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
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
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
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
"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
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.
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