Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Banshee/White Queen, mentions of Cyclops/White Queen
Challenge/Prompt: faerie_wish13 May 2017: Royalty: Castle
Warning(s): Spoilers, Cannon Character Deaths
Word Count: 1,763
Date Written: 29 May 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Marvel Comics and Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.
A woman's home is supposed to be her castle, but Emma doesn't have a home. She hasn't in a very long time now. She hasn't, in fact, for most of her life. Still, she walks these long hallways every day and pretends to rule them. She knows, though, that there's only one reason why she's still allowed to even be here, one reason why the X-Men have not completely shut her out. His name is Scott Summers, their beloved leader, and she keeps him thinking he's happy every night as she beds him and caresses his body with her skilled fingers and his mind with her even more skilled telepathy.
Scott's miserable these days. She knows it, but there's little even powers can do about it. He killed his dearest friend, the one person who was always there for him, the man who was far more of a father than anything either of them have ever had. There's a limit to even Emma's telepathy, and although she could remove his guilt, he'd come to realize what she had done -- and the walls of this school would come crumpling around her again.
She needs this place, and not just for the reasons everybody thinks. They think she's hiding, and in a way, she is. She prefers to focus on their little problems and on training them rather than facing the harsh realities of her own life. It's easier to cope with students who don't like her but, ultimately, trust her to protect them than the fact that she has no one who really loves her, no home of her own, no friends of her own.
She tells herself every day she doesn't need anybody, but it's yet another lie she's sculpted until a part of her has finally come to believe it. She tells herself all she needs is to be useful to the homo superior society, and that's one thing she certainly is. She's saving mutant lives every day, and she refuses to allow herself to even consider failing these new students. She's failed far too many. Far too many mutants are dead, both because of her and because of others. She won't fail another child.
She wishes that was true. Some days, she believes it; some nights, she knows it's only a matter of time before Selene, Adrienne, or some other evil bitch comes tearing into her life and takes away everything she's worked so hard to build for these children, and for herself. This school isn't a home, but it is protection. It's protection from the cruelty of the outside world at large. It's protection for the kids, and for herself though she'll never admit the latter aloud.
But some people already know it. Scott senses it although he won't admit it even now that they're back together. Illyana sees too much of her own Demons in Emma, and like the headmistress, she's too busy running from her own living nightmares to give too much thought to anybody else's. Ororo sees Emma's failures, but she's too absorbed in her own, and Kitty . . . Kitty's never once liked Emma and still hates the other woman's guts for leaving her trapped in that bullet.
But there are others still who knows. Some of the students guess it, but none of them are brave enough to speak about it louder than a whisper. The walls themselves seem to whisper late some nights, but Emma knows better. It's not the walls that talk. It's the spirits.
She's seen flickers of them sometimes, Everett standing just beyond her field of vision, watching everything with the same intent, quiet observation he used in life. She's caught Angelo watching Jubilee before, knowing his best friend, now turned into a Vampire, is hurting but being entirely uncertain as to how to help her. She's even seen Catspaw bathing herself in a puddle of moonlight. But there's one man she never sees, one man she never sees but yet longs to with all her heart.
She wouldn't know what to do with this place if it did feel like a home, she thinks one night while Scott's shutting her out again. She has only had a real home twice in all her life after all, and even that place came crumpling down around her ears both times. Both times, she lost her students. Both times, she lost her will to live, her desire to continue. Both times, she was eventually forced to look beyond herself and help others who needed her and still never appreciated her.
She should have stayed in the coma, she thinks sometimes, but then she would have missed him entirely. She would have missed the feeling that somebody actually believed in her, although it hadn't lasted long. She would have missed the tingles he made her feel whenever their hands brushed or he looked that way at her with that certain gleam in his emerald, Irish eyes. She would have missed the one experience in her life that told her beyond all else that she is capable of love.
Oh, she's loved her students all right -- that's why it hurt so much to lose them and why she was willing to even kill her own sister to protect those she had left --, but she's never felt a stronger love than that she held for her students except for one man. One man believed her in once upon a time. One man filled her dreams with hopes for a future with real possibilities. One man made her want to risk everything, succumb entirely, and share her dreams with him. One man set her insides on fire and melted every icicle that had ever attached itself to her heart.
One man slipped pass her every defense, made her feel like a Queen, made her feel like a lady, made her feel loved until he no longer did. One man hurt her more than all the others, more than her father who had thrown her away into an asylum, more than her brother whose death scarred her early childhood, more than the teacher she fell head over heels for as a child, more even than Sebastian Shaw who did unspeakable things to her heart, body, and soul, things that never occur to most women even in their worst nightmares. One man broke what was left of her heart, and it's never mended since. It won't, she knows. It can't, because he died without ever apologizing.
This school is big enough to be a castle, and sometimes it's cold enough too. She wraps her arms around herself as she feels a blast of cold air that takes her mind back to a medieval castle thousands of miles from here. The man she loved was no Prince, but he had had a castle. She knows what to expect in a castle. She knows they come with vast, empty rooms; unexplainable cold chills; magic around every corner; and ghosts.
Her life comes complete with ghosts, too; for every regretful thing she's done, and God knows there's been plenty, she's got a ghost whose presence she has at least sensed from time to time in her life. Her sister even shows up from time to time. Emma's toyed with the idea of hiring an exorcist, but Adrienne never stays long. She's only there, after all, to remind Emma of how greatly she screwed up when she killed her, a fact that never leaves her alone for long regardless of her sister's presence.
After all, it was in killing her sister and trying to save her second batch of students that Emma lost the most. That was when the others turned away from her. That was when they all saw her as a monster. That was when he walked away from her, and he never, once looked back.
Tears spill silently down Emma's face as she shuts her bedroom door behind her, right in the face of one of her many, many ghosts. He jumps back, though the wood can not hurt him now any more than she can hear him crooning after her. The wind whistles outside, but she knows it must be only the wind. After all, the dead only stay around if they have a reason to, and the woman he loved is dead as well. They're probably frolicking in the afterlife with nary a thought to her.
Emma sinks onto her bed and lays back with tears still in her eyes. She listens to the wind and remembers another castle and another time, a happy time, a time when, for the first time in her life, she felt like she was on the verge of winning everything she'd ever wanted. She was part of a family that was beginning to form, and she had a man who loved her even if he wouldn't admit it -- except that he didn't. She had been wrong. Sean Cassidy had never loved her. She knows that now as she shuts her eyes and cries herself to sleep.
He had never loved her. He never would, never could love one as heartless as he'd professed her to be upon killing her sister. He had never loved her, just like his spirit wasn't floating on the other side of her closed, locked door right now, moaning into the wind words she'd never hear. He wouldn't apologize. He had no reason to apologize, nothing to gain, nothing to lose, for she, in the end, meant nothing to him.
That's why he, too, was hovering just out of her sight, crying, moaning, calling out words she'd never hear. "I'm sorry, Em! I di love ye!" But no matter how times Sean cries it, Emma never hears him. She never hears him, and perhaps it's a good thing her current housing situation isn't a home or a castle. She's not at all certain she could survive yet another castle crumbling around her ears, no more than she's certain how many more endless nights of never-stopping tears she can handle until she calls an end to her own life this time.
This place isn't her castle. She has no castle, and she is not a Queen. No one will follow her except her ghosts, but Emma never knows how close one of them comes, floating right beside her, right behind her, always, always whispering of a love never spoken while he still lived, a love Emma now will never hear though she'd give her whole being to hear it said, and meant, just once.