Disclaimer : I own only Ilehana. Blaze belongs to Lamby.

A/N : This is the direct sequel and response to Lamby's 'Open Your Eyes' and Corrinth's last piece of work. It has taken months to write and much courage, or possibly stupidity, to decide to share it with you all.

SHADOWS, CHAPTER ONE.

#How do you even know there will be a next time Ilehana?#

Blaze slammed the door shut on their telepathic link and for a moment, the Vixen stood blinking in Cerebro. Stunned did not even begin to cover how she felt in that moment. Astounded by the force of the closure, stung by the vehemence displayed by the fiery redhead, the Vixen could think of nothing at all. Her mind was devoid of everything save a deep, defensive hurt. She stumbled from the great machine, her eyes watering as though she had been slapped about the face. She knew Gambit and Wolverine were waiting for her, Gambit's tense posture betrayed his question before it even began to form.

"She's fine." A tension headache was forming in the telepath's powerful mind, and she rubbed her nose in some vain attempt to dispel it. "Whatever crisis she had is over, I'm sure she'll be back as soon as she can get a cab."

"You don't know what upset her Cherie?" Gambit's tone betrayed his relief, his posture relaxing also.

"No." Ilehana had no wish to divulge her heated discussion with Blaze to the ex-thief's closest companion. Right now, all she wanted to do was get away from everything, and everyone, before herrage could hurt anyone else. Tension rising, the Vixen could feel the anger beginning to simmer beneath the surface as Blaze's words began to play over in her mind. "I have to get going, I'll see you both when I get back from Muir Island."

And with that she stalked away, not even hearing Logan's offer to walk her to the jet. Her blood pounded in her ears, heartbeat rapid, breath fast and shallow, fists balling as the sound of Blaze's voice grated repeatedly though the redhead's words would no longer form in the Vixen's head. It was just babble, angered and accusing tones, hot and hurtful like the fire Blaze created. The bright lights of the subterranean corridors blinded Ilehana even as the tears of wrath misted her eyes. She scrubbed them away viciously, not wanting to give in to such weakness. Rage tore through her like a bull, rage caused by the stream of manipulative guilt her so-called friend had fired at her. Throwing her small holdall at a bulkhead in the jet, hearing the Christmas gift for her father smash into tiny pieces in protest of its rough treatment did nothing to ease her anger. What had she done to so offend the fire-elemental save bury herself in her work? To take no more time for herself, for her father or her partner than for anyone else? She had her commitments to the scientific world, to her sponsors, the same as any of the other X-Men had their own responsibilities. Work did not stop because someone's world had fallen to pieces. And with a demanding partner - though Logan tried his hardest not to intrude upon her work, he always managed it – and father, constantly wanting her time and attention for this, that and everything under the sun, Ilehana was running around like a headless road-runner twenty-five/seven.

With its unseeing, wounded pilot at the helm, the X-jet lurched from the pad like a drunkard after a heavy night, leaping upwards before hovering ominously for a moment. The after-burners roared angrily as Ilehana threw them on, not caring a jot for the well-being of her vehicle. And she swore uselessly right back at them, simply to vent a little of the fury that seethed through her very being as she violently flicked the auto-pilot on. Reams of curses and foul language spilled forth from the Vixen, words that rarely passed the animorph's lips and would make her mother turn in her grave.

That thought brought everything in the Vixen's mind to a sudden halt. She remembered very little of her mother; images, sounds, smiles and cuddles. What she could recall was stale, cold, for her memories did not remember the life, the vitality that had made her real. Patience. She knew her mother had been the most patient person on the face of this earth, second only, perhaps, to her father. Charles blamed his daughter's temper on her mutation, for he swore that it came from neither parent. The thoughts of her parents, her mother in particular, brought swathes of sorrow over the Vixen – had she lost Blaze like she had lost her mother? Was she doomed to lose everyone she cared about?