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

Rebuilding What Was Lost

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: 2005/09/19 - Updated: 2005/09/19 - 7607 words

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Between Life and Death
Chapter 10: Rebuilding What Was Lost


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In the weeks that followed Blake's arrival into the Acolytes, Mystique and Magneto took him directly under their wing and began showing him the ins and outs of being a mutant and partaking in a secret war. And even though he was a new, unexpected recruit, he learned very quickly, most likely thanks to his enhancements. Working with Magneto, he learned that he could tap pretty much any kind of energy dense enough and metabolize it in his body so that he could use it as a deadly projected beam, make powerful shields, or increase his strength and muscles to an enormous level. Whatever energy he tapped, it was his to do with as he pleased. At first he could only tap to a certain extent, but as he grew more confident he could control energy many times greater. And thanks to his unique genetic makeup, he had the perfect balance of power and control...When he was in the right mindset at least. He still tried to remember his past and that always seemed to dampen his concentration no matter how advanced his blood was.

In addition to learning control from Magneto, Mystique had used the opportunity to teach him some of her vast knowledge in the skills of hand to hand combat. And just like he was with Magneto, he learned very quickly. His reflexes were fast, his muscles were strong, and his body was fit...Perfect for learning the arts of fighting. Unlike most of the others she worked with, Blake had shown a great willingness to learn all he could from the shape shifter. While he never directly said it, much of the reason had to do with what happened when he inevitably faced Sinister with the Acolytes once more. Like it or not, Sinister was the one who took his memories away from him and he was probably the only one who could give them back.

While Blake grew quite fond of Mystique and Magneto under their tutelage, he also became friends with many of the other Acolytes as well. Both Gambit and Colossus took to him quite well and even Pyro seemed to enjoy his company when he wasn't playing with lighters and burning things. Gambit had taken the time to teach Blake the arts of poker and other card games while Colossus helped teach him which of the techniques Gambit taught him were cheating. It was a rather humorous exchange at times, but Blake got the hang of it eventually. The only person he couldn't seem to connect with was Sabretooth. Every time he tried to talk to him, the angry, animalistic mutant would just comment on how he didn't like his smell for some reason. But despite this, Blake was assured that Sabretooth was always like that and wasn't exactly a 'people person.' He was only in this for the money.

When Mystique and Magneto weren't training Blake, they were keeping tabs on the world outside for any signs of Mr. Sinister and his activities. Ever since the attack on his facility, he had pretty much disappeared from all sight...Which was proof enough to Magneto, who knew him best, that he was up to something. But so far, he had no clues as to where Sinister was and all he could do was remain eternally vigilant in case he struck again. Mystique made frequent check ups on the Brotherhood as well, returning to the house for a day or so every now and then to ensure that they didn't destroy her house again and that they were attending school like they should. And if necessary, punish them for breaking any of the rules she had laid out. Knowing the Brotherhood, anything was possible. The Maximoff twins were still unruly towards her for working with their estranged father and Todd, Lance, and Freddy would act up every now and then at school when someone made a snide comment about them or mutants. It was a hard order for Mystique to impose while working two big jobs, one as housemother to a bunch of misfit mutants and the other as a soldier in the war against Sinister. However, she could make no complaints, because like it or not the Brotherhood was her responsibility and in the end it was up to her to make sure that they didn't get into any trouble.

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It was in the late afternoon hours at the Acolyte's lair as Blake, Colossus, and Gambit played another round of poker. Pyro had been in the group as well for a while, but he ended up throwing a tantrum after losing to a pair of Queens and quit after only a few games. But that didn't stop the others from enjoying the game as Blake listened in on some of the stories that each fellow comrade had to tell.

"So then what happened?" asked Blake as he divided his attention between his cards and the story Gambit was telling him about what had happened around a year ago between him and a girl from the X-men named Rogue.

"Well after she touched Gambit, she pretty much tried to run off," said the Cajun mutant as he went over the story he had gone over in his head many times before, "So I was gonna have to get mon perè out myself against dozens of armed cold blooded killers. Trust me, it ain't as easy as it sounds, but it's just another day in the life of a Cajun thief."

"How did you succeed?" asked Blake as he took two cards and read his hand, contemplating his next move.

"Here it comes..." mumbled Colossus, having heard Gambit tell him this story many times before as he folded his hand.

"It wasn't easy mind you homme," said Gambit as he took two cards from the deck and prepared his next move while telling the part of the story he remembered most clearly, "But in de end...Rogue saw through dis Cajun's rugged outer appearance and came in to help save Gambit's perè. While she was plenty mad at me, I had a feeling she'd see de truth."

"What made you think that?" asked Blake.

"It's simple homme...Dat girl and I have been down de same roads in life," he said, sounding somewhat fond of those words and the memory it invoked, "I knew she had it in her...And she proved Remy right. She helped save mon perè even though Gambit was supposed to be an enemy...But she did it, and for dat, Gambit gave her his queen of hearts as a token of his thanks."

It seemed like a rather odd story that Gambit had overly romanticized to some extent, but Blake could find no reason not to believe that it hadn't happened. Besides, if it was a lie, Colossus would have said something by now and he had heard the story in the same exact way more times than he could count. For some reason, Gambit just loved telling that story. But even Blake, who was still fairly new, technically that is, even he could see that part of it had to do with this girl, Rogue...Who he always described in such vivid detail.

"You gave her a queen of hearts? Very symbolic Remy...But very subjective at the same time," said Blake as he shook his head in amazement at Remy's story.

"Its de truth homme," said Remy with confidence, "Dere are no lies in de story. It all happened dat way."

"Most of it at least..." quipped Colossus, earning him a rather dirty look from the Cajun.

"I'm sure it did..." said Blake as he turned his attention back to his cards, "So what do you got?"

"Three of a kind," said Gambit with a grin as he showed his cards to Blake.

"Damn...Two pairs," mumbled Blake as Gambit continued on his so called 'winning streak.'

"Looks like Gambit wins again," said the Cajun mutant as he gathered the cards and skillfully shuffled them for another round.

While he was doing that, Blake couldn't help but be curious about one more thing from Gambit's story. In it, this Rogue girl seemed to play a very big part...Not just in the story, that much was obvious, but for him as well. It was curious to Blake as to the way he talked about her and the way he described her. He didn't think he had any experience in such a matter, but for some reason it felt clear to him...But he pushed that aside, not thinking it was important as he felt the need to ask him one more thing about his story.

"So what happened to the girl?" asked Blake as Gambit continued to shuffle the cards.

"Well..." said the Cajun as he sat back in his chair, recalling once again the memory he had become so fond of, "She went back to de X-men with her family to my knowledge. Later on, she played a big role in stopping Apocalypse and pretty much stayed at de institute for one more year of high school. But I know her...I doubt she's gonna leave dat place anytime soon."

There was a hint of disappointment in the Cajun thief's tone as he said those words and Blake quickly picked up on it and couldn't help but laugh somewhat.

"You must really like her..." grinned Blake, provoking a reaction from Colossus.

"See Gambit...He heard the story only once and yet even he sees it," said the Russian born mutant, feeling vindicated in what he had long argued with Gambit over.

"Don't start dis homme..." groaned Gambit, not wanting to get into the same argument with Colossus all over again, "You know Remy don't like talkin' about it."

"Then we won't..." said Blake, stepping in and stopping the conflict before it grew, "But just answer me one last question Gambit...One that DOESN'T have to do with Rogue."

"Shoot..." said Remy, sounding somewhat relieved as he dealt the cards for another game.

"If you're still a thief, then why did you come back with Magneto after Apocalypse?" he asked as he got his cards and began to contemplate his next moves.

"For de same reason Colossus and de rest of us are...Incentive," answered Gambit as he took a look at the hand he got and inwardly grinned.

"What kind of incentive?" asked Blake, "For some reason...I get the feeling that it's more than just money."

Gambit stood mildly amazed at Blake's perception, but never the less gave him an answer since Colossus had already told him why he was here.

"Well dere is money involved," said Gambit, "But dere's more as well. Once dis war with Sinister is over, Gambit will have everything he needs and then some to pay off de debts he owes so dat I can leave New Orleans for good and start fresh. Bein' a thief has its perks, but sometimes...You find other things in life worth experiencing and I wanna have dat opportunity and freedom."

"Right...And I guarantee you the first thing he'll do with that freedom is try to get with that girl again," laughed Colossus.

"Hey...It ain't out of de realm of possibility homme," argued the Cajun, "Rogue already took and accepted Gambit's queen of hearts...Dat alone says it all."

"Yes...I'm sure it does comrade," replied Colossus, still not believing him and his strange logic.

Blake just laughed again as he took three cards this time and looked at the hand he had been dealt.

"Well I guess we'll both just have to wait and see what happens when the war is over now won't we?" said Blake, "Maybe then we'll know for sure if Gambit's logic is twisted...Or true."

"Thanks for de vote of confidence Blaze," said Gambit as he once again took two cards, "What about you homme? What are you gonna do when dis war is over?"

Blake took a moment to think about that. It was a sobering feeling, knowing that he was still unsure even if he would find his memories again after beating Sinister. For the most part, he had just been living day to day since he had woken up from his coma. He never really thought about the future. If he got his memories back, would he return to where he had come from? Or even if he knew, would he rather stay with Magneto and Mystique after they had done so much to help him? In times of uncertainty, he found it easier to remain distracted from the questions that he could not answer. However, eventually he would have to face them...If they could be Sinister that is.

"I don't know Gambit...I really don't," he admitted, "Having total amnesia is like a nightmare that you can't wake up from. Sometimes you feel as though you're at that point where you're going to just wake up in your bed, forget the dream, and get on with your life. But for me...Every time I think I'm at that point, everything still goes on. Who knows...Maybe this is all a dream in my head or maybe what I'm seeing is just something my mind is making real. But amnesia does crazy things to you...That much I know."

"But what if you get your memories back?" asked Colossus, also curious as to what this young man with so much potential would do if this war were to end in their favor.

"That's another matter in of itself Peter," said Blake, "From what I've already been told about my past...There really isn't much to go back to. And if I can't see any reason to return to such a life, then I guess I'll have to think of something else. Who knows...I may stay with Magneto and Mystique a little while longer. After all...They were the ones that saved me. I just hope that if I do remember...I won't want to forget it again."

"Well dat sure is a pessimistic outlook on things," said Gambit with a light chuckle, "But what if dere is something to go back to? It may not be much, but what if dere was still something out dere dat kept you goin before Sinister nabbed you? Who knows...Maybe you've got a girl out there whose worried sick about you and thinks your dead or something. Wouldn't that be enough?"

Blake was about to respond to this seemingly hypothetical question, but for some reason that he didn't quite understand...He froze at the notion. The file that Mystique had given him about his life had stipulated that he had no family, but it never said anything about a girl or any other friends out there. And if his life was so horrible before he lost his memories...Then what was keeping him alive in the first place? A strange feeling of uncertainty came over him...Almost as if someone had run a small shock through his system. As quick as his mind was, even he couldn't fully comprehend the notion of what effect something like what Gambit described would have on his decisions in the end.

As Colossus took his two cards, he and Gambit both noticed Blake looking as though he was in some kind of daze. Gambit hadn't expected his question to have that kind of an effect on him, but never the less...Something was causing him to think.

"Hey...You still with us over dere homme?" asked Gambit, waving his hands in front of his face.

Then, Blake managed to snap back to reality and shook his head clean of whatever it was that was confusing him.

"Yeah...Sorry, I guess I just spaced," he assured as he placed his cards on the table, "I fold."

"You sure you're okay comrade?" asked Colossus, sounding concerned after seeing the expression on the young man's face.

Blake responded by rubbing the temples of his head and forcing himself to collect his thoughts once more.

"Yeah I guess...I just got stuck in another one of those moments where I thought I was going to wake up...But I guess I didn't," he replied.

Satisfied with the response, Gambit showed his winning hand again and gathered the cards for another round. But in looking back at the young man's face, he could tell that he was still thinking about his earlier question.

"Well be sure to stay with us in de real world here homme," said Gambit, "We don't wanna lose our extra poker buddy."

"Don't worry Gambit...For the time being, it doesn't seem like you will," said Blake despite his uncertainty.

"And besides...Even if you didn't have a girl out dere waiting for you, I'm sure with your looks you'd be able to pick up any femme you wanted," grinned Gambit as he dealt the cards once again.

"Yes...As long as you stayed away from Rogue," joked Colossus, provoking another snide look from Gambit that only made the two other men laugh.

While the three men continued their game and Pyro remained on the couch, glued to the TV, Magneto was in the main monitoring room going over the readings of the day. Sinister was still proving elusive, but he would have to show himself sooner or later. The man may have been mad, but he was definitely not one to walk away from a fight or a conflict that he took so personally. Add to that, he still had Blake so if he wanted the fruits of his labor he would have to come through him in order to get it back.

For the most part, things had been relatively quiet for the last few weeks. Mystique was still out on her usual fact finding missions and Magneto remained glued to computer screens. Part of him actually welcomed this inactivity which seemed somewhat of a nice change compared to the intensive combat and tension wrought by close battle and tracking of Sinister. But the madman was still out there...That much was already too discomforting. While working with Blake had provided a nice distraction in many ways, Sinister's dark intentions were still prevalent in his mind and his worries over no longer having Xavier as emergency backup was not sitting well with him.

Last week he had sent Mystique there to see just how bad the death of Cyclops had been to the rest of the students there and from what she reported, it was just as bad as he had feared. Every one of the X-men was still in a state of mourning over their fallen friend and Xavier in particular was taking it hard. While on a lighter note, Mystique had said that they seemed to be getting back into their routine after a few weeks, they didn't look like they would be able to stay focused against Sinister.

And while she had not said it directly, she used this opportunity to check up on her kids as she so often had done after Apocalypse. But every time, she was very careful not to let them or anybody else see her. Having rejected her back in Egypt, she had no desire to see the look of scrutiny on their face and hear their angry cries towards her for using them. But this didn't stop her from wanting to see them and in looking at the sad expression on their faces from the loss they had suffered, she loathed the fact that she could do nothing to alleviate their pain.

Mystique was still out as Magneto let out a deep sigh and stretched his tired limbs. He knew his body was in need of sleep, but his mind just wouldn't stop working. Part of him just wanted to collapse before the computer screen, but there were just too many things to do and there was so little time to rest. Never the less, a break definitely did sound good, but as he got up from his seat, Mystique suddenly made her appearance in the doorway, not looking too thrilled judging by the look on her face.

"Raven?" the master of magnetism asked, curious as to her sudden appearance, "What are you doing back so soon? Did you find something?"

Mystique let out a deep sigh, hinting that she was just as tired as Magneto, but she tried not to let it show as she reported to him what she now knew.

"For the most part...I didn't find anything," she said in a rather pessimistic tone, "But in the end...I didn't have to. Something found me."

In her hand, the shape shifter had a crumpled up piece of paper. She handed it to Magneto, letting him see for herself just what she meant by her words. As the master of magnetism took it, he saw an all too familiar handwritten message and soon found himself reading it aloud.

"To my most pestilent enemies..." he read, "You have taken something of mine that I have worked a lifetime to attain. You have it...And I want it back. You have no idea what you possess and could never appreciate the true potential of the power my creation has. If you don't give back what you have taken from me...Then I shall take from you and your shape shifting bitch something far more valuable. You know you can't stop me...I've already shown that. You are still mortal...I am immortal. You're only delaying the inevitable. We once worked together...Now I will personally make sure that you suffer the most for your insolence. Kind regards...An old friend."

Crumpling up the paper in his hand, Magneto felt a new twinge of urgency. Sinister was back and ready to fight a lot sooner than he had hoped. It hadn't even been a month yet, but now he was back in full form once again. Part of him thought that maybe Sinister was bluffing, but he knew the man too well and he knew that he never made threats that he wasn't capable of carrying out.

"Now what do we do?" said Mystique, not liking the prospects any better than her friend.

"I'm not sure yet," said Magneto in all honesty as he contemplated how they were going to handle this new development, "How did you get this?"

"That's just it," answered Raven, "I'm not sure. I turn my back for one moment and suddenly, there's some unmarked card on my motorcycle. I tried to scour the area, looking for any hints of who it could be...But I found nothing."

"Damn it...Did you inform the others?" he asked.

"Of course not," she responded, "I know better than that, but I think Blake deserves to know. It's clear that he's the one they're after."

"I know...And we will tell him," said Eric, "But the part about Sinister wanting to take something just as valuable from us is most disconcerting to me. You know as well as I do that there is only one real thing of value that we possess in this world...And unfortunately Sinister knows it as well."

"I know...Our kids," she said, not liking it any more than Magneto, "So what do we do about it? Should we tell Xavier? And what about the Brotherhood?"

"I don't know yet...We'll think of something, but for now..."

Suddenly, he was cut off by a new presence standing in the doorway. It was Blake and apparently, he had seen the disturbed look on Mystique's face. Since he had arrived, he had shown a genuine concern for the two people that had saved him from Sinister. He took to their fight and learned from them quite well given his circumstances. And ever since they had told him about the man that had taken away his memories and his life, he could safely say that he was yearning for some payback.

"What's going on?" he asked, sensing the urgency in the room, "Has something come up?"

"Unfortunately it has Blake," said Magneto as he took the letter and showed it to the young man that Sinister had done so much to hurt, "See for yourself."

Blake quickly read over the letter and it didn't take too long for him to process.

"He's back..." said the young man, feeling a sense of anger surge through him.

"Indeed he is...And just as we suspected, he wants you back," said Mystique.

"Why am I not surprised?" scoffed Blake as he crumpled up the paper and threw it off to the side, "Do you know where he is?"

"Not this time around I'm afraid," answered Magneto as he shook his head, "We got lucky last time when we found you. Sinister got too careless and it cost him. Now, I doubt he'll make the same mistake twice."

"In addition...He's also threatened our kids just as we had feared," added Mystique, "I know this madman...He'll try ANYTHING to get what he wants."

"Then we'll stop him before he gets that far!" said Blake, now feeling more determined than ever to get the answers he so desperately wanted after everything Sinister had taken away from him.

"That's easier said than done Blake," said Magneto, "If we don't find him soon...He'll find us. And until then, my kids are very vulnerable along with the rest of the Brotherhood."

"And so are mine," said Mystique, not wanting him to forget about Kurt and Rogue.

"But they still have one advantage," argued Magneto, "They are still with Xavier. And I doubt that Sinister wants to bring him into this conflict and face two powerful enemies instead of one."

"Don't rule anything out Eric...You do know Sinister isn't exactly a poster boy for sound mental health," quipped Mystique.

"True...But he's also not stupid," replied Magneto, "He'll use what is most vulnerable and he'll let nothing stand in his way..."

"Then we'll just have to protect them," said Blake, "And since I want Sinister to find me...I'll do it. I'll watch over the Brotherhood."

The two older mutants looked back at the young man with mild amazement at his assertiveness. He had only known them for about a month and already he was willing to put his life on the line to protect the only valuable thing they had left in this world. In addition, he had just as big a steak in this as they did, for Sinister had already taken a lot from him. For all he knew, there was nothing left worth living for other than making Sinister pay and ensure that nobody else suffered from his madness.

"With your permission..." he went on, "I will ensure that no pasty faced psycho will lay a finger on Wanda and Pietro. I'll throw a nuclear bomb at him if I have to, but I owe both you and Raven for saving my life from a fate worse than death. Consider this my way of returning the favor."

Both Magneto and Mystique looked back at each other, contemplating whether or not they should let him do what he was promising. There were still many factors that they did not know about and Blake was still Sinister's main target now since his body contained all the information he needed to perfect his device. But from the looks of it, he didn't look like he was going to allow anything to keep him from carrying out what he had just promised. It was strange for Magneto and Mystique, for they had befriended this young man in a way that they had not done with the rest of the Acolytes and because of that, he was now just as loyal if not more so than anybody else on the team. Perhaps it was because they handled him in a way Xavier might have handled him...Or perhaps it was the promise of going up against Sinister again. Either way, it was clear that he wasn't about to back down from this, wanting desperately to thank those who had kept Sinister from controlling him and all the power he wielded.

"Blake...Are you sure you want to do that?" warned Magneto, "Keep in mind, you are still Sinister's main target. You may simply draw them to you..."

"That won't stop Sinister from trying to pay you back for taking me in the first place," reminded Blake, using the powerful logic in his mind to argue his case, "You can send anybody else to protect your kids...But it may not be enough. Let me do it...And he'll have to face the power of his own creation to even get near them. He can't destroy me...He needs me. And if you want to pay him back for all the trouble he's caused you, what better way than to use his own creation against him?"

Magneto thought about that...Still uncertain just how he should handle this situation. He didn't want to put Wanda and Pietro in danger. They hated him enough as it is and he didn't want to give them any more reason to by bringing them into this conflict. He had vowed that if he ever defeated Sinister, he would do everything he could to win them back. But defeating this madman was far more difficult than even he could have imagined. He was like a mini version of Apocalypse, but many times more annoying.

Mystique, who knew that she couldn't be there for the Brotherhood all the time, thought it was a good idea, but had a bad feeling that this would only bring things to ahead a lot faster than they would have liked. Last time, they had the capacity to plan an attack to stop Sinister. Now that the madman had shown that he had the resources to do what he had so frequently boasted, that would leave far less time for them to contemplate their moves against him...And greatly decreased their chances of taking him down for good.

Finally, as Magneto felt the stress of this grave development bearing down on him all the more harshly, he made his decision.

"I wish there was an easier way to do this...But things with Sinister are never easy," he sighed as he turned back towards the young man, "I never wanted to bring my kids into this conflict...I never wanted Sinister to use them as his trump card. They may hate me, but I still want to protect them. And if you wish to do so...Then all I can say is thank you...And good luck."

"I owe you one sir..." said Blake, glad that Magneto had accepted his offer, "And I promise...I won't let you down."

"So I guess that means I should set you up there," said Raven, "The less time we waste with the logistics, the better."

"Agreed..." said Eric, "Take Blake over to the boarding house and introduce him. Wanda may be easier to deal with because she listens to you, but I have a gut feeling that Pietro won't like the idea of having a body guard."

"Yeah...That could be a problem," said Mystique, knowing all too well the extent of Pietro's arrogance.

"Well let me worry about that," said Blake as he stepped in, "You two took me in and I trust you now because you gave me the chance. It may not be immediate, but if you just let me try...I think I can earn the trust of the Brotherhood in the same way you both earned my trust."

"Don't get too cocky Blake," said Mystique, speaking from experience, "One thing that has always set the Brotherhood apart from the X-men is their stubborn nature. It's taken me quite some time to get them to even remotely trust me...And even now, they still don't think too highly of me."

"Stubborn people require stubborn commitment," reasoned Blake, "Even if they don't trust me, they'll still need protection from Sinister. And if it's a challenge...So be it. Besides...What else do I have to lose?"

Magneto managed to smile somewhat at the young man's comment. Since his arrival, the effects of Sinister's memory wipe had shown on his psyche. It was still somewhat surprising that he would want to take on something this serious so quickly given danger of Sinister and the innate difficulty that the Brotherhood always presented. But in times of war and darkness, choices were few and far between. And when it came to protecting his children, he was not willing to take great risks.

"Well then Blake...I guess I have nothing left to tell you other than good luck," said Magneto, "If you do your part, I'll be sure to do mine and find Sinister before that madman can make his move. Just do one more thing for me while you're looking after Wanda and Pietro."

"Sure...What is it?" asked Blake.

"Let them know that I'm sorry...And I'm doing this because I only want what's best for them."

"I'll tell them...You have my word," said Blake as he and Mystique left the room and prepared to depart for the Brotherhood boarding house.

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Mystique and Blake left the hidden Acolyte lair in a simple, inconspicuous car that Magneto had in store for others to use while not drawing suspicion. Mystique had used this car many times before in her scouting missions to find info on Sinister, but more often preferred the motorcycle. However, given the recent developments, there wasn't much of a choice involved this time around.

The drive to the Brotherhood house wasn't very long. Magneto had purposefully kept the lair within a reachable distance so he could be near his kids just in case they faced any danger. Mystique was still weary about the sudden development with Sinister. She had a gut feeling that if he made his move soon, there would be no other way to stop him other than by killing him...And he was nearly immortal. However, Blake didn't seem too concerned despite the challenge ahead of him. Protecting them against Sinister while also trying to gain their trust would not be easy to say the least, but if he was that determined to do it...She could only hope that he was not getting into more than he could handle.

"I must warn you Blake...The Brotherhood are not pushovers," said Mystique as she drove down the road leading off the highway and onto the smaller, less crowded roads where the boarding house resided, "They can be quite a handful at times."

"I know it won't be easy, don't think I haven't thought about that Raven," assured Blake, "But if I'm going do my duty, I'll have to work with them no matter how unruly they are."

Mystique couldn't help but laugh and shake her head, for she truly didn't know what was driving this young man to do something like this. If they had picked him up over a year ago, she doubted that they would have been able to earn his trust and his friendship like they had. And in this way, he proved to be more willing to take on challenges that she knew the rest of the Acolyte's probably wouldn't have touched with a hundred foot pole.

"Just don't expect too much at first," she warned, "I honestly don't know why you're this dedicated, but I guess we don't have the right, not to mention the capability, to stop you."

"Well to be fair...I don't exactly know why I'm doing this either Raven," answered the young man cryptically.

"What do you mean?" asked the shape shifter, not knowing what he was implying but such words.

Blake was silent for a moment as he attempted to explain what it was that even he couldn't completely fathom just yet.

"I'm not sure, but...Have you ever had the feeling that there are things about yourself that you know are true, but aren't sure why they're there?" he articulated, trying to find the right words.

"In some ways...I guess," replied Raven, thinking about how that related to her attitude both before and after Apocalypse.

"Well try to throw amnesia into that mix..." continued the young man, "Try to imagine feeling things about yourself that you have, yet not remember where the hell they came from in the first place. Try to imagine having feelings that you don't understand while at the same time being unable to escape them. I don't know if it has to do with who I was before Sinister captured me...But I'm determined to find out."

"Well don't worry...If all this ends and you still haven't got your memories back, I'm sure Eric and I will find some way of restoring them. He gave his word and I gave mine, but like I said...Learn to expect the unexpected in this line of work. Mutants are still highly feared by humans, but there are just some battles that they cannot fight whether they like it or not. And even if they knew about this war, I doubt they would hold a parade in our honor if we succeed."

"I couldn't care less if they did," replied Blake, "There are more important things at the moment for me that take precedence over gratitude...The Brotherhood being one of them."

As they neared the boarding house, Blake mentally prepared himself for handling more new surroundings. He had adapted well under Magneto and the Acolytes, but this was a different ball game. Mystique had told him as much about the Brotherhood as she could, but there was only so much that could be anticipated. But Blake had shown his strength and commitment thus far to this conflict and she was confident he would adapt, but it was the Brotherhood boys themselves that she was worried about. It took her months to regain their trust again and she still hadn't fully earned it in some ways, but she knew things like this took time...And it was something she had often negated because of her old stubborn qualities for impatience.

Finally, they reached the driveway of the boarding house and Mystique turned the car off. Blake looked ready to go and the shape shifter felt that they might as well get this over with. But before they left, there was still one last thing on her mind.

"Blake..." she began, her tone becoming more serious, "I know this won't be easy and I don't feel right saying this but...Can I ask you to do one more thing while you're here?"

"Of course," said Blake without really having to think about it, "What is it?"

"I know Wanda and Pietro are your primary concerns for protecting," she began as she took a deep breath, "But if at any point you have the time and means...Would you also keep an eye on my kids and check up on them at Xavier's if you can?"

"Sure...I promise I'll make sure they're okay too," assured Blake, "You have my word."

"Thank you..." said the shape shifter, grateful that he was so willing to do something like this for her. She would have done it herself, but she just became too choked up whenever she saw them. It was better somebody else do it rather than her risking an emotional breakdown.

As they approached the house, Mystique had told Blake to wait outside until she brought him in, that way there would be the least possible conflict. Knowing that it was better to get this over with now rather than later, she opened the door and stepped into the house.

"I'm home..." she said, quickly turning towards the living room where she was sure that the boys were seated like they always were.

"Yo Mystique..." said Todd "Toad" Tolensky as he hoped his way down the stairs, "You got some hours at that job of yours."

Just then, Wanda came out from the kitchen, apparently happy to see Mystique. Unlike the rest of the boys, she had developed a more personal friendship with the young woman whom she had rescued from the insane asylum and helped control her powers. She too felt somewhat better upon seeing a familiar face, but others weren't so enthusiastic.

"Great...So how long are you staying this time?" said Pietro with a hint of sarcasm as he dashed into the room at his usual high speeds.

"Just one night," she answered, obviously annoyed at the speedster's habit of running up behind her and surprising her just for kicks, "But I need you all in the living room. I have a very important matter to discuss...One that involves you Pietro as well as your sister."

"Yeah sure...I'm sure dad thinks we're THAT important," scoffed the speedster as he ran towards the living room.

Rolling her eyes, she turned to Wanda.

"What's with him? He seems more cynical than usual," said Mystique.

"When is he not..." replied the Scarlet Witch, "So what's this about?"

"Like I said...Something important," said the shape shifter, "But I'll tell you all what's going on. This is a major development so if anything...Please make sure that Pietro takes this seriously. I don't care how many times you have to hex him, but make sure he takes this seriously."

"My pleasure..." grinned Wanda as she joined the others in the living room.

The TV was still on and Pietro looked as impatient as ever as the other boys awaited the news she deemed to be so important. Upon walking into the room and seeing Lance, Freddy, and Todd on the couch and the Maximoff twins standing off to the side, she grabbed the remote and flipped off the TV.

"Hey! I was watching that!" said Freddy.

"You can keep watching it after this is over," said Mystique as she held on to the remote.

"Just cut to the chase lady," said Pietro, which earned him a punch in the shoulder from his sister to shut him up.

"Don't worry Pietro...This won't take long," assured the shape shifter, "As you know, there's only so much I can tell you about the line of 'work' I've been involved in with Magneto and the Acolytes. But from what I can tell you, just know that something serious has come up and it has forced us to take a few precautions."

"Precautions?" questioned Lance, who seemed somewhat more grumpy than usual for some reason, "What kind of precautions?"

"Precautions for your own good," said Mystique, "I don't care if you believe it or not, but Eric still has a genuine concern for the well being of his children and this Brotherhood."

"I find that hard to believe..." muttered Wanda under her breath, still very sore at her father for obvious reasons.

"But for now...Just know that both he and I have taken steps to ensure your safety and that's why I'm here tonight," she continued, "I know you've all made strides these past few months, but I feel that it's necessary to ensure that more leadership within this place remains while I'm gone so you don't end up trashing this place again."

"Leadership?" scoffed Pietro, "What's wrong with my leadership?"

"Oh, I could think of a few things," commented Lance, earning him a snide look from the speedster.

"Just a few?" grinned Todd.

"Oh shut up you two!" said Pietro, only growing more annoyed.

"I think you all have just proven my point," said Mystique, unable to hide her humored grin, "That's why Eric and I have chosen a new guardian for the Brotherhood. One that will protect you from the threats that you now face and will also serve as a new leader."

"New leader?" asked Freddy, "Just who is this guy? Is it that Gambit guy again?"

"No, it's someone else whom I feel is a bit more equipped to handle the lot of you," said Mystique as she turned towards her head back towards the entrance she had come in through, "Come on in!"

Then, the door opened and Blake proceeded to enter the living room. Some of the members looked at the tall, imposing young man with intrigue while others, namely Pietro, just scoffed. His appearance was commanding and the look on his face was stoic, showing that he wasn't afraid as he looked upon the group of renegade mutant teens that he would now be in charge of.

"Brotherhood...Meet your new leader," proclaimed Mystique, confident that this would have some positive benefits for this rag tag group that she wasn't always there to watch over, "He is Blake Hellstrom...Codename, Blaze."

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

AN: Well, I'll leave it there for now. He did well with the Acolytes, now he'll have to do the same with the Brotherhood! Do you think he's up to it? Naturally, it won't be easy, but it's necessary. Sinister is still out there and up to no good! There's plenty more to come and plenty more secrets to be revealed! So what do you think of this fic so far? Do you like it? Do you hate it? Please tell me! Send me your reviews via email or post them on the fanfiction website! All feedback is appreciated! Thank you all for reading this story thus far and I wish you all the best!

REVIEWS!!! SLICKY NEEDS REVIEWS!!!
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