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FIC: Or My Heart Wake Any More (Summers in a Sea of Glory, 9/10)

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  • Mo
    I’d assured both Scott and Charles that I was ready for combat missions. I’d been feeling for a while like it was time. I’d seen various team members
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 13, 2006
      I’d assured both Scott and Charles that I was ready
      for combat missions. I’d been feeling for a while
      like it was time. I’d 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.

      I’m not saying the prospect of going into combat
      wasn’t frightening to me. Truth be told, it always
      had been. I’d never totally gotten used to the fact
      that, at age sixteen, I’d 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.
      It’s 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 didn’t act soon, I’d lose my nerve and never
      really rejoin the team. So, I’d told Scott and
      Charles both that it was time to take me off the
      Disabled List. Now, though, I wasn’t so sure I hadn’t
      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. I’d 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 hadn’t felt that he was
      doubting me. Rather he seemed to want to ensure that
      I wasn’t feeling pressured to resume my full
      responsibilities before I was ready.

      With Charles it had been a different story. His worry
      about me wasn’t 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 I’d 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 Ethan’s 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
      new relationship.

      So, I tried to keep my mind off of Logan when I was
      with Charles, but I’m not sure I was successful.
      Selective telepathic communication isn’t an exact
      science, and Charles knows me so well that I’m never
      quite sure that I’m effective in keeping something
      from him. I could feel a telepathic emanation from
      him that wasn’t 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
      intended to.

      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 Scott’s
      decision to include me in this crucial mission. I
      wanted to live up to the confidence that the two men
      I’ve 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 didn’t know how many of his Brotherhood
      Magneto had with him. We didn’t know how far they’d
      gotten in the development of the reconfigured
      mutagenic machine. We didn’t 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 Logan’s presence behind me, but I couldn’t
      feel his mind at all. I wasn’t 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 that’s 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,
      it seemed.

      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 he’d 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 didn’t talk much, but
      he had said something to me that really touched me:
      “I know what it’s 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 couldn’t. I wasn’t
      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
      other’s fears.

      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 hadn’t
      been able to have some privacy in his own brain.

      Hank wasn’t 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 Hank’s thoughts
      since I couldn’t 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 I’d been in had been at the same house
      we were going to. I’d killed two people, then –
      people on our side. Two FBI agents seconded to the
      Mutant Protection Plan project. I’d pulled their
      hearts out with telekinesis and left them dead on the
      floor in that ski house. I’ve seen their pictures; I
      insisted on it. They looked completely unfamiliar to
      me. I murdered two innocent men in cold blood and I
      can’t even recognize them. I remember none of what I
      did then, and that’s even harder to accept than the
      fact that I did it.

      I found myself thinking back over battles I do
      remember. I’ve been a member of a mutant combat team
      since I was sixteen years old. I’ve been in hundreds
      of battles. I’ve come close to dying a few times, had
      a few missions I believed were going to be my last.
      I’ve killed twice and sobbed in Scott’s 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 I’ve 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 I’d reached in time – was
      over five years ago and I don’t think I’m 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 wasn’t 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 couldn’t. Was I
      really the same person I’d been before Alkali Lake?
      Could the Phoenix come back? The latter idea
      terrified me. It’s one I’d talked about endlessly
      with Ethan, and I thought I’d 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 wasn’t 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, I’d be able to resist it,
      fight it off. Now, though, as we approached the place
      where it had left my body, I wasn’t so sure.

      Scott’s voice pulled me out of contemplation. “We’re
      almost there,” he was saying. “Jean, can you tell yet
      who’s 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 – he’s in the basement workroom. Johnny’s
      there with him.”

      “What’re they thinking about?” Logan asked.

      “Magneto’s concentrating on the task at hand. We were
      right – it’s the mutagenic machine. Johnny’s nervous
      – waiting for us.”

      “Who else is there?”

      “Jean-Paul. He’s upstairs, in one of the bedrooms.
      Three – no four – more. I can’t tell who they are.
      One might be Mystique. I’m 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 can’t tell
      their powers, not unless they think about them.”

      “No time to wait for that. We’re going in.” Scott
      gave out the assignments. “Logan – you start
      upstairs. Stay out of the basement until we’ve 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. I’ve got Pyro
      for backup.”

      He shook his head. “I’m not counting on him. And I’m
      not counting on you getting that needle in him before
      he realizes what you’re 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 don’t hesitate
      if it is.” Those were the marching orders I’d heard
      often before. They’d 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 didn’t want him to die, for
      Charles’s sake. I didn’t want Scott to have killed
      him, for Scott’s sake. I tried to save him, for both
      of them, but it all happened too fast.

      We’d surprised him as we’d 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 didn’t 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
      I’d 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 he’d 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 didn’t
      know that one of those pieces would ricochet into
      Magneto. He went down.

      I’ve 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 Magneto’s minions in the
      house than I’d 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 I’d assured myself he was dead, I looked to the
      animal in the cage. Still, silent. It too had been
      hit by flying metal. I’m 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
      Magneto’s men than we’d 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 wasn’t until Logan’s 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. “We’ll handle it from here,” Logan
      called. “Go help Scott.”

      I found him in the kitchen. He wasn’t fighting. By
      the time I got there, there was no one left to fight.
      He looked shaken. “Are you okay?” I asked. He
      didn’t answer.

      I walked over to him and he held out his arms. “I
      love you,” he said. “I’m sorry. I was wrong. It
      won’t happen again.”

      It felt almost like a dream. I couldn’t believe it.
      But there he was, looking to me in time of distress,
      like he used to. Hurting at what he’d done to
      Magneto, dreading having to tell Charles, but that
      wasn’t all. Loving me. Maybe it was a momentary
      thing; maybe he’d 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 Logan’s 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
      kill her?”

      I moved from warrior mode to physician mode, checking
      her wounds and her vital signs. “No,” I told him,
      “she’ll 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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