The Night Before A Funeral
Last night I had a dream that I was dead.
I was at my funeral, looking down on it, like a ghost. My folks were there, my mom crying her eyes out, my dad trying to be strong and holding onto her, but his face was all crumpled up with pain. Kitty was there, looking fragile and almost transparent, her face all blotchy from crying, and Warlock was drooping all over the place, till I though he might just go spaghetti-like right there on the ground by my grave. There was Illyana, looking fierce and angry and cold, the way she's looked since her brother died with the rest of the X-Men, and Dani looking so lost, so sad, not like any way I've ever seen her before. Sam was there with tears rolling down his cheeks, and Amara standing rigid and Bobby looking grey. Magneto was there, staring at my grave like if he chewed me out for dying on him I might come back to life.
And Rahney was there. She was holding onto Dr. MacTaggert, not even looking at my grave, sobbing. And I felt so sad for disappointing her, but so very glad that she was alive, that I'd succeeded. And I wanted to ask them all what they were crying for. I'd died a hero, hadn't I? I'd saved a teammate's life, hadn't I? But they just all kept grieving, because they couldn't hear me tell them I wanted it this way.
And then I woke up.
For a moment I lay in bed looking at the ceiling, thinking what a weird dream that was. And I wanted to tell my friends about it. But Warlock doesn't dream and he doesn't quite get it when we do, and Illyana's been so depressed over Peter dying, and Kitty's still on Muir Island. So I was going to go tell Rahne--
I remembered it then.
I didn't succeed. I didn't die a hero.
I froze up like a fucking coward, and now Rahne is dead.
If I hadn't seen-- if I hadn't looked--
But I've been noticing, I've been getting better. Nothing that's any use in battle. Nothing that's any use in saving any lives but my worthless skin. But I've started to hear what people really mean when they say things, and I've started to see patterns. Like body language. Like bullet trajectories.
I can shout "watch out!" in any language. And that's it, that's fucking it. Because when I had my chance to jump in there, to push her out of the way, I saw the trajectory, and I froze--
It should have been me that's dead.
The others don't get it. When Magneto read us the riot act and grounded us for 600 years and started ranting hysterically about how he'd been wrong all along and Xavier's way was getting his students killed and he would protect us from humans and our own stupidity if he had to chain us in the basement to do it, they acted like he was being unreasonable. Like, but teach, we only got one of our teammates killed. What're you grounding us for?
That's not fair. They didn't get her killed. I did.
And I'm watching Dani shout at him-- "You can't do this to us! We're not babies, Magneto!" And what I hear is, "Why aren't you helping us? You're supposed to be our teacher-- how could you let this happen? How can I live with getting Rahney killed on my watch, when I'm supposed to be a goddamn Valkyrie with a goddamn mind-link to her and I still can't see her about to die in time, oh Rahney, goddamn you Magneto why aren't you helping us, why aren't you helping me?"
And I'm watching him scream back at her-- "If you insist on acting like children, you shall be treated as such! Now one of your number is dead because you would not heed me!" And what I hear is, "My students, my students I failed you, oh Rahne sweet child you should not have died this way, what can I possibly say to Moira, I should have protected you, protected all of you, why would you not let me protect you, fool to let you have your heads, fool not to hold you here safe from the world, fool fool and you let your student die you worthless fool so much power and you could not save one life that trusted you..."
I hear what they say, and I hear what they mean, and I hear that they don't hear each other at all. Their pain's getting in the way, and even if I tried to translate for them, they still wouldn't hear each other. But they're both wrong. It wasn't Dani's fault, and it wasn't Magneto's.
It was mine.
If the bullet had hit her in the back she would have regenerated, she'd have turned to her human form and there would have been no bullet wound anymore.
And if the bullet had hit her in the back then Dani would have sensed it through their link and she'd have turned around and seen the death-glow and known the danger and she'd have had Illyana get Rahne the hell out of there.
And if the bullet had hit her in the back she'd have been alive, hurt but alive, and she'd have yelled at me for not warning her sooner, and Magneto would have yelled at all of us for going out without permission and probably grounded us for 600 years again but we'd all be so relieved that Rahne was alive that we wouldn't care.
But if the bullet had hit me in the back, I'd have died.
I was going to move-- I was going to charge forward, and push her out of the way--
--and then I saw the pattern, I saw the trajectories, I saw that if I dove into the way the vectors would converge and I'd die, like math is a language and trajectories are math and all of a sudden I got it, I translated it, went click in my head and I froze, because I didn't want to die and I didn't see it all the way--
If I'd seen it all the way, if I'd seen where the bullet would end up if I didn't move, would I have dove anyway?
Because it didn't hit her in the back, where she could regenerate.
It blew off the back of her head--
Sharon just came by with a tray. She wanted me to eat.
I'm not hungry.
Useless fucking mutant power, useless fucking worthless coward, you thought you'd be a big hero and instead you got her killed, and she loved you, she loved you--
Yeah. It was a teenage crush. I know that, goddamnit, all right? I know that she fell for Sam and she fell for Bobby and this time it was my turn. She'd lived long enough, maybe she'd have fallen for Tom. Maybe even Magneto, wouldn't that be a joke. It doesn't matter. Because Kitty never loved me, she just wanted me for a friend. And Betsy never loved me, she was just flattered I had this huge old crush on her. And Jenny never loved me, she was just using me. But Rahney-- maybe it wasn't real, maybe it'd have gone away in a few months the way all her other crushes did, but I read body language, and I know. Right then, she loved me.
And I let her die.
It should have been me-- no one would have cared, if it was me--
She had a useful mutant power, not like mine. And she was so brave, even though she'd been raised to be afraid of everything. She confronted her fears, she looked in the face of the devil every day because that asshole who raised her told her the devil was everywhere, but she kept going. She wouldn't have frozen up. If it had been her in my place, she wouldn't have hesitated to save me.
And she was the one who wanted to save Warlock, when even I just thought he was kind of a neat thing to play around with talking to, she's the one who wanted to accept him into the school and save him and help him to fit in. Even though he was more alien than she could imagine, she embraced him without any thought of gain. I always got something out of partnering with Warlock, being his buddy. She never did. She was his friend anyway.
She was a better hero than me, and a better mutant than me, and a better person than me. She was only a kid, two years younger than me, so much of her life ahead of her and so much of what she'd had had been so unhappy, not like me with folks who loved me, she had so much to learn, so much to make up for.
Should have been me, should have been me, should have been me...
Tomorrow we're going to Muir Island for the funeral. I can't stand the idea of looking at Dr. MacTaggert, knowing I could have saved her daughter, knowing I saved my own worthless skin instead. I can't stand the idea of seeing Kitty again, and having her know that about me. But it's just what I deserve, isn't it? If they all hate me, if they despise me, isn't it what I deserve?
Last night I had a dream, but it wasn't true. It wasn't true.
Rahne Sinclair is dead because I'm a coward. I didn't save her. And I have to live with that for the rest of my life.