Previously… on X-men: (nostalgia, eh?)

"Damn it all, I can not let him die while I sit hear and wait for the cavalry to arrive—I am no damsel in distress…I have to try."

With that she left, back from whence she came, the place she had just escaped, and to the voice no one could hear but her.

And when she got there…all the breath left her body…

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The Cross of Constantine

Chapter 13 by Bastet (who is taking mondo creative liberties here and altering the course of 616. 616 sucks anyway so I feel no remorse, meh!)

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Exhaustion hit her like a tidal wave, ebbing through to her core, "Peter!" she gasped, a mixture of horror and frustration coursing through her. He was using his mutant power to control her, shut her down, keeping her from reclaiming Remy. "Not like this… goddess… Remy…"

Despite her best efforts, the strain on her willpower bringing tears to her eyes, she succumbed and stumbled into Peter's arms, but not before cursing him, "Jealous… little man…"

The hatred in her eyes gave him pause. Peter studied her solemnly, catching her before she hit the ground, careful to not disturb her wound. He looked upon her with new eyes, no longer a prize as a goddess, but the strength, her power, her heart that willed her forward to the man she truly belonged.

It was such a simple dimension of her he had overlooked, her beauty as a woman… and it was that reason he would never own her. No, not owned, Ororo could never be possessed, only a man could be so lucky she offered her heart. And she had. But not to him.

He now understood the fondness Remy Lebeau ornamented her. Storms would come and go, but there would never be another Ororo Munroe. He reached out with his mind, "Mr. Xavier, I have procured Ororo. You are free to take her home, I will not resist."

"Thank you, Mr. Grant. I know the difficulty this places you in, and you shall receive no hostility from us. Is Remy Lebeau with you? I am experiencing difficulty locating him…"

"Not that I am aware. Perhaps he went to find help?" He lied. It was amazing how fluid the lies could slip from him, like mercury, one after another. Lebeau was mere meters away, but he was getting what he deserved for receiving Ororo's favor. No matter, Xavier had contacted him, pleading on behalf of Peter's father for him to relent. He was losing Ororo, but at least he could accept this loss knowing what was taking place to his rival.

"Perhaps." Peter noticed Xavier's voice displayed skepticism, but there was nothing he could do about that. It was the advantage dealing with the likes of Xavier; information was only given, never stolen. And it would cost them dearly.

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2 weeks had passed since Ororo had lost Remy and Yukio was in intensive care, most likely due to Storm's powers surging out of control. How could she lose her 2 best friends like this? What had she done to anger the Bright Lady?

Twice, Xavier had to calm her from frenzy, being denied leave to search for Gambit, her condition preventing her from making an independent search possible. Why was no one searching for him?

Her nights were becoming restless, constant visions of him staring at her with deep sadness, gently reaching to her. The outcome was always the same, just before Ororo reached Remy, her willpower would drain and she would see Peter, a sardonic smile on his lips, enjoying their despair.

Unable to sleep, she had taken to pacing her balcony, her hand absent-mindedly tracing the healing cross imprint over her breast. It was ghastly, the pale beaded dots of the now removed stitches, ornamenting the cross scar that extended from the center of her collarbone to just below her breast, and bridging the width of her chest, marring her once perfect brown skin.

A flash of metal in the moonlight grabbed her attention and Ororo's eyes caught sight of a white haired, hulking figure down on the lawn, and her heart soared along with the winds that lifted her from her perch and delivered her to the earth. The fact that he had wanted to meet her outside the mansion meant he had news. Good or bad, she had to know something or it would kill her. "Thank you for coming, Nathan."

"Always making a grand entrance, Ororo." He whispered with smug amusement on his face as her hair whipped wildly on touch down. "We need to exit the grounds so I can teleport us away."

"They will know I have left." She stated flatly.

"I'm a professional, remember? I have connections. Your psionic imprint will never leave the grounds."

No sooner had they stepped past the gates of the estate, she blinked against the blinding flash of a light and when she opened her eyes, she was in Italy again, surrounded by the ruins of the warehouse she had destroyed. It was now marked off with yellow police tape but it was all the same, nothing disturbed.

Nathan smelled ozone on the air and tensed.

"It is all right, my friend. I am only changing into more suitable attire." An electrical current coursed through Ororo, charging the ions in her night clothes and rearranging them to form her battle uniform. "Can you tell me what you have found?"

Nathan pushed some rubble aside, revealing a trap door. He opened it effortlessly, the hinges creaking in protest. "Underneath here, is an abandoned laboratory, Sinister's fingerprints all over the place, figuratively speaking. There are devices down there I can't even begin to fathom what he could use for, but one in particular is spattered in blood. I ran samples against Lebeau's and they came up a match."

"Goddess…" the cross was beginning to ache again as she followed him down rusted metal stairs to a cold, cellar like laboratory. She used lightning to light the room, but the darkness seemed to swallow them. It was her claustrophobia.

"I can help you with that, Storm…"

"No… I will be fine." She paused to readjust her mental faculties.

"It would only be for when we're down here-"

"I'm FINE." She blurted, before softening, "I mean, thank you. But it is not necessary. What is down here?"

"Unfortunately, Sinister isn't sloppy, at least when it comes to leaving clues. Anything you need to know, he'll let you know." Nathan paused, just outside another metal door. "Ororo, why did you hire me to track Remy? You know very well Rachel used to track mutants. Bishop's the detective. I know why you wouldn't use Emma, but why me?"

Storm had to pause a second, weighing her words and understanding her motives, the words were there, she just had to push past the pain in her chest and work them. "You are the best for the job at hand. You work outside the mansion, away from prying eyes… and minds. I trust you to get the job done without emotion weighing in. Cable, you read between the lines, have no reservations of helping me achieve my means, and are not influenced by X-politics, obviously since you sneaked me out of the mansion."

The pain was getting stronger and she inhaled sharply, "If there is one thing I am disgusted with right now, it is how the mansion has reacted to Remy's disappearance. I understand if he is not showing up on Cerebra, but there are so many more resources at our disposal… look at everything you have found in a week's time."

Nathan smiled slightly. "I realize it may come across that way, but they don't feel indifference."

"Is this coming from a telepath?"

"No, I don't have that power anymore. It is experience reading people, not their minds." He turned from her, pushed the door open and flipped on a light switch. Florescent bulbs lit the air, one flickering and buzzing incessantly.

Cable stepped over a tipped over chair and allowed Ororo entrance to the room. "There was a book left behind, a research journal with a lengthy history of The Constantine. An inscription left on the inside cover by Peter Grant." He paused as he pulled the worn leather tome off the desk next to the door.

"Please continue." Ororo examined the room, and immediately saw the mess of dried blood surrounding the unidentified machine. She was drawn to it and found herself longing to touch the only part of Remy that was near her.

"You said Remy mentioned the cross originally helped Arabs dominate Northern Africa. Well, guess who originally designed it?"

"Apocalypse?" she was distracted, taking entirely too much interest in the torture device.

"Close. It says Baal of the Crimson Sands created it, a cross to be the birthright of his son, Aten…

"AKA, Mr. Sunshine himself." A gravelly voice interjected.

Nathan peered down at the image on his wrist receiver and rolled his eyes at the caller. As useful as his red-masked associate was, Deadpool could really grate nerves. "I take it you've found something, Wilson?"

"Easy, big boy. It's not often a Mercenary is hired to NOT kill. I think it's against our code of ethics or something…"

"Wade…"

"I've found your guy. He looks like such a wiener. I should put him out of his misery…" Deadpool moved his wrist from his face and Cable caught full view of Peter Grant. Nathan glanced up at Ororo and became distracted at what she was doing.

Ororo was sitting in the chair of the unidentified machine, her hands reaching up to touch the blood stained manacles.

She gazed at the cold steel, trying to fathom what Remy had gone through, and why she was in such pain near this place. Her fingers extended to touch where his wrists had been, and as soon as her hand touched the blood, it hit her.

"Good. Send me the coordinates and Ororo and I will—" A scream erupted from Ororo, from the burning in her chest as images of Remy's ordeal and waves of his pain coursed through her… the pain he had gone through… for her."

"Bright Lady! Storm!" Nathan leapt forward and pulled her from the device, her body shuddering as if in seizure. Her wound was reopening, the bloody imprint of the Constantine soaking through her uniform.

"What! Is she going tribal nekkid again? Oooh! Lemme see!"

"Wade… this is not the time! She's convulsing… her wound's opened back up."

A drop of blood dripped onto the communicator, smudging the screen. "Ew!"

In her mind, Ororo saw the image of Remy… white hair on skin black as shadows… glowing red eyes… eyes once so troubled but kind, now burning with rage. And Sinister's husky voice, "Now we have unmasked the true you… you will serve your destiny… Death"

Nathan struggled to speak above the scream of wind, "I don't know what's going on…" he yelled, "just… send me the coordinates and I'll patch back in… and stay alert."

Almost as suddenly as it began, it stopped, an eerie calm settling over the room as the winds were cut off.

Ororo opened sparkling blue eyes, frantically searching the room until Cable came into focus. "He's alive," she whimpered.

(to be continued…)