Author's Note: I was thinking, not too long ago, about how Dani came back to earth in X-Force with the whole S.H.I.E.L.D. thing and whatever and, well… I don't like it. I mean, I like the idea but it seems more like a poorly executed retcon than an actual plot point and that annoys me. So, I thought about it—about how it seemed when she first returned and this is what came out of it. A sort of 'what if'. What if S.H.I.E.L.D. hadn't found her? What if she hadn't readjusted so well or readily? What if she really did turn villainess? Here's one answer. It's not named for the Sarah McLachlan song but it fits with disturbing accuracy. Oh and several lines are paraphrased quotes from various issues of X-Force because I'm gay that way. It's okay, you like it. /end author ramble
Disclaimer: Don't own Dani and, if this fic is any judge, it's probably a damn good thing. Poor girl.

by, Caliente

It's like a dream. She can still remember it but it's all strangely… detached. Unfamiliar. As if she hadn't actually lived it herself. As if it weren't really a place and she hadn't really been a part of it. As if she hadn't, for a brief moment, been a member of a unique celestial choir. (Occasionally, she wonders if she really might be crazy, because she knows how that sounds.) But it was real. It was. And she has to live with that every day.

If someone asked, she'd probably tell them the truth. She fell screaming from the skies, an angel cast out of a heaven she didn't belong in. But it's so much more than that. Words could never explain what it was. How it felt. The sun on her face… the wind in her hair… the magic that was practically palpable, even to an outsider like her. Nothing could ever be as glorious as that place. Nothing could ever replace it. Nothing could ever bring her that same joy.

She wishes she could just forget. Sear the memories from her brain. Make it so she never heard of Asgard or Valkyries or any of that Norse mythology crap but, try as she might, she can't be rid of it. She dreams about it at night. She fights tears every morning when she realizes it's not real. It's like being cast out again. Every time. She thinks it's probably Hela's fault, but she's not sure even that witch could be so evil.

It's as if she's cursed. Cursed to remember. She remembers thinking the same thing when her parents died. When Black Eagle died. But those things pale in comparison to the hurt she feels now. Where her heart once beat with fierce passion, now all she feels is a dull throb. A cold ache in a dead shell. She's not even sure she's still alive half the time, she's so numb. Numb to everything except the pain and hurt that comes from merely existing.

Because existing on earth after living in the heavens is not an existence at all. She's a shadow of herself and she knows it. Nothing holds any meaning anymore. She's held life in her hands. She's stared death in the face. She's tired of never knowing which is the better alternative. She's just plain tired. Tired of feeling this way. Tired of the endless battles. Battles that never yield a victor. Battles without purpose or meaning.

She's far too young to be so defeated. She hates what she's become. She hates this place. She hates being exiled. She hates it all. (She hates that she now completely understands that whole Buffy-fallen-from-heaven thing, not that she'd never admit to it in the first place.) It makes her want to scream. Just scream and scream and scream until she can feel again. Something other than pain and anger. She's always been an angry person but this… this is too much. Even for her.

But she doesn't. She doesn't make a sound. For better or for worse, this is her life now. This is who she is. A loser. She always loses. Loses her friends, loses her home, loses at life… she even loses at death. (She thinks that'd actually be pretty impressive if it weren't so damn sad.) The only difference now is that she doesn't care. She can't. She doesn't even know how to anymore. A thought that would've scared her in the past. But not now. Now she's too far gone for even that.

She used to think she knew what fear was. She was sort of an authority on the subject, really. She used to think she understood. But she never did. Not really. Fear is nothing but another tool. She used to be afraid. But that was before. Before she was cast out. Before she lost everything that held meaning to her. Before she was abandoned, alone and angry with nothing and no one to go to. She used to be afraid. Now she's just angry.

When she fell, she fell hard. A fall from grace in every sense of the word. In another time and place, she probably would have been part of the next generation of super-heroes. Things didn't work out that way. (And if the rumors she's heard are true, she's not alone.) She's no hero, not anymore. She's nothing. But that doesn't mean she's going to lie down and play dead. She's still Danielle Moonstar. And she's going to make them pay.

You came. You read. You conquered. Wouldn't you like to commemorate the occassion. Maybe with a review..?