by Alexandra Nigro
Notes and Prologue:
All characters belong to Marvel Comics, yadda, yadda, yadda. This fits
right after X-Men #57, I'm not touching the Archangel's wings thing -
wouldn't know what to do with it if I tried. The title refers to its
definition and not the Magneto wanna-be. Comments are always loved.
Professor Charles Xavier was gone. Jean Grey looked out her kitchen
at the ruins of the beautiful Weschester mansion she had called home since
she was a teenager. The west and east wings were still partially intact,
but the center was merely a gaping hole where the psionic creature called
Onslaught had ripped his way through from the deepest levels. She picked up
another dish from the soapy water and stacked it on the rack
absent-mindedly. It was much easier to think of that thing as Onslaught. To
think of him as the heart and psyche of the man who had given her away at
her wedding was still far too painful. Not to mention that the other half
of that terrible equation had finished lunch at her dining room table not a
half an hour ago.
"Jean, I told you I would do the dishes." As if called by her thoughts,
only son of that very man stood in the doorway with a dark crease between
his brows. She smiled at him.
"I actually don't mind it, Pietro. Sometimes mindless work is a good
for the soul." Her expression turned teasing, "I certainly hope you don't
think you have to earn 'your keep' in my house."
"This must be a terrible imposition for you. Especially with the
team constantly assembled in your gate house."
Jean walked over a slid her arms gently around him. "Having friends
family around me now is the best thing I could ask for." Pietro stiffened
slightly in her embrace. Since the loss of his wife and sister in New York,
there didn't seem to be anywhere that he felt at ease. But Jean understood
his pain, and released him. "Time. Give it time, Pietro."
Pietro flashed her a rare, if very sad smile. "Time moves very slowly."
"Um, hon? Sorry to interupt. 'Roro and I need to talk to you."
Summers smiled abashedly at his wife and houseguest, but it was apparent
that his mind was preoccupied.
Pietro nodded. "I'll leave you to it. Perhaps I can find somewhere to
useful." He passed between Scott and Ororo in less than the blink of an
"Oh Scott, he's so unhappy here."
"We might be forced to fix that." Scott and his co-team leader
grim looks. A flash of fear passed through her. She was desperate to send a
telepathic link to her husband, but the presence of Storm demanded a more
traditional method of communication.
Ororo Munroe took her best friend's hands gently in her own.
Xavier's arrest has made national television. Unfortunately, the details
have also been reported. It is now common knowledge that the Professor is a
mutant and that he has been involved in mutagenic training."
Scott leaned back against the counter. "They know we're here. Or at
"he" does. It's a matter of time. Jean, the team isn't ready for a fight -
not right after New York."
She understood completely, in fact she had been expecting this - but
eyes still began to water. "Scott, this is our home." They had left the
mansion before, but not since their wedding.
"It will be again, someday." A softer telepathic caress - *I know*.
Jean straightened and took a deep breath. "Australia? Muir Island? Boston?"
Her husband shook his head. "I don't want the X-Men leaving the States
I certainly don't want to drag the kids into this mess. This is where
Operation: Zero Tolerance will start. We're going to retreat, not
*You haven't given up?*
"So where to?"
Storm paused to think. "That is problematic. We do not have much time
finding an appropriate base of operations outside of a major population
center may take some doing."
Jean smiled at her weakly. "So basically, 'Ro, we're going on a road trip."
*You want to leave tonight, don't you?*
*At the earliest.*
Jean reached out and squeezed both their hands. "I'll assemble the team."
The X-Men took the news with little comment. Rogue looked around,
for a friendly face from her days in the Australian outback. "On the road,
again," she mused.
Archangel spoke hestitantly. "I have a lodge in Boulder. We could
Scott smiled gratefully. "Thanks, Warren. But we can't risk
legally attached to any of us. If we have any advance information, it's
that Bastion has an impressive intelligence network. For now we need to
stay on the move."
"Dat's a hell of a convoy. What about de kids?"
"Banshee and Emma Frost have managed to keep the kids out of the news
now. Jean and I have spoken to Cable and X-Force. For safety's sake, we've
decided to split the teams. We'll come back in contact when we've
established a safe haven."
"Weary with toil I haste me to my bed, the dear repose for limbs
"English, Beast, please."
"That is English, my dear, young ice cube - and a better form at that."
Scott ignored the constant bantering of Bobby and Hank, instead turning
a silent figure at the back. "Are you coming with us?"
Logan scratched at one hairy knuckle, "count me in."
Storm stepped forward to stand beside Cyclops. We will leave at
Everyone in civilian wear. Pack what you think you need. Everyone will
require camping supplies, portable Cerebro's and ammunition."
Scott looked at her questionly.
"Nathan felt it would be appropriate."
Scott didn't need to say anything to communicate how much he hated
For a team of such disparate personalities and tastes, the X-men
their remaining belongings in record time. Scott met Jean emerging from the
remains of the Professor's study. "He moved most of his disposable
emergency funds into the alias accounts. We should be okay, at least
Scott chuckled hollowly. "I feel like I've just inherited a dozen kids
a family fortune."
Jean tried to tease him out of his funk. "A mutant Brady Bunch?"
In response, Scott kissed his very surprised wife. *I couldn't do
*You'll never have to.*
Finally, the cars were packed. Gambit noted with extreme distaste
"Joseph" occupied the passenger seat of Rogue's sport's car like he
belonged there. "Not f'long, mon amie," he muttered darkly. A sudden
roaring sound to his left caused him to turn and smile. Wolverine had lent
his Harley to Bishop in favor of driving his jeep, on the pain of serious
bodily injury were anything to happen to his "baby". Bishop had taken to
the Hog like a natural. "We jus a pair of easy riders, non?"
Bishop simply arched his brow and moved into position alongside Gambit.
Scott and Jean's Explorer took the lead down the driveway. Scott
sharply as his wife stared at their gatehouse in the rearview mirror. He
grabbed her hand over the clutch. "We'll be back."
Jean met her husband's gaze with eyes of steel. *You can bank on
Warren winced as his brand new BMW lurched over the rocky ground. "This
was never meant to go off-road," he moaned softly.
"Get something different." Warren turned to look at his passenger.
her near-fatal fight with Vincent Creed and her exposure to the Crimson
Dawn, Betsy was undergoing some radical mood shifts. But Warren had messed
up one too many relationships, it was time to make the committment to
staying with her. "I like what I have already."
Rogue squealed as her Miata caught the edge of a ditch and nearly
off road. "Whoo! That was a close one!"
Joseph simply closed his eyes and tightened his grip on the door handle.
had learned an hour back that any "magnetic interference" with Rogue's
kamikaze driving style would get him left by the side of the road. The loud
roaring sound of a Harley beside him caused him to open his eyes.
"Enjoying de ride, mon amie?" Joseph did not quite grasp the
shifting attitudes toward him, but the male psyche in him recognized the
"Absolutely. Riding in this vehicle is quite comfortable."
The sneer faded from Gambit's face and Joseph watched him fall back in
with a small sense of satisfaction.
Bishop glanced over the handlebars at his riding partner.
yourself?" Under his sunglasses,
Remy's red-on-black eyes glowed hotly as he stared at the back of
head. "Non. Not yet."
Wolverine grabbed his CB and signaled Scott. "Hey, one-eye. We need to
and take a break. Rogue nearly wrapped that go-cart of her's round a tree."
Jean looked over at Scott. "Storm's signaled. There's a campsite about
quarter-mile up the road."
"At two am, I doubt we'll have any challengers."
Scott pinched the bridge of his nose. They hadn't gone as far as he
but Logan was right - everyone was exhuasted. He clicked his CB. "We'll put
down for the night, follow me."
Wolverine leaned over and tapped the sleeping Hank. "Okay boys, its time
hit the great outdoors."
They unpacked in silence. Well, mostly silence anyway - Robert
decided that the crickets shouldn't be the only one with a voice. "You
know, Beast, I never think of myself as a city boy until we end up in
"This is hardly nowhere. The Appalachian foothills can be found on
Bobby tossed his best friend a sleeping bag. "Let's just hope we're not
Hank McCoy looked down at his image inducer, diguised as a rather
belt buckle. "Only individual I know that doesn't like large and furry."
"Some people have no taste, big blue."
"Less talking, more sleeping. Big day tomorrow." Logan breezed passed
to find an unoccupied bush.
"Eloquent as always. Good night, Robert."
"Good night, John-boy."
Remy LeBeau tried to concentrate on the matters at hand, but his gaze
straying to the closest set of flashlights, where Joseph was laying out his
bag disturbingly close to Rogue. There was a gentle gust of wind as Remy
felt a soft kiss on his cheak.
"Please try and get some sleep."
"Speak f'yourself, Stormy. You're the one whose been flying aerial
"Under the cover of mist, we may yet pass undetected.....and Gambit?"
"Do not call me Stormy."
Warren Worthington III could feel his wings itching. He wanted nothing
than to soar over the tree-tops and stretch his body and his mind. But
Scott's orders had been clear - nobody but Storm in the air. He looked over
to Betsy, sitting in a peaceful budda pose, framed by the moonlight. He
switched off his image inducer - Forge had been kind enough to disguise it
as a Rolex - and stretched each metal wing. He needed to contact Brian
Braddock. Perhaps her brother would know how to draw her out of her shell.
For his part, he only knew one course of action. He blew Betsy's serene
figure a kiss.
"I love you."
It was already three, most of the group had already fallen asleep.
Remy, the night was still young and he had a variety of ideas on how to
spend it. Looking over at Joseph's still form he muttered, "now dere's some
bones just dying to be broken."
Startled, Gambit looked up. He hadn't even heard Wolverine
"You got a soft spot for Magneto?"
"Hardly, gumbo." He sat down next to the Cajun. "Huh. Pup took good care
"Thank you," came the muffled reply behind the bikes.
Logan turned back to Remy. "You ain't gonna be the one to take him out,
neither am I. Wonder why?"
"T'ought meybe you became a 'kinder, gentler' Wolverine."
Logan grinned wolfishly. "In your dreams, bub." He tilted his head
against the seat rest of Remy's bike. "Maybe he's changed for the better.
Maybe I'm giving him a chance."
"No. You're not." Bishop had raised himself up on one elbow and stared
Logan through the darkness.
"Feel like telling me why, kid?" Logan had a slight smile tugging
corners of his mouth that always reminded Remy just how many blocks the
Canadian had been around.
"Because change isn't the issue. That's a man who lost his memory.
was no conscious decision." Bishop glanced quickly at Gambit. "He hasn't
tried to do anything different."
"'Zackly." Logan looked straight in Gambit's flashing eyes. "Listen
You're getting smarter, but you ain't passed the class yet. Magneto ripped
the adamantium out o'me and made me an animal. I'm in control now, cuz
that's what I decided to do. Don't build a gallows for a man whose gonna
Gambit crossed his arms uncomfortably. "Den why Rogue still hanging
"Well, gumbo, there's another class you're still failing. 'Fore you
the team, Rogue went through a big change - Magneto saved her life and
helped her piece it back together. She owes him big for that. 'Sides, she's
"Rogue wasn't always the person she is now, but she made a decision to
something better. Sometimes she thinks everybody got that kinda courage.
Guarantee you that's the only reason you made it this far."
Gambit snorted, "You may be right. So I just have to wait?" Logan
himself to his feet. "She ain't the issue. You are."
"Wanna pass dat by me again?"
Logan didn't turn around. "Decide whose in charge, cajun. In charge
you." The night grew silent and Remy shivered.
Jean rolled over in her double bag to face her husband. "Not sleeping?"
"Just thinking, hon."
That was a bad sign. She loved her husband dearly, but he had deep
that often gave way to brooding.
*Talk to me*
*I think I'm incredibly lucky.*
*Excuse me?* This wasn't what she had expected.
*All those heroes died in New York, the professor is gone - but we're
together. I've got you and Storm to help me lead the team, Logan's back.*
He guestured to the sleeping figures around the camp site. *You could call
*Or you could say the dream is on the move.*
Jean kissed her husband deeply. They had been married for over a year
yet he still surprised her.