WALKING THROUGH THE ROOMS IN MY HEAD

The Venetian blinds cast striped shadows over the wooden floor, where Betsy kneeled, her eyes strangely empty and unseeing. There was a party going on downstairs, but she had decided to stay at her room for a while. She was still moving on battle nerves, and it tended to frighten her teammates when she unexpectedly went into overdrive. Meditation would cure that. So here she was, in the luxurious palace of an alien empress, in relative safety, and in spite of Storm's reassurances, she felt uncomfortable.

--

walking through the rooms in my head
i came across your image

--

Charles Xavier. The other X-Men always referred to him as "the Professor", as if there was only one professor in the world. Storm could spend hours waxing eloquently about his infinite wisdom and compassion, his love for his students and his long-time battle for the integration of mutants. Betsy, older and more cynical than most of the X-Men, had caught more than a few hints of selfish motives, greed and plain stupidity, in the apocryphal stories. She had the sense not to comment on it. The X-Men needed Charles Xavier, needed to believe in him.

--

you looked at me with that sweet smile and said
something they won't let me repeat

--

He had looked at her only for a moment, before walking past her to embrace Storm, a piercing glance who told her that he knew everything about her and didn't like it one bit. Precognition had made her raise her shields, and she was prepared for the probe, deflecting it with ease. Then came the damned underhanded blow, which was not a probe, but a full-scale blast, and while she was trying to clear her head, she could feel him sift through every layer of her mind, and discarding what he found.

--

we hurt the one we love the most
it's a subtle form of compliment

--

Her ears were still ringing. She cursed herself for not reacting. Despite her new exterior, and her new reputation for recklessness, she had only acted defensively. She had held back, as she always did. But Matsuo had taught her the ecstacy and exhilaration of pain. He had taught her how to use it. How to love it.

--

i don't care if you talk about me
i don't care if you write it out in stone

--

There had been talk, since her return. She couldn't blame them. Of course they wondered about what had happened, and wondered why she wouldn't tell them. In a very short time she had gotten the reputation of being cold and heartless. They didn't understand. How could they? There was no way she could describe Matsuos' intricate work on her mind. His hands on her body, which made her feel part revulsion, part desire. The assassinations she had performed for him, the butchering of innocents. And she would never tell them how Logan had paid for her freedom with his own sanity.

--

whenever i fall i land on my feet
i don't care i just don't care

--

The truth was that she hadn't been worth saving. Whatever was left of her in this strange body and twisted mind, wasn't enough. Logan shouldn't have tried. She remembered the confused look on his face when he found her stripping off the armour. Good, solid armour, belonging to someone, who cared about herself. She had left it on the bed in that rented room, and slammed the door, hard.

--

mark the spot you have with an x
then shoot your bow and arrow

--

Logan had been the one proclaiming her an X-Man, all those years ago. She had tried to live as the X-Men did ever since. She had fought for them, bled for them. As their only resident telepath, she had worked herself into exhaustion, maintaining security and communication. The others didn't know how taxing the work was, only expected it to be done. She had not complained, in fact she had only mentioned it once, to Carol. Five minutes later, the Siege Perilous had taken both Carol and Rogue.

--

do your worst get it all off your chest
i'll hold my breath and swallow

--

Alex, Alison and Peter were still missing. It was her fault. She had told the X-Men all about it, every excruciating detail, from the vision to the moment she passed through the Siege Perilous. There hadn't been time to confer with the others. She had had to trust her own judgment. She was sorry. And she had steeled herself against the coming chaos. But no one had said anything. Only looks had been exchanged and Ororo had risen, thanked her for being frank with them, and one by one the X-Men had left the room. She hadn't understood. The X-Men was a family, where everyone argued, laughed and cried. Then she had realised that she was now excluded from that family.

--

we hurt the ones we love the most
it's a subtle form of discipline

--

He was so fast, she never saw him. She tried to run, to escape to the place that was only hers, her own little pocket, carved out in time and space, but when she got there, he was already waiting for her. He was Matsuo, who created her from nothing. He was Logan, dragging her into his madness. He was Kaptain Briton, who had her on the ground and pushed himself inside her. He was all of these things, and he was Charles Xavier, and she bowed down to him, she submitted to him, she begged and grovelled and licked his feet and he still wouldn't stop.

There were drawers in her mind where she kept her valuables. There were files with name-tags to help her remember.There was the lake, the wonderful lake she called Avalon, with waters cold and clear under the new moon. It was her Otherworldly heritage, the magic matrix from which all her powers stemmed.

She watched him empty her drawers and files, the contents spilling out on the floor, where he crushed them under his heel. At the rim of the lake, she saw him bend down and drink, until only the parched earth was left.

--

i don't care if you act like a queen
i don't care if you take it out on me

--

Someone was moaning, and she very much wanted the sound to stop. Through her slits of eyes, she saw Lilandra the Empress standing a few feet away, fanning herself with a feather fan.

"Are you finished, my love?" she asked, hiding a yawn. "Mating takes you Earthlings so long."

The naked, bald man, rising above Betsy and blocking out all light, smiled. It was a benevolent, fatherly kind of smile.

"Just one more time", he said.

--

i've got nine lives and i land on my feet
i don't care i just don't care

--

She was hanging in the giant techno-organic web, but not really. The real part of her, in fact the only part of her that was left, sat on the floor in a room, trying to mend some broken toys. The nametags said: childhood, Brian and Jamie, but she couldn't make them fit together. It was all so confusing. To make it even worse, someone was talking to her, and she didn't understand what he was saying, because it was just sounds in a row. He was so so-rry so-rry it had not been him he was so so-rry so-rry. It sounded like that bird back in England, in springtime, and after she had remembered what England was, putting together childhood was a lot easier. She had a bad moment, when she couldn't recall what bird it was, but then she remembered, really remembered, that she had never known.

FIN