Dedication: Jim, Jason, Brucha, Mel, Mel and Jerana. g And Mitai. Evil Assassin-Sheep should be fwapped.
I Will be the Last to Know.
by Ana Lyssie Cotton
The snow fell in drifts. Clumps of white here, clumps of crystal-white there. They say no two snowflakes are the same. If you asked Robert 'Iceman' Drake, he'd jokingly tell you that he could make two snowflakes look the same.
As the snow fell, it gently covered the grave markers and coated the onlookers. If Kitty Pryde had been asked, she would have told you that snow was somewhat fitting for the death of someone so beloved.
If Moira McTaggert had been asked, she probably would have cursed you for more time.
But none of them were asked on that snowy day. They could only listen as the young preacher carefully read the eulogy out. And cry.
Crying is not pretty, it's not an art and it's very healthy. A lot of people were doing it that day. Even Pete had tears in his eyes, for once the cynical Londoner letting his guard down. But when you cry over someone you deeply loved and will miss for the rest of your life. You don't cry quietly, you don't cry sensibly. And, most of all, you don't cry during the funeral.
Everyone always seems to think that the most emotional part of a loved ones death is the funeral. It's not. Charles Xavier would have told you that. The man's seen a lot and done more. And they do say wisdom comes with age.
Wisdom comes with youth, too. To her horror, Rahne Sinclair was wise beyond her years. Growing up with the Reverend Craig, being adopted by Lady Moira and then the New Mutants. All added up experience upon experience. The tears running silently down her face felt old themselves.
Everyone was crying silent, gentle tears that slipped down their faces in a damp cascade. All but one.
Bobby Drake cried ice.
Scott Summers ignored the pain shooting through him to look at the doctor, "Are you sure?" he croaked. She was gone. Why. Why her?
Why anyone something inside him silently asked. No one should die like that. Ever.
"I'm sorry, sir." Doctor Claudia Kiran shook her blue-black hair away from her face again and tried to not wince at the pain emanating from the man in front of her. It outlined every inch of his body, even making his blue spandex bodysuit appear mournful. "We did everything we could."
"I'm sure you did, chere. M'sieur Summers, he's just a bit stunned."
The sadness on the Cajunman's face belied his words; and tears glistened in his red-pupiled eyes. Claudia wished there was something she could tell these two men, something that would help them. But she couldn't. We did everything we could. She just...slipped away. She fought tears of her own, the sadness she felt every day of her job sometimes overwhelmed her.
There had been a large group of these people in and out, waiting for the verdict, the answer to their prayers. But only the man in blue had stayed for the last forty hours. He looked it, too. Swaying on his feet. Much like she herself was, a flash of the morbid humour she got sometimes, swept through her. They were both the walking dead.
And the woman. The Asian woman that looked so thin a stiff wind might knock her over. She'd stayed, too, up to the bitter end and beyond. Her calm never cracking, her eyes never losing their slight bitterness.
"Mam'selle?" It was the younger man. The one with those odd-coloured eyes.
"Yes?" She blinked and realised she'd been standing there, staring at them. "I'm sorry. I'm a bit tired. Again, my condolences gentlemen."
We did everything we could. Her mind echoed.
Elisabeth Braddock stared out the plane window, unseeing. She was gone. They'd done everything they could. Henry McCoy, a man with many talents, had worked and researched and researched more. And he still hadn't found a cure.
Wiping her eyes, fighting the tears and knowing she'd fail, Betsy remembered her. She'd fought it till the end, the pernicious and horrible disease. And there was still no cure. No cure, no cure, for sure. the rhyming cadence mocked her. Mocked them.
"Betsy?" Warren Worthington the Third. His voice soft and hesitant, unsure. What should you tell him? That you tried to hold her and in the end it wasn't enough? That you helped her go? None of that, Betsy.
"Are you--dammit, here take this handkerchief." She blew her nose and swiped at the tears. "I didn't realise, I didn't, I..." His voice trailed off. "I don't know what to say." He concluded miserably.
"Don't say anything. Just--just be here." She looked at him, her hand finding his and sighed softly. Tears shimmered in his blue eyes. She wasn't alone.
"OK." He sat carefully down and held her hand. Silently. Together.
The Muir Island Research Complex was silent. Bits of sound echoed through the corridors, but the happiness, the joy, was gone. Even in the darkest hours some of it had remained. Now? Now it was gone. As if banished to the furthest realms, never to return.
Happiness, joy, love, had been so much of the core that it felt empty without them. Hollow. Kitty Pryde sat in a chair, arms curled around her knees, and watched the snow fall outside the window.
"Yer gonna get sick sittin' there so much, love."
No need to turn to check, the voice--raspy, deep and full of love--is always recognisable. Pete Wisdom stepped further into the room, shivering. Kitty had the window open as she watched the snow, her eyes blank like the whiteness outside.
"It's not yer fault you couldn't be there for her." He stepped closer and reached over to close the window.
"Don't." Barely audible, cracked and full of such pain her entreaty froze him.
Carefully, he dropped his arms to his side, then knelt at her feet. "Kitty?" Her eyes remained staring out the window. "Kitty. You can't avoid me forever."
Her eyes flickered, but she didn't respond. He sighed and leaned over to place his forehead against her hands where they lay folded around her knees. She still blamed herself. As if she could have done anything by being there. As if their vacation had caused it. As if SHE had caused the illness.
"I should have been there for her." The words rang through the room, self-accusatory, full of loathing and sorrow. "If I'd been there--"
"It wouldn't'a helped."
"Yes, it, it--"
"No, it wouldn't." Pete shook his head, still leaning against her hands. One of which was absently beginning to play in his hair. "Nothin' coulda helped but a cure."
"But I could have, but--" And she shattered, sobbing hoarsely. "I should have been there."
Pete shifted, carefully pulling her into his arms, balancing on the window ledge then shifting into the chair, Kitty huddled in his arms, shivering as she cried her heart out.
"It hurts, Pete, it hurts so damned much." She gasped around the tears. "Oh, God..."
"I know, love, I know." His fingers stroked through her hair, gently seperating the tangles the fine brown silk had gotten into. "I know."
They say time passes for us all. They also say that the wounds always hurt the worst the day after they occur. They might be wrong.
Pete held her, rocking slightly as she gradually subsided, the ugly sobs breaking down into looser, muffled whimpers and finally to hiccoughs and sniffles. "Love?"
"What?" Watery, full of pain, but with more life.
"Why were ya lookin' out the window at the snow?"
"I wanted--I felt--I needed to be close to her, Pete. She was a Weather Goddess. I--it just felt... right."
Ororo Munroe, Storm, had been diagnosed with advanced AIDS. Conjecture was that she'd gotten it from a blood transfusion. Even with that thought, Ororo had felt tainted. She'd told Logan at one point that she felt exposed, as if someone had reached in and ripped her skin off.
Unfortunately, the AIDS was too far gone to treat and so, doctors gave her six months to live.
Hank and Moira had shelved some of the Legacy research in hopes of finding a cure. A way to solve it, to let their beloved windrider live longer. They failed.
Three months into her supposed life span, Ororo Munroe ceased to want to live. Within three days she was gone. During that time, Elisabeth Braddock held onto her, mind and soul. Willed her to live. Betsy never gave up hope, never stopped hanging on. Ororo did.