Relative Terms

By TheLostMaximoff

Disclaimer: Marvel Comics just owns all the good characters, don't they?  I was going to do this way earlier but I couldn't remember the scene well enough and had to wait till I got X-Men 2 on video before I could write this.  Enjoy.

            I hate planes.  It's really stupid when you think about it, about how something that weighs like tons can stay suspended in the air.  Never really liked to fly 'specially when Ms. Munroe's doin' it.  God, if we have to go through another roller-coaster like back there with those jets again I'm going to puke all over this nicely-polished floor.  Makes my stomach churn thinkin' about it.

            I guess I'm just on edge.  My mind flashes back to Bobby's house.  I can still feel what it was like when Marie touched me.  It was like dying, I could literally feel the life being sucked right outta me.  Then the next real thing I know I'm in the jet and Logan's giving me that look again.  Yeah, I know that look.  I've been getting that look all my life so I'm well acquainted with it.  It's the look that says, 'Jesus, John!  Why do you have to be such a screw-up all the time?'  Yeah, I know that look pretty well.

            I stare over to my right at our new temporary teammates.  My eyes focus on Magneto.  He doesn't look too scary really.  He just looks like an old guy who dresses really weird.  Hard to believe he almost killed the entire population of New York.  I sure wouldn't have guessed it and I'm still not sure if I actually really believe it.  I mean sure that's what Marie says and she would know because she was there but suddenly things don't seem so clear-cut anymore.  There's a lot of gray where there shouldn't be.

            "So," I say in a casual tone, "they say you're the bad guy."  Conversation's not exactly my area of expertise but I figure it beats playing with my lighter till someone yells at me or takes it away.  After all, communication's supposed to be good for a team right?  Yeah, like I'll ever see any action anyways.

            "Is that what they say?" asks Magneto as he looks at me.  His stare is a little creepy, like it bores right through me.  I can remember living next door to a guy about his age who'd sit on his porch all day and yell at "no good" kids like me.

            "That's a dorky lookin' helmet you got there," I tell him matter-of-factly.  It's out before I have time to think about what I'm saying.  I do that a lot of times and people say it gets me in trouble.

            "That 'dorky looking helmet' is the only thing that's going to save me from the real bad guy," states Magneto.  The real bad guy?  I used to think I knew who the 'real bad guy' was but now I don't know.  I realize now it really all depends on which side of the track you stand on.  I mean Xavier thinks Magneto's wrong for wanting to wipe out humanity and Magneto thinks Xavier is wrong for being a pussy and wanting to get along with the humans.

            "What's your name?" asks Magneto.  I think he's a little pissed about me criticizing his fashion but he hasn't killed me yet so why not continue this conversation?  I figure he has the same idea as me, which is make small talk to kill time and relieve some tension.  I stare at him for a second.  He doesn't really look nervous.

            "John," I reply hesitantly.  They do say he's the bad guy.  Every single person in the mansion will tell you Magneto's the most dangerous guy on the planet.  With a reputation like that it's hard not to be a little wary around him and, I'll admit it, a little intimidated by him.

            Sudden motion startles me.  I feel my lighter being tugged out of my grasp by some invisible force.  I watch as it floats over to rest in Magneto's palm.  He stares at it thoughtfully.  My hands suddenly feel very naked and I unconsciously begin fidgeting.  He flicks the lighter and the flame from it teases me with its dance.

            "What's your real name?" asks Magneto knowingly.  His eyes are like knives as they cut through all my bravado and strip me down to the bone.  My real name?  I only have one other name.

            "Pyro," I tell him.  It's my only other name but it's more than that.  Pyro has power.  Pyro doesn't let people push him or his friends around.  Pyro has everything; John has nothing.  In short, Pyro is the person I want to be while John is the person I am.

            "Quite a talent you have there, Pyro," Magneto tells me.  He sounds like he really means it, like he knows what I did back there at Bobby's house and is proud of me.  I call to the flame and it collects in my palm.  I stare at the fire for a second.  Who says he's the bad guy, them?  How can I believe that?  Aren't we all someone else's "bad guy"?

            "I can only control the fire," I tell Magneto in a reflexive attempt to sell myself short.  Everybody else does it so why can't I?  I stare at the fire.  Magneto wants mutants to rule the world, Xavier wants mutants and humans to live in peace, and Stryker wants to exterminate mutants like cockroaches.  What does little Johnny Allerdyce want?  More accurately what does Pyro want?

            "I can't create it," I finish absently as I snuff the flame out in my palm.

            "You're a god among insects, boy," says Magneto as he returns my lighter, "Never let anyone tell you different."  A god?  That's certainly what I felt like back there.  Look at Johnny Allerdyce walkin' tall and kickin' ass.  Look at Pyro with the power of life and death in his hands.

            I stare at my lighter.  What do I want?  I want to protect my friends.  That's what I was trying to do back there and I was doing a damn good job till Marie had to go and grab my ankle like that.  I mean I was trying to save her life and she almost kills me.  What kind of 'thank you' is that?

            Good and bad, friend and enemy.  They're just words we make up to tell ourselves that we're right and everyone else is wrong.  These people I live with, my "friends", are always telling me I'm screwing up.  I can't be whatever it is they want me to be.  Then there's Magneto who didn't seem to want anything from me.  If he's the "enemy" then why did he actually seem interested in me?  It was like I was already what he wanted me to be when all I was doing was being myself.

            The terms swirl together in my head like blobs of paint on an artist's pallet.  Why bother trying to figure it out?  A friend can be an enemy like what happened back there with Marie or an enemy can be a friend like what just happened with Magneto.  In the end good, bad, friend, and enemy are only just words, just relative terms.