Lines of Force
by Angel Stern
DISCLAIMER: The characters within this story are the property of Marvel Comics. I do not profit by their use, for which I have no permission.
This fiction may contain themes found to be offensive by some, I can claim no responsibility for your sensibilities.
From the diary of Lorna Dane:
I am afraid, of course. Who wouldn't be? Search back to my earliest memories of being an X-Man and he is there. The eternal adversary, larger than life in his cloak of billowing crimson. I did not expect him to be so easy to find, forgetting that I am perhaps the one person in all the world he cannot hide from. Am I surprised to find him here on Genosha? Not nearly as surprised as I am to find myself here.
After the incident with the Twelve I knew that I had to seek him out. If anyone can help me find Alex, it is him. He did not seem surprised to find me literally knocking on his door, no, not surprised at all. It is almost as if he called to me. But that's part of it, isn't it? He is a beacon to me now that our powers have fully tasted one another, the point where all the lines of force converge. Already I am questioning how much of this has to do with Alex, and how much of this has to do with the man himself.
Such pain, Charles mused staring into her cooly mocking gaze. It failed to mask the suffering in those emerald depths. As if guessing his thoughts her lips tipped into a smile.
"You shouldn't feel sorry for me, Charles." She said, her voice husky from the strain her raging screams had placed on it. Four days now and this was the calmest he'd seen her. She had turned her face towards his windows, watching the play of sunlight on the waters of Breakstone Lake.
"Lorna, there is a great difference between feeling sorry for someone and feeling pity for them," he explained gently.
"I don't want either. Not from you." The words may have been harsh but they were said without malice.
"Why...?" he began.
"It's not professional to involve your emotions when dealing with one of your patients," she said matter-of-factly.
"Lorna, you will never be one of my patients. I want to help you because you are one of my students, and even more importantly one of my friends."
She brought her face back to his, her expression devastating in it's vulnerability.
"Tell me what has happened to you." He failed to keep the tremor out of his whisper. Her mask slid back into place before the last syllable had passed his lips, her eyes cold and devoid of expression.
"Lorna!" he pled.
She doubled over in pain as her powers struggled against the containment suit she wore. Her lips parted in a cry, sickness washing over her as her body refused to yield in it's rage. Charles rose and went to her side. She struck out immediately but he was ready, catching and gripping her wrist tightly. Lorna continued to fight for several seconds until her body became limp with a final shudder.
"He did this...." she whispered against her rising tears, curling her free arm around her stomach. "God forgive me...."
Xavier's questions never found voice as the girl slipped to the floor and into darkness.
Pietro is here. He isn't happy to see me, of course with him it's always hard to tell. Somehow I got the sense that despite his snide comments and bad attitudes he held some kind of genuine affection for me. I have that sense again today. I almost think that he does not want me here for my own good. He is fearful of the time I spend with Erik. He is afraid it will change me. I don't have the heart to tell him that it already has.
Never have I seen so clearly, or felt so keenly. Even colors are richer. It is as if Erik, by his teaching has lifted a veil in my life and is gently ushering me into a new world. He is serving as the midwife to my soul. Well, my powers at the very least. But that's always been part of the problem, hasn't it? I have never identified my powers with my sense of self. To the contrary, I have always gone to great lengths to keep them separate from me. I could never accept that I AM my powers more than they could ever be mine. Fear kept me from acknowledging it. I could call it a desire for a "normal" life all I wanted but it was my own cowardice that prevented me from accepting my powers and thus myself.
I can see why so many choose to follow Erik. He is a very patient teacher, quietly rejoicing with my smallest of triumphs. He rarely teaches me by example, instead he leads me to new discoveries of my abilities through conversation, engaging my mind before my body. It is strange. I came here because I was tormented by the need to find Alex, obsessed by my own grief. But I have never felt so full of peace as I do now. How could a man who is capable of such atrocities grant me such grace? It is only one of his many paradoxes. It is almost as if there are two men - Magneto and Erik. Is it possible to fear one and not the other?
There was a knock at the door. Xavier carefully tucked away the small leather-bound book before bidding his visitor to enter.
Xorn opened the door and paused before entering, surveying the room with it's overturned chair and scatter of papers.
"Is this a bad time, Professor?"
"No, no..." he waved a hand dismissively. "I'm afraid this afternoon's session with Lorna failed to yield results. Well... positive results at any rate." Charles cringed slightly at the bite of frustration in his own words. If only he could reach her....
"You keep her powers contained at all times, Professor?"
"Yes, I hate to do it but..."
"You must. She is a danger to yourself and the others here. She should leave here."
Xavier's forehead creased in confusion. "Xorn, as a healer you must understand how important it is that Lorna have help. The kind of help that I alone can offer her...."
"There is no helping some people, Professor."
"Xorn, the poor child has been through something unspeakable..."
"Not so unspeakable that she could not put it into words for you."
Charles glanced up sharply at the sneer in the other man's voice.
"She hasn't. Not yet."
"Have you considered, perhaps, that this is not the product of an experience. That it may be instead a product of the girl's own mental deficiency?"
"You are suggesting what, exactly?"
"She's a lunatic, Professor. She is beyond your capabilities to heal because there is nothing to be healed. She has simply succumbed to her natural state. Perhaps it was instead those moments of sanity that were the aberration."
Xavier found himself gritting his teeth.
"I have known Lorna Dane for many years and know her to be a levelheaded, sensitive young woman. She has a brilliant mind, Xorn, a blazing intellect. So while I appreciate your help, I must say that you are mistaken." He pinched the bridge of his nose against an oncoming headache.
"How well can any man know another, Charles?"
Charles sighed in the silence following the other man's quiet inquiry. He glanced at the desk drawer that held the elegantly penned pages of Lorna Dane's most private thoughts.
"Was there something you needed, Xorn?" So weary.
"I wanted to talk to you about the special class..."
I write this, gleefully, from across the island. I am standing on the southern shore, the waves lapping at my toes. And you are there, diary, back in my rooms in the heart of the city. When I come back and read you will these pen strokes appear any different than those above? Once I would have eschewed such a stunt as merely showing off but Erik says that it is essential that I become comfortable performing the smallest of tasks with my powers. Then he paid me a compliment - he said that he always felt that I was far more adept at using my powers in minute ways than he was. He hastened to explain that he didn't mean that as it sounded. Rather, he may be able to level a building with a wave of his hand easily but I seemed far more comfortable manipulating magnetic forces on smaller, more complex levels. Rearranging molecules rather than destroying them, manipulating the iron in someone's blood rather than crushing the person's body with force. More flattering than that realization was the fact that he had taken the time to notice. Never in my wildest dreams did I believe that the great Magneto spared a single thought for me or my powers until circumstance made it necessary. But no, he appears to have paid close attention to the development of my abilities prior to our lessons here. I asked him if he observed all his enemies so throughly. He confessed that he did not and I found myself blushing like a stupid school girl.
I have always understood that Magneto was not like our other enemies. His cause is very close to Xavier's. It has always been more about a difference of means vs. ends with them. I was wrong to label him, blindly, as simply "evil". There is a depth to him that seems endless, yet everyday he leads me a little deeper into himself. I suppose it is just a side effect of our training. Of the time we spend together and the strangely intimate nature of our work. I can't explain it in words.... when our powers touch, when they twine and twist together I feel it on a physical level that defies intimacy. Alex never touched me like this, and Erik does with ever tendril of magnetic force he commands. He has awakened an awareness in me. I know that at this very moment he is standing three floors above you, diary, he is staring out his window at this island, his kingdom. I can feel the sweep of his eyelashes as he blinks in the brilliant sun. I can feel his heartbeat. It echoes my own. Have two people ever been as close?
Alex lay awake. The leaves outside his window made lacy shadows across his ceiling in the moonlight. Annie was a warm weight beside him, her naked limbs draped across his chest. He squeezed his eyes shut. He must not let Lorna intrude here, must not think of the expression on her face when he told her that he didn't love her. He had expected her to be hurt. He hadn't expected the crushing desperation that caused her green eyes to shimmer with tears. Could she really have loved him that much? He shifted his weight slightly, the sheets whispering softly. Before the explosion she had broken things off with him. More like I broke things off with her, when I bailed on her. Again. Alex was only now realizing that he lacked the courage to be with Lorna. He always had. Her love was too strong, her heart too pure, her mind too sharp. She was now and always had been too much for him to handle. Dimly he was aware that she was destined for greater things than a future as Mrs. Alex Summers. Annie was a simple woman, who needed simple things from him. Warm arms and an easy smile. They would be happy together but tonight he wanted bask in the blazing glow of Lorna's love... if just for once more....
Pietro knows. He knows that I have fallen in love with his father. He must think that I am very foolish. But I am. Very foolish. The man is the greatest enemy the X-Men have ever faced. He has shifted alliances more times than I can count. And I might as well throw in the fact that he is old enough to be my father! Oh, yes, and there is the fact that I came here looking for a way to save ALEX. But none of that matters now. How could it? When Erik is near me it's as if everything else just fades away. None of that is important.
His powers are fading. I must have been blind not to have seen it before. Knowing that, I now realize the full value of the gift he is giving me, the sacrifice. It must be hard for him, watching my powers strengthen as the days pass while his are abandoning him. Once I would have welcomed such a turn of events in my own life but now, because of Erik, I can't fathom a life without my powers. I don't want to! Pietro says that he is just using me. Using my powers to augment his own. I can't believe that to be true. I would believe it of Magneto, but not of Erik.
Erik and I stayed up late last night, in fact, the sun put us to bed. We talked of so many things! It started, as it usually does, with discussion of our powers and the nature of them. Their relationship to one another. We do not manipulate the same lines of force, we are opposites. We have decided, in a flight of pure fancy, that the North Pole is mine and his the South. Fanciful as it is we both acknowledge it to be true. He said that if each of us were to stand at our prospective pole we would be at our most powerful. Together we could take over the world - quite literally! We could halt the planet's very course around the sun, cease it's endless revolutions! "But we'd fling everyone and everything into outer space!" I'd cried. "Exactly," he said, "everything but we two..." There was a look just then in his eyes that made my stomach flutter. He has the bluest eyes I've ever seen...
"I think the containment suit must be making her sick, Professor."
Charles looked up at Jean, noting the concern in the knit of her brows.
"She's been throwing up since we've put in on her"
"You know we can't remove it, Jean. Lorna is far too powerful. Far too dangerous right now." He sighed deeply, folding the tips of his fingers together into a neat steeple before him. Jean slid into the chair before his desk.
"Are you making any progress, Professor?" she asked, her voice low despite the fact that they were alone behind the heavy oak door of his study.
"No, I'm not. She will come to her senses briefly and during those times she seems completely capable of rational conversation. But at the slightest provocation she will retreat once more behind this senseless rage. It's tearing her apart."
"Charles, I know that you respect Lorna's privacy. And I know that you are very aware of her well-earned dislike of telepaths but perhaps this situation does not call for conversation. If you aren't comfortable probing her mind, I would do it for you."
"No Charles, Lorna is my friend and I hate seeing her like this. Something is very wrong and I want to know what it is. I should have seen it before the wedding... "
"You can't blame yourself for this."
"It had just been so long since she and I have sat down and really talked to one another. I assumed that time had just changed her, that she had just become a different person."
"Perhaps that is the case."
"No! Professor, you don't believe that, do you? Lorna would never hurt the people she loved... not after Malice. Not after the Shadow King."
"She didn't really hurt any of us, did she? She could have destroyed us all effortlessly at the wedding and yet she held back..."
"Exactly! Lorna is in there somewhere, fighting to get out."
"Surely you don't think she's been possessed again, Jean. That would be beyond redundant."
"I know that she is not possessed. Not by any outside forces at any rate."
Charles nodded slowly, bringing the tips of his fingers to rest against his bottom lip.
"Sixteen million people died on Genosha. Lorna is one of the only living witnesses of that massacre."
"We should have brought her back here with us when we found her there, Charles."
He closed his eyes tightly. It was a thought that kept him up late at night. It seemed as if Lorna was always getting left behind.
"You are right of course, Jean. I'm afraid that we have all taken Lorna's immense inner strength for granted too many times. Just because you survive a battle doesn't mean you don't walk away with scars."
"You think it's all just become too much? "
"I don't know what is driving Lorna's actions at this point, Jean."
"Well we need to find out. By any means necessary..."
Carrion Cove. There is something out there. And it's taking Erik away from me. Whatever it is, it has captured his attention and I am left to my own devices once more. Pietro provides me what company he can, when he can stand to be around me. Erik explains his absence away by saying that at this point in my development it is important that I discover things on my own. While that may be true, I miss him. I miss the smiles that had come so easily now. I miss talking to him. I miss his very nearness and the humming it caused in my veins. I'm being silly, it's not like this island is all that big. I can still feel him when I concentrate. He can't be hiding something out there. He knows that I can follow his every movement now almost effortlessly. Pietro just has me so suspicious. I forget that suspicion is a cornerstone of Pietro's personality.
Erik is right, of course. Thanks to the solid foundation he has laid on my training I am pushing my limits every day and exceeding them by leaps and bounds. There are so many applications of my powers that I'd never even considered before. I realize how great a potential I have for good! The magnetic lines of force are one of the most primal sources of power in the universe. Our very atoms are held together by the powers of magnetism. By strengthening those electromagnetic bonds in, say, the chambers of the human heart could we not prevent countless deaths from heart disease? By simply moving those atoms, rearranging them.... Erik would laugh at me for even thinking of such a lofty application of our abilities. He would remind me, albeit gently, that we have the same capacity for great evil. And I would remind him that if one can destroy so easily one can also create. Ah...I am starved for his companionship. Nothing against you, diary, but you make a poor substitute for Erik.
Annie turned off the monitor and pushed her chair away from the computer console with a heavy sigh. This couldn't be happening to her, not when happiness was just within her reach. She glanced at the test results again as the last page slipped from the printer, the horror somehow made more real by the stark black on the white page. She rose slowly, crumpling the pages into a tight ball. She had no choice. There was just no other way. If Annie wanted to keep Alex's love, Lorna Dane's baby had to die.
"I am ill at these numbers...."
The very worst has come to pass. That which I wished for more than anything and I am sick at heart. There is pain in my body but it is nothing when held against my abused affections. I know that I speak in riddles but the truth is so difficult to write upon this page, I can hardly bear it.
Erik came to me tonight, after so many days of absence. I was so glad to see him until I detected in his manner a sense of profound mission. A diabolical determination. He grabbed me hard by the wrist and twisting it, lowered me to my bed. I know I could have repelled him, but fear had frozen my mind and I was pinned helplessly by the piercing gaze of those blue eyes which I had previously fancied held such affection for myself. Here were the attentions I had longed for but instead of soft caresses and gentle coaxing I found rough purpose. He was almost like a man possessed. Only once did I cry out for him to stop before my voice failed me entirely. In response he said those words I had so dearly wanted to hear from his lips - "I love you," even as his violence upon my person came to it's conclusion. He moved to leave then, leaving me to sob into my pillows. At my doorway he turned, his face was twisted in the briefest contortions of pain and regret. "You are more dear to me than you could ever know, Lorna" and thrusting that last knife into my heart he left. What am I to do? My fondest daydreams have become a waking nightmare. It was wrong of me to come here....I know that now.
Kurt Wagner tried to still his restless pacing, casting nervous glances at the room's other occupant with each completion of his orbit. Was he mad to have come here? Did he honestly think that he could make a difference?
"Sit down, Kurt. You're making me nervous." Lorna's voice was as husky as a silver screen vixen's and a slight smile quirked lips that were reflected in the window before her.
Her show of humor calmed his nerves a bit and he consented to cease his footsteps and draw closer to the back of her chair. He searched the watery features of her reflection for several long moments.
"Don't tell me that you just came here to stare at the 'freak'," she said bitterly, wiping a tired hand over her face.
"Nien, Lorna, never."
She turned her gaze up over her shoulder, tracing the familiar contours of his fuzzy blue countenance with her wide green eyes. She waited silently for him to speak again.
"I come because I am your friend, Lorna."
"You have been a good friend to me. In the past." Her eyes clouded with recollection and Kurt sensed her attentions were wandering down potentially dangerous paths. He circled her chair and came to rest before her. Clasping her small hands in his he went down onto a knee before her, drawing her attention back to his face.
"I am a good friend to you now, fraulein."
Silence followed his statement, a wistful smile curving her mouth as she looked at him fondly.
"I am more than a friend, Lorna. I come to you today as a friend and as a man of God."
Kurt almost cringed at the spark of pain that lit her eyes.
"So you come seeking my confession? Am I then condemned to die for my sins?"
"If I repent will I be saved?" She nearly spat in her growing rage.
"Lorna please, it was not my intention..." Kurt pleaded with her, squeezing her hands tightly.
"You are wasting your time, elf. I am already damned."
He bent his head to her lap, his cheeks hot with tears. The conviction in her words pierced him to the core.
Lorna looked down at his bent head in quiet amazement. Her hand came to rest on his soft hair without any direction from her brain.
"The good Lord will not abandon you, Lorna, and neither will I," he whispered against her knee. When he finally raised his head he glanced up to find her features locked against the world, the wall once more firmly in place save for a single diamond-like tear that hung upon her cheek.
Things are falling apart here. I don't know how much longer Erik can hold things together. I believe his days are numbered and that saddens me despite the violence between us. Pietro, while he has said nothing of what happened, has treated me very kindly. Like a child, he seeks to soften the world around me, sensing my distress. His anger at his father is palpable. I do not think that Erik can continue to count on Pietro when his hour of need arrives. For his own part, Erik has increased the distance between himself and I. He can barely stand to be in the same room as I and goes to great lengths to avoid my presence. He need not bother. I can not face him in my shame.
If only the love that I had born him (mistakenly though it may have been) could be turned to hate in that instant of betrayal. But the connection is still there between us, as strong as ever. I don't know if I will ever be free of him. I have brought about my own downfall, surely.
Lorna Dane slept deeply under the spell of heavy sedatives. Moonlight seeped from the edges of the window, gilding features that were finally at peace.
Annie examined her still form, the syringe a suddenly heavy weight in her pocket.
"I'm only doing what I have to do," she whispered softly. "To protect me and my son."
She drew the needle out, watching it glint dully in the weak light. "You understand, Lorna. After all, you were just doing what you had to do to protect your baby."
The other woman's arm was unresisting as Annie grasped it above the elbow.
Annie started at the sound of the voice behind her. Lorna's arm slipped from between her fingers as she turned to face the intruder.
Xorn reached out for the syringe silently, pinning Annie with his veiled gaze.
"I'm afraid I can't let you do that, Annie." He snatched the needle easily from her trembling fingers, tossing it to the floor and crushing it beneath his heavily booted foot.
"Now, crawl back to your golden haired paramour before he notices your untimely absence."
Annie hurried to obey, her heart pounding in her chest. Xorn watched her leave before turning his eyes to the still slumbering form of Lorna.
"You carry the future of mutant kind within you, my dear one. No harm shall befall you or that precious burden while I draw breath to protect you."
It is over. We are cast out of Genosha and Magneto is restore to his full power. It all happened so quickly. The rebellion at Carrion Cove, the Avengers, and finally his restoration. Now Pietro and I wait at what feels like the edge of the world for what I do not know. I know only that I am far from him and now, more than ever, his powers are like a beacon to me underscoring my own isolation.
It was kind of Pietro to stay with me. I am sure he would have rather gone with his sister and the Avengers. He doesn't let me out of his sight and there is a kind of worry that sits heavily upon him. I don't know if he is frightened for me or frightened of me. But there is a dark knowledge in his eyes and I want to know the truth of it....
"I wanted to talk to you about Lorna."
Annie swallowed nervously, sliding into a chair before Xavier's desk.
"What about Lorna?"
"I want to perform a probe of her mind."
"What does that have to do with me?" Annie's brow furrowed in confusion.
"Well, she has reluctantly consented to it, but only if you are present."
"Me?! Professor...why would she want such a thing? She HATES me!"
"While I can't deny that there might be a malicious element to the request I do believe that her true intention is to help you understand her actions."
"I understand her actions well enough, Professor."
"Annie, if you could set aside the animosity between the two of you, you might see that this is a great opportunity to expand your awareness of mutantkind..."
"Professor, I know why Lorna is acting the way she is. I know why she did what she did."
Charles struggled to hide his surprise. "You do?"
"Yes." Annie sighed deeply, avoiding Xavier's questioning gaze.
"Professor... Lorna is... she's... "
"Yes, Annie? Lorna is what?"
I am pregnant. HIS child is inside of me.
Pietro has left. I told him what happened and he became enraged. He told me that I must put an end to this. I can't do that, I said, I can't hold this innocent child accountable for the sins of it's father. I can love it despite it's mournful beginnings, I know I can. But he was insistent. When I pressed him for his reasons his face became clouded by tears and he begged me not to ask him further. He said that the horrible truth of it would only destroy me and he could not bring himself to do it. "Just get rid of it !" he cried. I've never seen him behave like this and I am frightened. When I refused again he gripped my arms tightly and shook me, urging me to come to my senses and see what should be so plainly clear. For one moment I was afraid that he was going to destroy the child himself. And then he turned from me with a cry that was almost inhuman in it's anguish. He cried out to the heavens to damn his father and left with those curses still in his mouth. And now I am infected with this secret he will not name. It is like a cancer in my mind, slowly destroying all else until I discover the truth of it... If I could just bring myself to ask the question that plagued me for so many years....
"Have you found my diary interesting, Charles?" Lorna asked as he escorted her down the long hallway. Her tone was biting and he had to pause.
"I haven't finished it yet." He said, struggling to keep his tone non-committal.
"Ah. Wait until you get to the end, Charles. It's quite the surprise ending."
"It's not over yet, is it?" he asked gently, resuming their steps towards the infirmary once more.
"No," she muttered, shaking her head, "Not over yet...."
They emerged to the sight of Alex and Annie in a hurried embrace. Xavier felt Lorna stiffen. "You ruined everything" she whispered almost inaudibly. Lorna then announced their presence loudly,
"God, make me puke why don't you?!"
She wrapped her anger and contempt around her in an effort to conceal her considerable pain and anguish. The exchange was blessedly short lived and Alex departed on his mission without it coming to more than school yard posturing.
"Hey, Charles. I need to talk to you. Alone."
Cain. God, would there ever be an end to the interruptions. Charles hesitated before leaving the two women alone, finally trusting in Lorna's true gentle nature and failing that, her inhibitor suit.
"I know why you fought so hard for Alex. I know why you proposed such a hasty marriage to a man you no longer love..." Annie thrilled to see fear light the other woman's eyes at her taunting words. Lorna even shrank back a step from Annie's smug smile, no longer the sarcastic aggressor.
"Now the only question that remains is: whose is it, really?"
I know what I must do. There will be no peace for me until I face my fears and determine the truth once and for all. There has always been a question there, in the back of my mind. There are so many unanswered questions in my past and it's not as if what few answers I have came from the most reliable of sources....
"...And what if the proof was a lie?"
Charles held his breath, the laboratory in Lorna's mindscape filling him with a sense of dread.
The samples were easy enough to obtain. Finding someone without possible hidden agendas to perform the testing was a bit more difficult. It must be blind so that we can finally come to the truth of it. I must know...
"...If I was Magneto's daughter..."
The truth dawned on Xavier before Lorna ever spoke it out loud. Sickness washed over him. How could this have happened. How could the man he thought he knew so well orchestrate an atrocity such as this...
I am Magneto's daughter. And this child I carry is his. I am damned beyond all redemption. I must confront him. I must know why he has done this to me...
"I landed at Magneto's headquarters. I had no plan. Just fury..."
Her words were hollow and empty. Charles barely heard them through the pounding in his head. His heart ached for this girl. How could he ever hope to heal these wounds?
"... and they were still worshiping me as they all...died..."
I have seen them die. Sixteen million exterminated by the Sentinels. Magneto was among them. And now both my child and I are fatherless. We have only each other... Genosha is a wasteland. There is no hope for this country and there is no hope for me. How can I find the strength to continue when all I know is gone? I will never be safe again. The person I was no longer exists, bury her with the sixteen million innocents who believed in him, in his dream. Let the grave be unmarked and let none who knew her mourn her passing. Lorna Dane is no more.