Phone Home by Domenika Marzione
Textual Poaching Alert: Marvel owns everyone, mistreats them all, and is thoroughly mocked below because of it. HOWEVER. They are the only profiters in this shell game.
"Hank? That you? It's Alex Summers."
"Of course it's really me. Magically Undead Summers and all that. I'm getting pretty good at it, too, if I don't say so myself."
"Umm... honestly, I really don't know. I'm still working on the 'how' part. And to be brutally truthful, the 'how' is proving a lot less interesting then figuring out a way to pop between realities with things like real clothes and money. It's real hard to panhandle for money to use on the payphone when you're in a slightly tattered costume. Even if it's a nicer version than the one I left this time with."
"No more skinsuits? Really? Well, mark that down for one improvement. And yeah, I could do with a lift back to the mansion. Trouble is I have no effing clue where I am."
"Good idea, except my quarters are going to run out soon. The number here is... oh. You've gotten it already? So, where am I?"
"Wyoming. No wonder I'm catching the funny looks."
"It's because Xavier did what? Cripes..."
"Professor X is packing heat? Hold on a second. I was all certain that I had come back home, but now I'm not so sure... Of course, now I need to pick out the things that would be unique to my home dimension..."
"That was so much more information than I needed right there, Hank. Keen powers of observation and all... But yeah, I guess you're right. I am home. You're still blue, I take it..."
"Oh, come on, Hank. You've dealt better with your mutated appearance than anyone I know. Especially and including my insecure brother, who by the way should be encouraged and exhorted to fly the Blackbird as fast as he can. I think a few of these folks are going hunting for pitchforks and shotguns..."
"You don't say. I'm sure you don't look like a blue Vincent.... You of all people should know better than to listen to Drake.... Well, Vincent did end up with Linda Hamilton, right?"
"That would be the sound of my quarter falling through... Apparently, a Wyoming minute is even faster than a New York minute. Who woulda thunk it? Call me right back, okay? I don't want to be left alone here until Scott shows up."
"Hello and welcome to Heavy Hangin' Harry's Hotsheet Motel, desk clerk speaking... No, I just always wanted to answer a phone that way... It's been a long few years, okay?"
"Oh, where do I start... Take Scott's whole adult life - including the demon ex-wife and disappearing true love and magically re-appearing family members - and toss in the best parts of your time with X-Factor... yeah, that part... and throw in the usual assortment of reversed loyalties that come with any stopover in an alternate dimension... then make Storm a vampire. And you'd almost be there... No I'm not kidding. And while there's something to be said for nannies, I am now more than ever quite sure that I don't want to have kids for a while..."
"Yeah, I'm sure some good must have come out of it, too, but I'll be damned if I can find it without emptying out the whole drawer... but actually there was one thing. Did you know that you are talking to the Nexus of All Realities? ...I thought that was kinda cool, too. I mean, Scott and Jean and Nathan are all patriarchs and matriarch in Rachel's future, right? I've just been sorta the black sheep. Like how every good biblical story has got the brother who doesn't amount to anything. Now I've got my own gig. Not to mention that I'm sure coming back from the dead as the Nexus of All Realities is probably more impressive than whatever Scott came back from the dead as."
"I knew because he's my brother, Hank. I've known him all my life and he's never, ever let me get away with doing something impressive without outdoing me completely by accident. I'd have been more shocked if he didn't die and come back while I was away. So how'd he do it?"
"Damn... Well, if he's alright enough to come pick me up, I can be resentful about it then. I die to save a few people and he has to die saving the universe. Typical Scott."
"No, I can't imagine Nathan taking it too well. I'm much more used to being upstaged by Scott than he is...
"Really? The whole time? And Jean just let him? You all just let him?"
"I don't know what I would have done. But I can't imagine everyone in the mansion just not noticing that Nathan had Scott's visor around his neck for the better part of a year. That sort of stands out, you know? Scott's right about the visor attracting attention. Except, apparently, in the mansion..."
"Lorna did?... She always thought it made my ass disappear. The new one is much better that way, although I guess it's a moot point if we're ditching the skinsuits... She didn't wear it or anything, did she? Lorna's always been sentimental in really strange ways. I'm guessing she's gotten over that - and me, probably. What's she up to these days?"
"She did what?... Why am I so not surprised? That's so... icky."
"Because she used to think he was her father, for crying out loud."
"Dead for real or just dead like we always end up being?... See, that's what I mean. If there's no body... heck, even if there is a body. Remember Jean on the moon. Or not-Jean, as the case was. He'll pop up again. Everyone always does."
"Moira and Piotr, huh... He's probably better off, you know? A great friend, a good man... but always unhappy. If that made him happy, then good."
"Yeah, I'm serious. He wanted nothing more than to live a peaceful life as an artist, but he has - had - a sense of duty that makes Scott look like a slacker. Piotr felt guilty every time he ever laughed. He was miserable, Hank."
"No, I can imagine how you feel - one more death that you coulda-shoulda prevented. But focus on how many you saved. That's what Piotr did."
"I told you, Hank, it's been a long few years. I had to grow up or else. Perspective was just a nasty side effect...But now that I'm back, I plan on regressing. Drake will have competition for the most juvenile wearer of the X."
"Um... the name doesn't really ring a bell, but you have to remember that I was away from Westchester for a long time before I died... He burps psionic fire, then... It could be worse. He could puke plasma or something..."
"Acid, huh. I'm sure he must've gotten along real well with the kids..."
"You don't say... Well, at least they turned up again. That's gotta be one good side effect of hanging around with Cable. They're used to that sort of stuff. Sam probably didn't stop 'hayucking' the entire time."
"Really? Complete with the Evil Twin Goatee, you say? Maybe the real Sam is being held prisoner and this is..."
"It is funny and no, I'm not being insensitive. If you can't laugh about what's happened to us over the years, it's time to get out and move on."
"Of course I'm right. Speaking of moving on, what are the X-Force kids going to do now that they've been replaced by... That's not funny, Hank. Do you know how many nightmares Scott caused me when I was little because he got too creative with my Mrs. Potato Head?... Because Scott was older and he'd beat me up if I took Mr. Potato Head."
"It is too. This is where you miss out by being an only child. I can blame anything I want to on Scott. He's got brain damage; he can't remember too much and he's certainly not going to call the Starjammers to ask Dad to confirm. Although I'd love to be a fly on the wall of their ship for that conversation... Dad's still alive, right?"
"No, I didn't think you'd forget to tell me, it was more like Dad would forget to tell you... Really? Camping. I sorta remember doing that. That was nice of him. Scott probably needed it... No, actually I probably now have a much greater insight into how my brother's mind works than anyone outside of Jean probably should. I told you, I was Scott for a few years. Or Scott-like. Scottesque... Yeah, you're right. I could have gone back to being the Evil Summers."
"Because Alison went through the Seige Perilous and ended up in a mansion, Piotr ended up truly happy for the one time in his life, Betsy ended up looking like... yeah. And I ended up a mutant-hating magistrate on Genosha... I'm not bitter. I'm sarcastic. You're allowed to be sarcastic."
"She is? Damn. She was always up for a good time... I guess it's better that I find out now than by asking someone the wrong question. Were she and Warren... Really? Warren's always been a closet homebody. The playboy thing was just an image."
"Another one? Didn't anyone tell him about what happened to the last guy named Thunderbird? Especially the part about the brother with the itchy trigger finger... Really? Maybe it's appropriate then. So what does this one do?"
"That's not funny, Hank. Seriously, what does he do? It can't be worse than the puking potato..."
"Yeah, I'm still here. I'm just reeling. I mean... I've been made officially redundant."
"No, actually, I didn't think most mutations were repeated... But telepathy is so ordinary. I thought those of us with cooler mutations would be unique to history... Oh, come on, Hank, you've been sent on Aspirin and Alcohol runs when one of the telepaths had a headache. And I didn't learn about telepathy until I was done with school, so I wasn't envious that I couldn't use it to cheat... You know grad school doesn't count."
"Just call me Mutant X-traneous. Obsolete. Redundant. And being the token blond Summers probably doesn't outrank being from the Indian subcontinent as far as minority representation on the X-Men goes. Or did this universe get past the political correctness thing while I was away?"
"I don't think I'm overreacting. I'm probably upsetting some sort of equilibrium by just being in this reality. Yeah, like Rachel... And now that I'm the Nexus of All Realities, I'm gonna be tossed into some hellish dimension next, too, probably. Summers luck being what it is, Scottie will probably be doing a John Connor thing... No, not my brother Scott. My son Scott... Sort of. The me of that dimension did and I just couldn't leave him there... especially after Maddie... yeah. No, I don't... Not even later, I'm starting to suspect... No, John Connor's the kid from Terminator."
"Happy thoughts? Hmm... Here's another good reason not to be a telepath: every single telepath has been turned into a force of evil. Dark Phoenix. Onslaught. Betsy was an assassin for the Hand. Emma's Emma... Neither of us are telepaths, so these do qualify as happy thoughts."
"Emma's a what?"
"Hank, Henry, buddy, bubbelah... Trust the geologist here. Diamond is organic. In fact, organic chemistry, if you'll recall, is the study of carbon-based entities. Diamonds are pure carbon, hence calling someone an 'organic diamond' is redundant... Since when do we have to dumb ourselves down to the population?"
"How would you know if she has no empathy in her diamond form? How would that be different from Emma in her normal form?"
"I am willing to accept the kids part. But we're all over the age of consent, so we're just playthings to her."
"I'm sure she's quite pleased with the change. She's probably standing next to sunny windows and candlelight whenever possible... Bobby's right... It's not crude... Because she's the White Queen, for crying out loud. She walks around in a bustier and high boots and if Bobby wants to say that Emma's probably bringing 'playing with yourself' to new levels, then he of all people should be entitled to do so."
"Jeannie's there with you? I thought she'd be flying here with Scott... No, not because of me, more the 'second honeymoon' thing where they can't let each other out of arm's reach. He hasn't been back from Akkaba for that long, has he?... Oh... Really? I'm starting to doubt that this is the right reality again. There's already a plasma guy and Jeannie and Scott are..."
"Does she want me to talk to him on the way home? I probably will anyway, but I'm immune to Scott's optic blasts, so I'm not worried about what he could do to me for butting into their business... Because I'm his brother and if it's anyone's job to tell him he's being an asshole, it's me. Especially because I'm immune to the optic blasts."
"He is being an asshole, Hank. I don't need to have been there or even in this dimension to realize that. Like I said, I knew how his mind worked before I died and I know it better now and he's being a prick to think that he's the only one who's having coping issues... I'll bet my entire rock collection that Nathan's not dealing with it, either. But Nathan's a big boy and Scott can't hurt him like he can hurt Jean..."
"Jean wants to know what? My rock collection? I have no idea. Alaska would be my first guess, but... Where did the rest of my belongings go when I died? And tell Jean that this is a blatantly obvious attempt to change the topic."
"Yeah, well, I love her too. Especially for not doing nasty things to my brother for the way he's behaving."
"Tell Jean that if she's not going to let us gossip about her and Scott, I demand new and more interesting gossip."
"Rogue and Gambit don't count... Because they're like the Fantasticks. It's the same show every night and the show neither changes nor ends... Really? Maybe we should go see it once before it does."
"Warren's got the Evil Twin Goatee, too? See, that's news. Did he pick it up from Sam?... Well, how am I supposed to know? I still remember Excalibur... No kidding? Does that mean Cerise is free to date?"
"Actually, no... I think I'm going to look for a nice, normal non-mutant brunette... Because I've had time to think about my romantic history and I've sworn off any woman whose hair color is replicated by a Jell-O flavor... Because two blonds together are just disgusting, that's why."
"Eww... Jean! That's... unladylike."
"Why not? Because I have no money and I'm scantily clad for two reasons... If I could spot some wildlife I'd zap them for instant barbeque, but... I would, too."
"How far away? He can't find a place to park that's closer? It's not like there's urban sprawl out here... Yeah, yeah. I'll get moving. But I want ice cream waiting when we get home if you want me trudging two klicks in the sun. Preferably strawberry."
"All right. Yeah, I'll see everyone in a few hours...AAH! No, I'm fine, Hank, I've just gotten a telepathic kiss from my sister-in-law who should have warned me before she hopped into my head like that."
"Okay... Yeah... Well, if Jean's going to be in my head like this, I doubt I'll get lost. And it's not like I won't be able to see the plane on approach."
"Yeah, you too. Bye."
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