"That way -- they went that way!" Iceman slid around the corner, racing
after the Gunslingers as fast as he could. They'd made their way into
the mansion, into the boathouse and Scott and Jean's ranch house on the
other side of the lake. Ever since the babies had been born five years
ago they'd been careful. Even more so than usual. No one had found
their way to the mansion.
They'd even switched names the mansion was listed under, changed the
school to a business and gone through all sorts of contortions to keep
their families safe. Four years ago Bobby's child had been born, and
they'd been even more careful. Codenames and masks were strictly
observed, families never mentioned, no matter what, even mental blocks
set into them by Jean and Emma whenever they went on missions, so that
even if they wanted to tell people about the families they couldn't.
They had been lucky this time; only Jean and Scott's twins were there.
Tommy, the Summers' adopted son, had taken all the others into the town.
Still, how the Gunslingers had found their way in, no one knew. But they
had, and the children were in danger.
"Go! Bishop -- that way!"
"Close de door, shug," Raquel whispered, pulling the tiny girl away.
"Y' mama don' need t' worry 'bout you right now."
Brigette sighed and fidgeted uncomfortably. "I know. But I want to
"You c'n 'elp. Watch over Cody f'r me."
Raquel watched as Jean's daughter headed to the back of the room, then
stopped. She turned, looking at Raquel curiously. "Where is Cody?"
"CODY!" Raquel raced through the house, wishing that Scott hadn't built
it so big. Sure, he now had four kids, but it made it quite hard
to find small people in emergencies.
"Cody! Answer me!"
A faint call echoed back, and Raquel went running down the hall.
A gunshot rang through the building, and Raquel slammed her body to the
A voice drifted to her from the master bedroom ahead. "What have we
here? Hello little boy. You a mutie too?"
Raquel launched to her feet, pulling herself down the hall at a dead
run. None of the X-Men were around -- she could hear the fighting up at
the main house. Hopefully they'd be here fast. Really fast. She saw
the man's back, hulking over tiny, sickly Cody.
"Prepare to die, genejoke."
Raquel jumped, flying through the air even as the man raised his gun to
shoot. She hit his back as he pulled the trigger, and the shot went
The boy, barely able to breathe in his panic, raced for the door.
Raquel bit down on the chunk of muscle beneath her face, wishing -- not
for the first time -- that she had some wonderful mutant power.
"You! Who the hell are you!?" The man reached around and grabbed her
by her shirt, pulling her off over his head.
I should o' listened bet'er when Bobby was showin' me t' fight, Ray
thought with a sigh as she hit the wall.
She looked up to see the sunshades the man wore light up with green, and
knew he was scanning her to see if she was a mutant.
"If you're not one," he said with a snarl, aiming again, "then you're
Raquel moved as the shot rang out, and she felt shrapnel fly into her
back. She glanced down the hall, and saw the twins race down the stairs
and, hopefully, out the door.
Okay, she thought, scrambling for cover, now I jus' get away.
Briefly her thoughts turned to the baby she carried. Seven weeks. She
hadn't even told Bobby yet.
"Can't you come up wit' bet'er names?" she shot back, diving behind the
"I don't need better names for someone who's going to -- damn." He
glanced down at his gun as it misfired, then shrugged and turned it
around, butt end first. "We'll just have to do this the hard way."
Raquel took a deep breath and placed her feet against the side of the
desk, waiting until the hulk-man came close before shoving as hard as
she could, knocking the desk over onto the man's legs.
She ducked and rolled as he swore and tossed the table aside, coming
"You bitch," he snarled, grabbing her by her ankle and hauling her
back. "I am so going to kill you."
Raquel covered her head with her hands as the first of the blows fell
down on her.
Cyclops looked up from where he stood, checking to be sure that the man
beneath him was really unconscious and not faking it.
"It's Ray! She went after Cody and got caught!" As practiced, Brigette
and Cody swerved and ran for the boathouse, getting out of the way of any
fighting that might be unfinished.
"Get safe! We'll get Ray!" Cyclops glanced around, seeing that all but
a few of the men were already rounded up.
"I've got her!" Iceman shouted, flying to the second story window of
He was through and down the hall, into the room in an instant. His
heart pounded in his throat as he saw the man above his love, gun raised
to come down sickeningly again on her still form. His arm lashed out,
sending shards of ice flying. The man was out cold -- literally -- faster
than one could blink an eye.
"Raquel? Ray, c'mon. Be okay." He held his breath as he raced to
where she lay, bending onto one knee. "Ray, wake up. Please."
Bobby reached to touch her face, then quickly drew his hand back. She
wasn't moving, though he could hear her breath rattling uncertainly in
her chest. How she even managed that through the bloody mess that was once
her face he didn't know.
"Miranda!" Bobby bellowed to the resident doctor, moving to the window.
He raced back to his wife's body, kneeling again. "Ray, please." He
reached down and
touched her arm, grazing his fingertips over bruises and blood spattered
across her small features and tiny body.
"MIRANDA!" His voice broke at the last, and he dashed away tears in
He touched her wavy brown, shoulder length hair, wanting to cradle her
but afraid that he would only hurt her worse.
"Step back, Bobby," a female voice said, laying a hand on his shoulder.
"Go get Rogue and Angel and tell them to bring the stretcher."
He reacted to the codename instantly, shooting out the window and down
into the battlefield below. "Rogue! Angel! QUICK!"
It was with great difficulty that they managed to get her onto the
stretcher without hurting her worse. Miranda, working with the X-Men for
the past year, ordered Iceman to go get Henry McCoy, knowing that he could
do a better job here than she. That, and it got Bobby out of the way.
Once Raquel was on the stretcher Angel and Rogue flew her down, landing
softly in the medbay of the mansion. Miranda forced everyone to leave, and
got to work.
It took Miranda and Hank, working together, all night before they were
certain that she was stable. Not going to live, necessarily, but for the
moment she wasn't dying.
Hank looked old and weary as he walked out, almost running into a
distraught Robert Drake.
"How is she?" he asked, almost managing to force his way past the former
"Sit down, Bobby." Hank grabbed the shoulders of his best friend, forcing
him back and into a chair. "If she lives through today, she might make
it," he said slowly, taking his glasses off and cleaning them on his shirt.
Every motion was filled with exhaustion. Slowly he put his spectacles
back on, looking at Bobby. "We weren't able to save the baby, though."
Iceman's eyes almost fell out of his head, and only Beast's heavy hands on
his shoulders kept him from jumping out of his seat. "Baby? There was a
Hank's head snapped up at Miranda, who shrugged. "She hadn't told you
Bobby shook his head mutely. "There was a baby, Hank?"
Bobby looked sick as he watched the carpet between his feet. "I ... wow."
Beast smiled slightly, sadly. "I'm sorry."
"Can I see her? Ray?"
Beast shook his head. "In a few hours. Not right now."
Bobby nodded mutely, too used to following Hank's orders to argue. "But
Scott found Bobby in the hospital room later, sitting quietly by the bed
of the immobile woman.
Bobby's head tilted slightly when Cyclops entered, letting Scott see a
corner of a clear blue eye and long blond lashes. "She was pregnant,
Scott," Bobby said quietly.
Scott nodded, pulling up a chair and sitting.
There was silence for a long time. "Is it wrong of me to not care about
the baby if she doesn't make it?"
Scott hesitated, then shook his head. "I don't think so. You didn't even
know about the baby. But you know and love Raquel."
Bobby's head fell slightly, and he picked up his wife's limp hand. "But
it was my child."
Scott sighed. "I know."
"And I don't even care right now."
They slipped into silence once more, the only sounds those of the
machinery in the room. "Hank says she may live. But he doesn't know if
it'll be because the machines keep her body alive, or if it's because
she'll actually live."
Scott pursed his lips silently. He couldn't even imagine what it would be
like, to have your wife comatose.
The door opened slightly, and a small face framed in straight blue hair
looked in. "Hi."
"Hi, Jess," Scott said quietly to the four year old girl.
Bobby looked up, smiling slightly and holding out one arm. The little
girl bulleted across the room, a streak of blue and white, and almost
collapsed into her father's lap. Scott left as silently as he had come in.
"How's mommy?" Dominique Jessica Drake asked, sticking two fingers back
into her mouth as soon as the question was out.
"She's sleeping there," Bobby answered, taking the two fingers out of his
"Can she hear me?"
Bobby hesitated, running his hands through his daughter's feather soft
blue hair. "I don't know. But I think she might like it if you talked to
Jessica turned her head to look up at her father, pupil-less ice blue eyes
meeting dark, warm, brown ones. "You think she'd like to hear about the
fight I won?"
Bobby smiled slightly. "Maybe."
Dominique Jessica looked back at her mother, then. Slowly she reached
forward and touched Raquel's arm, then drew back. "I won a fight," she
said, very loudly. "It was with Brigette. She was being mean, and I told
her not to, and even Cody said stop, but she didn't so I yelled at her and
she pushed me and so I pushed her and then she hit me so I hit her and then
she fell in the mud and Cody ran inside and I hit her again but not until
she got up. Then Jean came out. So we stopped."
Bobby carefully hid his half smile as Jess looked solemnly up at him.
"Did she hear me?"
"Probably so," Bobby answered.
Jess nodded. "Okay. Call me when she does something." She slid down off
his lap, running away to find Brigette.
Bobby watched her go, pain lancing through his heart. "Ray, you have to
wake up," he pleaded quietly. "She needs a mother."
If only he had been there, his mind threw at him. If he had been faster,
gotten rid of the Gunslingers quicker. Left the X-Men when she had asked
so long ago. She had been so adamant about it. Afraid that he was going
to get hurt, and that she would raise their child by herself.
It was an ongoing battle. It lasted more than two years. He had fallen
in love so easily, so quickly, it seemed natural that they would get
married. He'd asked, and she'd said not until he quit the X-Men. A year
passed, she living in the X-Mansion, he asking her every morning over
breakfast if she would marry him. Always it went the same.
"Good morning, Ray," he'd say casually. "Will you marry me?"
"Will you quit the X-Men?" she would counter, still eating.
"No." And they would move on with their lives. Even when Jessie was
born, they had remained unmarried for the better part of a year. Finally
it was Raquel who said that perhaps they should marry, as they sat watching
their daughter play. But Raquel, even then, had asked him to quit. And he
wouldn't. She'd been so furious, so afraid that he would be hurt.
And instead it was she who lay on the hospital bed, barely living.
"Ray, live," Bobby whispered, resting his head on the bedside. "You can't
leave me. I'm so sorry. I'll leave the X-Men. We'll find something else
to do. I'll be an accountant and buy a house in the country for God's
sake, just don't die."
The beep of the heart monitor was loud in the room, and when it stopped it
was as if a bomb had gone off just outside the door. For a long second the
place fairly echoed with silence, and then a loud buzzer went off and Hank
and Miranda came running in. They shoved Bobby away viciously, ignoring
that he stumbled out of his chair and slammed into the wall.
Bobby crawled back up until he stood, plastered against the barrier in
fear of getting in their way, and truly causing his wife's death. The two
doctors shouted at each other while Bobby folded himself into the corner,
his own heart leaping in his throat. Unsure of what else to do, he prayed.
She lived, but barely. For three days Jean, Rogue, Hank and Scott took
turns bringing Bobby food and sitting with him. The food came back almost
untouched, and the people came back with no more hope then they'd had
before. The X-Men as a whole bound together, raising Jessie while Bobby
stayed with Raquel. Some days the little girl stayed in there too, but she
was only four years old and didn't understand completely what was going on.
Remy was often in the infirmary, a quiet companion to the woman he'd known
for so long in New Orleans.
Bobby prayed steadily, not even leaving the room when his parents arrived
to help take care of him and his daughter. The machines beeped and clicked
and hummed, giving an odd cadence to the words Robert whispered.
"Live Ray. Live. We'll leave. I'll do something else. I'll do whatever
you want but you must live -- Lord, let her live you have to. Live, Ray.
I'll quit the X-Men. I promise."
Beast came in not moments later, frantically checking the monitors,
hearing something Bobby had missed. He smiled slightly after a moment,
looking up at his best friend. "She's getting better," Hank whispered, a
large blue paw on Bobby's shoulder.
Iceman looked up at the horrible face, seeing only hope and light where
others saw only despair and terror. "She is?" he murmured, his throat
closing on the words.
Beast nodded, watching the young man before him closely. Bobby looked
lost for a moment, then smiled slightly and, burying his face in his hands,
started to cry.
The next two days were spent getting Bobby to eat more, as Hank was
fearful that he was getting painfully malnourished. Bobby was oblivious to
their efforts, eating only when someone prodded him and otherwise intent
upon the changes in his wife. Her skin seemed to be pinker, her breathing
easier. Hank said neither of those were true, that it was only Bobby's
imagination, but Bobby didn't mind.
On the third day Raquel opened her eyes, and was awake for bare moments.
Jessie cried that she missed it, and Bobby cried that his wife lived.
It was another day before she was both awake and lucid, but all celebrated
for she was going to live, and there was no more doubt.
"I love you, Raquel," Bobby whispered, brushing tender fingers along the
unbruised section of her cheek.
Raquel smiled slightly, and it cracked the scabs on her lips. "I love you
both," she answered, petting Jessie's hair while looking up at Bobby.
"Everything's going to be all right, son," Robert's father said to him
later that night, taking Dominique Jessica out of the room and into her
For the first time, Bobby truly believed it.
"Are you sure we have to do this?" Bobby groused three weeks later as he
watched all his belongings disappear into boxes.
"You promised," Raquel answered, hobbling around on her crutches. "I
heard you, Drake."
From the doorway, Remy chuckled. "You take care o' yourself, hear?" he
said seriously to Raquel.
"Lord, you act like I be goin' far from here," Raquel snapped, glaring at
the fellow Cajun. "We're jus' movin' t' de ot'er school."
Remy smiled, then bent and kissed her lightly on the mouth. He looked up,
met Bobby's furiously protective gaze, and smiled. "Oui, well, I meant
take care o' yourself against Bobby dere," he said with a grin.
"I'll kiss Rogue and we'll just see how funny you think it is," Bobby
"Down, boys," Raquel said easily. "Remy, take dis box. Bobby take dat
one. Dese are de last ones, and we're off." She smiled happily,
crutch-ing over to kiss Bobby's cheek. "T'ank you f'r leaving de X-Men,"
she whispered as Gambit left the room with his box.
Bobby sighed. "I promised. I did. Thank God Sean said we could go help
teach the kids." He grimaced. "I couldn't imagine sitting around all
Raquel stopped from where she'd been moving away, turning to look back at
him. It wasn't fair to him. To leave like this. The X-Men were his life.
Raquel hated it when her conscience made its presence known. "Bobby ..."
her words were halting. "We don' have t' leave if y' don' wan' t'."
Bobby's blue eyes widened fractionally, and he almost ran forward. His
bulky arms wrapped around her, lifting her off her feet and away from the
crutches and carrying her back to their bed. "Listen," he said seriously,
setting her down. "I know I'm complaining bitterly about this -- and I
probably will continue to do so for at least another few days -- but there is
no way I'm staying here. Not now. Not with you and Jessie. I never
thought that either one of you -- or me -- would really get hurt, but if
there's even the smallest chance that I might lose either of you, I don't
want to keep you here. I couldn't live with that--knowing that because I
felt like staying you or Jessie was ... well, anything. I don't want to
be here. I don't want you to be here."
Raquel grinned, throwing her arms around her husband's neck. "I'm glad,"
Bobby laughed and drew back to kiss her, relieved that they were leaving.
No, if any of his family was hurt he wouldn't be able to live with it. He
was only sorry that it took his wife almost dying before he realized that.
"DAD!" came a young voice from the stairs. "The van's here!"
"Bobby, y' lef' m' crutches all the way over dere," Ray said, pulling
Slowly, Bobby got up and retrieved them. Raquel took them, standing up
and crutch-ing her way out of the room. "We're comin', shug!"
Bobby hefted the last box, and followed Raquel out. At the doorway to the
mansion he stopped and looked back. The other X-Men waited outside to see
them off, two vans loaded with his belongings. Before him was the house he
had lived in for so long. Lived, loved, lost. The memories swarmed, and
he felt sad for a moment at leaving the people he had grown so close with,
even though he knew he would see them often. Seventeen years ago, he had
walked through that door and become the beginning of Xavier's dream taken
He had found a family, a home. Now he was leaving it all.
Bobby took a deep breath, turning and looking at the vans that awaited to
take him to the Massachusetts Academy. Dominique Jessica Drake laughed
riotously at something, and Raquel Drake hobbled toward the van, only to
shriek when she was lifted unexpectedly and carried by Scott.
Bobby grinned. He was leaving a family behind, but he was leaving of his
own choice, and with the people he loved.
They were his. They were together, whole, unharmed, and to keep that he
would go to the ends of earth. Massachusetts was a lot closer.
Bobby trotted down the steps, almost throwing the box he held at Hank, and
ran to where Scott was carrying his wife.
"Excuse me," Bobby said, planting himself in front of his ex-team leader.
"You have your own wife." He grinned and took Raquel, spinning her
around before depositing her in the passenger side of the van. "This was a
great idea, honey," he said loudly enough to be heard over the laughter.
"I don't have to listen to Ol' Fearless anymore!"
Thanks to Mica, for posting this, but mostly for beta-reading this entire
series. I couldn't do this without her. (Also for putting up with my
brainstorming -- twenty messages each with one line as I think of something
else -- putting up with my whining about how I want this character to say
that even though it's out of character, putting up with me writing nothing
for weeks and then, suddenly, eighty gazillion quadrillion stories in two
days, putting up with me being temperamental and acting like an "artiste,"
and for putting up with everything else I don't even realize I'm doing.
Geez, it's a good thing she's here. Otherwise someone else would have to
put up with this. Aren't you all thankful to Mica? )
Oh yeah, and FEEDBACK! Please? Do you *really* want me to resort to
This series can be found at Due West of Nowhere
and at Fonts of Wisdom
and various of the stories about the characters are all over. :)
(Remember? These fics are all stand-alone one-shots!) and can be gotten by
writing to me (though I may gripe since there are now so many of them!).
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