Categories > Cartoons > X-Men: Evolution > Extermination

Choices and Coping

by slickboy444 0 Reviews

Takes place 2 years after Apocalypse, 1 year after the Phoenix. The mutant problem has grown and a obscure general named William Stryker thinks he has a solution. Has Scott/Jean, Wanda/Kurt, Kitty/...

Category: X-Men: Evolution - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama - Characters: Cyclops - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2005/09/19 - Updated: 2005/09/19 - 7754 words

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Extermination
Chapter 12: Choices and Coping


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The days that followed that fateful night seemed to go by like an eternity. The surviving X-men and Brotherhood members were forced to stay in a secluded area near a cave where they had stayed before when something like this once happened nearly three years ago, but this time it was a lot worse. This time...Many friends and family were dead as a result of the devastating attacks on their homes, the military was openly hunting them as if they were animals, and from what they could see in newspaper and hear in news reports the whole country seemed to be against mutants with the most bitter of contempt. Days at the sight were spent monitoring Pietro's condition who, despite him surviving the attack, was still in a great deal of pain. Other activities usually involved scouting around looking for any signs of their military pursuers, heading into town to restock their supplies, and trying to contact the Professor in Washington. However, the overall mood of the surviving mutants was still very grim...And the future itself looked very dark.

"Any luck trying to contact the Professor?" asked Kitty as she entered the cockpit where Scott and Kurt were adjusting the dials and controls on the radio.

"No...Still no luck," said Scott with a heavy sigh, "It's like all of DC is under some communications blackout. I can't even get a phone line wired."

It was no different than any of the results of previous attempts the past few days, but never the less Scott and Kurt kept trying in hopes that somehow they would find their mentor.

"Do you think they got him?" asked Kitty, scared at what could happen to the Professor if the military found him before they did.

"I don't know Kitty...But we have to have faith that he's okay. The Professor is strong and Wolverine is guarding him. We can't let ourselves think that he's gone...Not now...Not at a time like this."

"I know...It's just...It's hard not to think about..." struggled Kitty as she turned away and went to check on Raven.

"Yeah...I understand," said Scott as he turned off the equipment and rested his tired head on the back of the pilot's seat.

Kurt did the same, but remained silent. In fact, he had been silent for the most part for days. He barely even spoke...He would always just have a look on his face that made it seem as though he was thinking about something...Something very hard to ascertain and something he was not at all willing to discuss.

"Still with me over there Kurt?" asked Scott even though he knew the response he would probably get.

Kurt just turned to him and nodded, turning off the equipment as well as he got up from his seat and walked out of the cockpit.

"I'm going to get something to eat," he said simply in a deep monotone voice that was usually very uncharacteristic of the blue fuzzy mutant.

Scott stayed in the cockpit, resting his eyes after...Trying to make up for all the lost sleep that he and the others had been suffering from ever since this whole thing started. But when images of dead, mutilated bodies kept haunting your mind...That was easier said then done.

Kurt went and got himself some beef jerky as he stepped out of the jet and took in the sunlight. His gloomy demeanor seemed to permeate even through otherwise beautiful summer weather. He glanced down near the cave where he saw Kitty and his mother talking casually. Ever since she had joined them on that horrible night, she had been different. She had actually been taking the time to talk and get to know everybody that was left from the horrible ordeal. She also was adamant about everybody calling her Raven instead of Mystique, which was somewhat peculiar to everybody except Scott, who for some reason couldn't help but grin when she said that. Kurt meant to ask her about it, but at the moment his mind was too confused to contemplate it.

In the days since they had arrived at the cave...Kurt had found himself strangely drawn to Wanda, whom had kissed him rather passionately a few days ago when he successfully revived her twin brother when he had been on the brink of death. Since then, the memories and feeling from that kiss had been haunting his mind...For he was unable to shake a barrage of strange, unknown feelings that he felt when he remembered that fateful act. He truly didn't know how to explain it...He had been stuck merely trying to process it. And in recalling how that kiss felt, Kurt found himself thinking the same thought that had been hanging over him since it happened.

'Vhat did it mean? Vhy do I feel this strange...Vhy?'

As Kurt let himself fall into his usual trance, Jean and Wanda remained in the back of the jet in the medical quarters with Pietro. Jean had been monitoring the healing process of the speed demons body and was careful to make sure that nothing life threatening would happen in the process. Pietro's speedy chemistry helped him heal from the life threatening aspects of the damage that the ten bullets did to his body, but wounds themselves and the pain they bought were another story.

"We have no choice, Wanda...We have to get those bullets out of him before they cause an infection," said Jean as she felt Pietro wince from her administering peroxide to her his wounds.

"But you said we can't do that until we have pain killers to keep him asleep!" said Wanda as she watched the pained expression on her brother's face.

"I know Wanda...But if we don't it could be life threatening again. Even his healing factor has its limits. Those bullets just have to go..."

Wanda swallowed hard at the prospect of removing the red hot projectiles that were meant for her body, but ended up in that of her brother. For days now Pietro had been drifting in and out of consciousness, groaning in pain, and struggling to keep himself coherent of the world around him. Wanda rarely left his side, not wanting to risk losing him again to the darkness that had been so close to consuming him before. But now...She may end up having to take a risk...One that would only add to her brother's pain.

"Will it hurt him?" asked Wanda wearily.

"I'm sorry Wanda..." said Jean with an exasperated sigh, "But we just don't have the resources we need to keep him pain free or make him sleep deep enough so that he won't feel it."

"How?! I'm not just going to let you cut my brother open when he's still awake and able to feel EVERYTHING!" yelled Wanda angrily.

Her powers once again began to simmer from within, but Jean knew that this was just out of concern for her twin and understood her feelings and was quick to reassure her.

"I'm not just going to cut him open," replied Jean quickly, urging Wanda to calm herself and her powers, "We don't have the equipment for that anyways, so I'll have to use my powers to get them out."

The weary young woman swallowed hard, forcing herself to calm down and keep her powers from making things any worse.

"Will it still hurt him?" asked the Scarlet Witch as tears formed in her eyes as she looked once again at Pietro's pained expression.

"Well..." began Jean somewhat anxiously, "He won't be completely free from pain...And it will definitely hurt more without the proper tools...But it's the only way."

Wanda hated no win situations like this...Either way Pietro was going to suffer. If they didn't remove the bullets, he could die from infection. But removing them would only bring him more pain...Pain that he did not deserve to feel...Pain that no one deserved to feel. She soon found herself gently stroking the sweaty forehead of her brother as he let out another groan of pain as Jean removed one of his blood soaked bandages over the clotted area of one of his wounds.

"Pietro...Can you hear me?" said Wanda as she spoke softly into his ear.

He let out another muffled groan, obviously trying to say something...But being too inhibited from his injuries to do so.

"I'm sorry you have to feel more pain...But please...I don't want to risk losing you. I already lost my friends...I don't want to lose my brother too."

Jean wanted to delay this grim task as much as possible...But she knew that it had to be done. She watched with sadness as Wanda kept stroking Pietro's pained face...For it only reminded her of how much she missed her own family. Her parents and sister probably had no clue as to whether or not she was alive or dead...For all they knew she had been killed in the attack. But the redhead tried not to think of her family at a time like this when life seemed grim enough for everybody around her. So with a determined heart, she turned towards Wanda as she mentally prepared herself for what she was about to do.

"Wanda...We have to do it."

The young woman nodded gently as she took one last look at her brother's face.

"Are you ready Pietro?"

Through all the injuries and pain caused by the multiple bullet wounds that had torn through his body...The speed demon managed to give his sister a muffled response.

"Do it..."

Knowing there was no turning back now, Jean prepared her telekinesis. Wanda would stay there by Pietro's side clutching his hand so that he would have something to squeeze when the inevitable pain of the procedure followed. She gave him a heavy dose of Nyquil to keep him somewhat drowsy for the most part so that he would sleep at least somewhat. But if the pain was too much...Even that wouldn't help.

"Okay...Here we go..." said Jean as she closed her eyes and began to concentrate.

The young psychic then prepared herself for this grizzly surgery. She would have to filter out all surrounding feelings and thoughts so that she could stay 100 percent focused on the task at hand. She would have to ignore Wanda's emotions, Pietro's pain, and her own feelings of angst that had been prevalent ever since this whole horrible ordeal happened. It was by no means an easy task...But she was determined to do it one way or another.

Then...Upon finding the first bullet lodged within Pietro's abdomen, Jean gave it a mild tug. Pietro then let out an agonizing groan that echoed throughout the small compartment and caused her to promptly stop.

"What happened?!" demanded Wanda, still holding on to Pietro's hand.

"It's in there deep..." said Jean sounding somewhat out of breath, "I'll have to be quicker about it...The slower it goes the more painful it will be. I'll try again..."

"Please be careful..." urged Wanda, not wanting to hear Pietro scream in pain like that again.

"I'll try Wanda...I really will. I'm sorry it has to be this way, but the sooner we get it done the better."

Jean once again took a deep breath as she prepared herself for another try. This time, she would just pull it out through the wound as quickly as she could...Even though there was no way around the fact that it would cause the young speed demon a great deal of agony.

"Okay...Here we go again..."

The young psychic then took a deep breath as she prepared her telekinesis for the grim task. Wanda fiercely held her brother's hand, knowing that he would need something to hold on to when the inevitable pain came. Upon finding the bullet within the speed demon's body...Jean Grey used her power to quickly yank the small projectile out of his body and through the wound it had entered. Pietro let out a loud, agonizing yell as the bullet tore through the clotted blood and he started bleeding again.

"Pietro!" exclaimed Wanda as she grabbed the nearest cloth to cover the wound.

"It's okay...I got it," said Jean as she picked up the blood soaked bullet that she removed.

Pietro's breathing became erratic as he gritted his teeth in pain from having the bullet so abruptly removed. But Wanda gently urged him to calm down as he squeezed her hand hard in an attempted to lessen his suffering. Gradually, his breathing returned to normal as Jean prepared to perform the same task again with the other bullets lodged in his body.

"Wanda...We're going to have to do it again," said Jean as she once again readied her powers.

"NO! No more!" yelled Wanda, "It's hurting him too much!"

"I know...But it has to be done!" replied Jean, "I know you don't want your brother to suffer. But I also know that you don't want to lose him."

The mention of losing her twin seemed to placate her emotions for the time being as the Scarlet Witch once again clutched Pietro's hand. This would have to be done another nine times. It only reminded her of the atrocious suffering that he had gone through because of her. If she hadn't been so focused on her anger towards the soldiers...Then maybe this could have been avoided. But now...What's done is done. Pietro took those bullets and the pain that came along with it. And now...He was only forced endure more pain.

"Just...Get it over with," said Wanda as she forced herself to calm down so that she wouldn't risk going overboard with her powers again.

Jean simply nodded as she took a deep breath and began the grizzly task. One by one...She telekinetically removed the bullets from Pietro's body...And each time he let out an agonizing scream. Some bullets caused more pain than others...Some were lodged quite deep and were close to some major organs like his heart and lungs. Wanda winced every time she was forced to hear her twin's agonizing yells. They echoed through the small room and engraved themselves in her mind. It was a feeling that she knew she wouldn't soon forget.

Finally...Jean removed what seemed to be the last one. By this point...The blood from the reopened wounds covered Wanda's hands as she worked to bandaged up the opening caused by the bullet removal. The sickening smell nearly made her vomit up all the contents of her stomach...But from the looks of it, the worst was over.

"Well...That's the last of them," said Jean in a tired tone as she placed the final bullet on a tray off to the side.

Then, as Wanda looked at the slightly deformed projectiles that had come so close to taking her brother away from her, she noticed something.

"But...I only count nine. I thought you said there were ten."

"There are...But the last one is out of my reach," responded Jean in a defeated tone, "I can't remove it...It's lodged between his spine and heart. If I even try...It could rupture his aortas and he would be done for. But from what I can tell...The bullet won't cause any infection because of its location. It'll have to say where it is."

The thought of always having a bullet stuck in him as a reminder of what he did for her on that fateful night did not sit will with the Scarlet Witch. She had watched his face twitch in pain and heard his agonizing yells...Her hands were now covered with his blood. It was all too much for her to handle as she dried her hands off and rested her weary head against her forearm in an effort to hide her tears.

"I can't believe he had to go through all this..." said Wanda weakly as her emotions got the better of her once more, "And it's all my fault."

Jean let out an exasperated sigh as she rubbed her tired temples from the strenuous task that she had just undergone. The sheer precision of finding each bullet and having to deal with the pain that Pietro was projecting along with Wanda's emotions had exhausted her mind. Coupled with 48 hours of sleep deprivation, it had done a way with the redhead's mental endurance...However, she had endured worse strain before and knew that for now...It was over and she would have to help Wanda see that if she was to hold herself together for whatever other challenges awaited them.

"None of this is your fault Wanda," assured Jean as she placed a comforting hand on the distraught girl's shoulder, "We...Don't know whose fault this is exactly. And blaming yourself for it won't do you any good."

The smell of Pietro's blood still hung thick in the air and Jean knew it was a horrible thing for the young woman to smell. She had barely left her brother's side since all this started and she was even more sleep deprived than her.

"Wanda...You should rest," said Jean as she saw the inner turmoil in her eyes, "You haven't slept at all in three days."

"I can't..." responded Wanda weakly, "I don't want to leave Pietro and...The nightmares they just..."

"I'll watch over Pietro, I promise," said Jean, "But you're only hurting yourself by doing this. You have to fight the nightmares...And from what you've shown me these past few days, you're definitely strong enough. I know it's hard...Believe me I know. But don't ever think that you're alone in this...We can help. Scott, Kitty, Kurt and I won't let you and Raven deal with this by yourselves. We may not be able to do much...But at least you know that you'll always have help. Don't ever forget that..."

Wanda would never have expected help from an X-man...Hell, she didn't even know why they would bother to help her after everything that she had put them through. But Kurt had saved her brother's life, Scott had gotten them away from the military in the X-jet, and Jean had nursed her brother when he needed it. They were all doing so much to help her and they asked for nothing in return. It was truly a strange feeling that even after having their home destroyed and all their friends brutally murdered, they still had some good in their hearts. Wanda didn't know if she could ever attain such an aspect within herself...She still felt like the sad, angry, bitter outcast. But at least around these new friends of hers...She wouldn't be an outcast at heart. And with that in mind, she turned back to the redhead that had helped keep her twin brother alive through all his pain.

"Thank you Jean..."

These simple words got Jean to smile for the first time in what seemed like forever as she looked back at the grateful young woman.

"You're welcome, Wanda."

Wanda then finally made her way out of the medical area and let Jean finish cleaning up Pietro's wounds. It would be the first time in two days that she left the medical area...But she truly couldn't stay there any longer. Upon exiting, she saw Kurt sitting up against the wall casually eating a few chips and beef jerky strips. Upon seeing her, Kurt flinched.

"Uh...Guten tag."

"Hi Kurt..." said Wanda as she made her way over towards him.

Three days ago...Kurt had miraculously revived Pietro after he had been so close to death's door. And three days ago...Wanda had kissed him upon accomplishing this feat. While normal logic would say that the kiss was nothing more than simple act of gratitude, the memory of the strange sensations that it caused seemed to defy such rational thinking. This was the first time Wanda had come to Kurt since that fateful moment...And even though he had been thinking about it for days now, the blue mutant was still at a loss for words.

"Um...How's Pietro?" asked Kurt as Wanda slumped down beside him, hugging her knees close to her body.

"He'll live..." said Wanda in a monotone voice, strained by what she had just gone through with removing the bullets and her lack of sleep.

"That's good to hear..." replied Kurt, glad that nobody else had died after seeing so much death within the span of only a few days.

"Yeah...It is."

Kurt then turned and looked her in the eye. He held back a gasp as he saw the dark bags that had formed from her not sleeping.

"Mien Gott...You look exhausted Vanda. Have you slept at all in the past three days?"

Wanda merely shook her head...Showing exactly how exhausted she truly was after dealing with so much trauma.

"I can't..." she said with tears forming in her eyes, "Nightmares...They just...I don't want to sleep anymore. I can't stand it..."

"But you have to rest..." coaxed Kurt as he soon found himself scooting closer to her, "It'll only hurt you more if you keep letting yourself sink like this. And we all must stay strong..."

"I don't think I can do it..." said Wanda as she leaned back into the wall and felt herself go limp from all her fatigue.

"Don't let yourself think that...I know vhat that kind of mindset does to people and I don't want you to get sucked into it as vell..." urged Kurt as he watched the Scarlet Witch sink further into a deep despair.

"Why do you care? Why do any of you care?!" asked Wanda somewhat desperately as if the question had been plaguing her mind forever.

"Because nobody deserves to suffer like that...Not your brother, not my mother, and especially not you."

"How can you say that?! After everything I've put you and your friends through!" shot Wanda, still not convinced of her own self worth.

"Vanda...That vas over two years ago. Since then, I think I've gotten to know you better...Ve all have. I mean...It's clear that you have a real heart within you...One that has so much good in it worth saving."

"There's no good in my heart..." replied Wanda bitterly, "I mean...Look at me. I'm nothing but an angry, messed up little girl that everybody is afraid of."

"So...And I'm an ugly blue demon that people scream at whenever they see me..." quipped Kurt, causing Wanda to back into the eyes of the boy now sitting beside her.

For all her anger and bitterness about herself...She was still human enough to live in this world while Kurt on the other hand was forever doomed to the shadows. He had to hide not just what he was...But also how he looked. It was something Wanda never had to worry about...Yet for Kurt, he still seemed to have more inner strength within him even through the horrors that he had faced in his life.

"Kurt..." began Wanda, but soon was at a total loss for words upon hearing what he had said.

"Vhen you look in the mirror...You see a face that's human. Whether your angry, sad, or happy...Your face is still human Vanda," said Kurt as he looked the tired young woman in the eyes, "Look at me...No matter vhat I hide behind...No matter how happy or sad I am...My face never changes. I still look like an ugly demon that everybody hates and fears."

"But...How do you do it?" asked Wanda as more questions kept plaguing her mind as they had ever since this whole thing started, "How does someone like you who's forced to live in an inhuman body still have a heart? I don't see how you can do it...I don't see how I could ever be that strong."

"It has nothing to do vith strength Wanda," said Kurt softly as he placed a gentle hand upon her shoulder, "It's how look at the world...It's how you look at yourself. One of the biggest things that the Professor taught me...The first thing he told me on the day that I joined the X-men...Vas that ve are who ve choose to be. Ve all think and grow into our own person...Influenced by elements both light and dark. It is only a matter of how ve deal vith the troubles that ve face in life that shows just vhat kind of person ve can be."

Kurt's words were gentle, yet profound for Wanda Maximoff. Of all the people she had met, nobody was ever this nice to her. Kurt had saved her, saved her brother, and now he was showing her how to live again...How to have a heart. He spoke to her in a way that she could understand...He spoke to her like he truly knew her better than anybody...Better in some ways than she knew herself.

"I don't know what kind of person I've grown into..." mused Wanda as she looked away from him, trying to hide her tears, "Everything I've faced...All the problems that I've caused...I just don't know how I can ever look at myself without seeing all the things about myself that I hate."

"I understand that Vanda...Believe me...I understand," said Kurt truthfully as he moved in closer to her and wrapped his arm around her shoulder, "But you shouldn't focus on the kind of things you simply regret in life...Hell, if I did that I may have never fit in vith the X-men and I would have never got to experience the kind of things in life that make it worth living. I've come to know you Vanda...I can see that you have a good soul despite everything you've been through."

"That's not possible..." said Wanda, still doubting herself.

"Oh...Vhat about Apocalypse two years ago? Did you not fight along side me and mien friends to save countless innocent lives? Vhat about vhen I came to you for help when Mystique vas turned to stone...Did you not help me vhen nobody else vould?"

Wanda remembered those moments...But until now she hadn't really thought about them. They never seemed significant enough to make her think otherwise about herself...But to Kurt, it was more than enough for him.

"I...Guess so...But..." however Kurt cut her off before she could bring herself down any more.

"Then that's all the proof you need Vanda. Face it...You truly do have a heart...One that has a great deal of good and compassion in it. You just can't be afraid to show it...You have no reason to be afraid. Fear should never stand in your way and keep you from being the wonderful girl I can see that you are."

Wanda took a moment to think about what Kurt had said. It seemed like no matter what she told him or how angry she got, nothing would keep him from thinking that she truly had a good soul within her being. So much of her mind had always focused on the harsh, bitter side of her personality that fueled her contempt for both herself and others that tried to reach out to her. Her memories of the past had always been unclear at best...But from what was clear, Kurt had shown his understanding. He could relate to her in a way that nobody else could...Not even her brother.

Wanda leaned in closer to Kurt's protective arm and rested her head against his shoulder. Her eyelids were getting heavy...But this time, she felt safe and unafraid because for the first time in a long while...She actually wasn't alone. However, there were still some lingering issues that befuddled her mind.

"But what about the nightmares...The mistakes...Everything?" said Wanda as she stayed close to Kurt's warmth and gently ran her fingers along his soft fur.

"Vanda...Vhatever you're going through, you von't have to do it alone. I'm still here...I've dealt with the same kind of pain. I can be there for you...I can help you. And I promise...I vill do vhatever I can to make it so you don't have to feel the kind of things I have."

"But...Why?" asked Wanda, still having that single unanswered question plaguing her mind.

"I...Honestly can't tell you the full reason because I don't know it...But if for anything...For Rogue."

That last comment actually got Wanda to smile as she let her drowsiness take over. Kurt had told her that through choices, one determines their own fate. Now...He was making a choice to help her when all her previous choices had done nothing but cause her trouble. The thought of having somebody like Kurt to show her who she truly was gave the Scarlet Witch a comforting feeling that she had never felt before. Now...She felt as though she could finally sleep. But before unconsciousness took over, Wanda managed to say one more thing to the boy that hadn't given up on her.

"Thank you Kurt..."

"It is my pleasure fraulein..."

And just as she felt herself drift off while still leaning against his shoulder...Kurt placed a gentle kiss upon her temple...Helping stave off the nightmares at least for now.

As both youths finally managed to fall asleep, Kitty and Raven remained outside in the bright summer sun sitting on a slab of rock outside the cave. Raven had made it a personal mission to talk to and get to know each one of the surviving X-men...Her former enemies. In speaking to her son, talking with Scott, and getting to know Jean when they went out for supplies...She had discovered much about them. She had learned more about them in several days as Raven Darkholm than she had as Mystique for over three years. In this time, she felt as though the Mystique she knew died back at the Brotherhood boarding house and the X-mansion along with her daughter. It was solemn, yet somewhat relieving to feel such a sensation after two years of uncertainty in the wake of Apocalypse. Now, the only person she had yet to talk to was Kitty Pryde...The young valley girl that she knew the least about. She found her to be less chipper than she remembered...But as she got over the initial awkwardness of talking to a former enemy, she found her to be a rather kind, upbeat young girl with much to tell and teach her.

"So you and my son are pretty good friends?" said Mystique as she listened to some of Kitty Pryde's words on her life as an X-men.

"Oh yeah, Kurt's, like, the nicest guy I've ever come across in the mansion. He can be a bit of a jokester at times, but he always had a way of making me laugh," answered Kitty, now feeling a lot more comfortable talking to Mystique upon seeing how different she was compared to two years ago.

"My son a jokester...That's what everybody seems to tell me," said Mystique, letting out a light laugh.

"Well he is!" assured Kitty, "That's one of the things that's so likeable about him."

"I guess so..." said Mystique in agreement, "It's hard to believe that he has half my chromosomes."

"Well, I would just attribute that to his nature and not his genes. It makes him a great guy to be around."

"I'll bet it does," said Mystique, wondering if she'll ever get a chance to see that fun-loving side of her son every again.

Kitty seemed to know a lot about Kurt and she seemed to be pretty close to him. This bought Mystique to another big question about Kurt that she had been thinking a lot about in the past few days. And if anybody could answer...It seemed as though Kitty would be the best one to do so.

"You and Kurt seem to be pretty close. Tell me Kitty...Were you and my son ever...Involved?"

That question definitely got Kitty to blush somewhat as Mystique was now turning to her for information on her son's love life. But, she was quick to answer.

"What, me and Kurt? No, no...We were never involved romantically...Not to say that he didn't try."

"What do you mean?"

"Well...When I first got to the institute, Kurt kind of...Flirted with me a lot."

"Oh...I see," said Raven with a grin, now sensing how awkward Kitty was now feeling.

"I got to admit, the guy was pretty persistent. But...He eventually lost interest when he met this other girl at school."

"Wait...Other girl?" said Raven with a sudden surge of curiosity.

"Yeah...Other girl. Around two and a half years ago, Kurt met a really nice girl that played on the school soccer team. They really hit it off when she asked him to go to the spring dance with him!"

"Did she know about...His appearance?" asked Mystique, somewhat shocked about this revelation.

"Yeah, that's the thing...She knew about him before he even first spoke to her. Apparently, she saw him without his inducer one day, but didn't say anything. I was just as shocked when I found out."

"And she accepted him?" said Raven, still finding it somewhat hard to believe.

"Yep! Fur, tail, and all!" responded Kitty, somewhat humored by the funny expression on Mystique's face.

Raven Darkholm was definitely confused now. A human girl had been romantically interested in her son? A normal human actually saw her son as he was...And didn't care? It seemed almost too hard to believe. For years, Mystique had assumed that all humans were the same...And that they would never accept mutants like her or Kurt. Even though that notion had been greatly shaken upon her experience with Apocalypse, she never heard of any actual proof that such a thing was wrong. Now...She actually had some hint of justification that humans and mutants can exist together.

"I...Didn't think it was possible for a human to accept that. She was human, wasn't she?"

"As far as I know, she was as human as most girls get. And she was pretty popular as well! Even after mutants were exposed to the world, she stayed with him."

"Wow...I really have been in the dark for too long now," mused Raven, "What was her name?"

"Amanda Sefton...She became a pretty regular face around the mansion and even became friends with some of the others."

"And she wasn't scared or disgusted?"

"Nope...Not in the least from what I could see. She was really nice."

This only further shook Mystique's old dogmatic views that she had so blindly accepted when she met Magneto. So many of her old notions had been destroyed within the last two years...It was almost too great a thing to process. There were so many more questions she had...About the mansion, about her son, about all the things she missed because she was too scared to see things for what they really were.

"How long were they together? Were they still dating before all this happened?"

"They dated all through high school...Much to Amanda's parents' dismay," answered Kitty, "But they made it work. They were pretty close. In fact...They only just broke up recently."

"She broke up with him?" said Mystique, now feeling somewhat distasteful of the girl, but Kitty was quick to respond.

"Actually...He broke off the relationship," said Kitty much to Raven's surprise.

"Kurt broke it off? Why? I thought you said they had a stable romance."

"They did...And I honestly don't know Kurt's full reasons to this day...But I do know that he was the one that said they should split up."

"But..." began Mystique only find herself at a loss for words.

"I know...I know. I was just as shocked when I heard," said Kitty as she remembered the day Kurt told her about the break up, "But Kurt gave a pretty long list of reasons that would always link to troubles with communication."

"Communication?" said Mystique, not seeing how that could be the only reason for a break up...Then again she was never much for stable relationships anyway, so it wasn't her place to talk.

"Yeah...Kurt just said they had problems talking to each other and that she just didn't understand him. She accepted him, yes...But she could never understand him or fully relate to him. It was just a conflict of personality I guess...I suppose they just weren't right for each other in the end."

"It must have been really hard on him..."

"Ha...You'd be right about that. He's been moping for the past few weeks and has had a perpetual look of gloom on his face. But then again...Ending a relationship after two and a half years will do that to a guy."

"Oh...I see. So that would mean he was with the same girl for what...Two and a half years?"

"Yeah, it was pretty serious. I wish I could have helped him get over the break up...But I was too busy moping over my nasty breakup with Lance to really talk to him about it," said Kitty with a hint of sadness as she thought of her now dead ex boyfriend.

"I'm sorry to hear that...I know Lance was quite smitten with you," said Mystique as she noticed the depressed look on the young girl's face.

"I know...But Kurt's relationship with Amanda was many times more stable then the one I had with Lance. In fact...Now that I think about it, I actually felt a little jealous of what Kurt and Amanda had," mused Kitty as she rested her head on her arms, feeling the strain of thinking about those volatile times.

"Jealous how?"

"Well...It's just that...Lance and I fought all the time. Of course there was love and the good times were good...But it was the bad times that were just awful! We yelled at each other, disagreed over the most mundane things, while I don't think I ever heard Kurt and Amanda raise their voices to each other once!"

Mystique could see that Kitty was getting a bit hysterical...Dealing with memories of her failed love life and the destruction of her home and death of her friends. She was a girl not use to such trauma...And it was clear that she was still having trouble dealing with it.

"Kitty calm down..." coxed Raven as she tried to make herself sound sincere even though she wasn't very use to it.

"It's just that...I thought I could make it work if I tried really hard when...I don't think Kurt and Amanda had to do half the crap that Lance and I had to just to keep ourselves from fighting!"

"Then I think that you should take that as a sign that you two were probably not right for each other," said Mystique logically.

"I know...I know," admitted Kitty as she finally started to calm down, "I think I always knew we weren't right for each other...But I just wanted to hold on to the illusion I guess."

That last comment caused Mystique to laugh somewhat, for it sounded like something she would do and not this young girl who came from such a dramatically different walk of life.

"I understand Kitty..." said Mystique in consolation, "Believe me, I know what it's like to want to hold on to an illusion even though you know it's fake. Trust me...I'm a shape shifter."

Her words actually got the young valley girl to smile...Something she never thought she would do as a result of something being said by Mystique. Then again...These last few days had been full of surprises so it was now more logical to expect the unexpected from people she once thought she knew.

"I guess it really doesn't matter now...Lance is dead, both our homes are destroyed, and now I'm sitting next to and talking to somebody who was once an enemy," mused Kitty as she simply gazed at the blue sky above under the summer heat.

"Yes...I know what you mean," said Mystique as she looked up at the sky along with Kitty.

A brief silence then fell over the two women as they were left to think about how much their world had changed. The path before them was unclear and the future seemed terribly bleak. But for Mystique, she felt somewhat better now that she knew what had been going on in her son's life despite her absence. She actually felt somewhat happy for him that he had found some joy in the otherwise tumultuous world...But sad at the same time that she wasn't able to witness it first hand.

"Well...Thanks for telling me all this Kitty...I'm glad to know that my son was doing a whole lot better than me these last two years."

"Don't mention it Raven...I'm just glad none of us are fighting at a time like this."

"Yes, me too," said the shape shifter as her thoughts drifted back towards the sky.

However, there still remained many things that troubled her as her she reflected on everything she had just learned.

"You know...Learning so much about my son and everything that's happened in his life these past few years has really made me think..." mused Mystique as she let out a deep sigh, "Kurt is nearly a full grown man now. He's turned into everything I'm not...Kind, compassionate, funny...Yet I was never there to be a part of his life though all those moments that parents usually relish. I wasn't there on his first day of school...I wasn't there to give him advice on his first date...I wasn't there to help him dress up for his first school dance. I've...Missed so much. And I can never get those moments back...I will never get a chance to feel the kind of things that parents get to feel as they raise their kids."

"Hey...Don't say stuff like that Raven," said Kitty as she noticed the morose tone in the blue woman's voice, "You're still Kurt's mother...That can never be changed. You can still be a parent to him if you just let yourself be."

"It's too late for that now Kitty. Face it...I failed."

"No...You can't fail at something that you haven't attempted. Stop trying to be Kurt's mother...Because you already are his mother. And if you truly want to make up for lost time like I know you do...Start today."

"But...How?" said the distraught shape shifter, still unsure.

"Just, like, do what you're doing now...Be Raven Darkholm...Not Mystique."

It seemed so easy, yet so hard at the same time. Yet, she was determined to do it...Raven Darkholm was sick of regretting the past...But she didn't know how to build the future she wanted. In the pit of her stomach...An uneasy feeling remained. She had lost one of children without ever making peace with her...And she truly didn't want it to happen again. Even if all truly was lost for them...Even if they were destined too die the next day...She wanted to repent...She wanted to die as a mother and not an enemy.

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

In the usually tranquil summer skies over the vast forest of upstate New York, the sounds and noises of chattering helicopter blades and the roar of jet engines echoed through the air. Satellites above silently scoured the area like predators searching for their prey. Soldiers, aircraft, and ground vehicles stood armed to the bone with the most advanced and deadly weaponry as they continued to search. The technology and soldiers that scoured such a vast area remained determined and searched with patience over the vast wooded landscape. In Washington DC, the brain behind the search and operation of everything that had happened to this day, a man by the title of General William Stryker, watched with excitement as his forces continued to seek out their targets. He, along with his female associate Magnum, had not rested very much yet remained fully alert. The time was coming...It was only a matter of patience now...And that was something that Stryker had plenty of.

"Run and hide my mutant prey...Run and hide. You are all running out of area to take cover in and it is only a matter of time before you are found. I so relish the chase...The thrill of it...The adrenaline. But I more so savor it because I know that I am holding all the cards and have every advantage. Soon my unwitting targets...Very, very soon..."

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

AN: Well, that's it for now! I know there wasn't much action in this chapter, but don't worry...It'll come! If Stryker's last words are any indication, it'll come! So what do you all think? Did you like the little Kurt/Wanda moment I added? They are probably the second most predominate pairing in this fic, so I put a lot of thought into their interaction. But they are very similar, so it's not too hard! And stay tuned! Magneto and Colossus are searching as will as the military! Xavier and Wolverine are still stuck in Washington and the military is closing in! There will also be more characters added in later on, but I'll leave you all to guess who they are! Please don't forget to review this fic before you leave! Send your feedback to me via email or post it on the fanfiction website! I love getting reviews and they really provide a great deal of inspiration to me and my writing! Thank you all very much for reading my story and I wish you all the best!

STOP...LOOK...REVIEW!!!
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