Chapter Two: Pulling
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Everything is wrong.
There's so much that I don't know – and at the same time I know everything.
These faces – the people living here with me…
In this… castle?
These are the faces that have kept me going over the years… kept me strong, kept me true… though not always.
There was Sue Richards. Probably my biggest regret—probably my…
Wait. The Invisible Woman?
Maddie… I slept with Sue, cheating on Maddie… just after little Scotty was born…
Maddie..? Maddie… Scotty…
Madelyne Pryor… Scott's wife… The Goblin Queen…
She nearly killed us all… and poor little Nathan…
"I certainly hope Emma is making more sense of this than I am," Hank said in a low tone as his eyes shifted once more to Cyclops.
Underneath his visor, Scott's eyes surveyed the words which were appearing on the small screen before his longtime friend. He'd never seen a mental projection of this sort.
"Don't think too hard, Scotty boy," Hank grinned. "You'll hurt yourself. It's just a little contraption—in conjunction with Emma's telepathy—which allows…"
"That's enough, Hank," Scott smiled. "Just help my brother."
"We're trying," he sighed.
The two men turned as Emma let out a small grunt. Her hands rested casually over Alex's temples, her eyes closed and focused tightly.
"…do you love her, Scott?"
"Listen—I know you don't have anyone to talk to about it… and if you'd like to talk… well, I'm still the same ol' Hank."
"Have you seen a mirror, Hank?"
Scott grimaced. "I know… and I don't know… I don't know, Hank."
"Well, I suppose she's grown on all of us in her way, if it's all the same… just know that I… support your… decisions."
Hank… something's wrong with Hank…
Such a… brute… The Brute, that's it… that's his name…
Green—mutated beyond belief… not the same Hank… and Storm… no, Bloodstorm…
…she's a vampire. Killed… Forge…?
Something is wrong with this place… but everything is right.
I belong here—with Maddie, with my son… Scotty…
Leading… the X-Men..?
With Rogue, Gambit… Iceman… Lorna…
…no, Polaris is an X-Man—with her father, Magneto…
I lead The Six.
"Something's up," Emma said, pulling back and facing Cyclops and Beast.
"I just read it as well, Emma," Hank had already interjected. "I have a very strange feeling about this."
"His awareness of what is real and what is not is fluctuating greatly. He's… conscious in a way he shouldn't be; we'll be able to monitor what's going on, but it's as if he's literally somewhere else… rather than dreaming," Emma answered Scott's questions before he could ask them.
"…fascinating," Hank muttered, a broken record as he turned to the screen before him.
"Alex, your son would really like it if you gave him a kiss goodnight."
Havok's eyes shifted as he looked down at a small boy—brown hair, big eyes… his eyes… The boy seemed to back away slightly as Alex approached, but he lifted his son into his arms, looking into his face before kissing him gently on the forehead.
Madelyne Pryor's hand over her heart for a moment, the woman smiled warmly as she took her son into her arms, the boy far too old for such an event. "I'll see you in a minute, Mr. Summers."
"See that you do," he joked somewhat stiffly. As she walked out of the room, Havok turned—
"I hope I didn't startle you, Havok," the cold, shrill voice of Ororo Munroe spoke at once. Where no one had stood seconds before was the woman, leather-clad and quite a sight, her red eyes peering into your very soul. "I have a report."
Summers, having inaudibly screamed, only stared at her. He winced. "Storm..? What's… are you…?" Then he remembered, as if on cue—
"Bloodstorm," she corrected him, squinting her eyes as she spoke. "You are not yourself."
"Just… had a late night," he forced. Everything was so familiar—like the weirdest case of Déjà vu to ever hit the Summers family.
Which was probably saying a lot.
"My report, Havok?"
"Yes, go ahead."
"It appears that Magneto and his team are—"
"Hank, are you seeing this?"
The two Six members stared at one another for a moment, Bloodstorm instinctively turning into mist and swirling about the room, searching for any source of intrusion.
Then it hit him. Emma. This wasn't real—so why was it becoming so…reminiscent?
"Emma?" Bloodstorm asked curtly. "Was that some sort of psychic call? Havok, who is Emma? The barriers in this castle should have—"
"Just a friend, Ororo," he replied. "She's helping me... like you are..."
Bloodstorm had narrowed her eyes, something she'd done quite frequently. "Very well."
"Rather than fragments," Hank murmured to himself – he was doing a lot of that, Scott had noticed… though he was used to it, "we're receiving every ounce of what's going on… utterly fascinating…"
"For a man with a Ph.D., you sure have a limited vocabulary, Hank."
Flashing a toothy grin at Cyclops, Hank replied. "I wouldn't want to disassociate myself from present company by forcing you to pull out a dictionary, Scott." He waited for a moment. "And from now on, in my lab – call me 'Doctor.'"
"Your overindulgence in being verbose aside, please," Emma looked to the two, "I'd like to remind you two that we are trying to help Alex… and I wouldn't mind a little quiet.
The two men nodded apologetically—but Emma soon broke the new silence herself. "In case you hadn't noticed, Alex and this Ororo detected my speaking to you, Hank. Something which cannot happen again."
"My utmost apologies, Emma – it shall not happen again," Hank said mockingly, returning to his computer yet again.
"Keep me posted," Scott looked to his girlfriend and then one last time to Hank. "I'm going to head out."
Emma inserted a thought in Scott's head—something Hank wouldn't have detected had he not seen his leader grin from ear to ear. "…trying to work, if you please," he laughed.
Cyclops left Hank's lab—and as he turned the corner, found himself staring into a familiar face.
He was speechless for a moment as the woman before him frantically examined her surroundings.