It's possible this is the first Mutsumi-vignette ever posted on this site, though I won't make that claim unless it can be backed up. All these other little POV fics all center on one of the other girls, so I thought: Why doesn't anyone want to see what could be going on inside the lovely Miss Otohime's mind, disorganized as it might be? Yes, this is a slight crossover into X-Men, but what the heck...

Peace of Mind

Andrew Joshua Talon

DISCLAIMER: Ara, what do you think?

******

I watch him now, watch him laughing and talking with her. They look so... Happy together, so joyful.

His adopted sister sits in a corner, her venomous scowl cast toward the couple in question. Her eyes are as hard as obsidian, her hair as black as sackcloth. She is beautiful nonetheless, and I can see here, even without my gifts, that she hurts inside like no other.

The fox is laid back, content in her sake. She pays the two a passing glance, and an ever-so-brief twinge of pain and regret surface in her eyes. But, she's too fast for everyone else, and the mood is gone-From her face at least.

The samurai sits silently, seemingly content to meditate on her alcohol in her hand. Only, it's alcohol she hasn't touched, and I somehow doubt she will. She watches the happy couple out of the corner of her eyes, and I see a tear hover on the edge of going over, diving onto her pale cheeks.

The dynamic trio, the mad inventor, the blonde troublemaker, and her sweet little sister all gallop about the room, shooting off crackers and party favors without stop. Their minds are a symphony of joy and mischief... But behind it, when they catch his eye, there are three girlhood crushes that might have become more, if only...

The lithe angel, tiny and petite, serves the drinks and dinner. In every look she pays the center couple, her spirit cries out in anguish. How long has she been hiding this pain? She is a far better actress than anyone I've ever known, in that she keeps up her adult persona while keeping the anger and jealousy inside.

The happy couple... The sense of his is that he feels complete, and yet... His eyes look about, and I feel a kind of nostalgia, a kind of wondering: What if I'd chosen someone else? he thinks. And, grasping, clawing inside him, is a single voice he tries to ignore: Let me out, I don't want her, let me go...!

His 'mate' has a feeling of completeness too, yes: But, no matter how I do truly care about her as a friend, I can never help shuddering when I feel her anger, her insecurities, her helplessness. She tries to be rid of it by beating him, insulting him, even though they do care for each other. But, I get a sick sensation in my stomach when I feel her suspicions, her paranoia, ever present when she sees one of the other women close to him. And I feel his pain, oh, so clearly...

I am not anemic. My family, rich as it is, changed all the medical files when I was younger, in order to keep me from becoming the focus of prejudice or hatred. They candidly talked to me, when I was a girl, that I could not reveal my power to anyone I could not trust, and to be careful about who I did indeed chose, if anyone, to admit it to.

I am not anemic. My tiredness comes, not from the weight of oxygen-starved blood, but the weight of minds. I was born a telepath, more powerful than any other infant in the hospital I was brought out from the womb. As a child, I could hear my entire family's thoughts, feelings, wants, and desires. I screamed at night, sobbing, as my powers grew. I felt only the strong emotions and thoughts, like anger, fear, and hatred, that encompassed our entire island.

My parents never considered me a freak. I could feel their honesty, and their love and pride for me. But, they did not want their daughter to suffer, so they took me to Hinata Springs where an American scientist... Xavier, was it? Was to meet us on his vacation, and evaluate me on how to teach me control over my powers. And there, I met him! Him, the one I made the promise with, the one I love and can never stop loving...

My parents let me play in a sandbox under the care of an old family friend. She took me there, accepting my parent's odd plea to try and keep her thoughts quiet without question. I felt him, before I saw him. If souls could be any more connected than how we were that day, I have not found it. Our minds were together as one. His thoughts brought me comfort and joy, not pain. That was how I first fell in love with him.

I was taken away to see Doctor Xavier soon after that, too soon, and taken away from him. I remember calling to him, telepathically, to remember our promise. For a few years, I stayed with Professor Xavier in America, learning to tune out what thoughts I didn't want to hear. I learned how to hypnotize opponents, take over their minds, cast illusions and ease pain.

However, the sheer power I wielded-Almost as much as Professor Xavier himself possessed-Meant that keeping my abilities under constant control would leave me tired and weak physically. Still, this did not bother me as much as it used to, because, with my strength in mind, I could feel all of humanity! I could feel what it truly was to be human. And I could help the mentally infirm, the dumb, the blind... All of them.

I couldn't hear him, though, for some reason, and it saddened me. I still managed to keep my hope alive, by remembering our promise...

And now, even if he says he doesn't, he still lives by that promise we made. His subconscious convinces his conscious mind that she is his promised girl, in the night of his dreams. And now, he has kept that promise. I should be happy: I should be glad that, even if he doesn't love me like that, he is still happy. And I am happy...

... But when our minds touch, intentionally now that I have control over my telepathy, the connection is still there. A place of pure peace, joy, love, serenity-A conduit of Heaven hangs between us. And I am tempted to sob, to weep in both joy and grief because we have it... And cannot have it.

I will admit, I creep into his dreams at night, from time to time. I caress his thoughts, bringing him peace and strength for the next day. I have resisted the urge to do anything else. Some of the telepaths at Xavier's school had gotten caught making love on the astral plane, and inadvertently it was a skill I learned. I know how to do it, though I've never put those skills to work.

I love him, and I can never stop loving him. Ah-He has caught my eye. A brief exchange, a spark of insight inside of himself... And he passes me by, a strange feeling remaining, trailing from him to me like a ship's wake. What is that?

I shake my head, and sigh, looking back into my glass, not really seeing it. If only there were nine of him, then this feeling of pain and loneliness, permeating the air like a bad smell, would be gone. Naru could be with her 'promised' one, Motoko could have her teacher in the ways of humanity, Kitsune could have her teasing partner, Shinobu her beloved sempai, Kanako her light of life, the trio their big brother, and myself...

But it's not going to happen. And I have to accept that.

But, somewhere, inside his mind, is a spot of hope. A light still burns inside of him, still fighting, for the battle to be himself. See, this promise thing is not destiny. It never was. It was simply a promise, a choice we made. And he chose to try and keep it.

And, seeing that at least part of himself still has that choice at heart, I sip my sake, a relaxed smile on my face as the night passes on...

******

Short, yes. Depressing? Perhaps. Good? I think so, though I'd like to hear your thoughts (no pun intended ^_^) on this piece of mine. It is a slight tie-in to the Love Hina X series I'm working on. Giving Mutsumi the power of telepathy was no real challenge to explain: Her distracted nature, her insight into others- According to sci-fi, these are signs of a telepath that has either too much power to control, or not enough training. And besides, Mutsumi is a lot more mature and aware than she appears to be. What other secrets could this lovely Princess of Okinawa be hiding? For the sake of tradition, R&R...