Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Emma, past Scott/Emma and Sean/Emma
Challenge/Prompt: fffc August Special Challenge: Strange Places: The Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland
Warning(s): Cannon Character Deaths, Spoilers
Word Count: 1,982
Date Written: 1 August 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Marvel Comics and Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.
She steps carefully from column to column, trying not to think about what has brought her here today. For once, the place is deserted, the rest of man- and mutant-kind all elsewhere, but even if they had been here, Emma knows it would still be almost impossible to avoid her thoughts. She used to take refuge in her mind as a child. It was her only comfort for years while she was held in the asylum.
That all changed when she lost her first group of students and fell into a coma. It was easier to live in the world she created in her mind than to face the truth. It still would be, if she allowed herself. In her mind, her students could all still be alive and, moreover, they could still love her. They could still adore her even if they feared her at the same time.
But the sad, bitter truth is there is not a single person left in this world who still loves her. The wind whips around Emma and her sheer, white dress. She wraps her arms around her body, but the cold outside is nowhere near as icy as the cold within her. Every time she’s tried to trust others, every time she’s tried to love, she’s been let down. No one has deserved her trust for they have all hurt her, and yet again in her long life, she’s found herself completely, utterly alone.
Her bottom lip would tremble if she had not already been biting it so long and hard that she tastes the metallic, eerie sensation of her own blood in her mouth. She will not give in. She has fought too long and too hard to surrender now, and no matter what anyone says, she is still needed. She, and others like her including Magneto and Charles both, will always be needed in this tragic world.
Still, she lets her instincts lead her to the bottom of the columns just as they led her to this place. She stole a plane last night and flew it just to escape the world as it has become. When she stopped moving long enough to realize where she was, she was hovering over this strange place where Sean had taken her once before. Her heart tightens even more at the thought of him. He never loved her just as Scott never loved her just as none of her students ever, truly loved her just as her own parents never loved her . . .
She wants to cry. She wants to run, but there is nowhere left to run. She doesn’t have another man into whose arms she can run, and besides, they’re truly little comfort. She found that out the last time she clung to Scott so hard. She was burned by him repeatedly, and still she clung, silly fool that she can be.
Perhaps she deserves this fate, Emma thinks sourly. Maybe this is what she gets for all the deaths and suffering she has caused over the years, but she’s tried to be good in the last . . . oh, what, decade or so? Time is a mystery. Her whole life seems to be a blur. She feels as old as the chilling wind now howling around her, but she knows she’s not.
She’s old enough that she has gray hairs now. She’s old enough that she’s seen literally countless friends and enemies alike die. She’s old enough that she should know better than to trust others, but still she seems determined to keep making the same mistake. She could figure out her actual age, if she bothered to sit down and truly think about it, but age is only a number. She’s lived too many lifetimes now for a mere number to bother her, and besides she can scarcely think about something as unimportant as a physical number of years when her head is crowded with the screams of those she dared to love and lost every one of.
Emma realizes she’s crying again. She could shift back into her diamond form and keep her tears from falling, but why bother? She’s a fallen Queen. Nobody cares if she cries. Nobody cares how much she hurts, or even if she dies. No one on either side of the fight for the next generation of mutants trusts her any longer. She saw the last man who did trust her die, crippled and killed by a horrible disease. Although there are millions who blame her for his death, Emma had never wished death for Cyclops even when he’d broken her heart.
Perhaps she should have. Perhaps it would be easier. No, it would definitely be easier to have never loved him -- to have never lost her heart to yet another man who only ever hurt and used her --, but for all her defenses and all the accusations that have been slung at her for having a heart made of ice, Emma’s never been able to protect her heart so well.
That’s why she hurt so much the first time she was here, spending time with a man she loved who never looked at her as more than a fellow teacher, a co-headmistress, and ally whom he never trusted. At least Scott had trusted her. At least Scott had cared for her, for a time, to the best of his ability. At least he had known her.
His knowledge of her true self had surprised her, Emma remembers. No one had ever seen so deeply inside of her, not Sean, not Charles, not Sebastian, and certainly not any of her students. She couldn’t stop trying to carve a place in this cruel world for her and for the next generation of mutants. She couldn’t stop, oddly enough, because of the pain she had suffered, because of everything she had suffered.
Her own parents threw her into an asylum. Her own father wanted her dead while her mother had chosen every sibling she had over her. Her sisters had both tried to kill her over the years, and though Emma had eventually killed Adrienne to save her students, and had lost them through the very same act, the first deaths she had caused had been to save her own life. She’d had to kill to win Sebastian’s favor; she’d had to kill to make a way for her to come out of the streets and back into the riches she’s always deserved. And she’ll have to kill again, Emma knows, to survive in this crazy, mutant- and woman-hating world.
She turns her face into the wind, lets it whip the tears right off of her cold cheeks. She finally releases her bottom lip, and the wind steals her broken-hearted sigh away too. She’s a woman who once felt like she had the whole world at her fingertips, but now she has so very little left, so very little resources, so very little choices…
She’s going to have to make another decision soon. She’s going to have to leave from this place and go . . . Where? Where is she going to go? No one wants her. No one trusts her. No one will ever love her. Perhaps Jubilee is right. Perhaps she doesn’t deserve to be loved. But she’s damned if she doesn’t want it, and damned all the same because she does. She always has, and she’ll never have it.
She glances around her. The wise thing to do would be to move away from the world. The smart thing would be to leave the never-ending war for mutant rights far behind, to slip into humanity and let them think, as she easily could, that she’s one of them. No one would come looking for her; she could hide away for years.
But then, hiding never works either. Sooner or later, there’s another mutant child who comes into her life, another child she feels she can help, another child who she can help if only they’ll let her, and she always, always makes the mistake of believing they will. Scott was right when he told her she can’t stay on the sidelines. Damn the world for thinking that she has a heart made of ice when so many of her actions have always been to improve the lives of her people!
And that’s exactly why she has to go back, she knows. Those kids need her, even if they’ll never admit it. They hate her right now, but they will still need her. They always have her; they always will. They -- not just the last group of students she lost when she allowed them to think she killed Scott but the whole next generation of the mutant species -- will always need someone who doesn’t care about breaking or even shattering the rules, someone, like herself or yes, even Magneto, who will stop at nothing to protect them and help them rise up in this world that would otherwise tear them down and into shreds.
They need her, and she can’t leave them, even if they will never know, understand, or accept everything she’s given for them. They need her, so she can’t simply walk away from the fight. If she turns away now, every life she’s lost -- from her brother, Christian, to Catspaw and the rest of the Hellions, to Everett and Angelo, even Sean and Scott -- every single one of them is for nothing.
And if she finishes walking these columns into the cold, fatal sea below, their losses will still be for nothing. Emma’s hands curl into fists. Her sharp fingernails bite her palms as she again bites her own, torn, bottom lip in determination. She raises her head to meet the wind, . . . and she screams.
She screams for every person she’s ever loved and lost. She screams for all those she loved and who never loved her in return. She screams for Sean, for Scott, for Christian, for Everett, for Angelo, for every single one of her Hellions, and even for Charles Xavier himself. She screams until her lips are again bleeding, until her throat is sore, until her voice turns hoarse, until her knees almost buckle underneath her…
Then, and only then, does she turn and walk away from the sea and all its temptations. She walks back toward the plane she stole, back onto its solid, metal body, and to its cockpit. She turns on the engine, rises into the sky, and sets the Autopilot back for America. Only then does she return to the back of the plane and collapse again. Only then does she let herself cry once more, tears that feel like they will never end, but she knows they will.
They’ll stop when she’s needed again. They’ll stop when her mask has to come back into place. They’ll stop when she has to put aside all her own wants and needs for a generation of needy, foolish, young mutants who will never understand all she’s sacrificed and a people who will never love or even understand her. They’ll stop, but they’ll begin again too in this awful, twisted, sickening pattern that is her life. Emma knows however long that life lasts, fate will always find her crying again.
But as she senses her approach to America, she rises her head. She dries her eyes. She fixes her makeup and her dress and walks with the pride back to the cockpit. Alone, she looks out back to the country who birthed her, back to the land who hates her. “Where to now?” she asks herself aloud. She doesn’t have the answer yet, but she already knows when she does, wherever her next destination is, she’ll find more students who need her -- and she’ll find more people who hate her.
”You have to teach. It’s who you are.”
Yes, Scott, it’s who I am -- and I’m damned.