.

"Uh...Boss man?" asked Todd wearily, knowing that this was still Magneto in his eyes and there were still many old feelings that wouldn't leave his mind, "I have a request."

"What is it Todd?" said Eric in a deep, yet non threatening tone.

"Well...I know Lance and Freddy are already going with everybody to fight this Sinister guy...And I was wondering if it was alright with you if I stayed here and looked after Wanda."

Magneto considered this for a moment. He looked into Todd's expression, making certain that his concern was genuine and truthful. He didn't have to look too hard to see for himself that what he truly worried for her and could see it being beneficial for both him and Wanda.

"Very well...I see no problem with that," said Magneto, much to Todd's relief, "Besides...It would be better for her to see a familiar face when she wakes up."

"Thank you sir," said Todd as he made his way back into the infirmary to be near Wanda in case she woke up.

However, as Magneto made his way to the hanger, one last thing came to mind and he found himself turning to face the young man once again.

"Oh and Todd..." he said, causing him to turn around and face him, "Do me a favor as long as you're going to be near her...If she wakes up, please tell her that I'm sorry."

And with a single, reaffirming nod Todd went back to be by Wanda's side while Magneto went off to prepare for the final battle against his former ally...Mr. Sinister.

*************************************************

Rogue was definitely anxious upon hearing that Sinister had kidnapped her brother. Even as Hank treated her and the others that had sustained injury during the fight, she did not hide her concern for him. The ring in her ear from the sonic yells of Ruckus was still present, but the incessant laughter of the Nasty Boys as they took Kurt away hung stronger in her mind. Rogue was always one who hated being kept in the dark. After being lied to so often in the past, she felt nothing but bitterness for once again not knowing what was going on. And now her only family was in danger by some force she didn't even know about. While the commotion over the impending rescue mission was intensifying, Rogue had every intention getting some answers as she went along with them to save Kurt.

After Beast had left her in the infirmary by her request, Rogue completed bandaging herself sore arm up on her own...Preferring to be left alone in her state of bitterness over what happened to her brother. She was just about ready to join the others in the hanger for one last briefing when the doors opened and she was met with the last person she ever wanted to see.

"Rogue?" said Mystique as she looked in to see her adopted daughter making the final touches on the bandage around her arm.

Upon seeing her, a look of anger quickly fell over Rogue's face.

"YOU!" she yelled as she got up in a defensive stance, "What are you doing here?!"

The shape shifter took a step back upon seeing the enraged look in Rogue's eye, but managed to keep her composure.

"Easy Rogue, I'm not here to fight you, I'm just here to see if you're okay," she said to a very unbelieving young woman whom she had lied to so often in the past.

"Yeah right!" scoffed Rogue, "Why should I believe anything you say? It would be safer to put a gun to my head!"

Mystique, being the temperamental woman she was, didn't like being accused of not caring when her son was in such grave danger. She had fought and bled to protect her children from Sinister and yet they never even knew it and they would probably never even so much as thank her for it. But with Kurt's life on the line, Raven Darkholme chose not to get into another futile fight with her estranged daughter.

"Look Rogue...I'm through caring whether you believe me or not," she said sternly, "It's clear that nothing I do will ever get you to see me as anything more than a sadistic, bitter old woman. But my son is in danger! And like it or not, I care about him! I have done a lot ensuring that you two are protected and now his life is on the line. Now you can either hate me and fight me...Or you can swallow your bitterness as I did on that day back in Egypt and help me get your brother back!"

Rogue was left silent by Mystique's words. So great a part of her wanted nothing more than to erase this woman completely from her memory, yet at the same time she seemed just as adamant about saving Kurt as she did. They may not have had much in common, but their overall concern for Kurt seemed to be mutual.

"Just...What do you want Mystique?" said Rogue, breaking her silence, looking back at her with a skeptical expression still dominating her face.

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you..." said Raven as she turned away from her, "I came here to see if you were alright and I've done that now. The only thing that concerns me at this point is saving my son."

"And why should I believe you?" said Rogue, whose trust Mystique had broken so many times before.

"I can't answer that for you Rogue," she said, still not turning back to face her so that she couldn't see the hurt expression on her face, "Just know that as much as you hate me...Neither you nor Kurt can ever change the fact that I'm your mother...And I will always care about you."

Upon saying that, she left...But not without having to suppress a tear from falling down her face. She hid it well though as she went to meet up with Eric and Charles. The shape shifter knew that while she couldn't forget about her concerns for Rogue and Kurt, she would have to stay strong in order to be fully prepared to take down Sinister once and for all.

After she left, Rogue was left in somewhat of a daze as she thought about how she had responded to Mystique. As much as she felt vindicated by her feelings, a part of her did sense a twinge of guilt upon hearing that last part about her being always their mother. It was something she could never escape no matter how bitter she was about it. And as she made her way out of the infirmary and down the hall, a mixed array of emotions continued to hang strong over her mind. Her thoughts then drifted back to that fateful day in Egypt when both she and Kurt rejected her pleas. And after so many months, that fateful event has been put into perspective somewhat. She knew there was no forgiving Mystique for her past actions, but that didn't change the fact that she was still was and always would be her mother.

As she walked along the halls, she passed Gambit as he stood casually shuffling a deck of cards outside the area where Rogue had treated her injuries. She tried not to make eye contact with him, for there were just too many things on her mind at this point and she didn't need to add to it with the complicated feelings she still harbored for the Cajun.

"Feelin' any better cherè?" asked Gambit casually, flashing her one of his winning smiles.

"Not now swamp rat..." said Rogue in a monotone voice, having enough problems to deal with.

"Still confused huh?" he said as he saw her look, "Worried about so many things at the same time while contemplating how all dis shit is gonna end?"

Rogue stopped and looked back at the young Cajun that had once kidnapped her. It was strange to find a man that was so annoying yet alluring at the same time for her, but at this point Rogue had given up trying to make sense out of it.

"I don't need this..." she groaned, obviously feeling the stress of everything that had happened so suddenly, "Its bad enough my brother's in trouble. But now I gotta deal with Mystique..."

"Hey...Just give de woman a chance Rogue," said Gambit, as he put his cards away and approached the weary young woman, "You may think this is crazy...But Remy thinks you outta give Mystique a chance. After all...She is your merè."

"Don't remind me..." replied Rogue, her tone not changing all that much, "I feel bad enough as it is, so just do me a favor Cajun...Don't make add to my problems."

"Hey, don't worry about it Roguey," said Gambit as she led the young woman down the halls towards the hanger where the final briefing was about to take place, "Dis here homme is here to help. So don't worry about yo' brother. We'll get him back safe and sound...Thief's honor."

"Thanks...I guess," said Rogue as she walked with Gambit down towards the hanger where the final preparations were being made for the mission to not only rescue Kurt and Pietro...But to take down Mr. Sinister once and for all.

*************************************************

AN: To be continued for now! It's heating up folks! The final confrontation with Mr. Sinister is drawing ever nearer! Will they save Kurt and Pietro before he does anything to them? And will Blake learn the truth? Stay tuned to find out! So what do you all think of this story? Has it been a good read? Please tell me! Review this story by sending me your feedback directly via email or post it on the fanfiction website! I always enjoy hearing what you think so I implore you, REVIEW! Thank you all for reading and I wish everybody the best!

REVIEWS! SLICKBOY HUNGRY FOR REVIEWS!!!
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