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FF: First Night (12/14)

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  • Melissa Flores
    Chapter Twelve The day is my enemy The night is my friend For I’m always so alone Till the day draws to an end But when the sun goes down And the moon comes
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 15, 2001
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      Chapter Twelve

      The day is my enemy
      The night is my friend
      For I�m always so alone
      Till the day draws to an end
      But when the sun goes down
      And the moon comes through,
      To the monotone of the evening�s drone
      I�m all alone with you

      All Through the Night � Cole Porter

      The crashing of the streets was music to her ears.

      Clich�, but true.

      She smiled, closing her eyes and spreading her hands wide,
      as if embracing the world.

      The wind slid through her blonde hair, and Darla smiled,
      feeling it coast under her neck, lifting the blonde strands
      up and away from it, cooling the already chilled skin as it
      caressed her, like an old friend coming to dinner.

      She had often wondered what humans thought, why on earth
      they believed they knew so much when in fact all they knew
      whittled down to one, simple word : nothing.

      Mutants and humans, all alike, all contingent on one, major
      folly : they assumed too much, and in reality, knew

      The feelings that flooded through them, feelings that still
      haunted her at night, had been her curse, as rampant in her
      body as Angel's soul clung to his.

      It was not normal for a vampire to feel, and there had been
      times she would have done anything to make the feelings

      It had crippled her, just as it had crippled Spike, just as
      it had crippled Angel, the remnants of the Scourge of
      Europe amounting to nothing.

      But she fought it, she pushed it down, and envied Drusilla,
      in her happy world of insanity, free from the interaction
      with humans, free from the DAMN FEELINGS.

      Blue skin that was surprisingly smooth despite the outward
      scaly appearance rested on hers, and Darla found herself
      turning to eye Mystique.

      Another remnant of the human months. Genuine affection.

      Darla wondered when she ever truly liked a human - but
      Mystique, had the potential for so much more. There had
      been more than one passing moment when she wondered exactly
      what kind of vampire the shapeshifter would make, but
      considering Mystique's lack of morals as it was, and not
      knowing exactly how being dead would affect the mutation,
      Darla had chosen to keep the woman alive.

      It was a means to an end, but the affection had definitely
      clouded her thoughts.

      And for once, she didn't quite mind.

      The darkness of the night was so tangible, and again the
      feelings that had lingered twisted her chest slightly, at
      the loss.

      Angelus should have been beside her.

      Angelus should have led this.

      She swallowed, clenching the railings, cursing herself for
      her sentimentality as she looked around the roof and down
      at the streets of chaos, where rioters and police were
      looking up in awe and panic.

      Drusilla, dark and dangerous as midnight, her pale skin
      almost glowing like a dark fairy, continued to dance, never
      losing her energy for it as she smiled at Mystique.

      "Little sister, our triumph shall soon be yours."

      Darla smiled at that, saw the way Mystique's yellow eyes
      lit up and leaning forward, she placed a kiss on the shape
      shifter's cheek.

      "Is this what you want, Mystique?" she whispered in her

      "It's more," she breathed, and her eyes turned, and she
      asked, almost demanded, "Show me more."

      Darla smiled, content with her loyalty.

      She turned, looked at her insane seer, and clasped her
      hand, bringing the vampiress close to her as the dark head
      rested against her breast.

      "Shall we?"

      "This is not what we discussed."

      The swell of hatred and disgust came almost immediately,
      and she growled involuntarily, looking at the fool human
      who still seemed to think he had any say.

      "Shut up, Magneto, and do your part." She straightened and
      walked to the machine, idle hands smoothing across the
      metal surface. "The First Night has begun, and it will be
      up to us to make sure tomorrow never comes." She turned,
      her eyes glittering at him, as Mystique, smiling nimbly
      from her precarious perch on the railing. "For the good of
      mutants. Of course."

      He looked furious, the foolish old man, but he said

      And Darla knew he finally understood who had the real
      power, when she saw the fear in his eyes, smelled it.

      Worthless whore her ass.


      It was subtle, the little differences as she held him.

      Her face was buried in his neck, and unconsciously, she
      inhaled, and he smelled of dark danger, of cinnamon, oddly,
      and of Old Spice.

      The only other man she really held in his close embrace had
      been Logan. Logan smelled of liquor and cigar smoke, of
      the woods. Of hairspray � the frilly kind that she had once
      bought on a dare and made him use � hairspray that he had
      liked so much he still used, however in secret.

      Her hands, curious, roamed over the smooth skin, and again,
      there were differences. Angel was rock hard, almost
      chiseled, with a smoothness that seemed almost alien.
      Colder than human.

      Logan�s skin, when she felt it under her leather padded
      fingertips, had been warm, and soft� which was not
      surprising, considering his healing factor. Logan, for all
      his rough and hairy exterior, always had the smoothest,
      most beautiful hands.

      The silk of this shirt was so different under her fingers,
      different from the flannel.

      Angel was watching her, with haunting dark eyes, and Rogue
      just smiled sheepishly, and continued her exploration of
      his body, unsure of why she needed it, why her fingers were
      doing her thinking for her.

      But he smiled slightly, and let her, fingers gently holding
      her at her elbows.

      There was no rise and fall of his chest, no soft sigh that
      came when her palm spread against his pectorals.

      It was so devastatingly easy, a spell and a realization
      that suddenly came, broken and done, and filling her with
      such incredible sadness, and clarity.

      He wasn�t Logan.

      Death and Death were standing in each others arms and it
      was an oxymoron, as she waiting with him. Death couldn�t
      have death, it craved life.

      Life was vitality, life was laughter, and friendship.

      Life was love and never constant.

      She let out a shaky breath, her dark eyes looking up to
      meet Angels and she smiled, even as her eyes watered.

      �Thank you.�

      He nodded, and she leaned up, floating gently to press her
      lips against his, once, chastely, before she smiled, and
      let her palms fall.

      She stepped away from him, and the gloves went on, like
      they always were, and she turned, about to say something
      else when the building rattled and a big boom filled the

      Angel looked alarmed, and she immediately followed him to
      the corner of the roof, looking down.

      Her eyes widened, and they met his, and suddenly they both
      turned, charging down the stairs.


      �We need to figure this thing out NOW.�

      Fred looked up, the weariness in her eyes apparent as she
      pulled off her glasses, and let them settle on the table.

      �Doesn�t it look like we�re working as fast as we can?�

      Jean didn�t stop until she had sat down at the table, eyes
      crossing from Fred to Wesley to Storm.

      �It�s getting worse.�

      �We need more time.�

      �We no longer have it,� Storm said, standing up, as the
      door began to pound.

      Anne came forward, harried and tired, but with a stoic
      determinism that made Storm�s steps falter, eyeing her with
      a peculiar smile.

      �What do you want us to do?�

      Storm looked to Wesley, but he only ventured a shrug,
      getting up and moving to where the discarded weapons lay on
      the table, choosing a broad ax.

      �Tell your children to get up into the rooms. We�ll handle

      The long, broad wooden doors shook again, and the cries and
      shouts from outside grew more chaotic, angrier.

      Storm moved around Anne, as Fred stood, immediately
      gathering together the books in her hand.

      Things were very quickly getting out of control.

      Jean immediately sprinted for the stairs, saying something
      about getting the others while the remaining trio looked at
      the door with impending dread.

      �It�s not going to hold much longer,� Anne whispered,
      brushing her blond hair out of her face and immediately
      turning, ushering her kids up the stairs, Wesley helping,
      barking out orders for them to keep moving.

      Fred stood still, her breath coming out in pants as she
      watched, the sacred book with their only clues clutched
      against her chest, while Storm stood guard in the center of
      the now empty room.

      �Gunn, now would be a REAL good time to show up,� she


      In the small little room that Cordelia had claimed as hers
      in the hotel, there was a quiet haven of peace.

      Logan was quiet, as he ran fingers through the silken
      tumble of strands, ranging in hue from light blond, to
      copper, to dark brown. His eyes roved over the room, and it
      surprised him in its plainness.

      A nice bedspread, a nice dresser, but that was it. No
      ruffles, or fur� not anything that would announce that it�s
      inhabitant was a queen.

      But, he remembered one conversation that had taken place
      between Ororo and Jean, while he and Marie were watching
      television, her leg sprawled over his, a beer in her hands.
      It had been interesting, as they discussed if one was born
      with class, or if one could aquire it. All cerebral crap,
      and he normally tuned it out, but for some reason it was
      almost interesting, as he had exchanged glances with Rogue
      and cocked an eyebrow, making faces that made her smile.

      But she had ended it, when she finally spoke up, saying it
      didn't matter someone was born with it or just aquired it,
      if one had to actually say it, then it was never true to
      begin with.

      Her body shifted slightly, and he pulled back, hands still
      on her waist as she snuggled deeper into his embrace, so
      that his chin was now resting against her cheek,
      dangerously close to her mouth.

      He could sense her awareness, as her fingers slid up,
      letting her breath out, the warmth of her body comforting,
      perfectly aligned with his.

      Her hand brushed against his cheek, fingering the whiskers,
      and he closed his eyes, lowering his head so that his lips
      pressed against her shoulder, lost in a desperate embrace.


      He stilled, found his lips quirking into an involuntary
      smile as she angled her head back to catch his eyes.


      �You�re hairy,� she repeated, the tired hazel eyes shining
      brilliantly. �It�s different. But in a nice way. I never
      dated hairy guys.�

      He was amused, propping his head up with his elbow and
      smiling down at her. �Darlin�, you don�t know what you were

      Her smile faded, as her eyes became pensive and she half
      whispered, �I�m not sure I thought I was missing anything
      until a few hours ago.�

      The words brought back a flash, a vision of a girl in the
      arms of a vampire, and he closed his eyes, shuddering
      against it.

      �Hey.� Her palm flattened against his chin, and his eyes
      opened to find her smiling, her eyes a sad reflection of
      his state. �I feel stuff, remember? I know who�s in her
      heart. It�s you.�

      He shrugged, disbelieving. �Rogue likes to think she�s old.
      All grown up and really inside she�s got this scared little
      girl in her core.�

      �Mm. She�s not the only one who�s afraid. But Logan� she�s
      not afraid for herself.�

      He drifted away from the thoughts, no longer wanting to
      think about the mutant who held his heart, and had wrenched
      it from him more than once. Instead he shifted, sighing,
      burying his head into Cordelia�s shoulder, settling into a
      comfortable embrace as her arms slid around him, pulling
      him closer, until he could hear her heart beating against
      his own, careful to be gentle with the tired Seer.

      Lips brushed against his cheek, and he pulled back, not
      startled, but slightly surprised, as her eyes locked with

      They were frank, open, honest.

      For once, there were no lies in the gaze.

      It was an invitation he appreciated.

      And he smiled, brushing his lips against her mouth once,
      testing them for firmness, and then, when she responded
      favorably, settling into her lips, arm wrapped around her
      shoulders to pull her closer.

      It was nice, and an altogether different kiss that Logan
      experienced. He had never before experience �nice�. Usually
      his kisses were masked with lust, or given with complete
      passion, and he had never once kissed Rogue, but he knew
      what that would have been like.

      An explosion of mind and matter, primal taken with a heart
      bursting with emotion.

      Nice was never the issue.

      But this, was nice, with a tinge of passion, perhaps it
      would have been more had he not already, in mind at least,
      been mated to a Rogue, and her to an Angel.

      They pulled apart, and she smiled, and he smiled back,
      pressing his lips against her forehead.

      He smelled them before they opened the door, but didn�t
      move, just shifted her so she could see, as Logan and Rogue
      faltered at the door.

      �Ah, hell.� The drawl was from Marie, as she slumped
      against the doorway. �Please don�t tell me we�re gonna be
      screwing around with this �Flirting with Disaster�

      Angel didn�t say anything, but immediately he came forward,
      pulling Cordelia out of Logan�s arms with a jerk and
      cradling her in his own, pressing her against him, almost
      as if he was trying to drown out Logan�s scent on his
      property with his own.

      �How are you?� he whispered, smoothing hands down
      Cordelia�s face.

      She regarded him, as Logan scooted off the bed, barely
      hearing her �Took you long enough to ask,� as he watched

      She looked tired, sad, and almost completely in despair.

      �What?� he asked, eyes narrowing as he came forward, gently
      pulling a white streaked bang from her face.

      She swallowed, trying to find her words, he heard her
      beating heart rapidly pounding against her chest.

      �GUYS.� Jean skidded into the doorway, forcing them all to
      look up. �Downstairs. NOW.�


      The door was going to splinter any second, and Fred stood,
      waiting, her bow and arrow in her hand, and her heart
      hammering rapidly.

      When it happened, her insides jolted, but she didn't move,
      instead raising the bow and arrow and methodically aiming
      for the mutant or demon or whatever it was that heading
      straight toward her.

      She waited, like Angel taught her, until she was five feet
      away, and then, Angel, Logan, Cordelia and Rogue following
      Jean down the stairs in the corner of her eye, she let go.

      And missed.

      Fred's eyes widened, and she never realized how much she
      was truly shaking until the bow and arrow was wrenched out
      of her hand and the demon/mutant whatever it was raised
      it's hand high.

      She screamed, kicking at it's abdomen, and she heard Angel
      cry out, and closed her eyes, covering her head, when
      suddenly the beast was yanked backwards, and a dirty ax
      came out of nowhere and embedded itself in his chest.

      Fred paused, not quite able to believe she was still alive,
      until Angel came forward, shaking Gunn's hand.

      "Gunn. Good to have you back."

      Gunn, dirty, clothes torn, and wearing his trademark smirk,
      just smiled back, before turning and, and reaching out,
      taking Fred's hand in his own and pulling her up.

      "Don't need a protector my ass."

      Fred blinked, and when he smiled, barely turning as he
      backfisted another intruder in the face, bringing him down,
      she felt her heart suddenly flood with relief.

      With a half mixed whimper and sob, she threw her arms
      around him, making him stumble back.

      It took her a full five minutes to get herself to let him
      go, and poor Gunn, who was still trying to defend her from
      the various demons and mutants that were getting away from
      the other group, resorted to kicking and half hearted
      punching as her pliant body trembled in his arms.

      "Fred, I'm enjoying this, but-"

      "How are you still alive?!"

      He cocked an eyebrow. "You don't think I could have
      survived with my manly man skills?"

      She rolled her eyes, and when she shook her head no, he
      half glared, before nodding his head to Scott Summers, who
      had apparently come in with him.

      "Dude gave me a ride on his plane. Pretty slick thing,

      She was breathing heavily, panting even, and if it was from
      her furiously beating heart, or the pounding of the blood
      in her veins, or the pure exultation of having him back,
      safe and sound, she wasn't sure, but she was absolutely
      sure of one thing.

      She was completely in love with Gunn.

      Oh, crap.

      And with a sigh, she finally just lifted herself onto her
      tiptoes and kissed him soundly, wrapping her arms around
      his neck and bringing him closer.

      She wasn't even aware that they had managed to push out the
      rioters and fight off the rest until she heard, in the haze
      of her mind, Cordelia's placid, "When did THAT happen?"

      "While we were gone, it seems."

      Gunn pulled away, and she looked up, noticing with some
      embarrassment that all of Angel Investigations, the entire
      X-Men away team, and some of the kids of Anne's place, were
      all staring at their very public display of affection.

      Fred caught Cordelia's smile, and just flushed with
      embarrassment. "Yes, I love him, okay?" she said
      defensively. "I'll have you know it is a very natural and
      beautiful thing!"

      Gunn just blinked, and shook his head, but he kept his hand
      in hers as he moved toward Angel and Wesley.

      "We're outta time guys."

      Scott Summers nodded, crossing his arms, and taking a

      "Gunn and I saw it. In downtown. Magneto's machine."


      There was an aura of apprehension in the air, filtering
      through her mind, despite the control she had fostered
      against the invasion of other beings, feelings, and

      She took in a deep breath, the headache getting worse,
      shuddering slightly. Almost without warning a hand slipped
      in hers, soft, but rough with calluses that came from
      working with visors and motorcycles, and she clamped it
      gratefully, leaning to the side, thankfully finding herself
      gathered closer against a strong, lean body that she knew
      every inch of.

      People often wondered about her and Scott, she knew that.
      They wondered for years, when she first fell in love with
      some one who was barely more than a boy. Wondered why, she,
      a college student, could fall for a young man barely out of
      his teens, wondered if it was a fling, remnants of the
      wilder Jean everyone suspected resided under her skin.

      They never understood how she needed him. Perhaps a bit
      more than he needed her. He had pursued her with every
      intention of bedding her, Scott, although he was a nice
      guy, had always known he was good looking. It was their
      friendship that suffered. They had been friends, close
      companions, since the moment he had been brought into the
      school, aching and dead inside from his trauma, voluntarily
      blind, eyes closed to keep the lasers that burned from
      coming out and searing everyone.

      She had stayed with him, comforted him, talked to him, and
      she had never laughed so much as when he saw her yearbook
      pictures of high school, junior high, a gangly, tall, stick
      thin girl with limp brown hair and glasses and braces, the
      very picture of an ugly duckling.

      Perhaps if people had known about the time she cried
      herself to sleep in his bed, the headaches hurting so badly
      that he, the ever platonic friend, held her and soothed her
      and shushed her, stayed with her, holding her until she
      finally fell asleep, then they might stop wondering. Or
      perhaps if they had known about the time, long before they
      fell into bed together, still platonic, she had come to
      him, scared to death because she had been careful and it
      didn�t matter because she thought she just might be
      pregnant and had only been twenty � how he had held her and
      then gone with Ororo, also young and far more mature for
      her age, to go buy her a pregnancy test.

      The way he and Storm had waited in her bedroom, quiet and
      full of wonder and fear as she took care of things in the
      bathroom, and when she came out almost crying from relief.
      The way he had held her and the way the tears slipped under
      the visor, staining his cheek.

      She hadn�t been aware he could cry until then.

      Maybe then people would stop wondering why Jean fell in
      love with a man younger than herself, and why it was never
      a question.

      There would never be anyone else.

      She settled her head on his shoulder, and he pressed his
      lips on the top of her head. It made her smile slightly,
      dressed and suited and ready to go while she watched the
      others take action around the hall, gathering, preparing.

      Storm sat beside Wesley, and she began to lend her hand,
      her gift for languages finally put to good use as she
      translated with them, and finally things seemed to be going

      �Okay�� Fred took a breath, and finally held up the paper
      with the ink scratches on it. �So� we have exactly 12 hours
      to stop the First Night. Counting the time we�ve wasted
      here, that�s� two.�

      �I thought the First Night would last for as long as
      possible,� Storm interjected, clearly confused.

      �It will, if we don�t stop it in two hours,� Wesley
      answered, pulling off his glasses and wiping them, sighing
      audibly. �According to this, if we don�t stop First Night
      before the end of the natural day cycle, in other words,
      the time dawn would normally approach, then we will be
      plunged into� �eternal darkness and chaos�. Lovely.�

      �Okay, now that we�re on a time clock, how do we stop it?�
      Angel asked.

      Fred let out a long breath, shoulders slumping as she
      exchanged looks with Wesley. �We�re not sure.�

      �Well, I got the phone calls from Giles in London and Buffy
      in Sunnydale � they say �hi� by the way-� Cordelia said,
      coming into the room and sitting on the bench next to Fred.
      �Said the same thing�s happening over there. Not as� harsh,
      but pure darkness. Looks like it�s spreading.�

      �A �yay� vote from Charles too,� Rogue added, coming in
      after her.

      �So two hours and no idea how to stop it.� Jean sighed.

      �Guys,� Cordelia�s voice was almost a whisper. �We have to
      stop it. We have to. If not, half of us in this room are
      dead. And Magneto�� she trailed off, burying her head in
      her hands in a huff, knowing no one knew what to make of
      her vision.

      �Well you know, this may be a long shot, but I have a
      feeling that damn MACHINE has something to do with it,�
      Gunn put in dryly. �Maybe we should try taking that out
      first? Being as how we know where it is and all?�

      �That�s almost definite,� Scott said nodding. �If they
      haven�t changed the agenda, and knowing Magneto he is most
      likely not going to��

      �Then they might be using the machine very soon � and
      everyone becomes mutant or mush.�

      �Well it�s a start,� Logan said, his voice gruff, ready to
      snuff out his cigar on the countertop until Cordelia and
      Rogue both gave him a very similar glare. �We�ve been
      hiding in here long enough. Let�s kick some ass.�

      �What he said.�

      Immediately the men and women got to their feet, and the
      muttering began, as they began to converse, some heading to
      the stairs to change, others going to the weapons closet.

      Storm watched as Wesley stayed, looking pensive and dark.
      She got up, watching him, and finally sighed, settled back
      down across from him.

      �What is it?�

      He looked startled, but his face was dark. �Mystique knew
      quite a bit of personal information about Buffy Summers and
      Cordelia. And if these prophecies indicate, as well as
      Cordelia� we might just be doing what they want.�

      �Do you think we have a choice?� she asked gently. �We
      cannot let them use that machine. Especially now that they
      have a sample of Cordelia�s blood.�

      �Because they might actually make it work, yes I know.� He
      rubbed at his face, looking tired, snapping the book
      closed. �But I don�t know if that�s what they even want
      anymore. Whoever is behind this� whoever is helping
      Mystique� they aren�t after just humans. They�re after
      Angel�s soul.�


      She was quiet. Too quiet.

      Rogue was unsure, something that wasn�t new for her, but
      for the first time in a long time, she had no idea what the
      hell to do about it.

      What the hell was up with this whole bizarre love
      quadrangle, anyway?

      She stole glances at Cordelia, who was not saying a word,
      and thought up about a hundred ways to start the
      conversation they had to have eventually.

      Finally, taking in Cordelia�s haggard face she settled for
      the most glaringly obvious.

      �You sure you�re up for this?�

      Cordelia rolled her eyes, grabbing the duffel bag and
      pulling out the heavy uniform. �I�m empathic, Streaks, not



      �My name,� she said, voice low, every word enunciated. �Is

      Cordelia paused, turning. �No. What�s your REAL name?�

      �That is my real name.�

      �I�m not talking to Rogue right now. I want to know YOUR
      real name.�

      Shit. There it was again, that damn insecurity that this
      girl with the hazel eyes was just seeping through her.

      �Mah real name is Marie.�

      �Marie, huh?� Cordelia studied her, and finally shrugged.
      �Yeah. I can see it.� She sat on the bed, pulling off her
      boots. �Well, Marie, what do you want to know? How he
      kissed? If we fucked like weasels?�

      Rogue cocked an eyebrow, pulling at the short gloves she
      wore, grabbing the short brown leather jacket that had
      become her trademark and pulling it over the tight black

      �Look if you�re gonna be pissed at me, that�s cool. Ah just
      need to know, so I can keep the hell away from you.�

      Cordelia gave her a glance, before turning her back to her
      and stripping off her shirt, hands going to the belt of her

      �Why would I be mad Rogue?�

      Rogue gave her an incredulous look, shaking her head
      slightly. �Forget it.�

      �No, I�d really like to know. Are you sorry you kissed

      Hazel eyes turned and bore into hers, and Rogue swallowed,
      felt curiously as if she was shot under the spotlight.
      Cordelia�s eyes were frank, open, honest. She told things
      as she saw them, and Rogue suspected she saw a lot of
      horrible things.

      She was without tact, and expected the same from Rogue.

      �No,� she finally answered. �It helped me figure things

      Cordelia looked at her once, and finally nodded, stepping
      into uniform, shimmying it up her hips. �He�s a good

      Rogue almost smiled. �Yeah.� She paused, waiting by the
      door while the Seer finished pulling on the uniform. �Uh�
      here.� She grabbed a pair of her own gloves, tossing them
      to Cordelia. �The gloves help.�

      �Nice,� Cordelia commented, voice placid and civil. She
      slipped them on, running a hand through her hair and
      regarding herself in the mirror.

      �Black leather huh?�


      �I could get used to it.�

      Rogue felt laughter bubbling up in her throat, and when
      Cordelia turned and caught the mutant laughing, suddenly
      she began to smile, and the tension, the anger and betrayal
      was released when both mutants began to crack up.

      �Okay. Here I am. Cordelia : X-Girl, ready to kick serious

      She did look good. The leather was a perfect fit, Cordelia
      being of the same build as Jean, if not a little curvier,
      and the empathic Seer looked as if she belonged in it.

      Just like she had belonged in Logan�s arms.

      The smile faltered, and Rogue found the question slipping
      through. �Is Logan a good kisser?�

      Cordelia froze, and once again, regarded Rogue. But there
      was no anger, no malice, and with a sadly resigned tone,
      she finally just responded with, �Damn good.�

      Rogue nodded, and knew she must have looked like a child,
      arms wrapped around her body, before the personalities
      inside her snapped their whip and Marie was pushed away and
      Rogue came to the surface, with a wicked smile and a hand
      on her hips and a perfect Southern drawl.

      �Come on, Sugar. Let�s go meet destiny.�


      In the darkness just before dawn, Mystique was invisible
      even in her own true form.

      Dark midnight.

      One day, a long time ago, she wondered idly what would have
      happened if she had been found by Charles, instead of
      Magneto. If she had been brought up as a comrade, if she
      had been at the mansion when Logan had come, been treated
      as herself, and not as the assassin who was there with no
      other purpose to kill.

      Odd, how people treated her as a leader, when all she
      really was searching for was the right mentor.

      Mystique was smart, she was cunning, she was clever.

      She wasn�t sure exactly when she had become evil � when it
      had festered her heart. When she had woken up from the
      scared little child who had to run home from school and
      morph into walls, too afraid to be seen, to become what she
      was. Proud. Cunning.


      Was there such a thing as good and evil? She hadn�t thought
      so. Under Erik�s tutelage there was no evil � she had been
      good, Fighting for what was right, fighting against the
      discrimination, hoping to make the world a better place,
      and it did not matter that she had to kill a few people to
      do it.

      It was when she twisted the neck of an individual she did
      not know, had turned to see Erik�s sad face, that she
      realized how different they were. Erik saw death as an
      unfortunate necessity, a means to an end.

      She relished it.

      It had been a curious revelation, and she remained by his
      side, ever watchful as her lover and father grew old,
      tired, and full of doubts.

      She was young, strong, clever, and never knew how akin she
      was to the vampires she had only heard of in lore until she
      had been brought into the fold.

      In her heart, she felt the beating, on her skin, the
      dryness that never seemed to go away, curiously didn�t seem
      to itch, and every piece of her, from her loins to her
      chest, seemed so ALIVE.

      Fingers gently slid along her dark, coarse hair, cold lips
      pressed against her naked shoulder blade, and she sighed,

      �It�s a wonderful feeling.�

      �It gets better,� her protector promised.

      The whir of the jet, quiet and still, broke the stillness,
      as they both turned, looked up to see the black jet that
      was barely visible.


      Darla nodded, leaving Mystique and turning back into the

      �Less then an hour and a half to go. They�re cutting it
      awfully short, aren�t they?�


      There was a jolt as the plant bumped into the corner of the
      roof, settling down.

      From the back, there was a muffled curse that belonged to
      Logan. From the front, there was what a muffled word that
      sounded like a �sorry� from Cyclops, and smirks exchanged
      between Storm and Jean.

      Cordelia had her mind on an altogether different question,
      as the seat belts were unlocked, and they quickly headed
      out of the plane.

      �I don�t get it.�

      Rogue, walking down beside her, gave her a confused look.
      �Don�t get what?�

      �Flirting With Disaster.�


      �That Flirting with Disaster comment. I don�t get it.�

      A loud shhhh came from behind them, Wesley probably.

      �Oh.� Rogue hopped down the stairs, walking backward to
      talk to Cordelia. �You know. The movie?�


      �Ben Stiller and Tea Leoni. Really cute, but anyways, it�s
      about this couple-�

      �GUYS!� Jean clamped her hand down on Cordelia�s shoulder,
      making her jump slightly. �Can we maybe talk about this a
      little later?�

      �Oh.� Cordelia gave Rogue a look, and she only shrugged,
      turning her palm from side to side. The two women gave each
      other a smile, one that quickly faltered when Scott took a
      breath, pausing.

      �They know we�re coming.� His hand rose, meeting the tiny
      but deadly switch on his visor, and with his free hand, he
      gave two quick motions.

      Immediately the X-Men complied, breaking off into pairs.

      �Vision Girl, with me,� Rogue whispered, grabbing her hand
      and pulling her around the plane, leading them in a
      different direction.

      Cordelia shook off the hand holding, but complied, watching
      as Angel stood with Logan, the two man-beasts sniffing the
      air, at that moment, so alike, that it almost stunned her.

      They reached the roof door, and Rogue leaned down, pulling
      the hatch open effortlessly.

      As the darkness emerged, Cordelia felt a slight tremble in
      the back of her mind, and ever mindful of the warning, she
      grabbed the railing, shouting a warning to Rogue before the
      vision hit and she lost control, tumbling forward.

      Rogue cried out, her hand whipping out to catch her, but it
      was too late, Cordelia slipped by her, crashing down the
      staircase, into the darkness.


      The vision was jolting, the pain coming from the inside and
      out as she tried so hard to see past the vision, to
      orientate herself and still stop her fall down the concrete

      She jolted down, a corner hitting her ribs, as the insides
      of her brains pounded, and the images came flashing, coming
      so quickly � a stomach seeping blood, a howling in the
      darkness, bright flash of light and Magneto crying �
      searing pain, and the coughing of blood, and laughing,
      devilish laughing as Gunn cried out, holding Fred to him
      as they sank to the ground � warped bodies and Jean crying
      out Rogue�s name and a vampire sinking fangs into her
      throat, whispering in her ear, �Is it good for you baby?� �
      Angelus and Darla and Dru-

      The vision slipped and her head pounded, and the insides of
      it splintered when she felt it slam against the concrete,
      landing in a bruised pile, surrounded by complete darkness.

      And it came in waves, the pain and nausea and it was too

      Rogue�s crying out for her was farther than it ever was
      before, and Cordelia Chase could only hold her bruised

      �Crap,� she whispered.



      Rogue kicked open the door, almost stumbling down the
      stairs in the darkness.

      �What�s wrong?!�

      She turned, looking up at the two men in the doorway.
      �Cordelia! She fell down! I don�t know� I can�t see her-�

      Angel came down the stairs, immediately followed by Logan.

      �Can�t see a damn thing��

      Rogue didn�t care.

      �Let me go first,� Angel said, somewhere up ahead of her.
      �I can see� somewhat.�

      �How the hell can you see?�

      �Night vision.�

      Dimly, in the darkness, there were blasts and fighting and
      muffled sounds of screaming.

      Rogue blocked it out.


      �Bloody Hell,� Wesley whispered, stepping back, as the roof
      became flooded with people coming it seemed out of all
      corners surrounding the group still on the roof.

      �Break it up, now!� Scott barked, and Wesley kept his grip
      tight on his ax, as the group split and he waited tensely
      to engage in the action.

      �Inside,� he clipped, grabbing Storm by the elbow, trying
      to move her when he saw an opening as the others fought.

      �I can�t.�

      �We need to get inside.�

      �I can�t,� she said again.

      He paused, and finally looked at her. Ororo Munroe looked
      tense, nervous, scared.

      Forget scared. She looked completely terrified.

      A beast came at him and before he had a chance to blink,
      she immediately turned, pointing a finger and zapping him

      She was breathless when she turned back to him. �It�s dark
      and small inside.�

      �Dark and small� � Wesley sucked in his breath as he gasped
      in realization. �You�re claustrophobic?�


      There was a story behind that, but he didn�t have time to
      go into it. They needed to be inside. Already Scott and
      Jean had managed to get in, driving the mutants back, and
      Fred and Gunn were following closely behind.

      The others were nowhere to be found.

      With a swallow, he turned, gently taking her arms. �Ororo,
      you realize we have to go inside.�

      �I know.� She took in a breath. �But-�

      �Ororo.� Gently he came forward, caressing her cheek
      lightly with his thumb. �Fear is a natural thing, but
      please, don�t let it paralyze you.�

      She blinked once, and then turned, jetting her leg back and
      catching another approaching mutant in the stomach,
      bringing him to his knees. �Are you saying I am chicken?�

      He smiled at the slight anger.

      �I�m saying I don�t think you back out from a challenge.
      And I�m saying I believe in you.�

      He quirked an eyebrow, and he knew there was something in
      the unsaid words that hit her because she took a breath,
      nodded and then leaned forward, pressing her lips to his in
      a quick, too short, kiss.

      �Let�s go, English,� she remarked, keeping his hand in hers
      as they walked toward the roof access port.


      Angel felt for the wall, keeping his walk calm, eyeing the
      corners, the eery darkness.


      There was nothing, and he continued to move.



      �Right here, Rogue.� She reached blindly for his hand and
      he caught it, tangling their fingers together as they crept

      �We lost Angel, didn�t we?�

      �Uh huh.�

      �Okay.� She took in a breath. �So we do this the old
      fashioned way?�

      He nodded shortly. �Sniff our way out.�

      A low growl right behind them made them both freeze, and
      Rogue widened, and Logan whirled, sniffing and the claws
      extending, but it was too late.

      Suddenly he stiffened. �Rogue, get the hell out.�


      �Get the hell OUT!�


      �I can�t fucking move!�

      And he jolted, and suddenly the scene was all too familiar
      as light flooded the dark room , and she watched in utter
      horror as an unseen force threw Logan out, into the
      hallway, the metal door spping shut, closing her in.

      Her heart was hammering, and she was quiet, closing her
      eyes, trying to still the rapid heartbeat, before turning.

      �Child,� Magneto said, smiling as he came forward, dressed
      in all black, landing softly a few feet away. �So nice to
      see you again.�

      Oh, God. Oh, God. OhGODOHGOD-

      She couldn�t be afraid. She wasn�t the little girl any
      more. She wasn�t afraid.

      �Marie?� he smiled, and still she didn�t move, as he
      touched her cheek, caressing it lightly. She shuddered as
      the old, soft fingers bit into her, making her come alive
      with memories that she had worked so hard to push away �
      reawakening the Magneto inside of her that she hated with
      ever fiber of her being.

      �Don�t,� she whispered, the tears blurring her vision, as
      she jerked away, suddenly the scared child again.

      He just smiled grimly. �I�m sorry. I have to.�


      �ROGUE!� Logan pounded against the metal, could hear her
      muffled words to Magneto on the other side, and was wholly
      absorbed at doing whatever he could to get in, that the
      smell caught him at the last minute.

      Metal jingled in his ears, and he paused, growled
      unexpectedly and whirled, claws swinging out.

      Sabretooth�s eyes narrowed, and he sniffed, the growl
      matching Logans as he shook the tags in his fists again.

      �I�m not done with you,� Victor snarled.

      Logan stood, the claws out and the eyes dark with rage.
      �Those. Are. Mine.�

      When Sabretooth launched forward and dug his claws into his
      flesh, drawing blood, Logan barely felt it.

      His mind had already been given to the primitive nature
      inside of him, nostrils flaring at the prospect of the

      His eyes snapped back to the room that held Marie, but the
      tags jingled and another claw swiped at him and Logan had
      no choice.

      The Wolverine fought to kill.


      The arm was fractured. Maybe.

      She staggered to her feet, stumbling down the stairs,
      catching herself at the last minute as she peered into the
      barely lit maze of rooms, thankful that the leather of the
      uniforms had kept her more of less protected from the burns
      that would have come with the fall.

      Her mind was tired, and she was dangerously close to
      panicking, but she didn�t. She was a Chase and she was
      better than that. So Cordelia sucked in her breath, and
      continued to walk, trying to find her way to the room where
      she knew it would all begin, and all end.

      Something she still had no idea how to stop- but it all
      made so much damn sense now.

      Heels clicked, breaking the silence, and Cordelia froze,
      back pressed against the wall, holding even her breath in
      an attempt to keep from being discovered.

      �Pretty Seer wants to play,� came the sing song voice.

      SHIT. Great. Just Great. Peachy. She didn't just get a
      vampire � oh no. She had to get the PSYCHOTIC INSANE
      Vampire. Dammit. Where was cuddly, impotent Spike when she
      needed him?

      Immediately, she began to move, trying to double back where
      she had come from.

      �I can smell the blood. Pure as the driven snow. Pretty
      Sister, do come out and play. Daddy's precious, deserves to
      be met."

      Cordelia closed her eyes, sunk down in the corner, fumbling
      around for anything that could be used as a weapon.

      She wasn't strong enough to fight off a vampire. Not in her
      condition. Not with this empathic crap running through her,
      and her body bruised and weak as it was.

      God. This SUCKED.

      And her mind flashed back to the first time they had
      encountered Spike, when she had whispered to Willow, "What
      do we do?"


      And Cordelia closed her eyes and did so. Fervently.


      He smelled lust.

      Blood. Fear. Hate. Anger.

      They called to him, sifting through him, straight to the
      demon, who prickled in interest, lusting for those
      feelings, wanting them, needing them.

      Angel had long ago learned to manipulate Angelus, because
      as dangerous as the demon was, he was still the lesser

      The soul still had control, and that was what he counted

      He once asked himself if that was wise, because Angelus
      wasn't stupid. He was deceptive and wily and he knew how to
      get a job done.

      But there was no choice, Angel needed Angelus, and he used
      him now, taking a breath, letting the face of Angelus slide
      onto his own, and suddenly he was no longer a man.

      He was a beast, and he smelled like one, sniffing the air,
      yellowed eyes glowing in the night, bright to him as day.

      He moved quickly, silently, the growl coming from his
      throat, as the fingernails scraped across the wall, as he
      swung around, and the smell was so familiar -

      His hand shot out and pinned Darla to the wall, seething as
      he kept her trapped, hand crushing at her windpipe, knowing
      she didn't need the air, also knowing it was damn painful.

      "Where is she?"

      "With a friend." Darla smiled, even as the grip tightened.
      She always did like it rough. "Angelus. Welcome back."

      His eyes narrowed and he reached back, loosening his grip
      only to slam her against the wall again, making her groan.
      "Where. Is. She?" he responded again.

      Her foot shot out, catching him just under his ribs, and he
      lost his grip, shaking slightly, the growl from his former
      lover matching his own as her hand shot out, snapping his
      head back.

      "Angel. What an inconvenience. The pitiful, abomination.
      Welcome to my chaos."

      And he shook his head, gained his bearings, and paused,
      looking into the eyes of the woman inside the demon he had
      tried so hard to save.

      It had torn him from his friends, torn him from his

      Torn him from everything he held dear - when it hadn't

      Nothing had mattered.

      And the beast in him smiled, as he cracked his neck,
      stretching, the chaos infesting his brain, Angelus
      perfectly in sync.

      "Darla, I told you I would kill you."

      And she smiled, gave a low, sexy laugh. "Just try it lover

      His hand twitched, and again the soul felt the guilt. This
      was Darla. This was his past.

      But it wasn't his future.

      And his hand shot out, backhanding her, making her sprawl

      He came forward, but she had improved, because she moved at
      the last minute and it was something he hadn't anticipated,
      a finesse when there should have been brutality and it was
      barely a splinter, but he saw the needle as it came out,
      and he growled, roaring as he reached for her.

      But the legs were sluggish and the mind was whirling and he
      tried to shook it away but the fog only became heavier.

      He fell to his knees, and suddenly the balance was not so
      balanced anymore.

      "Absolutely amazing what you find out when you have a
      shapeshifter who can do interview," he heard whispered into
      his ear. "A drug, Angel? That's all it took? One drug to
      bring my lover back?"

      He groaned, itching in his chest, burning in his soul.


      Melissa Flores aka Misty

      You all know that I am a pacifist. So I am not interested in war in any way. But you know what? When the revolution comes, I will have to destroy you all. Not you Joey.
      ~Phoebe, The One with the Ride Along

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