The Race
by Indigo

Chapter 6

Emma Frost slept, wrapped in a white sheet, in the Mansion's infirmary. She looked pale, and wan -- fragile, like some delicate fairy princess from a fairy tale. It was only twelve hours since she had awakened from her coma, and had her psyche returned after its wild jaunt in Iceman's body.

Echoes of the cruel, mocking words she had spoken to Bobby inside his own psyche, bounced around inside the room, as if they were trapped there. They bludgeoned against Emma's pale skin, leaving bruises, or raising welts on their sharp edges.

"She has not changed. She cannot change. She is unwilling to change." The voice spoke with grim determination, with certainty. And ... with a small amount of regret -- faint, almost imperceptible -- unless one knew precisely what to look for. "But change she must, or this dance, this insane waltz and game of empires and pawns will go on forever."

The voice was male, and so tired. So tired. The echoes of Emma's cruel words to Bobby dwindled and faded, muffled out of existence by the weight of Charles Xavier's determination.

He sat beside the sleeping form of the White Queen, and bowed his head as in reverent prayer. "I do what I must. For you. For the future. To protect those you would otherwise enslave. May God forgive me."

Shaking hands lifted to Emma's face, and settled gently, but firmly on her temples. "What evil was in you, I banish. What good, if any, lies within that cold heart, will have the chance to flourish it always should have had. This is for the best."

Emma, sensing the intrusion, bucked and whimpered, but was still so weak; too weak in body, mind, and spirit to resist the will of Professor Xavier. She screamed, fought and spat, kicked and screamed as though her very life, her soul, her existence depended on it -- but it was not enough.

Prison bars of psionic power wove a lattice in her brain, wrapping tight the part of her that made her a fighter.

Tiny lace-threads of telepathic force too strong for her frail body and mind to resist bound her in thoughts, philosophies, and imagos that were at once desirable to her and unspeakably alien.

As the last vestige of her strength and will to fight fell beneath Xavier's onslaught, Emma cried out, "You may bury me but you will NEVER destroy me..."

"...I am the White Queen!"

The cry woke Bobby up out of a sound sleep. "Ems? Emma?"

She was still asleep, but caught in the throes of a nightma--*

"AGH! GOD!" Bobby clenched his teeth on a wave of pain, as Emma's nightmare spilled over the rapport she'd established and downloaded into his mind. Don't cave. Don't crumble. She needs you now, Bobby told himself. Like Jeannie taught me. Think impermeable walls. He concentrated and the psionic shields slammed into place ... or began to. He didn't know if that would harm Emma, so he tried to be gentle. He'd never been en rapport before; and he knew she was suffering now from the horror he was seeing second-hand.

"Shhh, shh, Emma, it's all right." Bobby wound her into his arms, whispering, "Oh, Emma, it's okay. It's just a dream, it's just a dream.

It's just a dream." He repeated it over and over again, and found himself asking, Are you trying to comfort her or yourself?

She never completely woke from her sleeping state, but she sensed Bobby's desire to protect her and comfort her ... and calmed. She would never have admitted that in the light of day. She would never have wanted anyone to know she has fears, or wants to feel safe like the rest of us. Bobby closed his eyes. He stroked the sweat-lankened hair from Emma's brow. Your secret's safe, my Queen.

He held her until her breathing evened...and watched her until he was certain the nightmare would not return to trouble her again. And even after all that, it was a long, long time before Bobby Drake could relax enough to sleep again himself.

The remainder of the night had been simpler dreams. Bobby found himself witness to exactly how it was that Emma had come to free the "new Hellions" from servitude to Bedlam.

He saw in his mind's eye how well she took care of them, and how careful she was to maintain security in the safehouse she'd placed them all.

He watched as she consulted with surgeons, Moira MacTaggert, Reed Richards, and Doctor Strange, for any inkling of a way to return Jonothon Starsmore's face to him, as she had promised.

And he watched as she fought Selene, and saw her with Shaw. The last struck a painful pang in him; but he had known this moment they'd shared might well have been nothing more than her whim.

But he had seen other things in her thoughts while she slept ... and realized that of everyone in her life, it was not customary for her to lower her guard or go en rapport.

Only he, Bobby Drake, had that particular trust from Emma Frost; and he meant to keep it.

"You didn't sleep well," Emma said, frowning into Bobby's face shortly after she woke.

"Mmm," Bobby responded noncomittally. "Lot on my mind."

Emma nodded. "I understand." She paused, then continued. "Last night ... it wasn't an attempt to sway or manipulate you."

"I know," Bobby nodded, brow furrowed. "Emma, I ... I need to know something."

"Do I love you?" Emma smiled. She shrugged one bare shoulder and shook her head. "No. But there has always been something between us, since that time I usurped your body. I don't know where it will go after last night. But there was no malice in anything that happened between us from my perspective. That may not be kind, Robert, but it is the truth."

Bobby smiled faintly, wistfully. "That wasn't what I meant to ask, no. But thank you for being honest." He kissed her forehead. "Why did you leave Massachusetts, Sean, and Generation X, really? Can you tell me that?"

Emma was silent for a moment, and Bobby could feel the tension bunching in her shoulders.

Bobby swallowed hard and prepared to get cracked across the face. "Was it because ... because ... the P-Professor..." he stammered. "I ... I'm sorry. Your dreams, Emma."

Emma stared into Bobby's face, ice-blue eyes meeting ice-blue eyes. "It is true," she whispered, then looked away. "I couldn't defend myself in my moment of weakness; he knew it. I will never be that weak again, Drake. Never!"

Bobby turned her face back. "You never were that weak, Emma," he whispered, tears in his eyes.

In his thoughts, Emma could read the pain and sorrow there. Charles Xavier had been a second father to him; had halfway raised Bobby, and made him into the man he was today. He had given Bobby his second family in the X-Men. And though they had forgiven him for Onslaught, this was a betrayal that he felt on a personal level because of whatever strange bond had existed since Emma had inhabited him. Beyond that, he felt anger. Respect for Emma. Fear that she would take her promised revenge.

Understanding the emotion that drove that promise. He was a chaotic whirl of emotion and thought, but on the outside struggling to maintain the cool facade.

"So," Emma said softly, sliding out of bed, and slipping into her white dressing robe. "You will return to your mentor and warn him that the White Queen seeks vengeance?" She glanced over her shoulder at him. "You needn't bother. He already knows."

Bobby's eyes widened, but he remained silent. That explains much, he had to admit. After a time, he nodded. There was a catch in his throat as he spoke. "I'm out of the race, Emma. He raised us to be better than that. And to be true to his dream -- the dream he had when he was still Charles Xavier -- I have to let that kid go somewhere he'll be safe ... from the world, from other mutants..."

"...and from his mindgames." Bobby hung his head and began to shudder with silent tears.

To his surprise, the White Queen returned to embrace him.

Vengeance seemed less important now. Though she had not intended to do so, losing one of his original students would hurt Charles far more than any of Emma's rage. And her dream -- to supercede and obliterate his with a world in which mutants didn't need to "fight for peace" -- was suddenly much, much more important.


-(main) - (biography) - (discussion) - (stories) - (pictures) - (links) - (updates)-