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

What Dreams May Come

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: 2006/04/04 - Updated: 2006/04/04 - 10751 words

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Between Life and Death
Chapter 23: What Dreams May Come


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The facility that once housed Mr. Sinister and all his advanced technology had been destroyed. Both he and the Nasty Boys were no more and the insane dream that had driven the madman to impact so many lives was now over. Blake Hellstrom...Or Scott Summers as he now fully remembered himself as...Had been the one to deliver the final death blow to the mad scientist. In a strange twist of irony, the very being he hoped to accomplish his dream with became the final destruction of it...And now all that was left was to piece together the fragments left behind by the whole ordeal.

Upon returning to the institute Kurt, Pietro, Emma, Betsy, and Scott were given immediate medical attention. While Kurt and Pietro were by far the worst, neither of them would stay bedridden for too long. Pietro was eager to be by his sister's bedside again, for he had learned that she was going to be just fine and would wake up very soon...And he most certainly wanted too be there when she did. Kitty also stayed by Kurt's side as Beast gave him a checkup, but his injuries were only physical and nowhere near as serious as they could have been. For this reason, he wouldn't have to stay confined to the infirmary, but that wouldn't stop Kitty from playing the part of nurse until he was fully healed...Not that Kurt complained.

For both Betsy and Emma, they were pleasantly surprised to see that both Xavier and Magneto showed a lot more hospitality to them after having been the one to save Kurt and Pietro. Xavier also know that Betsy had been the one to give him the information that had been the decisive factor in finding and destroying Sinister so they were both welcomed and treated for the effects of the paralyzing blasts they had suffered. Both since both women were strong and the blast had been a lot weaker than the ones used against Scott and Wanda, they recovered fast as well.

For Scott Summers, the one who everybody believed to be dead for over a month now, it was a bittersweet return. He may have been unconscious most of the way, but he woke up just in time to meet with a crowd of friends who were eager to hug and welcome him back to the world of the living. Jean, of course, didn't leave his side. As shocking as the revelation had been to everybody, it had been a true miracle to her. The man she loved was now alive and well. As a couple, they had both survived death itself...And yet they persevered. Their mind link was now stronger than ever and the darkness that had been brought upon them by Mr. Sinister had finally lifted. And for the first time in what seemed like an eternity...They both smiled and the look of jubilation never left their faces.

For Magneto, Mystique, and the Acolytes...The war was finally over. Not long after it ended, Magneto made good on his word and paid each member in full that which he had promised. Upon getting his money, Sabretooth pretty much disappeared, not wanting to linger around Logan and the X-men any more than he had to. Remy, John, and Piotr were also paid and given the documents needed to help them all get back on track with their lives. It meant that Remy could pay off his debts and start over in a new place with a new life...And at the moment, he felt there were a few people, namely a beautiful girl with a white streak in her hair, in Bayville that made it worth coming back to once he did what he had to in New Orleans. The money and immigration papers for John would finally allow him safe passage into the United States where he finally start over and once again find his niche in a new life. And for Colossus, he was relieved to know that his family was finally safe from Sinister. The money and resources that Magneto provided would help his family immensely, paying off long standing debts and providing a decent education for his sister, Illyana. And while he was eager to go home again, Xavier let him know that he would always be welcome at the institute and hopefully he would find his place in the world.

As for the Brotherhood, they had no intention of parting even though Sinister was gone. After Pietro got back, they all pretty much crowded around Wanda's bedside, waiting for her to finally arise. Mystique was there, but Magneto had chosen to stay outside with Charles...Knowing he was probably the last person she wanted to see when she awoke. It was a solemn feeling, but he was still very relieved to know that both his children were now safe again...And he had no intention of leaving them in such danger ever again.

"Are you sure you don't want to be in there with her Magnus?" asked Charles as he and his old friend stood outside the intensive care doors looking in on the Brotherhood as they waited for Wanda to wake up.

"I'm sure Charles..." said Eric in somewhat solemn tone, "But trust me...Its better this way. I still have quite a ways to go with them."

"That may be true, but I think you've shown them quite a bit with this whole ordeal," said Xavier, thinking his predicament wasn't as hopeless as he thought, "You've shown just how much you care about them...You've shown that you are willing to repent for the past."

"But how will they ever trust me Charles?" said the master of magnetism in a tone still wrought with sorrow, "How will they ever see me as their father again after all the things I did to them?"

"I...Can't say for certain old friend," said Xavier as he looked back at Pietro and the still unconscious Wanda, "But I do know this...You really do love your children as any father should. And as long as they know that and you don't forget it...Then I'm sure that in time, you'll be able to put the past to rest and build a new relationship with them...One that you can all be proud of as long as you're willing to fight for it."

A slow smile spread across the old holocaust survivor's face as he looked back at his kids and then towards his old friend.

"After everything I've fought my whole life from Apocalypse to Sinister, I think I can safely say that this one may be the hardest...But the rewards are definitely by far the greatest," he said in all honesty, knowing that it would be a tough road ahead for him and his children.

Xavier couldn't help but smile as he saw the expression on his friend's face. It looked so different than that of Magneto. It was more as if he was beside the man he once worked with all those years ago and the friend that he had once shared such profound dream with. Even after their falling out, Xavier never once considered Eric Lensherr to be a true enemy. And now that he saw just how much he cared for his children, he was glad to see that he had finally found something to fill that void that had been left by so much suffering in his long, illustrious life.

"So what happens now?" asked the Professor, "What do you and the Brotherhood plan to do?"

"I'm really not so sure Charles," answered Eric, who had never had time to contemplate what he would do after the conflict with Sinister was over, "I'm thinking of maybe having them all move to one of my estates near Buffalo for a while where hopefully we can work a few things out and establish a new life...But I honestly don't know what the future holds for me or the Brotherhood."

"Well, as long as we're not enemies...I'm confident that the future holds many promises for the both of us."

"Well you don't have to worry about that for the time being Charles," assured Eric with a lighthearted laugh, "Believe me...After facing Sinister, I think I've had enough enemies for one lifetime. Right now...I hope to focus more on friends. Because as interesting as being a militant mutant supremacist was...It sure didn't leave a lot of room for friendship."

"I suppose not," said Xavier as he laughed as well, feeling thankful that the tragedy and conflict was finally over...For now.

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In the intensive care bed where Wanda had been resting since her arrival, the rest of the Brotherhood remained by her side as her vitals improved more and more by the minute. She had been out for nearly 18 hours now, but thanks to Beast's treatments she was recovering fairly quickly and was starting to stir from her deep unconscious state.

"Wanda?" said Pietro, who now had bandages on his face and body from his injuries, but was not letting them get in the way of being with his sister when she needed it most, "Wanda it's me...Come on, wake up."

The Scarlet Witch began to groan as her mind returned to the world of consciousness, but the lingering effects were still there. Each bone in her body felt as though it had a lead weight on it and her head was throbbing as if she had slammed it into a brick wall. But as she began to move and open her eyes, she saw the blurry image of her brother and friends standing over her bedside smiling down at her.

"Hey there crimson cutie," said Todd in his usual flirtatious tone that he used around her, "Glad to you're finally awake."

Knowing exactly who that voice belonged to, Wanda slowly sat up, fighting the sore feeling in her body and her head as she became more aware of her surroundings.

"Ugh...I feel like I just got hit by a bus," she groaned, rubbing the temples of her head.

"Well that's normal for someone who's just come out of a light coma," said Mystique, glad to see that she was awake and looking like her old self again.

"Coma? What the hell happened to me?" she said, growing more confused, "Did I miss something?"

"Did you miss something?" said Lance with a laugh, not knowing where to begin, "Well let's just say you slept through a lot. But don't worry, we'll tell you. It's a long story."

"Yeah, and we kicked ass in the end!" boasted Freddy as Wanda's sense of awareness became clearer.

As she felt more strength return to her, she saw the happy looks on the faces of her friends. They were all beside her and glad to see her awake. While she was never one to get emotional, she couldn't deny the feelings of joy she felt upon seeing just how much they all cared for her. Being a girl who had been so alone for a large part of her life, it was a welcome feeling to know that she had friends and family that cared about her. Pietro looked by far the most relieved, feeling as though he had come so close to losing his sister again. Todd also looked very thankful as well to see her back in the world of the living. He hadn't left her bedside since everybody went out on the mission to take down Sinister and it showed Wanda that he really did care for her more than just as a simple crush. And while she was not familiar to such feelings, they did give her a sense of peace that she was truly thankful to have.

Mystique, Lance, and Freddy all looked just as happy to see her back in action. Wanda was a part of the Brotherhood and that made her a part of the family. They may have been branded by some to be punks and outlaws, but they were still a single unit and they had stayed united despite the dark threat that Mr. Sinister had presented. And now that he was gone, it left many new challenges and an uncertain future.

Then, as Wanda felt her headache start to wane to gentle throb, she saw her father standing outside the doors looking in at her. Immediately a look of anger and apprehension appeared on her face...However, Pietro was quick to notice this and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder to help calm her down.

"Easy Wanda...It's okay," he assured.

"What?! What do you..." however, Pietro didn't let her finish, now wanting his sister to slip back into old habits.

"It's true Wanda," said her twin brother with an uncharacteristic look of seriousness on his face, "Things are a little different now...But don't worry. We'll all talk about it later. For now, just rest. And I promise you...It'll be okay."

As weary as she was about being in such close proximity to her father, the subtle assurance by both Pietro and her friends helped keep her calm. And from outside, Eric Lensherr could see his daughter awake and full of life once again. She may have still hated him, but that didn't make him any less proud to see her again and take in just how much she had grown. There was so much in her life that he hadn't been a part of...But now that Sinister was gone, he vowed to change that and become a part of their lives as he wish he had been so long ago.

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Later, after Wanda was helped out of her bed by the Brotherhood and prepared for their inevitable departure, Mystique made her way up to the upper levels with the sole intention of having a few last words with her children. She had come very close to losing her son in this conflict and it had caused her to look differently and put into perspective what her children truly meant to her. She had used and manipulated them so much in the past that she never blamed them for hating her, but after being under the influence of Apocalypse and fighting alongside Magneto against Sinister she had come to see things a lot more clearly. She just wish that she would have done so a lot sooner, but she could not change that now...She could only let them know the truth that they so rightfully deserved to know.

The shape shifter found Rogue up in the living room talking to Gambit. He still had the same flirtatious look in his eyes when he talked to her that Mystique found somewhat discomforting...But what made it all the more suspicious was that Rogue might actually have been flirting back with him, for she was smiling.

"So I guess dat means you'll be waitin' for Remy after he fixes things up in New Orleans," he said in his confident Cajun tone.

"Don't push it swamp rat," said Rogue with a grin, who found herself playing along with the Cajun's game of attraction for a change...Knowing that it was more fun that she was willing to admit.

"Well just be sure to keep dat queen o' hearts Remy gave ya," he said, "Dat will keep you safe up until I get back. And then...Who knows? Maybe things will..."

Just then, he was cut off in mid sentence by Mystique as she let out a cough to make her presence known. The look on Rogue's face immediately changed as she saw the woman that had done so much to her, yet was still her adopted mother. Sensing the sudden tension in the air brought on by the shape shifter's presence, Gambit felt that it was probably best he leave.

"Gambit...Mind if I have a word alone with Rogue?" she said, making it clear that she had something to say that was only for her to hear.

"Uh...Sure Mystique," said the Cajun, "Gambit better go see if Peter and John are packed and ready to go anyways. Beast is gonna give us all a ride back home. I'll catch you later cherè...You know I won't leave without sayin' goodbye."

"Right Gambit..." said Mystique, still not amused by the Cajun's constant flirtation with her daughter.

As Gambit made his leave, Rogue still didn't look Mystique in the eye...Not looking at all too eager to talk to the woman that had used her so many times in the past. The shape shifter was about to say something, when suddenly she was cut off by a sudden 'bamf' noise as Kurt and Kitty appeared hand in hand before Rogue intent on asking her for a favor, yet not knowing just what they were stumbling into.

"Hey Rogue, I vas vondering if you could..." began Kurt before he turned to see his mother standing before them and fell silent.

While Rogue still looked apprehensive, Kurt on the other hand didn't look as troubled by her presence. He still remembered what she had gone through to save him and he still remembered her words of concern when his life was on the line. His presence was unexpected, but Raven Darkholme felt it was for the better anyways. She may not have been a very good mother, but she would not leave this institute without saying her peace.

"Uh...Should I, like, leave?" asked Kitty, feeling as though this was probably a 'family moment.'

"If you wouldn't mind..." said Mystique in response.

Kitty looked back at Kurt with a worried look on her face...One that Mystique took to be somewhat more meaningful than it seemed, but she shook it off for now. She had something to say and she wasn't going to let anything keep her from doing so.

"Don't vorry Kitty...It'll be okay," said Kurt with a reassuring smile.

While the young valley girl was still somewhat reluctant, she left the troubled family in peace as only Mystique, Rogue, and Kurt were now standing before one another in a strange feeling of awkwardness that permeated between the two siblings and their estranged mother.

"What do you want Mystique?" said Rogue in a somewhat bitter tone that Mystique had come to expect from her.

"I just wanted to talk to the both of you before I left with Eric and the Brotherhood," she said, making the sincerity in her tone clear for them both to hear.

"And what makes you think we wanna listen?" said Rogue in response, still finding it hard to believe.

"Rogue..." coaxed Kurt as he placed a hand on her shoulder.

"Come on Kurt! You can't tell me that you believe her after everything she's done!" said Rogue, not seeing how Kurt could even consider hearing her out.

"She fought alongside you to help save my life..." reminded Kurt, knowing Rogue had a knack for being stubborn, "She came here vorried for me...Vorried for you...Vorried for the both of us. I think she at least deserves to be heard."

Rogue looked back at her brother with a non-believing look, but as she saw the true seriousness in his expression, she knew he meant it. She didn't expect him to want to listen, but then she remembered just how determined Mystique had been to save Kurt. It was almost as if she was any other parent out there concerned for the well being of their child, but Rogue couldn't bring herself to believe that. She had so much hate and bitterness towards her that she truly didn't couldn't accept Mystique being anything other than what she thought her to be. But at the same time...She couldn't deny what she had done for Kurt in his time of need and like it or not...Part of her was intent on at least hearing her mother out if for anything, for closure.

"I don't expect you to listen much anyways...But there are just so many things I want to tell you that...I honestly don't know how to put them into words," said the shape shifter, struggling to keep emotions under control as she stood before her two children that she had hurt so much, "I just...I know you both didn't believe me that day in Egypt. I know that you may never believe another word I say whether I mean it or not. But I just...I want you to both understand one thing...Just one thing so that should I never get a chance to be the mother to you both that I should have been, you'll at least know how much you both really mean to me. It doesn't matter if you forgive me or go on hating me until the day I die...But please...At least remember that...I'm sorry."

Mystique struggled to keep tears from forming in her eyes, but it was just too hard...For there were just so many things she regretted and it brought her nothing but pain thinking about it. However, she was determined to make peace with her children...And at least give them the closure they deserved after having kept so many things bottled up for so many years.

"I'm still your mother...And your still my children," she said, trying hard not to choke on her words, "And whether or not you ever choose to believe me...Just know that I still love you...I still care about you...And I always will."

The bitter distaste that Rogue felt could not permeate through those words. In the strained voice of Raven Darkholme, there was an undeniable presence of true emotion. For over a year now, the shape shifter had been fighting a battle against someone who was more of a monster than she'll ever be. And through fighting him, she had seen the dark person that she was becoming. Right now, she wanted her kids to see that too...She wanted them to go on in their lives at least knowing that they have a mother out there who loves them...Not one who's out to use them. She had been waiting for this moment to say these words for so long now...And now she had finally done so.

"There...I've said it," said the shape shifter, "It doesn't matter how you respond...I just want you to remember...That's all. Even if it means absolutely nothing to you...I just want you to remember."

Feeling as though she had said her peace, Raven Darkholme turned around to go meet back up with Eric. But before she could take two steps, Kurt stepped forth and stopped her.

"Vait!"

Rogue looked back at him, wondering just what the hell he was doing. But it didn't stop Kurt...For he had something to say as well and even though Rogue probably wasn't going to say anything, he didn't want his mother to leave thinking that her words hadn't had an effect on them.

As Mystique turned around to face her son, she was suddenly shocked when Kurt slowly wrapped his arms around her and drew her into a hug. The look on the shape shifter's face was one of true bewilderment and Rogue could see it clearly even though she found Kurt's actions equally shocking. But the young man who had been captured and nearly killed knew what he was doing...And like his mother, he wanted to say his peace as well.

"Thank you mother...For helping to save my life," he whispered to her.

As she heard those words, a slight tear fell down her face as she actually smiled. She soon found herself hugging back, feeling the kind of warmth and comfort that she had never had a chance to feel before...Yet now here she was, holding her son, feeling so much pride knowing that Kurt had turned into such a wonderful young man.

As Rogue watched this scene, the look on her face fell from the stern expression of bitterness that had dominated since her arrival. She saw the tears in her eyes and heard the emotion in her words even though she didn't want to believe them. A hard lump formed in her throat as she saw the look on her mother's face. Part of her wanted to go over and hug her as well, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. All the pain Mystique had caused her and all the sorrow she felt in return was just too much for her to handle. Her eyes began to fill with tears as well, but Raven seemed to notice this and smiled back at her, letting her know it was okay...And she understood.

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Later on, the rest of the Brotherhood boys helped Wanda get back on her feet and moving again. Magneto and Mystique had told them that they would be leaving soon and they should be ready to go. While Wanda was still anxious about being around her father, Pietro, Mystique, and the rest of the Brotherhood stood by her and gave their support to her which helped to ease some of those fears. Pyro, Gambit, and Colossus would be staying behind at the institute for a while since the Professor offered to fly them to their homes. Their service in the Acolytes was officially over now and each one of them had lives to rebuild. But for Betsy Braddock and Emma Frost, the situation was a little different.

After having been the decisive factor in their victory against Sinister, Xavier and Magneto had gotten them out and helped them recover from their injuries. While they never got what Sinister had promised them, they both took comfort in the knowledge that such a madman was now gone for good and it was because of their actions that the world would now be a lot safer without Mr. Sinister. They both had lives to return to, but there still some issues that they both needed to resolve if they were going to find the peace that seemed so unattainable under Sinister.

"Well Professor, I can't thank you enough for everything you've done for us," said Emma as she, Betsy, and the rest of Magneto's crew stood out on the front lawn near the metal spheres that would be the vehicles for their departure.

"Think nothing of it Ms Frost," said the Professor as he stood with Scott and Jean by his side, "It's because of your and Betsy's actions that we were victorious. Without the information you gave us or the sacrifices you made to stop the Nasty Boys then it's very possible that we wouldn't have been successful."

"Well Sinister was seriously getting on our nerves for some time," said Betsy, "I just wish we could have done something sooner before things got so out of hand."

"There's not much we can do to change that now Betsy," said Scott, who had come out of this whole ordeal the most changed, "We're all alive...Sinister's dead. That's good enough in the end."

"Yeah, I suppose you're right Bla...I mean Scott," said Betsy, quickly correcting herself.

Scott was still greatly troubled by the whole ordeal and he stayed very close to Jean, taking comfort in her presence. There were still many issues left unresolved and there were still many things that plagued his mind, but he tried not to think about that now as he focused on the task at hand with those who helped him to get his life back.

"So what's next for you two?" asked Jean, "What are you going to do now that you're free from Sinister?"

"Well I can't do too much..." said Emma with somewhat solemn look on her face, "I'm still wanted by the Hellfire Club and now that I'm without protection, they'll come after me and kill me in any possible way for something they thought I did."

"Hey, maybe you can come with me and lie low for a while," offered Betsy, not wanting to see her friend just head out into the world unprotected from a bunch of determined killers.

"No...I can't do that," said Emma, shaking her head in remorse, "That would only bring the danger to you and I don't want that. Those pricks want only me...And unless I can prove otherwise I don't see how I'm going to make it more than a few months out there."

Just then, Magneto and Mystique approached from behind them after having constructed a few more spheres for the rest of the Brotherhood and overhearing their conversation.

"Actually...We might be able to help you with that Emma," said Mystique, which caught Emma's full attention, "You see...When we were fighting against Sinister, we managed to hack into his computers on a few occasions. While he eventually got the upper hand in that game, we did manage to get some secure data that he was closely guarding."

This definitely sparked Emma's intrigue as Magneto then reached into his pocket and pulled out a small computer disk.

"Sinister may have had a technological advantage, but he was far from perfect in using it," said Magneto as Emma's eyes remained fixated on the disk, "During our last computer run, we managed to find the location of Sinister's first base. He made one crucial mistake which allowed us to get into his computers which is the only reason why we managed to find him and surprise him the first time. And while in his computers, we did get a bit more data that I think you might find useful. It had to do with the Hellfire Club."

"The Hellfire Club?" said Emma, feeling shocked that Sinister would actually have such information if he had no intention to pay her or Betsy back, "What did it say?"

"It mentioned an assassination ploy by some guy named Sebastian Shaw," answered Mystique, "We didn't know what it meant, but we kept it anyways."

"Shaw! I knew it!" said Emma, as everything finally seemed to fit together, "Only he would be crazy enough to make up some elaborate scheme and blame me for it!"

"Wait...Sebastian Shaw?" said Betsy, "Isn't he the guy you..."

"Don't say it Betsy..." said Emma with a groan, knowing exactly what she was referring to and not wanting it to be revealed to everybody present.

The purple haired mutant suppressed a laugh as she saw the look on her friend's face, but it was practically impossible for her not to look downright humored at the irony of her situation.

"Well, if it that's the case, then I think this data should help to clear you name," said the master of magnetism as he handed the disk to Emma.

"Don't worry...It will," said Emma as she took the disk and held it securely in her hands, feeling as though she had just had her life handed back to her, "And once I blast this to the Inner Circle, they'll be too busy fighting and killing each other to know I exist."

"So I guess that means you're finally free?" said Betsy as she saw the look of jubilation on her friend's face.

"I...I guess so," said Emma, finding it hard to believe, yet feeling so happy that she could finally start over again, "I don't know how to thank you for this."

"You helped us take down Sinister...Consider it even," assured Magneto.

Emma had never felt so relieved in her life...She finally had escaped the prison she had brought upon herself. She had made many mistakes in the past, that she couldn't deny, but she was willing to learn from them now and move on, hopefully never again taking her freedom for granted.

"So what about you two?" asked Betsy as he looked at the two mutants who had once been their enemies, "Where are you going to go now that this conflict is over?"

"For now...I think we all just need some time to put things into perspective," said Mystique, thinking back to the emotional moment she had shared with Kurt and Rogue a mere hour ago, "Now that the conflict is over, we all have a chance to rebuild."

"So I take it that means you'll be going away for a while?" inquired Xavier, somewhat saddened that he wouldn't get the chance to talk help his old friend in this time of great transition.

"Yes...But only to my estate in Buffalo," said Magneto, "And the Brotherhood is coming along so I guess that means the X-men will have Bayville to themselves for a while at least."

"I guess...But should you ever feel the need to talk, you know where to find me," said Xavier as he shook hands with his friend, helping to cement a new beginning for the both of them.

"Thank you Charles...I'm glad to know that there was always someone out there who never gave up hope on me."

Then, both Mystique and Magneto turned to Scott, the young man they had saved from Sinister and taken in without even knowing who he really was. Upon learning the truth, they had definitely been shocked to say the least...But then again, as Blake Hellstrom they had gotten to know him in a way they never would have otherwise. They experienced first hand the kind of man he was. He had actually looked beyond their sinister personas and learned more about them than he ever would have as Scott Summers. And like it or not, it was because of them he wasn't another one of Sinister's mindless slaves.

"Well Scott...I guess this means we both owe you an apology," said Magneto, still finding it a bid disconcerting that he was standing before two people in a ways.

"No you don't..." said Scott in response as he looked back with a light smile at his two former enemies, "You saved me from Sinister, took me in, and even taught me a few new tricks."

"I suppose you can take that as payment for the whole Mexico thing," said Mystique, feeling a bit awkward that she had become friends with someone she had once tried to kill without knowing it.

Scott couldn't help but laugh somewhat, for this whole thing was somewhat humorous in a way. Not only had they taken in someone they once thought was an enemy, but they had befriended him as well. He had to admit, there was no way he ever would have seen the lighter sides to Mystique and Magneto had he not had his memory wiped clean, but now that he had...He was somewhat grateful in a way because it helped show him a few things about judging people that he never would have learned otherwise.

"I'll keep that in mind Mystique," said Scott, "But even though things got a little complicated too say the least...I owe you both a lot. So for that, I guess I should say...Thank you."

Scott then held out his hand as a token of peace, which both Mystique and Magneto took turns shaking. As awkward as it was...They both had to admit it was a little funny how things turned out in the end. They had saved one of their enemies without knowing it, yet when they all learned the truth...The strange friendship they had developed did not go away. It definitely put a new perspective on things, for it truly showed just how much they didn't know about each other and just how strong a tie they could develop simply by allowing themselves to get to know one another.

Just then, the Brotherhood came out through the front door and made their way over to the spheres. Pietro was still helping Wanda move as the effects of her injuries gave her somewhat of a limp that Beast assured would wear off within a day or so. They were all ready to go...Ready to put this ordeal behind them and start anew. There would be many challenges ahead for all of them, especially Wanda and Pietro with so many pieces of their broken relationship with their father left to put back together. But this whole ordeal had helped them all see things differently through the chaos and turmoil and as long as they had the drive to stick together with their family and friends, then they were confident that there was no obstacle they couldn't overcome.

"Are you all ready to go?" asked Mystique as she went over to help Pietro with Wanda.

"You bet! I think we've overstayed our visit here anyways," said Lance as he and the others made their way towards the spheres.

"Oh come on Lance, it wasn't that bad!" said Todd, knowing he was probably eager to simply put this whole thing behind him like the rest of them were.

"Yeah, give it a rest already man," said Freddy in agreement.

"Don't start guys...It's been a long day," said Lance, still feeling somewhat sore from all the conflict he and the others had been through.

"No argument here yo...But at least it's over now," said Todd.

"Amen to that!" said Pietro, "And I don't know about you guys, but I sure could use a vacation."

"Same here...As soon as I get all the feeling back in my legs," said Wanda, still struggling somewhat with her coordination.

As the Brotherhood gathered around the spheres, they looked back at Scott, the one who had actually led them without them even knowing it was him. As Blake Hellstrom he became their friend, but as Scott Summers he had always been a bitter enemy...So what did that make him? He had done a lot with them and had even helped save them when the Nasty Boys first attacked. They had come to know the man behind the name and the glasses even though they hadn't known it. In the end...It was ironic how things ended up, but for all of them, the impact left by their time together was undeniable.

"So...I guess this is goodbye Blake...I mean uh..." stuttered Todd as he stood awkwardly before the older boy that had been both a friend and enemy at one point.

"It's okay Todd," said Scott with a reassuring smile, "I know what you mean."

"So all this time we were really being led by the leader of the X-men and didn't know it...You got to admit, that is pretty weird," said Freddy, not knowing what else to say at this most unusual moment.

"Yeah...It is," said Scott, feeling at a loss for words as well.

"But I have to admit...It was kind of fun," said Wanda, giving him a reassuring smile that she didn't harbor too much bitterness over the whole thing.

"Yeah...It was," admitted Scott as he thought about it, "Hell, now I'm the only one who can say that he's been on all three teams."

"Just don't think it makes you any less a dork Summers," said Pietro with a grin, earning him an elbow to the ribs from Wanda, prompting him to add one last part to his comment, "But...I guess I do kind of owe you for saving my ass earlier and helping Wanda."

"Thanks Pietro...Coming from you, that means a lot," said Scott.

Lance was the last one to speak, for he and Scott had always been such bitter rivals, yet as Blake they had actually become fairly decent friends. There were some similarities about the both of them that neither could deny. They were both leaders and they were both dedicated to their place in life...Yet there remained so many things that they had fought over. But now...They didn't seem nearly as relevant given what they had just been through.

"So I guess this means you won't want my help fixing your jeep anymore?" said Scott lightheartedly, managing to crack a smile.

"I'll manage..." said Lance, "But you know this means we can't really be friends anymore."

"And why's that?" asked Scott curiously.

"Complications," answered Lance, "They may get easier with time...But for now, let's just keep it simple."

Lance then turned away and was about to climb into the sphere, but Scott had one last thing he wanted to say to him before he and the Brotherhood made their final leave.

"Lance..." he said, causing him to turn around and face his friend and enemy once again, "Take care..."

Then, as Scott held out his hand, Lance managed to smile as he shook it in a gesture not of friendship or animosity...But as one of respect.

"Likewise..." said Lance as he and the Brotherhood got into their respective spheres and prepared for take off.

From the windows of the institute, some watched as their former enemies prepared to leave. For Kurt and Rogue, who were looking back at the sphere carrying their mother, it was a powerful moment. It was a strange twist of fate to have rejected their mother and left her that day in Egypt only to have them accept her a year later yet still leave as well. There were many complications about their relationship with Mystique that they knew would be hard to resolve...But after today, it felt as though they had actually made some progress and now it there were so many possibilities for the future...And no matter what happened, they would all face them as the family they were and always would be.

As Kurt and Rogue waved goodbye to their mother, Kitty and Remy were standing there beside them. Kitty was holding onto Kurt's hand, lending him the comfort only she could give him at a time like this. After having come so close to losing him, Kitty Pryde had come to realize just how precious he was to her. Scott's supposed death had brought them closer together and this whole ordeal with Sinister had helped put it into perspective. Remy also stayed close to Rogue, although she didn't seem to mind it all that much. Even though she found some aspects of his actions annoying and even though she knew he would be leaving soon anyways, she couldn't deny that she felt a little bit better about the ordeal when she was around him. His smile helped assure her that there was plenty to look forward to and plenty to be hopeful for as she and her little brother watched their mother leave again...This time, with a feeling of closure knowing that they had someone else out there who still cared for them more than they could ever understand.

Outside, Scott, Jean, Emma, Psylocke, and the Professor waved goodbye to Magneto and his departing team under the light of the setting sun. After so many years of animosity and fighting, it took not one but two horrible threats to put in perspective what true evil was. And on both occasions, they fought and triumphed by working together and in doing so, they were able to put many things in perspective that they never would have otherwise without the power of tragedy and the sheer terror of darkness. But with both Apocalypse and Sinister gone, it left many things to be thankful for and brought forth new chances to rebuild lives, relationships, and dreams.

"So Betsy...Now that we're finally free, are you going to find some other prick to work for to get that old body of yours back?" smirked Emma as she looked back towards her friend.

"You're a real bitch, you know that Emma?" grinned Betsy, knowing that Emma was still Emma even now as all the turmoil they had faced together seemed to finally come to an end.

Emma Frost merely laughed and shook her head and turned back to Xavier.

"Oh and Professor...Before we leave, don't forget to let Betsy make a phone call."

Knowing what she meant by that, they all returned back into the mansion. Many challenges had been faced, but in the end they had all come out alive. Some would be drastically changed by this whole conflict forever, but the lessons learned would remain clear as they all moved began anew. Everybody had something to be thankful for now that it was over. And as for Elizabeth Braddock...She had a phone call too make to a very special winged man that she should have made long ago.

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

Emma, Betsy, Gambit, Pyro, and Colossus didn't linger much longer after Magneto and the Brotherhood left. After staying for dinner, they were all off and on their way to continue their own lives, leaving behind a vow of future friendship to Xavier and his students if they ever needed it.

During most of the dinner, everybody crowded around Scott to hear his tale of what had happened. The details may still have been a little fuzzy to him, but he remembered now...He knew what had happened to him. Despite all the complications brought on by this whole ordeal, some good did come out of it. Scott's powers were now stronger than ever and fully under his control. He didn't need his ruby quartz glasses or visor to keep himself from hurting his friends and loved ones. In addition, his body was a lot stronger physically now, but he still spoke in an altered voice and his hair was still different from its old chestnut brown color. Add to that, the tattoos Emma had given him were permanent and couldn't be removed easily, but it didn't matter to Scott's friends...For that didn't make him any less the young man who had been their friend and leader and would continue to do so whether he was Cyclops or Blaze.

However, for some, seeing Scott Summers alive again brought out many mixed feelings...Namely in Bobby and Kurt. Ever since the accident that supposedly killed him, they had been beating themselves up incessantly with guilt over having been the ones who had been let him die. It brought forth unbridled anguish...But looking at him now even in a different looking body didn't make such memories any less difficult.

After dinner, both Bobby and Kurt pulled Scott aside from the others so they could talk in private. As hard as it was to look at him again after what they let happen, they still wanted to say their peace.

"Scott..." said Kurt as he, Bobby, and the man he once failed to save now stood in the hall near the stairwell, "I think I owe you a major apology mien friend."

"Yeah...Me too," said Bobby, scratching the back of his neck, feeling somewhat awkward at the situation before him.

"Apology?" said Scott, not seeing what they meant, "What do you guys have to apologize about?"

"Scott...You...Died because of me," said Bobby, his voice wrought with conflict, "Back at that lab...You gave your life to save mine."

"And I vasn't there to save yours vhen I could have..." added Kurt, "If I had just been a little stronger or a fraction of a second faster...Then all this might never have happened...None of this heartache vould have taken place."

"Guys..." said Scott, looking back at his friends with the eyes that were once forever concealed by his ruby quartz glasses, "What's done is done...You weren't responsible for what happened back there...It was all my doing. I made that choice...I fell into Sinister's trap."

"But you didn't have to!" exclaimed Bobby.

"But I did..." retorted Scott, "And I'd do it again...For all the same reasons."

Thinking back to what Professor Xavier had revealed to them about his past, a hint of understanding came over both Kurt Wagner and Bobby Drake. They had learned a lot about Scott Summers through this experience...More than they ever could have imagined. He had lost and suffered so much in his life...And for that, he was willing to sacrifice it all for the sake of his friends. Loss had been a big part of his life...And both Bobby and Kurt had just gotten a taste of what it was like when they believed they had lost Scott. And in many ways...It would never escape them. But as they stood before their once fallen friend...At least they had some closure to what had once hung so gravely upon their weary young minds.

"Scott...I know that you don't think ve vere responsible," said Kurt, wanting to make one last point before all was said and done, "But...After vatching you...Die. It...Made a lot of things very clear. I don't think I can ever forgive myself...But at least...Vould you forgive me for vhat I failed to do?"

"And would you forgive me for what I did as well?" asked Bobby, wanting to make his peace as well, "I just...I guess you were right about me not being ready for the main team."

Scott Summers just smiled back at his friends, for they seemed to learn so much even though it had been such an awful experience. As much as they blamed themselves for what had happened...It was clear to him that they had truly taken something from such tragedy...Something that would only help them both as individuals...And as X-men.

"Come on guys...You know me...Dead or alive...I'd still forgive you," he said, "And Bobby...Don't consider for a minute that you're not ready for the team. Because if what I've seen from you throughout this experience is any indication...You're every bit the X-man material I knew you were."

Both Kurt and Bobby managed to smile as Scott finally walked off to his room...Where a certain beautiful redhead was already waiting for him. Even though his new appearance would always be a constant reminder of what they had failed to do, the knowledge that their friend was alive and well and had forgiven him was good enough to keep them strong for whatever challenges the future had in store for them.

As Bobby made his way back down towards the others, he met up with his new girlfriend Jubilee...The young woman who had helped him a lot through the agonizing ordeal. She could tell by the smile on his face that he had made his peace...And that he could finally move forward after having gone through so much.

"I take it he forgave you..." she said to him as she took in the smile on his face the likes of which she hadn't seen since the accident.

"Yeah...He did," he told her, his voice now sounding so much more like the Bobby Drake she had known and come to care for.

"So I guess that makes my boyfriend a true X-man!" she said as they both walked back down the halls towards the others in the den hand in hand.

"Yeah...I guess so," said Bobby Drake proudly, for he now he could truly call himself one.

Over with Kurt, he had chosen to return to his room instead of the others. After having been captured and nearly killed, saved by his estranged mother, and discovering that a friend he had once thought to be dead was in fact alive it all had left him truly exhausted. But such feelings aside, he couldn't help but smile...For it had all been worth it in the end. He would never be able to escape the lingering feelings of his failure to save his friend...But at least now he had learned to move on...And he had every intention of doing so, this time with more strength and wisdom than before.

Waiting for him in his room much to his joy was the girl whom he had grown so close to as a result of this trying incident...Kitty Pryde. It was strange how a tragedy such as the death of a friend had brought them together, but now they had a new beginning to go on...A new start to build upon.

"Are you going to be okay, Kurt?" asked Kitty, her tone still somewhat worried as she looked at the young man who had shared such sorrow with her through the whole ordeal.

Kurt responded not with words, but with actions as he suddenly leaned forward and gave Kitty a big kiss on the lips. It had surprised her...But she quickly found herself kissing back as she wrapped her arms around him and held him close...For now the both of them could safely say that a new beginning was upon them...And they would work to make it as meaningful as possible with their friends and each other.

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

After all the stories, reunions, and jubilant cries from the others that lasted well into the night, it was finally time for him and everybody else to move on from this most tumultuous day and await for a new one to dawn. As the late hours of the night fell upon them, both Scott and Jean made love...Tenderly, passionately, and thoroughly. They had come so close to losing each other forever and neither of them wanted take the time they had together for granted again. What they had was very precious. They shared a truly unique bond that went beyond all measures of understanding...One formed by true friendship and love. And this whole ordeal had only made them realize just how powerful it was. Even when his mind had been completely wiped clean of who he was...The connection between them still remained and in the end, that's what helped him find the answers he was looking for.

As Scott and Jean lay in bed, still naked from their long drawn out session of love making, Scott was still awake and stuck in a weary daze as the clock approached midnight. There were still so many thoughts running through his mind, for he was unable to stop thinking about what this whole ordeal had truly done to him. Beside him and safely enraptured within his arms, Jean was sound asleep for the first time in long while...But he could not sleep...Not when he was being assailed by so much uncertainty.

As he carefully slipped out of bed so as not to wake his sleeping lover, he put his clothes back on and found himself walking down through the mansion and out towards the backyard at the ridge where his grave had been placed. With him, he carried his ruby quartz glasses...A testament to his past and a ghost in his future. And under the cool, crystal clear night he found himself standing over his own grave...Reading the epitaph over and over again which read, In loving memory of Scott Summers. Friend, leader, and X-man. He will truly be missed. May he rest in peace.

He was alive and well...Yet he was standing before his own grave which pronounced him to be dead. In the silent of the night, Scott Summers found himself in somewhat of a paradox...Feeling both alive and dead...Between both worlds. He didn't know how long he stood frozen in his state of confusion, but no amount of time brought him any closer to the closure he so desperately desired.

Suddenly, he was brought out of his thoughts by a soft voice that seemed to know all too well what was going through his tortured mind.

"Scott?" said Jean in a worried tone as she approached the gravesite.

As he turned around, he saw the look of concern in her beautiful green eyes and he could feel the sudden warmth of her presence through their link.

"Hey..." he said in his deepened voice, "Did I wake you?"

"No," she replied, "The bed just got cold all of the sudden and I realized you weren't there...So I got dressed and came to the one place I had a feeling you'd be at this time of night."

Scott managed to smile slightly at her knowledge of him as she moved in closer and gently took his hand within hers and held it tightly, giving him something to hold onto in his confused and distraught state.

"So what are you doing out here?" she asked as she saw his gaze return to his own tombstone.

"Thinking..." he answered simply, not tearing his gaze away from the grave that bore his name.

"About what?" she asked.

Scott was silent for a moment as he stood transfixed on the sight before him, but that only seemed to worry Jean further as he wrapped an arm around her waist and hugged her close to him.

"Come on Scott...You can tell me," she assured him.

"It's just that...All this time...Ever since I found the answers...I keep getting bombarded with more questions," he said in a haunted tone, "I know who I am now...I have all my memories back...I have my friends and family back...And most importantly, I have you back Jean."

He then turned to face her, allowing her to see the beautiful blue eyes of his face that she had not been able to see for so long. They were so enchanting to her...They told so much about this man that she had fallen so madly in love with after all this time. They offered a window into his world of pain, but they also gave her a glimpse into the soul of the man she was forever connected to.

"So what's bothering you?" she asked, desperate to know and help her soul mate when he was in such a tumultuous state.

"Many things..." answered Scott, "But the one thing I keep asking myself is...Who am I? Who am I really? When I look in the mirror, I can't help but think...Who am I truly looking at? Scott Summers died back at that lab explosion...And Blake Hellstrom never even existed to begin with. So who does that make me? Who am I truly at heart?"

There was a gentle strain in his tone as Jean reached up and gently stroked the side of his face, trying to sooth away the pain he felt from both the past and present. There were many questions he had, yet there were only so many answers she could give. And many of these questions didn't even have answers...They had only more questions. But as Jean looked into his eyes, she knew there were many things within this man that had been complicated by tragedy and loss...But at the same time there was so much strength and hope that was worth hanging onto.

"I...Wish I could give you all the answers you deserve Scott," she said as gazed back into his eyes, "There's only so much I can do. But I do know this...You are who you are...Whether you're Scott or Blake...New body or old...You are your own person. You are a man who's had so many things taken away from him, you are a man who has suffered more than anybody should, and you are a man who has grown into someone so strong and so brave that...I'm very thankful to have you in my life. And no matter who you are...You are and will forever be the man I love."

Scott didn't have any words to respond to that. He could see slight tears forming in the eyes of this beautiful redheaded woman that had captured his heart in a way that defied description. And through their link, he could feel the power of her words...Lending him more than just strength...But comfort as well. She had given him so much...She had given him his life back. And no matter who he was...He knew now more than ever that this was the woman he truly loved...This was his true friend and soul mate without a doubt in his mind.

Slowly, their faces drew together and they met in a deep, passionate kiss...One that gave them both strength and closure as midnight fell upon them and a new day began. There clear tears in both of their eyes as they held each other close, never wanting to let go of the warmth only they could offer each other ever again. Through their link, they sent feelings of great joy and love, helping to solidify this one powerful moment.

Then, as they finally parted, one more question remained between the both of them.

"So what happens now?" he said as he looked back down at his ruby quartz shades and then towards the grave.

"I don't know..." said Jean, finding it difficult to look at the tombstone that she had shed so many tears over, "You're alive now Scott...You're standing before me right here in my arms."

"But it still feels like a dream between life and death..." said Scott, keeping a tight hold on his lover, "It feels like...I don't know...Like I'm between both worlds."

"Well I can't tell you which world this is..." said Jean, sensing his confusion, "But as long as you're in the world we're in right now...Then that's all that matters. Whether in a dream world or the real world...It's all up to you Scott. You can make it in whatever way you desire...It all depends on the precious things you hold onto...And the faith you have in yourself."

Looking back down at his glasses, Scott Summers couldn't help but smile at Jean's words. Whether he was in one world or the other didn't matter...For at this very moment, he was standing in the warmth of his soul mate. And no matter how many questions plagued his mind...He needed only to look into her to get all the answers he needed.

Then, as he looked back at his own grave...He finally made his choice. With one powerful energy blast, he shattered the stone into countless pieces that quickly scattered through the wind. Whether or not he was in the world between life and death didn't matter to him anymore...All that mattered was that he was here. And as the monument that had brought so much sorrow and grief to both Jean and Scott finally disappeared from existence...They both met in another passionate kiss. Yet in Scott's hands, he still held onto his ruby quartz glasses...Which would forever be a constant reminder of who he really was.

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

AN: The end. That's it folks! It's over! "Between Life and Death" is over! It's been down a road full of twists and turns, yet it has finally come to an end! Another story has ended and another message is clearly shown to all of those who choose to heed it. The turmoil, complications, and drama have finally come to and end with this fic and have left in wake a new beginning for each one of you to take with you as this story now lays completed. So what did you all think? Did you like this story? Was it a good read? Please tell me! I urge you all to send me your thoughts and feelings on this and all of my stories! Send them to me via email or by posting it on the fanfiction website! Either way is fine!

Well, I guess that's all I have to say for now. This fic is over and another story has made it from my mind into words. I can't thank you all enough for reading! It really means a lot to me! I had a wonderful time writing this story and from the bottom of my heart, this is slickboy444 saying peace and I wish you all the best!

IT'S OVER! BUT YOU CAN STILL REVIEW! SO PLEASE REVIEW!!! THANKS FOR READING AND SEE YOU ALL NEXT TIME!

Whether you're in a dream world or the real world...It's all up to you. You can make it in whatever way you desire...It all depends on the precious things you hold onto...And the faith you have in yourself.
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