Cherry Blossoms in Winter

By: Cheryl and Richard Gardner

Ghostwritten by: June Gilbert

X-men next generation book 2

Chapter Two: Death and Separation

I smelled it first, the harsh, rusty tang of spilt blood that permeated the air around the door. Cheryl didn't seem to even smell it. She was opening the door. I felt a horrible chill of foreboding trickle down my spine.

We smelled it before we saw it. Cheryl's soft violet blue eyes went wide with shock as she finally smelled the overwhelming stench of blood. I gagged when I saw what our father had done to himself.

Henry Gardner, my once loving father, had long slashes across his whole body until he was nearly unrecognizable. The apartment was trashed, as if there had been a struggle. I still didn't believe it. Dad couldn't be dead. Not this soon. Not this… VIOLENTLY. I shivered silently.

Not until I heard a strangled sob did I snap out of my reverie. Cheryl had a slim hand on her mouth, her eyes filling with tears and barely bit back sobs escaping her lips. She must be going into shock, I realized.

I reached out and touched Cheryl's shoulder. With a shock, I realized how skinny her shoulders had grown. I knew my older sister sometimes had problems with remembering to eat, but never this bad.

I reached around, picked my older sister up out of her wheelchair and took her out of the apartment. I was saddened when I could lift her with ease. Cheryl was shuddering, tears dripping down her face. She couldn't seem to stop the soft shivering sobs escaping her lips. I lay down quietly under the oak tree in the field by our building.

Stroking her paper-white hair, I started to softly repeat one of her favorite bedtime stories, Goodnight Moon.

"Goodnight moon. Goodnight sun. Goodnight stars and goodnight comforter…"

To my relief, she seemed to doze at my familiar words. I gently lay her down in the shade of the tree she so loved. I quietly walked back in, grabbed a blanket and then called 911.

"911, what's your emergency?" the sweet feminine voice on the other end of the line said. I suddenly crumpled. I couldn't believe my Dad was dead, his body lying still in front of me.

"Please…My Dad i-i-s d-dead on t-the floor next to me and please send help my sister is in shock just help me PLEASE!" I started to cry as I gave the lady our address between sobs.

When I finished, I staggered outdoors with the blanket. I lay my head in Cheryl's lap, covered myself and her, and, with my head under the covers, I wept unashamedly. I felt a slender hand on my head that I knew was Cheryl's. Nuzzling into her thin body, I cried as I hadn't in years.

I fell into a doze after a few moments listening to Cheryl's soothingly even breathing. I dreamed of a crowd of people, standing round us, my sister and me. There was, most noticeably, a bald man in a wheelchair with a gentle smile on his features. A couple stood behind him, a red haired woman and a brown haired man who were also smiling. The man wore ruby red glasses.

And then I felt a sense of loss as the woman disappeared.

There was a dark haired man who looked tough and strong, muscles large and toned, with that look of an experienced fighter in his eyes. Beside him was a teenage girl with a half feral look in her eyes that seemed to be glaring at everyone else with her chocolate honey colored eyes.

I also saw a blonde man with wings sprouting from his back. There was a tall African woman with white hair flowing like a river down her back. I saw a blue skinned beast, massive even when crouching by the side of the man in the wheelchair. Intelligence shone out of the yellow eyes that gazed upon me. There was another with blue skin, but he was slimmer and taller, with ears pointed in resemblance to an elf, only with a pointy tail, like a devil's sort of tail. He also had the same glowy yellow eyes.

Finally, there was a tough looking auburnheaded woman, with twin white streaks running through her hair, and gloves on her hands. Out of all of them, she felt the safest.

The scene shifted, and I saw a man dressed in red. He had steely hair, and he was gazing right at me. He seemed spooked to see me. He whispered, wide eyed, "Charles?"

I shook my head, and said, "My name isn't Charles. It's Richard, Richie for short. What's your name?"

He said "I…My name is Erik."

Erik was staring hungrily at my face. The older man looked like he was starving for a look at something he craved bitterly but could never obtain again.

"Why are you looking at me like that?"

"You resemble a friend I…lost a while ago."

"Was his name Charles? Who was he?"

Erik was getting foggy. I reached my hand out, frustrated that I might never know the answer to my many bubbling questions seething in my brain.

"WAIT!"

Everything went black.

On Genosha, a man woke sweating and gasping in the aftermath of a dream that seemed more of a nightmare...a nightmare straight from his memories.

This is kind of a rough draft, if you don't really like it I can update it. I'm posting at school, however, so excuse any spelling issues etc. Please review! ^^

-June