Disclaimer: "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" belongs to Mike Young Productions and Mattel. Not me. You know the drill. No permission, no profit, no lawyers.

Author's Note: Just a little stream-of-consciousness inspired by the message boards and a re-watching of "The Courage of Adam." Seeing that almost sad look on Adam's face, I wondered just what was really going on in his head... and wrote this in one sitting on my lunch break when "The Key and the Sword" was stalling. (If the quote is wrong, refer to the fact that this was a one-sitting write.) I don't know if he'd really be this profound, but the idea was kind of interesting.

I know, I know, I need a life, but writing this was preferable to reviewing JSP requirements which just changed this afternoon anyway. And maybe certain other authors writing in-progress fics dealing with this subject will read this and get inspired to post a third part. Hint. Hint. :)

by Mandi Ohlin

"As long as there is evil, He-Man will always be needed."

I keep hearing Man-At-Arms' words in my head over and over, even after he leaves me to my thoughts. I'm not exactly comforted by them. "As long as there is evil?" How long is that going to be? Forever? I'm going to lose it long before then.

It's bad enough fighting Skeletor every day and getting no credit for it - even being labeled as a coward, even. I wish Teela would lay off already. Even if she actually knew what she was talking about, reminding me of it every single second of every single day is getting old. What did I ever do to her? Well, okay, there was that time I tied her hair to a tree branch when she was sleeping, and then there was the glue incident... but that kind of thing ended years ago, and she always got her revenge. I'd just like to show her - show everyone - that I'm not a coward, that I can be counted on. Without getting myself caught in a trap again.

But that's not why I didn't want to become He-Man today. There's something that happens to me, every time I change, and I don't like it.

I mean, I don't think the power does anything bad to me. Yeah, it's actually kind of a rush, and it feels good to actually be able to do things right for a change, and have Teela not look at me like something she scraped off her boot. But when I change into He-Man, I'm not really Adam any more. I am, and I'm not. I don't really know how to explain it. It's like - when the power flows into me, there's something more as well, something else that I nearly drown in. Some other consciousness that floods in and picks me up along the way. I'm still there, I'm still kind of in control, but I'm only a small part of He-Man. I keep doing and saying things as He-Man that Adam would never have thought of or would never have been able to pull off. Seriously, if I had given the Masters that little speech as myself, it would have come out all wrong. Out of Adam's mouth it sounds ridiculous, but He-Man can get away with it.

Oh, great, now I'm thinking about myself in the third person. Get a grip, Adam.

I didn't notice it the first time I changed; well, I did, but I guess I was too focused on stopping Skeletor and saving my Dad to care. I only realized it when I changed back the very first time. The power faded away, the rush was gone, and I was just plain old Adam again... and it was a relief. Because I was me again. Not just a small part of my consciousness, but completely, wholly myself.

Well... not completely. I'm tired every time I change back - tired of trying to stay afloat in my own mind. It almost feels like the power's wearing me down, like it's trying to make me let go of myself completely. But I can't do that. The part that's still me is the part that lets me change back. I don't have to hang on the whole time - just in those first few minutes after I change, and then I'm pretty well anchored. But that doesn't make it any easier.

So what happens when I finally can't hang on any longer?

This is why Man-At-Arms' words don't make me feel any better. I'm not strong enough to keep doing this indefinitely. I know I'm not. It might not happen tomorrow, or the next day, but eventually I'm not going to be able to hang on. I don't know if I'll be able to come back once that happens, or if I'll be lost for good. I can deal with looking like a coward, looking like a fool, but at least I know who I am. What happens when I don't even have that anymore?

Cringer meows at me, and I scratch him behind an ear. He's probably the only one who understands. Sometimes, I really wish he could talk, because he's the only one I could talk to about this. I wonder if he has to go through the same thing. Teela always teased him for being a dumb fraidy cat, but he's smarter than she thinks. Orko wouldn't understand, and I don't know if Man-At-Arms would get it, either. *I* don't really understand it, and it's happening to me.

That leaves the Sorceress.

I don't know if I want to talk to her right now. I mean, I didn't exactly make the best impression on her when we first met. For all I know, she might just give me the cold shoulder.

Besides... Teela's right about one thing. I'm scared. Scared of losing my grip. Scared of what the most powerful man in the universe is going to do to me - and he is me, kind of. You know how unbelievably stupid that sounds? It makes more sense to run away at the first sign of danger from someone else. I can't admit that to Man-At-Arms. Or Orko. And I don't know the Sorceress well enough.

It's going to get dark soon. I'm already late for dinner, late for the insults from Teela and the scolding from Dad. The longer I put it off, the worse it's going to be. I need to stop thinking about this. I don't want to think about this. I've got more immediate things to deal with. Not that I'm looking forward to Teela's nagging and Dad's yelling, but... at least it's something that I can handle as myself.

I know who I am.

I guess that's going to have to be enough.

Will it?