Only Human

By TheLostMaximoff

Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. Happy Valentine's Day. R/R and spread the love.

Life is Hell. Really. When you're a mutant in a world full of normal people, life is rarely easy. Nevermind how it is when you're on the junior X-Men squad. Nevermind how it is when things have turned completely upside down. I guess it's to be expected. I mean, hey, we're only human and that's what the world is like when you're human.

Only human. It's an interesting phrase. People use it all the time. 'I'm only human; I can only do so much.' You know, stuff like that. But I'm not human. I'm better than they are or at least I'm supposed to be. I mean I'm a mutant, homo superior and all that jazz. I'm not only human. I'm better than human, superior to human. So why is my life still Hell? I thought that was a human thing. I thought I was above that.

Sofia's . . . Sofia's different now. I don't know how to take that. Everything was so much easier when it was "us" and "them" and everybody knew where they stood and the line was clear. Now . . . now the line's not so clear. She turned into one of them and I'm still one of us. See? Life is Hell. I can't . . . I can't treat her like a human. She's not just a human. She's still Sofia and she's still as beautiful as she's always been. Only she's human now. She's only human while I'm so much more. But I can't . . . I can't stop being in love with her even if she's only human, even if she's one of them.

I sigh as I wander the halls of Xavier's school. I can't sleep. All I can think of is that she's going to leave. Ms. Frost won't hand out special treatment no matter how hard I push it. Hell, even Summers can't stop her and he's supposed to run this place. She's going to leave and there's not anything Julian Keller, the poster boy for mutant superiority, can do to stop it. Maybe I got de-powered too. Sure as hell feels like it.

"Sofia," I whisper as I stop by her door, "You awake?" There's no answer. Ten to one she'd still ignore me even if she was awake. I knock as quietly as I can. No response.

"I . . . I need to tell you this," I explain as I put my forehead against the door, "Sofia . . . it doesn't matter to me that you're human. Well, maybe it matters a little but it's not important. You're important to me, Sofia. I need you here." I sigh as I sit down and rest my back against the door.

"This whole thing is insane," I continue, "I always considered you a part of my team. I did, really. I still do. Hell, if we could boot the Wolverine knock-off and have you instead then I'd be way happier. I'm sorry for the stuff I said before. I just . . . you're human now and I can't . . . I can't get around that. It's no excuse though. I should get around it because I love you and I need you. I just wish I could tell you all this but pretty soon you'll be gone and I'll just go back to being a jerk. Well, you know, more of a jerk than I have been. You know, a really huge, gigantic jerk." I sigh, not bothering to finish. That's when I feel the door behind me suddenly open.

"Now you can come in," whispers Sofia as she looks down at me. For a split-second, I rage inwardly. Who does this girl think she is? I'm Julian Keller. I don't beg for anyone, especially not for low-gene losers like her.

"If you stop being the person you were five seconds ago, I will close this door and I will resume not speaking to you," states Sofia flatly as she reads my face.

"Okay," I reply simply as I push the anger back down. I like to think of myself as the prince here. In this moment, I realize how much of a nothing I really am.

"You claim to love me," says Sofia, "but would you fight for me the way Noriko fights to keep David here?" I can't answer that question so easily. A reputation is a complicated thing. I enjoy having one. I think every man should hold himself to standards. But reputations, they screw a lot of things up too.

"Yes," I tell her as I look into her eyes, "I don't know what good it'll do. Ms. Frost isn't cutting any slack on this thing."

"I don't care about her," replies Sofia as she touches my cheek, "What am I to you, Julian? Am I a lowly human or am I a person?" Therein lies the great question. What counts as a human being these days, huh? What's the measure for defining who's only human? Is it your DNA or something else inside you, something deeper?

"You're everything," I tell her softly, "Every girl I need, every girl I want, every girl I've ever dreamed of. You're all that and everything else in between.

"That covers enough for me," replies Sofia simply as she goes back to her bed. The suitcases tell the tale. She's not waiting around for Frost to give her the heave-ho like she gave Moonstar. Sofia's got too much class for that.

"Fly with me tonight," I tell her. It is half of a demand and half of a request. It's a request because I know she would cut me down if I wasn't polite; it's a demand because I feel if we don't do this now then we may never at all.

"I can't fly, Julian," replies Sofia as she looks at me sadly, "Not anymore. You know that." Pssh, as if a little thing like the harsh cruelties of reality could stop the prince of Xavier's.

"I didn't mean it as a request," I tell her as I use my telekinesis to simultaneously open her window and levitate us both off her floor. It's a parlor trick and, even though I doubt it will, I hope such a mundane thing impresses her. If that's all it takes, wait till she sees what I can really do.

"Julian," replies Sofia sternly, "I have to finish packing."

"That can wait," I assure her as I float over to her and take her hand, "Just tonight, it can wait."

"Alright," agrees Sofia as I lead her out the window and up towards the stars. The night is beautiful. She is beautiful. I thought we were doing good. I figured pretty soon we might be a couple or something. Life's not so kind though. Very well then, just tonight.

"It's not the same," sighs Sofia as she moves through the air, "It's too . . . constricted."

"I'm doing my best," I remind her. She smiles faintly.

"You have to let go," she tells me, "You have to let go of things."

"Not of you, beautiful," I assure her, "I'm not letting go of you." It's a smooth line, one delivered at the precise moment to provoke a precise reaction. I'm the king here. Everything works like I want it to and all of my actions are deliberate moves in a dance that no one can lead except for me. But I can't own the sky and I can't control everything no matter how god-like I paint myself as. She used to own the sky once though.

"I'm sorry that you can't really be up here," I tell Sofia as I hold her closely.

"It's life," replies Sofia simply, "Winds change and move, always flowing in a never-ending journey. Change is natural, Julian."

"I'm not good with change," I tell her. When Sofia flew, it was like she was a part of the sky, like she belonged up here. I don't belong up here. Hell, I can't even really fly. But I loved the way she moved. I still do.

"Dance with me," whispers Sofia, "Just tonight."

"You sure?" I ask.

"It wasn't a request," replies Sofia with a smile as she puts a hand on my waist and another on my shoulder. I smile and mimic her actions as we dance to an unheard rhythm.

"Do you remember Valentine's Day?" asks Sofia as I spin her around and into a dip, "That bouquet of roses from my 'secret admirer'?"

"I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about," I reply with a grin as I feign innocence, "Whoever did that must care about you very much though."

"Or want to get into my pants," replies Sofia with a grin, "Would you happen to know anyone like that?"

"I might," I reply casually as we continue dancing, "He left though. Haven't seen him in months."

"I bet," snorts Sofia. She leans in and rests her head on my shoulder as we waltz among the stars. As incredibly lame as it may sound, and trust me it does, tonight is magical.

"What should we do for Valentine's Day this year?" asks Sofia.

"I'll find you," I whisper to her, "and then we'll go dancing for real."

"I hope not," admits Sofia, "Real dancing isn't as fun as this is." I smile as she looks up at me and kisses me gently on the lips.

"Thank you," she whispers.

"Thank you," I tell her as I float us back into her room. Both of us look at her suitcases and the magic of the night fades.

"I love you," I whisper as I reluctantly break away from her and move to the door.

"You too," whispers back Sofia, "Promise me that you'll fight for me."

"Always," I tell her, "and nothing is going to stop me." Nothing can stop me as long as she's around. I'm the king and she's my queen. Who can stop the king so long as he has a queen by his side? I sigh as I turn to look at her before closing the door. In this business, you have to make yourself larger than life. You have to puff yourself up and hype yourself because if you can't believe in yourself then no one else can. But sometimes, well, you take a hit that no amount of ego-massaging can cure. I used to be king here and it was good to be king. But now? Now I'm starting to understand things. I'm starting to know my limits and realize that, despite how I think, the world doesn't revolve around me. In the end, I'm learning that I'm also only human and I suppose there's no real shame in that.