Id assured both Scott and Charles that I was ready
for combat missions. Id been feeling for a while
like it was time. Id seen various team members going
off on missions, been in on some of the debriefings.
I found myself itching to be among them and wanting to
use my powers and my abilities for the X-Men.
Im not saying the prospect of going into combat
wasnt frightening to me. Truth be told, it always
had been. Id never totally gotten used to the fact
that, at age sixteen, Id gone off to boarding school
one day and found myself the first female soldier in a
small private army the next. Still, over the years,
being an X-Man had become so much a part of who I am.
Its at least as central to my identity as being a
doctor and a teacher.
I needed that part of me back. I worried, too, that
if I didnt act soon, Id lose my nerve and never
really rejoin the team. So, Id told Scott and
Charles both that it was time to take me off the
Disabled List. Now, though, I wasnt so sure I hadnt
acted too hastily. En route to Vermont with the team
Scott had assembled, I was having doubts. Rather too
late to change my mind.
Scott and I had spoken a few days before this mission
had arisen. Id told him then that I wanted to be
fully on the team again. He had asked me Are you
sure? at the time, but I hadnt felt that he was
doubting me. Rather he seemed to want to ensure that
I wasnt feeling pressured to resume my full
responsibilities before I was ready.
With Charles it had been a different story. His worry
about me wasnt just in his words, but in waves of
telepathic concern that kept washing over me. I
opened my mind to him almost completely, let him feel
just how I was doing. I let him know that I was still
working on getting over Scott and still recovering
from the knowledge that Id lost a year the rest of
them had experienced. Beyond that, though, I let him
feel all the healing I had been doing. Time and work
and Ethans support were leaving me feeling more like
my old self, enough like my old self to resume all my
activities, including functioning as a full-fledged
X-Man. I kept very little back, wanting Charles to be
reassured, to really understand that I was ready. I
only walled off the part of me that was thinking about
Logan, not ready to let Charles in on my hopes for a
So, I tried to keep my mind off of Logan when I was
with Charles, but Im not sure I was successful.
Selective telepathic communication isnt an exact
science, and Charles knows me so well that Im never
quite sure that Im effective in keeping something
from him. I could feel a telepathic emanation from
him that wasnt a clear thought. More of a sense of a
thought forming. Some worry about me and Logan. And
Scott. So, perhaps I let more through than I had
Still, he had told me he felt reassured that I was
ready, and had shown his confidence in me by calling
me for the cabinet meeting and by supporting Scotts
decision to include me in this crucial mission. I
wanted to live up to the confidence that the two men
Ive loved the most showed me.
I was sitting in the Blackbird next to Scott, with
Hank and Logan behind us, as Scott reviewed the battle
plan. We were going in with incomplete information,
of course. We didnt know how many of his Brotherhood
Magneto had with him. We didnt know how far theyd
gotten in the development of the reconfigured
mutagenic machine. We didnt know what weapons they
might have brought or built. Hank had suggested we
wait for the mission, take time to learn some more,
but Scott had said no, quoting Patton again.
I was listening to the plan and trying to focus, but
my mind was jumping all over the place. I was very
aware of Logans presence behind me, but I couldnt
feel his mind at all. I wasnt trying to eavesdrop on
his thoughts, but his mind is usually so active, so
agitated, so strong that some thoughts come to me
unbidden. At least thats the Logan I remembered from
when we first knew each other. He was different now.
He had mental shields up almost all the time lately,
That scared me a bit, when I thought about the
possibility of what Logan and I had begun turning
serious. My continuing grief over the loss of the
relationship with Scott made me wonder whether this
was the right time to embark on a new one. And Logan
was so different from Scott, I worried that I might be
choosing someone in reaction rather than in a positive
way. Still, there was no denying that I found him
extraordinarily appealing, and had since hed first
showed up. That animal side of him was never far from
the surface, and there was something both frightening
and compelling about his semi-feral personality. And
his strong physicality was something that attracted me
and always had.
Beyond general attraction, I had some feeling that in
spite of our surface differences we could really be
emotionally compatible. Logan didnt talk much, but
he had said something to me that really touched me:
I know what its like to be missing part of your life
history. I felt like he could understand what I was
going through in a way the others couldnt. I wasnt
sure how he felt about me; he seemed very defended
against emotional entanglements.
Even though his mental shields seemed always to be up
lately, something leaked through. Strong feeling
longing, desire, a kind of aching loneliness. Maybe
he wanted to love and be loved but was afraid to.
Maybe we were both afraid, but could assuage each
I desperately wanted to know what he was thinking. I
worried that his use of mental shields against me was
not a good sign for a potential relationship between
us. Or maybe it was. I know Scott and I could not
have been together as long as we were if he hadnt
been able to have some privacy in his own brain.
Hank wasnt shielded at all. Without even trying, I
could feel his worry about whether I was up to the
mission. I felt the warmth of his friendship and
concern, and appreciated it. Still, it was
intensifying my doubts, making me wonder if I could do
it, too. I was more distracted by Hanks thoughts
since I couldnt hear anything from Logan or Scott.
Was that why they were both shielded? Was this all
about the mission? Did they doubt me? Were they
afraid to let me know that?
The last battle Id been in had been at the same house
we were going to. Id killed two people, then
people on our side. Two FBI agents seconded to the
Mutant Protection Plan project. Id pulled their
hearts out with telekinesis and left them dead on the
floor in that ski house. Ive seen their pictures; I
insisted on it. They looked completely unfamiliar to
me. I murdered two innocent men in cold blood and I
cant even recognize them. I remember none of what I
did then, and thats even harder to accept than the
fact that I did it.
I found myself thinking back over battles I do
remember. Ive been a member of a mutant combat team
since I was sixteen years old. Ive been in hundreds
of battles. Ive come close to dying a few times, had
a few missions I believed were going to be my last.
Ive killed twice and sobbed in Scotts arms
afterwards, although I knew there had been no other
choice kill or be killed. Scott himself had only
killed once and that was the only time Ive ever seen
him cry. He took his glasses off, tears leaking out
of tightly close eyes.
On four occasions I failed to save someone from dying
when that was my mission. I felt those deaths more
acutely than the ones that were at my hands. The last
time a child I thought Id reached in time was
over five years ago and I dont think Im quite over
his loss even now. I bring flowers to his grave every
year on the anniversary of his death. I always meet
his parents at the graveside, even though I vary the
time I come purposely, in order to avoid them. They
never fail to thank me for trying, and I never fail to
feel worse when they do. What did they think last
year when I wasnt there?
Possession by the Phoenix whatever it was has left
my confidence shaken in a way that having to kill
enemies or failing to save others couldnt. Was I
really the same person Id been before Alkali Lake?
Could the Phoenix come back? The latter idea
terrified me. Its one Id talked about endlessly
with Ethan, and I thought Id mostly been able to come
to terms with my fear. My powers both telekinetic
and telepathic were greater than ever and seemed to
be continuing to grow over time. I wasnt drowning
now, as I had been when my body had been invaded, the
weakness as I succumbed to the water letting the
Phoenix in. I was in peak condition physically and
much recovered emotionally. I had come to feel that
even if that being returned, Id be able to resist it,
fight it off. Now, though, as we approached the place
where it had left my body, I wasnt so sure.
Scotts voice pulled me out of contemplation. Were
almost there, he was saying. Jean, can you tell yet
whos in the house? Or at least how many?
I shook my head. No, not yet. When we land, let me
try again. I forced myself to focus on the mission
for the next few minutes, and then we were landing in
the clearing. Scott turned to me and I nodded.
Magneto hes in the basement workroom. Johnnys
there with him.
Whatre they thinking about? Logan asked.
Magnetos concentrating on the task at hand. We were
right its the mutagenic machine. Johnnys nervous
waiting for us.
Who else is there?
Jean-Paul. Hes upstairs, in one of the bedrooms.
Three no four more. I cant tell who they are.
One might be Mystique. Im not sure I only had
access to her brain briefly and a long time ago. None
of them are minds I really know. And I cant tell
their powers, not unless they think about them.
No time to wait for that. Were going in. Scott
gave out the assignments. Logan you start
upstairs. Stay out of the basement until weve got
Magneto knocked out. Hank, you join Logan upstairs.
Jean, you and I will handle Magneto, as we discussed.
I pulled out the hypodermic with the sedative I
intended to use on Magneto. Scott nodded and I put it
back. I think I can take him alone. Ive got Pyro
He shook his head. Im not counting on him. And Im
not counting on you getting that needle in him before
he realizes what youre up to and stops it. I hope we
can do it that way, but we need to take him out one
way or another. He spoke to all three of us then.
No deadly force unless necessary, but dont hesitate
if it is. Those were the marching orders Id heard
often before. Theyd only given me goose bumps three
times before, and all three of those missions had
ended with an adversary dead. If goose bumps were my
physical symptom of predicting the future, this would
be the fourth. I wondered who it would be.
It was Magneto. I didnt want him to die, for
Charless sake. I didnt want Scott to have killed
him, for Scotts sake. I tried to save him, for both
of them, but it all happened too fast.
Wed surprised him as wed wanted to, stealing
silently down to the basement workroom as Logan and
Hank went upstairs to join Jean-Paul in battling the
rest of the assembled Brotherhood. His back was to
the stairs and he didnt know we were there. The
gorilla was in a cage right next to him. I had the
hypodermic ready and would have gotten it into him if
Id been quicker. But Johnny gasped when he saw us
and Magneto realized something was up.
He spun around quickly, saw the needle flying at him
before it could pierce his flesh. He sent it back at
me, but Scott blasted it before it could get me. And
then everything was chaos, as it so often is in
battle. Magneto was throwing everything he could at
Scott and me. There were some heavy objects made of
metal. Scott was blasting them and I was stopping
them telekinetically but even with two of us against
one of him we were having trouble keeping up.
Pyro had seemed paralyzed when we first arrived.
Magneto was yelling at him to join in, not realizing
on which side hed be fighting. Suddenly Johnny
seemed to get himself under control and lobbed a
fireball at his putative boss. Some sort of machinery
maybe a component of the mutagenic machine rose
into the air, intercepting the fire and moving quickly
towards Pyro, threatening to crush him. Scott blasted
it in pieces, just in time to save him. He didnt
know that one of those pieces would ricochet into
Magneto. He went down.
Ive seen head wounds like that before. I knew there
was no chance. I tried anyway. Scott and Johnny went
off to join the others. From the sound of the battle
upstairs, there were more of Magnetos minions in the
house than Id been able to pick up telepathically. I
stayed. I knew it was hopeless, but I kept trying as
long as he had a pulse.
When Id assured myself he was dead, I looked to the
animal in the cage. Still, silent. It too had been
hit by flying metal. Im no vet, but I certainly
could tell it was dead.
There was nothing more to do in the basement. I
joined the rest of the team. The battle was raging
throughout the house. Yes, there were more of
Magnetos men than wed thought. A whole lot of them
looked exactly alike. Logan was fighting four
identical men at a time and Jean-Paul was next to him,
taking on two more. It wasnt until Logans claws
went through the belly of one of them that I realized
what was going on. The wounded man seemed to
disappear before my eyes, his body kind of dissolving
and being absorbed into one of his twins. Yet another
one emerged to take his place, just springing forth
fully formed and fighting. I joined the battle and
one by one they went down, one by one they disappeared
into what must have been the original of these
multiple men. At first he kept creating or
releasing, who knows? more alter egos, but as the
battle wore on the ur-fighter seemed to tire and the
numbers went down. Four men were actively fighting,
then three. Well handle it from here, Logan
called. Go help Scott.
I found him in the kitchen. He wasnt fighting. By
the time I got there, there was no one left to fight.
He looked shaken. Are you okay? I asked. He
I walked over to him and he held out his arms. I
love you, he said. Im sorry. I was wrong. It
wont happen again.
It felt almost like a dream. I couldnt believe it.
But there he was, looking to me in time of distress,
like he used to. Hurting at what hed done to
Magneto, dreading having to tell Charles, but that
wasnt all. Loving me. Maybe it was a momentary
thing; maybe hed been right to leave me; maybe he
really did need to be with a man. But maybe not.
Maybe our love was enough. At that moment I felt like
it was. I fell into his arms.
Logan burst into the kitchen, claws out, and ran to
us. Before I could say anything, do anything, he was
on Scott. He stabbed him in the back.
I threw Logans adamantium-filled body across the room
with stronger telekinetic force than I knew I
possessed, without even thinking about what I was
doing, just wanting to save Scott. I heard the
*thunk* sound as he hit the far wall. But as I heard
it, I was falling, with Scott collapsing on me, the
weight of him catching me off balance. Only his
weight lessened as we went down. And his body was
shrinking, his clothes disappearing, his skin changing
color. By the time we hit the kitchen floor, it was
Mystique I rolled off of me.
Logan was standing up now, the wounds from the impact
healing as he walked towards me and Mystique. She
would have attacked you, he said. And then, Did I
I moved from warrior mode to physician mode, checking
her wounds and her vital signs. No, I told him,
shell live. I wondered what he was thinking, but
he was still keeping me out.
Mofic Website: http://mo.fandomnation.com/fic/
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