A/N: ...hello everybody! Long time no see, huh? *ducks and hides* I Knoww! I'm sorry! It probably means nothing now, with how often I play disappearing acts (and I'll probably play several more before we're through), but -at least I'm not like, Deleting the fic, yaknow? Okay, okay, well here we are. Everything is on the bridge of exploding and we're all coming together for a finale! BUT, it's not the end. In fact, I'm not even sure we're near that part lol, so yes, you'll just have to bear with me as I slowly make our way through the fic. I'm hoping that makes at least some of us happy, right? More reading!...Right, okay. Quiet time now. Go on and read what I've delayed forever, I understand. I hope you enjoy it still, no matter how late she is in coming.


Wanda sat bolt upright and ripped the covers off. Her mind was a foggy mess and it was hard to even think straight, but she'd had had enough of sleeping. Pietro was by her side in an instant and pushing down against her shoulders, gently but firm. "Lay down, Wanda. You're not well."

"Well enough to kick your ass, Pietro." Wanda snapped, pushing at his arms to release her. Pietro held firm. "Let go of me!" Wanda demanded.

"No." Pietro rejected, pushing back on her shoulders again. Wanda's back clunked back down against the bed and her head fell into the pillow. The world swam and blurred before her eyes for a minute before readjusting. "You're sick, Wanda." Pietro laid the back of his hand against her forehead. "You're still burning up and delusional from the drugs they pumped into you."

"I'm fine!" Wanda insisted, even though that wasn't altogether true. She felt unnaturally heavy and weighted down, especially under Pietro's firm grip. Escaping from her brother shouldn't be this hard. Wanda scrubbed at her eyes with her palm and felt that what Pietro said was true. She was burning up. Still, that didn't stop her. Wanda fruitlessly tried to push Pietro's restraining hands away. "Unhand me, Pietro!"

Wanda's struggles under his grip were feather-light, showing just how weakened she really was. She didn't even seem to notice. "Where you gunna go?" Pietro asked her, knowing how stubborn Wanda was and that she wouldn't quit until she reached exhaustion. "What's so important that you have to leave this instant?"

Wanda stilled under him then and her eyes searched the room before falling back on Pietro. "I just…I feel that I'm needed somewhere."

Pietro raised his eyebrows at her. "And you're arguing that you're not still high off the drugs?"

Wanda glared at him. "This isn't a joke, Pietro! I'm needed!"

"What you need is to go back to sleep." Pietro gently shook her shoulder. "I'll even make you something to eat after you've gone to bed again. You must be starving after simply being iv-fed for so long."

The thought of food sent another wistful ache through Wanda's softly-growling stomach. "I don't want food!" Wanda argued. Her stomach rumbled loudly in protest and Wanda winced at the knowing look Pietro gave her. "Listen-Pietro. I feel—and I know that I have to be somewhere right now."

Pietro gave her a doubtful look. "Wanda, even if this 'feeling' of yours is something more than the drugs they pumped into you, you're desire to be somewhere isn't very specific."

Wanda sighed in frustration and held her hand to her head again. "I don't remember much of anything." She finally confessed. "What happened, Pietro? Maybe something you say will help me realize where I gotta be." Pietro was hesitant. Unwilling to urge this delusion on and not quite sure it was the right time to tell Wanda about Erik, he didn't want to be in this uncomfortable situation. "Pietro?" Wanda prompted, frowning as he sort of zoned out on her. "Pietro, tell me."

"I…" Pietro trailed off. Looking hopelessly uncomfortable, he swallowed thickly and patted her shoulder. "Wanda, stay here. I'm going to make you something to eat."

"Pietro!" Wanda called out, but the boy zipped away into the other room without a backwards glance. Frustrated, Wanda braced herself up on the back of her arms and flinched at how much effort it took to keep her up like that. Wanda groaned softly as she pulled herself up into a sitting position again.

Pietro was taking exceptionally long in the kitchen if Wanda could pull herself up so far without him returning and pushing her back down. Suspicious that his slow actions were on purpose, Wanda tossed her feet over the edge of the bed. Helping herself by putting weight onto her arms, Wanda groaned audibly as she tried to push herself to her legs.

Her sleepy legs were rubbery and tingling all over. Sweating with the strain, Wanda used the nearby desk to help brace herself to her feet. Wanda breathed heavily and raggedly as nearly all her weight was pressed into her arms for holding herself up. Unable to hold that because of how lethargic and heavy she felt, Wanda's arms wavered and finally gave up under the strain. All her weight fell onto her legs and, weak and feeble as she was at the moment, it was too much to support. Wanda crumpled to the ground in a heap. She groaned loudly and tried to let her breathing regulate from her position on the ground.

Pietro was there in another instant, perhaps hearing her. Yelping at seeing Wanda on the ground, he effortlessly scooped her up into his arms and lay her exhausted body back onto the bed. "I told you not to move." He reprimanded her.

"I feel like a ton of bricks." Wanda moaned, shutting her eyes. "What's wrong with me? Why can't I support myself?"

"It probably has something to do with lying unconscious, doing nothing for such a long time." Pietro pointed out. "Your muscles wore down. It'll take some time to get everything back moving again." Pietro patted her shoulder again. "I'll be right back—Don't move this time."

He zipped away again and Wanda heaved out a heavy sigh as she tried to move herself up the pillow further. The strain of such a simple act was incredible and Wanda was breathing deeply again in seconds. "This is ridiculous." Wanda mumbled softly, beyond frustrated with the limitations her body was giving her. "I wasn't unconscious that long, was I?"

Pietro reappeared back in the room, balancing a bowl in his hands and a small plate in the other with food and a glass of water on it. Wanda's stomach turned again at the aroma of food and Pietro smirked at the sounds as he sat down in the middle of the bed. He put the plate down on the nightstand and stirred the bowl softly. Helping Wanda sit up by bracing her against the wall, Pietro scooped out a spoonful of the chicken noodle soup and held it up for Wanda.

"You are not spoon feeding me." Wanda lifted her arm, ignoring the strain, to grab Pietro's hand and take the spoon, but Pietro moved his arm back and held it out of reach.

"Nuh-uh-uhh!" Pietro nodded to her arm. "Stop stressing yourself, Wanda." When Wanda didn't drop her arm, Pietro reached out with his other hand and lowered it himself. Wanda couldn't find the strength within her to fight him.

"I'm not a little victim!" Wanda protested, glaring stubbornly.

Pietro gave her a patronizing smile. "Open wide, the train's coming! Vroom, vroom!" He moved the spoon tauntingly through the air. Wanda's eyes followed its progress hungrily and her stomach flipped in anticipation, but she was still resentful that Pietro had this obvious advantage over her.

"Pietro—" Wanda began warningly, but Pietro just grinned and shook it off.

"Choo-choo! Chuga-chuga, chuga-chuga, choo-choo!" He stopped just before her scowling lips. "Open the train tunnel!"

"I'm gunna kill—" Wanda didn't have time to get the rest of the words out before Pietro stuck the offending spoon in her mouth. Against her will, Wanda closed her eyes in bliss as the hot soup touched her tongue and left its savory taste in her mouth, even after the liquid had been swallowed. It felt like she'd never tasted anything so wonderful in her life.

Pietro grinned as he pulled the spoon out of her mouth and she followed it slightly before her eyes popped open. Torn between looking at the beautiful soup bowl and Pietro's arrogant smirk, Wanda chose to glare at Pietro. "If you ever tell anyone about this—"

"Shush, Wanda." Pietro chuckled as her gaze revisited his hand where he was getting another spoonful for her. "Just allow yourself to be pampered for once, huh?" Pietro cut off the protest that was sure to follow by bringing the spoon up to her lips again. Wanda hungrily allowed Pietro to spoon-feed her again as her belly grumbled for more. Pietro smiled lightly as, despite Wanda's protests and stubbornness, he continued to feed her the soup as her body rebuked her desire to growl and pout instead. "I finally found a way to shut you up." Pietro's smile took the sting out of the words.

Wanda glared at him stubbornly. It was a few minutes later that she finally spoke again. "What happened to me, Pietro?"

Sighing heavily, Pietro handed over the soup bowl and balanced it on her lap as Wanda took the spoon from him and fed herself. "What do you last remember, Wanda?"

"I know I died." Wanda broke that for him, wondering if that's where his hesitation came from. "I remember talking to Rogue before she told them to bring me back." Wanda glanced down at herself speculatively. "I can't believe I'm okay…incredibly feeble and inadequate, but alive…"

Pietro smiled grimly as he ran a hand through his slicked back white hair. "You're not the only one having trouble coming to terms with this all."

Wanda frowned, looking up from her nearly-empty soup bowl; she swallowed down the liquid thickly. "Have you been alright, Pietro?" Wanda asked, her tone softer.

Pietro hesitated before responding. "I've been okay." He finally said.

"Pietro." Wanda gave him a condescending look along with her tone. "You've followed me all my life, Pietro. You saw my dead body mutilated," Pietro flinched. "You don't have to lie to me."

Pietro rubbed his arms as if he'd suddenly caught a chill. "It's just…it's been so crazy lately. It's like you said Wanda, I saw you. It's just…I'm so happy you're back, I am, I just…"

"It's weird." Wanda finished, pushing away the nearly empty soup bowl and grabbing at the toast off the plate. She picked it apart slowly. "I was dead for over a day. It's…unnatural. I'm an anomaly."

"Don't say that." Pietro put a hand on her shoulder firmly and Wanda jumped as she raised her head to look at him. "You're not a freak, Wanda."

Wanda chuckled softly, her gaze returning down. She was quiet for a minute before she lifted her eyes again. "Pietro, how's Erik?" It was Pietro's turn to break eye contact. He turned his head down and away as a somber expression graced his features. "Pietro?" Wanda probed, reaching out and touching Pietro's shoulder. She gently shook his shoulder lightly. "Pietro, what is it?" Pietro remained silent.

Wanda's expression fell as she drew back suddenly, true despair coloring her features. "No—he didn't…he…" Wanda choked on the reality of it all. "He's back, isn't he? Magneto's back."

"No!" Pietro looked back up suddenly at Wanda's tightened, despairing features. "He didn't revert back!" Wanda glanced back up at him, her eyes searching for confirmation. "He stayed on our side till the end."

It took half a second to register, but Wanda's eyes suddenly widened. "Till the end?" She gave Pietro a desperate, pleading look. "Erik—he—he—" Pietro gripped her hand tightly. Wanda gaped for a few seconds as tears came to her eyes and she paled.

"Wanda—Wanda, it's okay. You're okay." Pietro leaned forward and hugged Wanda close. "It's gunna be okay."

Wanda closed her eyes and cried. She was too exhausted for all this. Pietro held her, rocked her, as Wanda bit down hard on her lower lip. Erik is dead. She couldn't count the times she'd dreamed of it happening. She'd wanted it to happen for so long. But now, after Rogue had taken her to him…

Wanda's body uncontrollably trembled in Pietro's arms as he tried to comfort her. It wasn't fair. It was with those tears streaming down her cheeks and her quietly shaking frame that Wanda realized she had forgiven him. It took her until his death to realize it and now, she could never tell him that.

Wanda had longed for just a normal family when she was a little girl. Erik had provided that for a short while and they'd all enjoyed it while her mother was still alive, but after…Erik had undeniably changed. Wanda was sure that was the sole reason for his change. The others, like the concentration camps and everything else that made him into a person, were just back-up reinforcers that eventually shaped him. But Erik had been a good man until his wife died.

Wanda had been a little girl until that day in the woods. It was that sole event that had hardened her and made her grow up. It made her untrusting and hateful.

Both had one big event that shaped their lives and broke them apart forever. Wanda never truly believed she'd be able to forgive Erik, no matter how much he pled with her. But now…

Wanda let Pietro hold her.

It had taken Wanda all the way to Erik's death to realize she'd truly forgiven him and let him touch her. She wouldn't make the same mistake with Pietro.


"Mah feet hurt." Gracie complained loudly, purposefully dragging her feet as they went.

"We're almost there." Logan grunted irritably.

"Yah said that an hour ago!" Gracie whined. "An' we're still walkin'!"

"We should be there in less than five minutes now." Kitty soothed. "We're almost upon the mansion. See—you can even see it. It's that big white mansion against the backdrop of the trees. It won't be much longer, Gracie."

"We shouldn't even be here!" Gracie blew up, coming to a stop and stubbornly holding her stance. "

"'Ah won't be any trouble.'" Mystique mimicked again sarcastically.

"Don't y'all care about Marie?!" Gracie asked desperately. "She needs our help an' we're walkin' away from her!"

"We have to help our friends." Kitty tried to convince her. "Rogue knows what's she's doing. She wouldn't have sent us away if she didn't have a handle on things. We just need to help the mansion first. We'll go back for her."

Gracie was still being stubborn. Wanting someone on her side, she desperately beseeched. "Remy?"

"Remy agrees wit' y' petite, but Rogue chere sent us away. She not be happy if we come back an' dis mansion is still under duress."

"Who cares if she'll be happy or not?! Do y'all know Marie at all?! She doesn't ask fohr help when she needs it! She-ahhghiyiee!" Gracie was about to go on, but a familiar searing pain tore through her mind as fire roared through her head. Gracie clutched her head in pain and dropped to her knees as her legs gave out.

Pictures and images flashed before her closed eyes.

A large, beautiful statue of an angel loomed down under her. Its arms were held up high and with her wings spread out far, it looked like the angel was reaching up to the floating girl above the fountain…

A red-haired woman appeared out of nowhere with a white-haired boy companion. Gracie recognized her immediately. Gracie froze in absolute terror…

Marie cast her hands out an a shock of electricity flowed through her fingers and electrified her poor victim as, even the ability to scream was robbed from the poor soul before she crumpled to the ground…

Gracie herself crumpled to the ground in a heap…

The red-haired, fair woman cast out her hand weakly and shivered. Marie was caught in a red blast and screamed as she began to fall…

Marie lay still, not breathing, face down and clearly dead. The red-haired woman weakly tried to drag herself up to mutilate her dead body. Fire burned in her cold, fire-red eyes.


"Gracie, are you okay?!" Kitty asked, her tone worried and scared as she gripped the shaking girl tightly.

Mystique was looking extremely annoyed. "We don't have time for this."

Gracie moaned softly and rubbed her aching head. "Sohrae." She mumbled, feeling a spike of fear at the vision. It wasn't the first time she'd had it and it made her cold all over. Remy frowned as he knelt beside Kitty and held out his arms for her to pass Gracie over.

"Remy'll carry her." He offered. Gracie shivered with cold and a bit of fright as Kitty handed her over. Remy effortlessly lifted her bridal-style into his arms and stood. He nodded. "It's only a short way. Let's go." They began walking again and Remy gave her half a minute to gather herself before speaking again, low and soft so he wouldn't be overheard. "Petite, y' okay?"

Gracie shied away and kept her eyes down, locked upon her knees. Remy gave her a sympathetic expression. "It was de same vision again, wasn't it?" Gracie was silent. Remy jiggled her a little in his grasp. "Come on, petite. 'M not de bad guy—Remy's gunna held y' sister."

It took Gracie half a moment before she finally got up the courage to respond. "We were ahl there." She finally admitted softly. "We were ahl there and we still couldn't stop her." Her eyes hardened hatefully as she finally lifted her gaze to Remy's. "We have ta find her—the red-haired woman. We have ta-ta-" she faltered. "She can't ever see Rogue again! She'll kill her!"

"Y' talkin' 'bout Wanda?" Remy clarified. Gracie's vision just didn't make any sense. What reason could Wanda have to kill Rogue? Rogue had brought Wanda back. She was alive because Rogue had made it so. It didn't make sense that Wanda would want to kill her. Not to mention, Wanda wasn't even in the picture anymore. Pietro had run off with her.

"Your red-hairedskank, yes." Gracie's tone was hateful.

"Hey." Remy prodded her arm to bring her eyes back up to him. "Wanda's not Remy's skank, petite. Remy's taken wit' Roguey. Okay?"

"Her name is Marie." Gracie persisted petulantly, crossing her arms stubbornly. "And she's not yahrs."

Remy smiled lightheartedly at this little girl's protective tendencies to her sister. "Y' vision says differently, non?" Remy joked, provoking her.

Gracie burned red in embarrassment and anger. "Mah visions cahn be wrong! That one is obviously a fluke!"

"Won't y' tell Remy what y' saw?" Remy continued, pressing his luck. "Come on, petite, petite, y' know y' startin' t' like me too. 'M jus' dat charmin'."

Gracie scoffed. "Not at all! Yah better watch yaself around her, ya dirty thief!"

Remy chuckled. "Y' sound jus' like her now."

Gracie was obviously frustrated that he wasn't taking her warning seriously. "Ah'm gunna tell Logan what Ah saw in a minute!"

"Whoa, petite, let's not jump t' hasty decisions, heh?" Remy nodded forward in front of them. "We're here, petite. We be able t' go back fo' Marie in'a minute." He gently set down her legs to the ground, but kept an arm braced up under her arms. "Can y' stand?"

Gracie finally lifted her gaze away from him as Remy put her on her feet. At the very first sight her eyes landed upon, all strength left her and her legs gave out from under her. Remy caught her with a "whoaaa," before she hit the ground, but Gracie was feeling faint anyway. "Petite?" Remy prodded. He snapped his fingers in front of her eyes to no avail. Gracie's gaze remained trapped on the object in front of her.

Remy followed her gaze and frowned at the fountain with the angel statue in the middle, not understanding. "What is it, petite? What's wrong?"

Gracie's eyes shot from the statue to all her companions and her body began to uncontrollably shake. "It's here." Gracie whispered, not able to find her breath fully. "Marie is going to die here—and it's already happening. We're too late."


Tessa clasped her fingers tightly around the hand that held them. She lifted her shy eyes up, trying to peer at the handsome man she was leaning against on the sand. She turned her head slightly to get a fuller look at him and her heart warmed within her chest at the sight of his beautiful features. "Joseph."

"Hey, Tessa." His mouth crinkled just so as he said her name. His smile was only for her. His floppy, uncooperative blonde hair ruffled with the warm breeze and his light, crystal blue eyes shone down at her happily. He was the most beautiful, happiest sight that Tessa had ever laid eyes on.

Joseph ran his thumb across Tessa's hand in little circles that made her skin tingle and turned her to goo inside. He tilted his head sideways at her so that she was righted in his view and gave her a pleasant, only-for-her smile.

Tessa felt her heart start to race in her chest. "Joseph…"

Joseph felt her tension and pulled her even closer against him. "Shhh, Tess. It's okay."


"Shhh." Joseph gave her a reassuring squeeze before readjusting and turning her around to face him. "Look at me, Tess. I'm right here. I won't leave you. Not before you're ready."

Tears came to Tessa's eyes as she threw herself into Joseph's arms and squeezed him tight against her, content to never let him go. He was warm, pressed up against her, and everywhere he touched, she felt calmer, at peace. "I miss you." A couple of tears fell from Tessa's watery eyes. "I'm so lost without you, Joseph. I need you back."

Joseph combed his fingers through her hair lightly as he clutched her against him. "You'll be okay, Tessa. You're strong, a fighter. You always were. You'll make it through."

"It's so hard." Tessa buried her face in Joseph's shoulder to muffle her cries. "I miss you so much. I'm alone."

"You're not alone." Joseph held her back by her shoulders and gave Tessa a sympathetic look at her tears. He lightly brushed one away with his thumb, ever so gentle with her. "I'm always with you. And you have others too, those who'll fight with you."

"No one who loves me." Tessa looked away, ashamed of herself. How could she even allow herself to feel this way with Joseph, after all that she'd done? "I—I don't deserve this, Joseph. Not after…"

Joseph looked her up and down. When she still didn't lift her gaze to him, he prodded her chin up with a little finger. "Hey, Tess." Tessa kept her eyes down. "Tessa, look at me."

Unable to resist a direct request from him, she did so. Her watery gaze blurred upon his perfect profile. "I love you." Joseph assured her. Tessa broke out into full fledge tears as he gathered her back up in his arms and held her. He gently rocked her until he could feel her calming down again. Without waiting for her to speak once she'd caught her breath, Joseph gently lowered a hand and laid it palm-down against her stomach. Tessa gasped lightly and tried to pull away from him, ashamed, but he held her firmly.

"When this is all over Tess, I want you to have it." Tessa stiffened perceptibly in his grasp and Joseph let her pull away to stare at his warm features in confusion and fear. "You've always wanted one." He continued on. "Hell, we wanted nine." He chuckled. "Unfortunately, I never got to fulfill that wish for you." He brushed away another tear from her shell-shocked expression. "But you still want one, don't you? A child?"

Tessa was frozen in place and tears streamed steadily down her cheeks. "I-I…I didn't want it like this." She finally choked out. "I wanted you—from only you. I lost my way, Joseph. I was so distraught, so angry…I was stupid."

Joseph gave her a kind, sadly understanding smile. "I know, Tess. I was sucked into that organization too, remember?" He graced her with one of his rare smiles again. "It's okay, Tessa. I forgive you."

Tessa was starting to tear up again. "I don't deserv—"

"You deserve the world." Joseph interrupted her. "You deserve to be happy, Tess. Like you were with me. Forget the father, you want a child—I want you happy, Tessa. You don't have to continue to suffer for it. You've punished yourself enough. You don't have to be alone. You can let someone else love you." He glanced down at her stomach again and Tessa only then realized that his hand was still in place. "You can have two of those daughters you always wanted—them and a son."

Tessa's eyes clouded in confusion and deep sadness. "Joseph, I—"

"You deserve it, Tessa." Joseph told her firmly, but always gentle. "You've suffered enough. It's time to finish it. Finish it off and be left standing afterwards. I know you want to be with me, but it's not that time yet. You've still got a life to live, Tessa. Don't be afraid or ashamed of it. And if you fall for someone else in the meantime, good! I want you happy." He gently stroked her cheek. "You're going to make it through this and I want you to be happy afterwards. I'll wait for you, no matter how long or no matter what you do. I'm yours, Tessa."

Tessa squeezed him again. "Don't go, Joseph."

Joseph gave her one final hug back. "I love you, Tessa."

"I love you too." Tessa didn't bother to give notice to her tears sliding hotly down her cheeks. She just wanted to stay here forever. "I love you so much, Joseph."

"Make me proud."

The scenery started to fade around her. Tessa closed her eyes tightly and clung to him for all she was worth, desperately trying to keep him rooted there.

Sounds started to open up around her. "Shit! Betsy, wake up already!"

The vision of her beloved lost, Tessa opened her eyes slowly and was somewhat alarmed to feel wet tear streaks trailing down her cheeks. She turned away from the front and wiped at her eyes with the backs of her hands. In the front, Longshot noticed her movements. "Hey, you! Tessa, right? Do you know the way to the X-mansion? Betsy's out and isn't waking up."

Tessa blinked a few times before shaking her head and trying to focus on reality instead of her wistful dreams. It hurt slightly, especially since she didn't feel the greatest at the moment anyway. "X-Xavier's place?" She asked foggily, still trying to clear her mind.

Longshot nodded. "I thought I knew the way, but…"

Tessa could picture the rout perfectly, even though she hadn't been there in years. At the same time, a few thoughts were roaming through her mind. I hope Betsy's okay. She's pretty conked out. Petra's waiting for me too—goddamn, I wish I had known the way 2 hours ago!

"Two hours ago?!" Tessa blanched. "I was out for that long?"

Longshot glanced back at her with scrunched eyebrows. "Are you a telepath too?"

It was then that Tessa realized what had just happened. Her hands automatically reached up to her neck. "My collar!" She breathed, not feeling it there any longer. She glanced around the car frantically as if expecting to find it waiting in ambush. "Did you do this?"

Longshot nodded. "I recognized they were power-negate collars." He explained with a shrug. "Figured you wouldn't want to be wearing that anyway."

Tessa felt a warm rush of gratitude to Betsy's lucky ex. "Pull over to the side of the road." She instructed. There was no need to continue in the car if her powers were back.


"I can teleport us out of here, but I can't take the car with us." Tessa explained, motioning him over. She gripped Betsy's shoulder lightly and shook the girl. "Betsy." Betsy didn't wake. "Wake up, Betsy." Tessa's shaking managed to slouch Betsy over some more, but that was it. Tessa rolled her eyes. "Come on, Betsy. Let's go. Wake-y time!"

"She really just dies on you, doesn't she?" Longshot pulled over and stopped the car before unbuckling himself and turning to Betsy. He prodded her with his finger to no effect. Shaking his head, Longshot sighed. "Just push-push-push until exhaustion! Betsy hasn't changed a bit! Does she still do this in bed with you too?"

Tessa's eyes widened. "What?!"

"She used to do this all the time with me too." Longshot went on. "Don't be embarrassed, it's just how she is."

"Excuse m-" Longshot slapped Betsy. "Hey!" Tessa protested. Betsy was weak, exhausted, and injured from their escape. She didn't need additional beating. "What're you doing?!" She grabbed Longshot's hand as he went to slap her again. "Stop that!"

"How do you propose we wake her?" Tessa had a nasty feeling that Longshot had woke her up this way before.

"Hold on!" Tessa got out of the car and opened Betsy's door.

"You gunna kiss her?" Longshot asked. Tessa gave him a dark look and he held up his hands innocently. "Hey, I'm just asking. I'll look away if you want." Rolling her eyes, Tessa scooped Betsy up under the arms and lifted her out of the car. Jesus Christ! She swore silently, grunting with Betsy's weight. Where's it all from? Heaving Betsy outside the car, she dragged her back a couple of feet and laid her out on the ground before turning her over to her back. Betsy was like a deadweight.

"Okay, let's go Bets." Tessa shook her a little harsher, but nothing seemed to rouse her.

Longshot came around from the driver's side and grinned down. "What a peaceful sleeper, huh?"

"This isn't normal." Tessa sighed. "No one sleeps this heavily."

"Betsy does."

"How do you usually wake her?"

"I used to slap her, then kiss her." Tessa gave him an annoyed look and Longshot smiled innocently. "What? It's the truth, I swear! She never woke to anything else when she'd fallen into one of these states. I think she puts herself into them. Some kind of telepathic-thing when she gets too tired. Slapping her is painful and sorta wakes her up, while kissing her makes her realize it's not a dream."

"Well, then." Tessa gestured down. "Kiss her."

Longshot held up his hands again. "Not me! I'm taken. My days of Betsy are long-past. Don't worry, I'll look away." Longshot turned around and buried his head in his arms.

Tessa shook her head and rolled her eyes again. She tried one last time to shake Betsy awake. When that didn't work, Tessa picked up Betsy's bleeding hand. "Sorry, Betsy." She softly applied pressure to the cut.

Betsy's eyes shot open and she screeched before quickly pulling her hand back and turning her glare on Tessa. Tessa recoiled as an unexpected pain sliced through her head. She clutched her head in agony. "Betsy!"

The pain lightened up as Betsy's eyes glowed purple. "Hey! It's back!" she fiddled around her neck searchingly. "Our collars are gone!"

Tessa reeled, still clutching her head. "Is that how you greet everyone who wakes you up?! My god!"

Betsy's eyes narrowed. "If you weren't squeezing my injured hand, I wouldn't have attacked you!"

"If you didn't sleep like a hibernating bear, I wouldn't have had to!"

"I do not sleep like a—"

"You were in one of those deep sleeps." Longshot interrupted, turning around to face Betsy. Betsy colored at his words. "I told her the only safe way to wake you was to slap you and then kiss—" Betsy flushed deeper.

"I—we should get going."

Tessa chuckled at Betsy's obvious embarrassment. "You require some kind of method, Betsy?"

Betsy was deeply red. "Shut up, Tess."

"No snappy comeback?" Tessa laughed. "This one really has you spun, doesn't it?"

Longshot smiled too and put a hand on Betsy's shoulder companionably, to which she stiffened at. "Betsy's just ashamed that I was the one to discover how to safely wake her up that wa—"

"Longshot—don't comfort me." Betsy sighed, picking his arm off her shoulder and letting it drop. "Come on." She grabbed Tessa's arm, rather more tightly than absolutely necessary. "Get us back to the mansion, Tess."

Tessa laid a hand on Longshot's shoulder and gripped him tightly. With the crack of a whip, they all disappeared from the spot as if they'd never been there at all.


The Xavier Mansion. You need to be there. Now. Wanda jerked spastically at the voice in her head and frantically looked around for the source. She found nothing. "Hello?" Wanda called out, still looking around desperately.

Rogue is going to die.

Wanda gripped the side of her bed stiffly. "Who are you?!"

Go to her. Now.

"Wanda?" Pietro raced into the room and was at her side within seconds. "Wanda, what's wrong? Who're you talking to?"

I'm about to kill her…the voice taunted, playing her.

Wanda set her desperate eyes on Pietro. "Pietro, we have to get to the X-Mansion. Now."


Emma smiled to herself in cold satisfaction. There was no hint of warmth in that smile as laid back on Shaw's king-sized bed. She surveyed her new room in triumph. The raids were set off to go—were already starting—and Rogue, with Shaw, was about to die. The Mutant Champions were going to soar in their status and mutants, not humans, would rule this land. Finally. And behind it all? She would be the one in control. Emma Frost was about to have full rule over an entire continent.

Emma closed her eyes blissfully and basked in her glory. So very, very soon, nothing and nobody would be able to stop her.