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

Ending Where it Began

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: 2006/03/28 - Updated: 2006/03/28 - 9321 words

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Between Life and Death
Chapter 22: Ending Where It Began


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"Pietro..." said Eric as he saw a very unstable Ruckus with one of Sinister's guns to his son's head, "If you hurt him!"

"Shut the fuck up old man!" yelled Ruckus in response as he tightened his grip on Pietro, causing him to choke somewhat, "You're in no position to say anything! I have the ultimate shield now! And if you do ANYTHING then your son will pay the price! So back off!"

As Magneto watched his ailing son in the arms of the angry mutant before him, he knew there was no time for him to argue or else Pietro might suffer the consequences. Pyro and Avalanche looked ready to unleash their powers at any moment and Sabretooth looked ready to pounce...But with the safety of his son overshadowing any desire to fight, Magneto signaled them to stand down as he took a step back from Ruckus as he kept his finger right on the trigger.

As Ruckus saw the mighty master of magnetism take a step back out of concern for the safety of his son, he couldn't help but laugh. The power he had over them right now was just too exhilarating for words and he could only imagine the look of devastation on the powerful mutant's face when he blew Pietro's brains out...For it would truly be a sight to see and a fitting punishment for all his indiscretions.

"There...That's a good boy," said Ruckus as he took a step back, increasing the distance between him and Magneto's anxious crew, "Just keep your distance."

"Let him go you asshole!" yelled Lance, fighting the urge to just bury him under a mountain of rock with his powers, "It's over now!"

Ruckus choked Pietro even more, causing him to cough and choke for air as he bordered between consciousness and fainting.

"I would advise against any further outbursts like that you little punk!" shot Ruckus, growing increasingly impatient and wanting to get this over with, "Otherwise your friend here is going to suffer even more!"

Lance wanted to talk back, but he restrained himself this time, not wanting to make the situation any worse than it already was.

"Just think about what you're doing mate," said Pyro, who still had his flamethrowers lit, "If you hurt that boy...Than no army in the world will keep us from making sure you die a slow painful death."

Ruckus just laughed at Pyro's threat, not taking it seriously for a second.

"Oh please...Don't try to talk your way out of this one!" said Ruckus as he took another step back while Magneto and his team remained stationary.

"Then what do you want?!" yelled Eric, wanting desperately to get his son away from this madman, "It's over now! You know Sinister's plan isn't going to work!"

"Oh, that's where you're wrong bucket head!" quipped Ruckus, preparing to make his escape as Sinister had planned, "As long as Sinister's alive, his plan can't be stopped! And the man is a fucking immortal so there's no use trying to slow down the inevitable! You've been causing nothing but trouble since your betrayal...And now, it's time for you to face your ultimate punishment! Say goodnight asshole!"

Magneto was about lunge forth and throw everything he could at this man in order to save his son, but Ruckus seemed to know this as he prepared to pull the trigger and blow the speed demon's brains out. Then suddenly...Just before he was about to pull the trigger, he felt an agonizing pain shoot through his chest...Then he heard a voice from behind that revealed just what it was that had happened.

"Goodnight...Asshole," said Elizabeth Braddock, who had plunged a single psionic blade into his back, penetrating his spine and directly into his heart.

Magneto and his henchmen froze at the sight they were seeing as blood began to trickle down Ruckus's nose and filled his mouth. As the searing pain of the deadly stab shot through the loud mouthed mutant's body, he dropped both the gun and lost his grip on Pietro. Knowing it was over for him, he managed one last word before his body gave out.

"You..."

Then, Betsy pulled the blade out, causing Ruckus to choke on his own blood as his body fell limply to the floor while she struggled to keep her balance.

"About time somebody shut you up..." she said as she fell to the floor, still under the effects of Sinister's paralyzing ray.

Immediately, Magneto rushed over to his son, who lay gasping for air on the cold metal floor. He quickly knelt down as Lance and Freddy stood close by while Pyro, Colossus, and Sabretooth went to check on Betsy.

"Pietro...Its okay," assured Eric, feeling a wave of relief come over him as he helped his son back up, "You're going to be okay."

Pietro looked back at the man who had betrayed him so many times before. His body was weak and he was still trying to catch his breath...But that didn't change what had just happened. His father had actually come to save him...His 'father' that had taken his sister away from him and lied to him so many times before. Yet as he saw the worry in Eric Lensherr's eyes, he felt as though he was looking at another man...Another person not like the one who had put him through so much hell in his complicated life.

"Father..." he gasped, still finding it difficult to stand, which prompted Lance and Freddy to help him stay on his feet.

"Easy there Quicksilver," said Blob as he felt Pietro's weakened body still shake under the strain of whatever it was Ruckus did to him that nearly knocked him out.

"You're safe now my son," said Magneto as Pietro grew increasingly aware of what was going on, "We'll get you out of here."

Even though there were still so many negative feelings and emotions about his father that Pietro wanted to vent, he didn't allow himself to ruin the moment that he had just experienced. His father had actually done something for him that seemed like something any father would do for their child. His father...Magneto, had actually come for him and fought to save him. It caused many conflicts in the young speedster, but his exhaustion made it all too difficult to deal with at the moment. Now, all he wanted to do was rest.

"Blob, Avalanche...Take him back up to the X-jet and look after him," said Magneto as he saw the look of exhaustion on his son's face, "There should be some medical supplies there if he needs it."

"Right..." said Lance as he hitched one of Pietro's arms around his neck and helped him to his feet even though he looked out of it at this point.

"But what about you?" asked Freddy.

"I'm staying...I still have to take down Sinister," said Magneto with a renewed sense of determination, "Just watch over him...It will all be over soon enough."

With an affirmative nod, the two Brotherhood boys made began making their way back down the corridors where they had come from. Taking one last look at his wounded son, Magneto now felt more anger than ever towards Sinister. It was bad enough he had kept him involved in this state of endless war for so many months, but to have threatened his children...That was just too much. He had learned a lot as a result of being controlled by Apocalypse and he planned to put that knowledge and drive to good use now and finish what he should have done a long time ago.

Over with Betsy, the three Acolytes stood apprehensively around her even though she was in no condition to fight. She had still been an enemy that they had all fought on many occasions since this conflict began and while her most recent action seemed to hint that something had changed, her presence still didn't sit well with the ever suspicious Acolytes.

"So what do we do with her boss?" asked Sabretooth as they looked down at the tired Betsy Braddock, "She's still one of em!"

"No..." said Eric, signaling Sabretooth to stand down, "She saved my son's life. She killed Ruckus. For that...I think we owe her the benefit of the doubt."

"Then what do we do? Leave her?" asked Pyro.

"Of course not," said Eric as he then turned to Colossus, "Take her topside and get her into the X-jet with the others. If she needs anything, do what you can."

"Da...It will be done," said Colossus as he took the tired young woman in his strong arms, "But what about Sinister?"

Magneto felt a wave of raw hatred every time he heard or so much as thought of that name. It brought out so much anger and regret within him and it only reminded him of the many mistakes he had made in his long, illustrious life. Only now, he finally had the drive to confront those mistakes...And he had every intention of making sure he ended this conflict once and for all.

"Don't worry..." assured Eric, "I'll see to it that no part of him survives this time. This conflict has gone on long enough...Now I think it's best that I finish what I should have done so long ago."

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While Magneto and his henchmen were dealing with Ruckus and Pietro, the X-men, Blake, Gambit, and Mystique were also making their way down what looked to be the same kind of corridors that the other side had. Like the others, they were laden with barrels of chemicals, storage areas full of equipment, and vast array of data files. And like the other side, these halls were just as difficult to navigate as the others and the only thing they had to go on was Logan's keen sense of smell.

"Keep moving!" urged Logan as he led the others along, "I'm gettin' a few trace scents!"

"Is it Kurt?" asked Mystique, eager to get her son out of this place as soon as possible.

"Yeah...But it's scattered!" answered Logan as he led them all down another turn.

"Great...I hope he's okay," said Rogue, who seemed equally concerned for her brother and more or less shook of the discomfort she felt in working with Mystique.

"Don't worry," assured Blake, "Sinister won't hurt him...Not unless we're there to see him suffer."

"Yeah...That's real comforting," replied Rogue sarcastically, not liking the prospects of what could happen to Kurt if they didn't get him out soon.

"Don't worry cherè," assured Gambit, "Gambit's faced these assholes before. Yo' brother's gonna be fine."

"Don't get cocky Gambit," said Blake, "You know as well as I do that Sinister never makes any victory against him come without a price."

Both Rogue and Kitty didn't seem to take much comfort in that as well as the same look of worry hung strong on their faces as she followed Logan along with the others. Jean was keeping her mind open for his presence, but she found it difficult to focus with the added stress she felt concerning Blake. His mind hadn't gotten any less chaotic and his chief focus remained on Sinister...He was the key, that he was sure of. But right now, they all had to focus on taking the only real advantage Sinister still had...His hostages.

"Jean! Do you sense anything?" asked Kitty, hoping they were getting close.

Jean struggled to keep parts of her mind focused, but it was just too difficult with all the strange things she was experiencing. Whatever she had done to cause Blake's mind to go haywire, it had affected her as well. Never the less, she did manage to keep her mind clear enough to some extent and picked up a few things through the heavily shielded walls.

"I'm...Not sure," said Jean as she kept trying to filter out the clutter, "The shielding is tough, but I'm getting a few unclear mental signatures...And they're close."

"How close?" she asked, desperate for any answers.

But before Jean could respond, they all turned another corner and were met with a sight that caused them all to stop cold in their tracks. They were now facing a long hall that led to the entrances to the main lab area...But in their way stood one imposing obstacle...Gorgeous George, who had a barely conscious Kurt in his strong arms, ready to snap his body like a twig at any second.

"Kurt!" yelled Kitty as Bobby and Rogue were forced to hold her back upon seeing the ghastly scene before her.

"Welcome to hell kiddies! I wouldn't take a step closer if I were you!" said Gorgeous George as he held Kurt before him as a human shield with his powerful grip holding a very woozy looking Kurt in place.

This instantly set Mystique off as she prepared to lunge forth and tear this man limb from limb, but Blake held her back...Knowing full well that Gorgeous was ruthless enough to do anything at this point and they couldn't afford to provoke him.

"That's my son you asshole!" yelled Mystique as she tried to break free from Blake, who struggled to hold her back, "I swear to God if you hurt one hair on his body I'll..."

"You'll do nothing you blue skinned bitch!" shot Gorgeous in response as he tightened his hold on Kurt, causing looks of pain to form on his face, "Any of you take a step closer and I'll crumple every bone in this kid's body into dust!"

Eventually, Mystique managed to settle down and stayed motionless as she saw the look of pain on her son's face. She couldn't bare it, but if she did anything about it...Kurt would be done for. The tension only grew as Gorgeous George grinned at the powerless group of mutants before him. As strong as they were, it only took a single hostage to render them all utterly harmless and to him it was a truly pathetic sight.

"Listen bub..." growled Logan with his claws fully drawn, "You know full well that if you hurt that kid...Then I'll make it so you're face will be ANYTHING but gorgeous!"

"Oh shut up animal!" scoffed Gorgeous, not looking afraid in the slightest, "You won't do shit! I know as well as you that you don't want to see this little freak's body in pieces! So step the fuck back! Otherwise I'll rip an arm off!"

Not taking this threat lightly, everybody stepped back. Logan still had his claws drawn and Blake's body was still glowing, but he didn't have a clear shot from this angle and he couldn't risk anything without putting Kurt in mortal danger. He knew this had to be some kind of ploy. Sinister knew he was surrounded and outnumbered and now he was putting into effect some kind of contingency plan...But knowing the sheer madness they were dealing with, it was unclear just what it was he was hoping to accomplish at this point.

"Listen Gorgeous..." said Blake as he and the others kept moving back, "You know that if you do this...It'll all be over for you. Are you really willing to die for a psycho like Sinister?"

Gorgeous just laughed at Blake's words. They didn't seem to have any effect on his twisted mind. He knew what he was doing...And he planned to carry it out until the bitter end.

"Kid...You really have no idea don't you?" said Gorgeous as stepped back towards the doorway as Sinister's plan had stipulated, "Everything...This whole operation...Revolves around you now. You're the one who Sinister is after...You're the reason why we're in this current predicament. Even long before your mind was wiped, you were a part of this!"

"What?" said Blake, now feeling only more confused as the ambiguity of his mind continued to torment him, "What are you talking about?!"

Gorgeous just grinned as he saw the confused look upon the young man's face. Such a powerful young man...Yet he was still bound by the limits of his mind. Sinister was right...The experiment truly was incomplete with him. He had so much power yet as a human being, he couldn't tap it. And because of that human part of him, he was now rendered completely and utterly powerless by the current situation.

"Wouldn't you like to know?" he said with a taunting smile, "I wish I could tell you...But right now I've got more pressing things to deal with...Like the little elf currently in serious need of some oxygen."

"No!" said Rogue as she watched as Kurt began to choke, "Let my brother go!"

"You're brother?" said Gorgeous with an even more amused look on his face, "I got to hand it to you Mystique, you really know how to make one mess of a family! I think the world will thank me for getting rid of one of your lousy offspring so that he can't further contaminate this already sick planet!"

"No...Kurt," said Kitty with tears in her eyes...Not wanting to watch another friend die.

Mystique watched helplessly as her son's face began to shift color as a result of his lack of air. A powerful lump formed in her throat that made her unable to yell or lash out or do anything to help him. Rogue had a similar expression as it seemed as though they were out of options. Everybody present could do nothing at this point no matter how angry or bitter they felt and Gorgeous George knew it. They had come to this base fully prepared to fight for the lives of their friends and now they were about to watch one of them die. Feeling as though he had just about had it with this situation...Gorgeous prepared to snap Kurt's bones with his bare hands.

"Enjoy the funeral shit heads...And be sure to save me some cake!" he grinned as he backed up to the door that led down towards the main lab area.

But then...As the door opened, Gorgeous George didn't notice a presence behind him. He was still oblivious as he was so close to ending Kurt's life...But before the final move could be made, a bright light illuminated the area behind him and Gorgeous George was hit with a wave of energy that completely overloaded his system and sent shockwaves of intense pain all throughout his body.

"AHHHHHHHHHH!" he yelled as some of the others were forced to shield their eyes from the light.

Then...As the light abruptly faded, Gorgeous George released his grip on Kurt and fell limply to the ground. And behind him...Emma Frost stood with one of Sinister's deadly weapons in hand.

"He's right...Sinister's weapons really can do the trick," she said out of breath as the effects of the paralyzing blast she had suffered began to catch up with her.

Emma leaned on the wall for support as Kitty ran over to Kurt with Rogue, Mystique, and the others not far behind. He was gasping for air and coughing, but he was still conscious. With Kitty's help, he was able to sit up and open his eyes to see his friends standing before her along with Mystique and Blake. It took a moment for him to fully adjust, but once he did everyone was able to breathe a collective sigh of relief.

"It's okay Kurt...You're going to be okay," said Mystique as she looked down at her son whom she had come so close to losing.

There was an uncharacteristically tender tone in her voice that the others couldn't help but find strange, yet Kurt actually managed to smile somewhat at the words of his mother which threatened to make the old shape shifter tear up right in front of the rest of the X-men.

"I had a feeling you'd come...Mother," said Kurt, still taking deep breaths as Kitty helped him up.

"Well...I was due," she answered, unable to suppress her happiness upon hearing him call her that.

Rogue didn't show the mixed emotions she felt as she saw the look on Mystique's face that seemed so unfamiliar to her and everything she had so ardently believed about her, but she couldn't deny what she saw in the face of the woman she had come to despise so much. It brought out a lot within her, but she chose to hide it.

"You okay cherè?" asked Gambit as he placed a reassuring arm on her shoulder.

"Yeah...I'll be fine just..." but Rogue didn't have the words to finish and simply placed her hand over his, wanting something to hold onto.

As Kitty and Mystique helped the tired and exhausted Kurt to his feet, Logan and Ororo turned their attention to Emma, the one who had helped save him. She was still struggling to support herself, but she knew that was only the effects of the paralyzing blast she had suffered. It would ware off soon enough, but she didn't think all that much about it, for she just needed to get out of this place.

"Are you alright?" asked Ororo, looking far less apprehensive than Logan, who still had his claws drawn.

"Yeah...I'll be fine," she said, "And you can put your claws away Logan...I'm not one of Sinister's slaves anymore. He betrayed me...So I betrayed him."

Emma stood before Logan's penetrating stare as he searched for any hint of deception within this young woman. She may have taken down Gorgeous and she may have saved Kurt, but Logan was by nature a very suspicious man. However, he knew he didn't have time for this. Sinister was still up ahead and nothing would be safe until he was taken down.

"Right...And we should believe you...Why?" he grunted, growing all the more impatient.

"Well...I was hoping you'd take me saving blue boy from having his spinal chord crushed as proof enough," said Emma, annoyed at this dangerous looking man's lingering suspicions, "But here...If you don't believe me, shoot me anyways. It's not like it matters."

She then proceeded to give Logan the gun she had used on Gorgeous George. It was already set on its most deadly setting and Emma didn't care if he used it or not. Even if she did get out of this, she was still a wanted target of the Hellfire Club. She would be dead soon enough anyways.

Logan looked at the gun and thought about what she had just done. With so many other issues to deal with, he knew he had to make a decision. Following his instincts, he quickly made his choice.

"Fine...Ro, take her to the X-jet and get her some help," he said to Ororo as he then turned to Kitty and Rogue, "You two...Get the elf topside as well. We'll take care of Sinister."

"Right!" said Kitty as she and Rogue got on both sides of Kurt and helped him up, "Don't worry Kurt...You'll be okay now. We're here."

And as they began to take him away, Kitty gave the injured young man a small kiss on the cheek which helped Kurt set aside the pain in his body for a brief moment and smile back at her warmly. Mystique saw this and looked back with a shocked expression on her face...One that almost made Gambit laugh. But with far more pressing issues at hand, he felt it would probably be best if they got a move on.

"Don't ask Mystique...Believe me, you probably don't wanna know at a time like dis," grinned the Cajun as he looked back at the shape shifter with an amused grin.

"Shut up Remy," said Mystique as she rolled her eyes at the young man's comments.

"He's right though..." said Blake as he turned back towards the path before him, "We still have one last job to do...Take down Mr. Sinister."

"No kidding," said Logan as he once again shifted his focus to the task at hand, "Then I suggest we not waste any more time."

"For once...I agree," said Mystique, eager for some payback against this madman that had tried to kill her son.

"Good..." said Blake, feeling so close to the answers that he was so desperate to know, "Let's go!"

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The two groups followed the path down the halls of Sinister's lab and converged near the entrance to the main area. The team was Logan, Iceman, Jean, Gambit, Mystique, Pyro, Sabretooth, Magneto, and Blake. And their only enemy now was Sinister. His Nasty Boys were gone and he had nowhere to run. He had some of the most powerful mutants on the planet after him now...Yet he remained undaunted, twisted his own madness into a powerful sense of invincibility that seemed to permeate even as things were quickly crumbling around him. He was in the central lab area, looking over his creations and preparing for the arrival of his enemies. His 150 year old body and mind had been warped to the point of insanity long ago and even with the looming prospect of destruction, he stood confident in the goals he had worked so hard on.

"My creations...My beautiful creations," he mused as he looked at his powerful machines that he had spent so much time and effort constructing, "So perfect...So powerful...Like a work of art."

Just then, a loud voice came booming through the tunnel leading into his lab.

"SINISTER!" yelled Blake, "We're coming for you!"

Despite the anger and rage in the young man's tone, a grin spread across Sinister's face as he recognized the tone.

"Blaze...My test subject has finally returned," he said in his twisted tone.

Then, appearing before him directly outside the entrance to the large lab area, his enemies stood ready and waiting to take him down once and for all.

"It's time to end this Sinister!" said Magneto, "You're treachery has gone on long enough!"

"Treachery?" shot Sinister as he looked back at the angry group of mutants with his bright red eyes, "You should talk Magneto...For it is because of you that this conflict has progressed. It is because of you my ultimate dreams were delayed...Both you and your blue skinned bitch have committed the ultimate form of treachery! You both betrayed me! We could have created the most superior race in the history of life! We could have wiped out every last speck of the mindless human masses together! You of all people should understand the majesty of my goals!"

"I would have in another life..." said Magneto, feeling as though he was facing everything he hated about himself as he saw Sinister standing before them without the guard of his Nasty Boys to help him now, "But things are different now...Things have changed. Time has brought new developments for all of us...And right now, your time is up!"

Sinister just laughed at his ex ally's words as he suddenly slammed his fist on a button of the control console.

"It's not over yet...Old friend!" he shot back, "There is still one last thing I must take care of..."

Suddenly, more of Sinister's guard robots appeared before the group of mutants standing before the powerful madman. They were the same kind of robots used against them on the surface, only this time they had another function that differed from the others that were just meant to slow down...This time, they were made to kill.

"You are a coward Sinister!" said Mystique as she and the others prepared themselves for combat once again against this madman's creations, "Stop hiding behind your mechanical slaves and fight like a man!"

"Ha! Come now Mystique, you should know me better than that," he quipped with his disturbing, mechanical laughter, "Why...If I'm not mistaken, you must think I'm crazy."

"Yeah, that's a real stretch..." commented Bobby.

"Enough!" bellowed Sinister, "The time has come! And I intend to finish what I started...And I think you know what I mean...Blake."

Blake's body was then engulfed in a bright red glow, for he knew what it was Sinister was talking about. But no matter how angry or threatening he looked, Sinister just kept grinning as he prepared for the final battle.

"I'm sure you won't disappoint me my most proud creation...As for the rest of you, have fun!"

Then, with one last sinister laugh, the swarm of Sinister robots lunged forth and attacked.

"All right mates! Here we go again! Time to heat things up!" grinned Pyro with a mechanical laugh as he formed two big fireballs and began scorching large numbers of robots while the others quickly took to the fight.

Mystique, Logan, and Sabretooth were the first to jump in and tear through the vast horde of robot guards. Bobby, Gambit, Pyro, Jean, and Blake once again stayed back and used their powers to attack from a distance and take down more robots like before. However, the machines were more aggressive this time and like before, they had the ability to adapt. Never the less, this didn't stop them from being torn apart by the dozen.

"Sinister!" bellowed Sabretooth, "I'm gonna make sure you pay for this shit! I'M ACTUALLY HELPING LOGAN!"

"Shut up fur ball!" grunted Logan as he tore through several robots at once with his claws, "Just keep fighting! I'll be happy to kick your ass later!"

Sabretooth's growls fell on deaf ears as Sinister quickly made a dash to the other side of the lab where another path led down to another series of corridors. However, Magneto saw this and didn't waste time dealing with these robots. Sinister had nearly killed his son and had kept him locked in this conflict for too long now. This was more than just a personal vendetta to him...This was a fight against the monster he once was before Apocalypse. And he had no intention of letting Sinister get away this time.

"Hold it Sinister!" yelled Magneto as he took to the air, breaking free of a cluster of robots that had tried to pile up on him, "I'm not letting you get away from me this time!"

As Sinister turned to see Magneto hovering in the air closing on him fast, he grinned evilly at his brash actions, for he was definitely not thinking straight in this fight especially considering what he had done to Wanda and Pietro.

"The conflict between us is over Eric..." said Sinister as his hands began to glow a dark red color, "You chose to betray me...So that just means you'll have to die when the time comes. Until then...Consider this your payment for your hypocrisy!"

Then, using the clear shot Magneto had presented him in his fit of rage, Sinister used the control he had over every cell in his body to generate a powerful concussive blast. Magneto had let his emotions get the better of him, for there was no way he could have reacted fast enough. And just as Sinister's actions finally began to process in his mind, the blast made contact and sent him flying back in the other direction.

"Eric!" yelled Mystique as she quickly fought off three robots and rushed over to his side.

Blake saw this and cleared the way for her...But then, something else caught his eye in the maelstrom of the fight that caused his mind to go on a fury of mental flashes. Suddenly, as he blew away three more groups of robots without too much effort...His gaze stood fixated on the machine in the center of the room.

While Jean was fighting hard alongside Bobby and Gambit to take out the robots from a distance while scanning for the projectors, she caught a powerful surge of his mental flashes in her mind through a deep, dormant connection that seemed to come back to life as she watched Blake stand in his daze. In the center of the lab, a nearly perfect replicate of the machine that Sinister had used on him to make his powers what they were now stood before him in real time. It was no dream...It was no haunting image that plagued his mind...It was real.

The closer he got to it, the clearer the images became. At long last...He was finally beginning to see them in the way he wanted to. It was as if whatever firestorm had been set off in his mind earlier by Jean was finally starting to organize itself into coherent thoughts. Through the connection that seemed undoubtedly linked to her...He began to find memories in these incomplete thoughts. He saw clear and vivid pictures of a flaming plane flying through the cold Alaskan sky as two boys...One of them him...Jumped into the icy air and were torn apart as the plane exploded and he fell to the ground. He saw clear and vivid images of him wearing a dirty blindfold on the street, suffering and struggling to live with constant starvation, hopelessness, and abuse. He saw more as he was taken in by Professor Charles Xavier and trained and taught to be a strong leader for the X-men while trying to keep his powers in control. Then...There was the image of Jean Grey. From the shy young girl who joined the institute all those years ago to the beautiful young woman she was today. He could see brief images of him and her together, holding hands, kissing, and making love. Then finally...As he reached out and touched the warm glass tube that had made him like he was now...A name came to him.

"Scott...Summers," he said in a low, dazed tone, "Scott Summers...Blake Hellstrom...Who am I?"

Jean looked back at the young man with undue shock as she felt inside her head all the images and emotions he had just experienced. Those memories...Those pictures...It was him...It was really him.

"Oh God...Oh my God..." she gasped as tears quickly formed in her eyes, "Scott...It really is him...He's alive."

Back at the institute, Professor Xavier was hit with the sudden surge in mental images as well as a look of great shock and bewilderment overcame him. His first student...The one they had all mourned and grieved for...Was alive. He had been alive this whole time and they didn't know it. Right under their noses...All while everyone was still struggling too deal with it...He was alive. He could sense the great turmoil in Jean's mind as she felt the long dormant connection that she had once shared with him come back to life through the gateway that had been opened when she entered his mind. Such a powerful moment...Such a shocking discovery. Professor Charles Xavier couldn't believe it...Scott Summers was alive.

'It's him...It's really him,' sent Xavier to everybody's thoughts, 'Blake is Scott...Scott is Blake. Scott's alive...He's alive.'

This thought was received by everybody present both in and out of the battle. Despite the lingering groups of robots still present, every last one of those present both X-men and non X-men alike looked back at the young man standing before the machine that had taken and given him so much.

"Cyke?" said Logan as he looked over at the unmoving young man still stuck in a daze before Sinister's machine, "Cyke, is that really you?"

Blake...No, Scott Summers...Released his hand from the tube and looked back at his bewildered friends. Everything was coming back to him...Yet there was still one thing missing...One very important feeling that he had to have before he could call himself anybody. And he knew exactly where to find it.

"Sinister..." he said, his voice brimming with determination as he finally understood what it was he must do.

Then, without another word, he ran off in the same direction where Sinister had gone. Jean didn't waste time, sensing through his convoluted mind what he was going to do. She quickly took to the air and flew over the lingering robot guards and went after the man she loved.

"Jeannie!" yelled Logan as he saw her go after him.

"Don't worry Logan! I'll be okay!" said Jean, who didn't look as though anything would stop her at this point, "I have to go after him...I have to find him! I lost him once...I'm not going to lose him again!"

Before anything else could be said, she was gone. Logan and Bobby were about to go after her, but a now revived Magneto quickly stopped them as he looked around at the lab that contained everything Sinister was going to use against the world.

"Let her go Wolverine...She can handle herself," said Magneto as Mystique helped him to his feet, "We have other things to deal with now...Like destroying this lab and making sure it never fulfills it's intended purpose!"

While Jean continued off towards her once dead beloved, Magneto and the others wasted no time in destroying the components and parts of Sinister's lab...Destroying in the means the madman had intended to use in order to create the next dominate species on the planet. And while they completed their task in stopping him...There was still one last matter to take care of.

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

The dazed and confused Scott Summers...Or Blake Hellstrom as he still was in many ways...Ran through the halls at full speed, not letting anything slow him down in his pursuit towards Sinister. This madman had taken everything from him...Everything that made him who he was. Now he was left with memories of two lives...Memories of two beings. As advanced his mind had become there still remained one shadow of uncertainty that hung over his mind. No matter how much he struggled, he couldn't find the answers...And he knew that there was only one person on this planet who may have them...Mr. Sinister.

As he ran down through several twists and turns, not letting any obstacle stand in his way, he found himself going through what seemed to be another tunnel similar to the one that led into the main lab. There was a soft yellow light and a deep humming noise echoing through the metallic walls. As he entered the large, spacious room he saw that it was the main power generators. Then...He stopped and looked around, sensing that he was close...Very close.

"SINISTER!" he yelled into the vast underground chamber, his voice brimming with a mixture of rage and confusion.

As he made his way up to the imposing generators, he saw a figure standing in the light looking back at him with red glowing eyes...It was Sinister. And he wasn't running anymore...It was more as though he was waiting for him. In his hand, he still had the strange gun that he had taken from the main lab before he and the others arrived and from looks of it, it seemed ready to fire.

The emotionally dazed and confused man who was torn between being Scott Summers and Blake Hellstrom used the vast energy that his body could tap in order to create a bright ruby red glow around his body...One that would surely deliver a deathblow to anybody it was unleashed upon...Even Sinister. But as he approached the 150 year old madman, an ominous grin remained upon his face as he raised the gun and pointed it directly at his creation.

"My most proud creation...You have finally returned," said Sinister, not sounding at all threatened by the situation at hand.

"You..." said Scott, his voice brimming with anger and rage as his body continued to glow, ready to unleash all of it's power directly upon this man, "Sinister...You took everything from me."

"Did I?" quipped the mad scientist with an insidious grin, "You are now one of the most advanced mutants on the planet. You have the power to obliterate, destroy, and eviscerate anything and everything that stands in your way. You now have a level of power and control that you could never have dreamed of before...You now have the capability to be the stepping stone that would lead the next dominate species to power on this pitiful planet!"

"I never asked for any of it!" yelled Scott in response, "I never wanted any of it! You took me...You USED me! Everything that made me who I am...You stole!"

"You were just another nameless face among the chaotic masses of unevolved human flesh," said Sinister as he firmly gripped his gun, "Even if your life had ended back at that lab explosion that I so dutifully set up...Would it have done anything? Would it have changed the world? No...Because you were just another nobody who thought he could make a difference when in reality you were just deluding yourself into thinking that your existence actually meant something. I gave you meaning...I gave you purpose...I gave you a destiny."

"You gave me YOUR meaning, YOUR purpose, YOUR destiny!" shot Scott, growing all the more enraged as he looked back into the bright red eyes of Mr. Sinister, "You destroyed whatever life I had just to further your own goals! And now...I'm stuck in this state between life and death. I'm stuck in this dream where I don't know if I'm ever going to wake up. You evolved my body...But you also evolved my mind while at the same time warping it beyond anything comprehensible. And in doing so, you've left me forever torn in this unending uncertainty...Bringing me nothing but more confusion and pain."

Sinister looked back and just laughed at the young man's predicament. His creation had brought forth so many possibilities...So many new things that even he could have never anticipated. Now he stood before it...Both proud and disappointed as he saw the confusion and anxiety that haunted the young man's entire being.

"Still lost in your own imperfections, aren't you my creation?" he said with a grin, "As advanced as you have become, you are still forever hindered from reaching your true potential."

"Hindered? What do you mean?!" demanded Scott, tired of half truths and ambiguous lies.

"Your mind is still as human as ever," responded Sinister, almost sounding as though he pitied him, "The process may have been a success...But parts of it were still incomplete. Your true power level has yet to be realized because your mind acts as a balancing force, connecting you to your primeval past and keeping you from attaining true enlightenment. Emotions, feelings, desire...They are all human traits that breed the deception, jealousy, and greed that has destroyed this world. I was going to help purge you of them...Help you evolve to a level of thought beyond any mere human or mutant...Yet you remain incomplete...Not caught between life and death, but between life and evolution."

"So that's it? I'm just an incomplete experiment? A being where a word to define me doesn't even exist?" said Scott, or Blake...For he was still not sure.

"It is all a matter of relativity my most proud creation," said Sinister, feeling empowered by the hold he had over this dazed young man, "You have the potential...Yet it will never come to pass because you just can't let go of the emotions that weaken you. Your powers will never be truly as godlike as they can be as long as you keep clinging to the feeble hope that the order can be found out of chaos."

Still torn between Scott Summers and Blake Hellstrom, he thought about those words. His emotions were now on a higher level because of his enhancements, yet at the same time they were holding him back. It was a paradox of meaning...A true state of confusion that no level of knowledge could hope to alleviate. Yet still...There were some emotions that he was clinging to...Emotions that he could not let go of. Ever since he woke up, they kept him going...Driving him to seek the truth as the thoughts in his head were simply the mediums of finding it...Discovering both what it was to be lost and found...Connecting both the present and the past.

"No...You're wrong," said the confused young man as the light around him grew even brighter, "You're very wrong Sinister. You evolved my body and mind...Therefore there are certain things I can ascertain that you can't. No matter how much a genius you think you are, you can't think like me. I've felt these emotions...I've experienced their true majesty. Through my thoughts, I can't hope to understand them...But through my mind I can experience them in a way nobody else can. You simply believe that they are what is holding me back...Yet I understand one thing Sinister...I understand one thing that I know you can't."

"And what might that be?" said Sinister, who was beginning to grow annoyed by his words.

"I understand that knowledge alone can't bring evolution...I understand that the science you so covet can't take a regular human being and turn them into a god," said Scott, feeling stronger with each word he got out, "It is the experiences that count...It is not the plane of life, but life itself that brings each individual onto a greater level of existence. The evolution of the body can supplement the evolution of the mind...But it cannot replace it. Like it or not...I think, I ponder, I feel...And it is that which makes me stronger...Not the power that lies within my hands."

Sinister's cocky grin was replaced with one of true disappointment...For his most proud creation was not meant to think like this. He was meant to be so much more...He was meant to be the first of a new race that was beyond both mutant and humans. Yet now, he seemed only more human...Thinking and feeling in a way unique to him and him alone.

"You truly disappoint me Blake..." said Sinister as he kept his gun pointed right at the young man's body, "You really have lost whatever spark I gave you and replaced it with nothing more than human corruption."

That only got Scott's blood to boil even more as he felt so desperate to blow this madman away. He wanted to so badly...He wanted to just end it all right here and now. Yet still...Something was holding him back.

"I can do without it Sinister..." said Scott, his eyes now glowing with rage, "I came here to stop you...To destroy you..."

"Yet you can't..." said Sinister, knowing by the look in his eye that he was still confused, "As powerful as your mind has become...I still have something that you want...Something that keeps you from blowing me away."

"I only have questions now," quipped Scott, ready to end this right here and now, "And it seems as though only you have the answers."

"And why do you think I would tell you?"

"Because I have to know..." said the confused young man, feeling so close yet so far from the clarity he wanted so bad, "Who am I? Am I Blake Hellstrom? Or am I Scott Summers? Which one is alive? Which one is dead? Which one am I? Am I doomed to stay stuck in this tortured state of confusion? Forever awake yet forever dreaming? I have to know...I need clarity."

Sinister knew there was no going back now...His experiment had grown beyond his control and was now a failure. He had hoped it wouldn't come to this, yet he was completely willing to go through with it. One part of the process...One part is all it took. The experiment was never completed...And so Blake himself was not completed. He was forever hindered...Forever unevolved. It was a feeling that gave Sinister a great deal of anger and bitterness...And for that, it all had to end. And since had been the one to start it...He would be the one to end it.

"You really are a fool..." said Sinister as he gripped the trigger, preparing to fire, "Your mind, your body...So advanced yet so pathetic. All your strength and capacity for knowledge...Hindered by mere questions. It's really sad...I'm practically ashamed to be the one who created you. And for that...You must die."

"Not if I kill you first..." said Scott, his voice brimming with rage.

"But you can't...For I am the keeper of your precious answers," said Sinister with a snide grin, "This gun that I am holding is powerful enough to give you your clarity in at least some ways...And since I know you can't destroy me, you will have to die not knowing the answers...You will have to die forever stuck not remembering what you want. I know you seek answers...Yet you cannot find them anywhere else. And for that reason...You will die as you should have on that fateful day when you gave your life to save your friends. Face it Blake...It's over."

Scott felt unable to respond, still held back by his desire for clarity. So little was keeping him striking this man who had been the source of so much suffering...Yet the still couldn't do it. He still sought answers. It was as if time itself had froze...When suddenly, a loud, desperate cry filled the room and caught Scott's attention.

"Scott!" yelled Jean as she flew into the room and stopped a mere ten feet from the current duel between him and Sinister.

Scott turned and saw the tears of desperation and sorrow in the eyes of the beautiful redhead. She brought so many emotions to him...She had been the one to help him find the truth. Whatever spark she had set off in his mind, it had grown into a great fury of images and memories. Yet along with that...She gave him something more...Something deeper that went beyond any possible understanding. The dormant mind link that had once bonded them so closely together...The warm feeling that had once lent him so much comfort during times of darkness...Was now shining like the stars in the night sky, bringing him a feeling of warmth and comfort that he had never felt before. No matter how many memories Sinister had tried to erase...He had been unable to erase that deep connection. It was the one spark in his mind that had remained...It had been the medium for the new sense of clarity he now felt. And as he looked deeply into the eyes of Jean Grey...Something within him finally arose.

"Scott...Please," said Jean, short of breath and wrought with emotion, "I don't want to lose you again..."

Then...Something came over the confused young man as he turned back towards Sinister and did something that shocked both him and Jean...He smiled.

"I understand..."

Suddenly, just as Sinister was pulling the trigger...A blinding flash of ruby red light engulfed the room and Jean was sent flying back. Through the deafening bang, one last agonizing scream echoed through the room as Mr. Sinister felt every cell in his body dissolve and fry into nothingness under the intensity of his blast.

"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"

Then...As the light began to fade, nothing was left of Mr. Sinister...Only a smoldering spot of ground where he had been standing. And as Jean quickly returned to her feet, she ran over and saw a smoking body lying on the floor barely moving.

"Scott!" yelled Jean, feeling a wave of anxiety sweep through her, thinking she was about to live it all over again.

Then...As she reached his side, she found that he was still conscious. His breathing was labored and it looked as though he had taken a major blow from whatever weapon Sinister had. But he was alive...The man she loved was alive and she felt their link once again so deep within her mind, assuring her that it was him...It was truly the young man she had fallen in love with so long ago.

"Jean..." said Scott in a raspy voice as he opened his tired eyes to see her beautiful, angelic face.

"I'm here Scott...I'm here," she said softly as she took his hand and gave it a gentle squeeze, letting him know that they were together once again.

"My God..." he said as he reached up with his hand and gently touched her face, marveling at the angel who had given him so much, "I understand now...I remember. Jean...You're the woman...That I love. You're the one...Who saved me. And now...I can see your face...So clearly..."

Jean couldn't fight her tears as they began to blur her vision while she squeezed held his hand in hers, marveling at the wonderful feeling it brought. She could sense through their link that he had found it...He had found the answers. In the end...They didn't lie within Sinister...They lied within his heart.

"I...I can't believe it's really you," said Jean, choking on her emotions as she threatened to break down right then and there.

"It's me Jean..." assured Scott, letting the warmth of her touch sooth away the pain and exhaustion he felt all throughout his body, "I'm alive. I was so desperate for answers...Yet I had them all along. They never were with Sinister to begin with...They never were his to give. Now...I feel as though I truly am in a dream...A dream between life and death...A dream between both worlds...A dream I never want to awaken from."

"Scott...I love you so much," cried Jean, feeling as though the nightmare was finally over and they were both finally together again...And she would always treasure it deep within her heart no matter what.

"I love you too...Even in a sea of uncertainty...I'll always love you Jean."

Jean couldn't fight it anymore as she began to cry. She had just found the man she loved again. Not even death could separate them. Whether this was a world of dreams or a world of reality...She knew now more than ever that there was truly magic in both of them...Magic that she shared with Scott. Through the experiences that brought them together...To the love that they had found...It had survived and they were together once again.

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

AN: Well, there you have it! Sinister is finally gone and his lab is destroyed. Scott now remembers who he is thanks to Jean. It's been a long hard road, but they both managed to persevere. Now all that's left is the aftermath. It's almost over people! There are just a few more loose ends to tie up and it will be over! But before I get around to that, what do you think of this fic? Has it been an enjoyable read? Please tell me! Send me your comments directly via email or post them on the fanfiction website! It's almost over and I can't thank you all enough for reading it!

HURRY! REVIEW BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!
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