I haven't thought about it in a while, but it seems like it was just yesterday that Doug and I were at Lila Cheney's party. He was so handsome that day, and so polite. He wouldn't use his language power to eavesdrop on the other guests until I forced him! I'll never forget what he said about me that night ... that I looked like a princess to him, though I was covered in garbage from our fight with the aliens! He fancied me, I know he did. We'd always been friends, but it was becoming more than that. If things had been different, we might have even gone steady.
On the Ani-mator's Island ... when that creature was provoking me, Doug tried to defend me even though he didn't have a physical power and we were all restrained.
Mostly, God rest his sweet soul, he saved my life, though it cost him his own. I should have died that day, not him ... he deserved to live more than me.
She picked up the picture frame and held it close to her, wishing she could hold the real Doug in her arms once again.
We could have had something special, I know it! We could have been like Sam and Lila, or even like Mr. And Mrs. Summers.
She thought of how her name would sound as Rahne Ramsey, and scribbled it out on a scratch pad on her desk. Images of herself wearing a bridal dress danced in her head.
What am I doing? She chastised herself. Doug is dead and buried, and I'm playing around like an addlebrained ninny! What would they all think if they saw this? They'd have my noggin examined and send me away!
She knew she couldn't take any chances, so she ripped it up and forced herself to swallow down every remorseful bite.
Enough of this! No crying today. Must stop thinking such things! The birds are singing, and there's not a cloud in the sky. I still have maybe two months to enjoy using my human form—I mustn't spend them in grief and mourning.
She looked outside at the bright day forming and smelled the flowers blooming in the garden nearby. She knelt by her bedside and thanked God for this sign of hope. Renewed in spirit, she hummed her favorite song from the latest Amy Grant CD and headed for the showers.
Half an hour later, cleaned up and ready to make the most of her Saturday, she went to the kitchen to get a quick bite. She was delighted to find Boom Boom already there, leaning against the counter talking to Jubilee, who was grudgingly washing dishes from their own brunch.
"And we thought we slept in! Mornin' kiddo." Boom Boom, or 'Boomer', loved to talk like she was older and more experienced than her peers were. No surprise to see her with young Jubilee. Rahne tolerated this part of Boomer's personality, and tried to get along well with her, since she was the only other girl on her team anymore.
"G'mornin' Boomer. G'mornin' Jubilee. Any cereal left, or did the boys all finish it off?"
"There's plenty," answered Boomer. "And take your time, 'cos there's no chores today. Charley said we could have a real weekend for a change. God knows we all need it! He and Cable, plus Stormy and the one-eyed guy are sorting stuff out. Nobody knows what team they'll wind up on. When they figure it out, there's gonna be a big meeting. The creepy guy, Wolverine, is messed up like major bad, but they say he'll be better soon. You sure you gotta go back to Genosha? Can't blondie handle things without you?"
This made Rahne think. She hadn't thought of Alex since her Mum and the Professor gave her the inoculation to enable her to use her human form. Something about the thought of him made her ... curious? She didn't really know what she was feeling about him.
"He-llooo? Earth to Wolfsbane, you short a circuit, girl?"
"Och—sorry, Boomer. I don't know what I was thinking just now. Yes, I think I must return soon. The Genoshans who went through the mutate process, as I did, need us there. I won't stay long though. I miss my..." Mommy, she was going to say, before remembering that she was talking to one orphan and one girl who may as well have been an orphan. Rahne considered herself truly blessed to have gained Moira, but would not dare rub it in the face of those less fortunate.
"Well, wanna go with us?" Something in Boomer's voice made it sound like she didn't really want Rahne to go with them, but felt as though she was required to ask. Jubilee rolled her eyes at the idea, not too discreetly.
"I don't know ... where are you going?" asked Rahne uncomfortably.
"We're gonna take some bikes to the mall, shop 'til we drop, then see if we can find some cute guys to take us to the movies."
"Well, I don't have any money, and I don't know about going to the movies with strangers ..."
"Jeez, Rahne, you don't have to buy anything, we're just gonna look! And if we are actually lucky enough to find any cute guys, which I doubt will happen, and if they actually spend money to take us to a movie, which I doubt even more, you can turn into a wolf and bite their face off if they get fresh! We just wanna go have some fun."
"Oh, that sounds fine," Rahne giggled. The three left, and Rahne enjoyed what would prove to be her last fun day for some time.
On the other side of the world, a tall, muscular man was lighting candles and chanting mantras in a deep chamber of an ancient castle. He had spent thirty-six hours in absolute darkness, in this musty, cold stone room, and was almost finished with the process. He formed the magic circle and began shouting the words he'd only recently learned. He'd been preparing for this for years. It had cost him several million dollars to find the right place, and the right sorcerer to teach him what he needed to do. His teacher was now decaying at the bottom of a river, chained to a large rock. There could be no witnesses to this endeavor.
The man almost laughed when he thought of what his business partners would think if they could see him. He wasn't sure himself if this was really going to work, but the risk was worth the sacrifice if it got him what he wanted. Wealth and power were not enough to achieve his goals, so this seemed to be the last resort. He would own the world, regardless of what it cost him or anybody else. The problem was that there were too many other people who wanted the same thing. Like him, they had power and fame ... like Magneto, or that European, Von Doom. There were lots more. He needed an advantage, and one that would even prevent interference from those who would try to stop him.
As he finished reciting the words he'd been taught, he felt sure he'd been had. Then, all the candles went out and he was enveloped in total darkness. The hair on his arms stood up. He was afraid to move or speak. Finally, the circle in front of him filled with a pale yellow glow and a black cloaked figure rose up from the center of it.
"Sebastian Shaw," spoke the demon.
Shaw's heart was racing. "You know my name?"
The demon laughed pleasantly, like one who'd heard a nice joke.
"I have not been conjured by that spell in 1300 years." The demon sounded unpleased to say the least, but made no action. Its face was still shrouded.
Shaw tried to compose himself; to be assertive like his teacher had told him. "I am in control here. I am your absolute master,"
At this the demon cackled heartily. He continued laughing for a moment, enjoying himself very much. He remained still, but his white face was now exposed to Shaw as he stared menacingly at him through eyes that seemed vacant of all but hatred. The demon neither confirmed nor denied Shaw's claim of control, and this made Shaw nervous.
"I want you to perform a task for me," said Shaw.
"I know exactly what you want," said the demon, still unmoving and grinning knowingly. His grin appeared to be carved in a face of white marble. "You want your enemies to become your allies. You want control of the followers of Xavier." The demon opened his cloak and folded his arms across his chest. He looked more like a man than a demon.
"Can you do this?" Shaw asked eagerly.
"No." The demon began laughing again, a long bellowing laugh. Shaw was truly questioning his own safety. The demon acted like he was in total control of the situation, and Shaw was never one to handle not being in charge.
"But," said the demon, "I can if you cooperate with me. There is something I would like also."
Shaw hated this awkward pause. I was supposed to be the master here, dammit! "What do you want?"
"You must obtain a virgin, Shaw. She must be pure like tried gold. She must be one of your own race -- a mutant. She must be from your enemy's camp."
"Bring her here, and sacrifice her to me on the next full moon. I believe your former master gave you the details."
'Former master!' He's mocking me. Not to mention making demands! How do I know I can trust him? "Is that all?"
"For now, yes," said the demon, never relaxing his harsh smile. He hadn't denied Shaw anything, but he never admitted being Shaw's prisoner either.
It took Shaw a long time to turn around and leave.
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