Know Thy Self

Standard Disclaimer: ::Looks in portfolio:: Well, it seems that I don't own the X-Men after all.

Archiving: You want, you take. (Though I wouldn't mind if you dropped me a note.)

Feedback: Is always appreciated. This is my first published X-Men fic (not my first written one, but we're not going to get into that), so any and all comments, flames, and constructive critism are welcomed.

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Telepathy wasn't the mutation.

It was the manifestation.

The mutation was the ability to be, to know. Not all mutations are clear cut. It only makes sense that some go beyond the realm of convention, when you take into account exactly what it is that causes one. The radical rewrite of DNA is bound to break a few barriers.

The ability to be, to know, was the mutation.

The ability to know, to be, was the ailment.

To know what they wanted you to be, yet to know what you wanted to be, causes confusion in even a normal person. To have the uncontrolled ability to become leads to complications.

The child wanted to be a child. The father wanted the child to be ruthless, to be untouchable. To be as he was.

The child knew that. She loved to love, knowing in her heart that love was out there, even if it wasn't there for her at the time. She wouldn't be callous. But maybe the father would love her if she was what he wanted.

So she became. And then there two.

Two children where to the world there was only one. One child with two faces, two moods.

Yet things did not improve. The father did not love the child, either child, any more than he had before. And each blamed it on the other. The child possessed of the ability to know and to be, wanted to know what it was to be loved, wanted to know what it was that caused love. Even then she was curious, always wanting to know how things worked.

So she became. And then the voices started.

And she learned that perhaps the world was more similar to her home than she had thought.

The voices weren't something that the child could shut off. The voices belonged to the first child alone, you see. They affected the second, but only the first had the ability to know and to be, which she controlled on a base level. She became out of instinct, and could not unbecome.

One day, it came to a head, and the child, both children, started to scream. They had felt a man being murdered, and his killers satisfaction. The voices had eaten away at the children, until they didn't know what was real and what was dream anymore.

They had turned eight the day before it happened.

They were eight years and one day old when they entered the Centre.

They were sixteen and one day old when they left it.

The Centre was a turning point. The child, the first child, learned that the world wasn't full of love, only pain and fear, and that there wasn't ever anyone to watch out for you. It wasn't a lesson that she learned easily, or quickly.

To avoid it, she became again. And then there were three. Three where, to the world, there was one.

It didn't make her look any more stable. In fact, if she hadn't become, she might have been out of there legally, as the personalities learned to live in equilibrium.

But the third was not that stable in and of herself. She absorbed the energy of the minds around her. Very simply, she became similar to those she was surrounded by.

From the minute she became, she was jaded, so the others wouldn't have to be.

And yet, they learned it. The first learned to mistrust, to stand on her own, to never let anyone in. The second, instead of despairing, became the queen bitch. The third didn't care about anything or anyone, and about herself less than the rest.

And eight years later, when they pulled together, some how finding unity and strength, they destroyed the Centre.

It wasn't their intent. It was merely a side effect of the need to escape. The first, who still possessed the ability to know and become, needed to get out of that place. And so the voices expanded, until her telepathy could control others, could incapacitate and cripple them. Her desire permeated the Centre, affecting those sensitive to psionic activity, those compassionate to the sentiments.

A cook in the kitchen, below the room of the children, dropped a bottle of oil onto the fire. He would never tell anyone that it hadn't been an accident, that something had compelled him to crank the industrial size burner to its hottest, then open a full bottle of cooking oil and drop it into the flames.

The children escaped into the night, not sparing a backwards glance for the burning building that had been their home for so long.

The children's parents had passed away by then, murdered by the sister who truly was insane.

After a period of time away from the Centre, the third child reverted to normal, absorbing the energy of minds not lost to the real world. The three worked together in the conscious mind, wary of being sent back to a place like the Centre.

They claimed their inheritance, and eventually fell into the Hellfire Club. It was a perfect place for the second child, and the third fed off of the ruthlessness that filled each of the members. The third child always seemed to decide who had the most control over the conscious body, so maybe it was indeed the company in which they found themselves that determined the true personality that the world saw.

The first child, though toughened by the world, still cared deeply when given the chance, even if it was from a distance. She wasn't able to let people in.

The second child, who had started hard, had become sub zero cold, and was, at times, vindictive and petty, obsessed with power and money.

The third child would use any means to get her way, including her body. She needed touch to reassure her that this world was real, adoration or fear to prove that she was worthwhile.

It was not to say that any of the children did not possess any other qualities, or that they did not share traits with the others. The first, for instance, loved to tinker, though her motivation for it was the second's desire to become more powerful. The third's personality depended greatly on her peers.

It was the ultimate example of peer pressure, of being convinced by those around you to fit a mould.

And now we children are not children anymore, though one of us may still be insane.

We sit together in the subconscious, the three of us. The Queen, Emma, and myself. The Queen, the second child, took control of our body completely. She fed off of the anger and insanity fed into us through Adrienne. She used Emma's care for her students, and subsequent anger our sister's attack on them, to drive Emma to commit murder.

That was the only opening she needed.

The Queen was suppressed, slowly, when we were brought into Xavier's fold. My absorption of the attitudes of the X-Men, which had started when we first came in contact with them, drove her under.

It wasn't a sudden thing. It never is.

It wasn't a sudden thing when she took over again, but once it started, it was only a matter of time until she succeeded. Emma's remorse made her vulnerable, and the residual insanity from Adrienne made me sympathetic to her cause.

Emma's students walking out on us in our weakest hour, when we needed help most, was the last straw. They didn't investigate, they didn't ask for the truth, they didn't even give us a chance to explain.

They could have saved us.

Maybe we don't deserve to be saved.

And the Queen gained control.

The Queen never has had any weaknesses. She's not vulnerable. She can't be hurt.

It's how Emma became her.

But the Queen isn't a telepath. Emma has become one, I was become one, but the Queen is just hard. Like diamond.

I don't know how no one suspects that something's up. Emma Frost doesn't leave trails like we did. The blunders and inconsistencies came from Emma and the Queen and myself fighting for control.

They really think that our change from a telepath to a metamorph is a by product of a mutant baby boom. They really, truly, believe it. They don't even question the change in behaviour and relationships since the Queen began to take over. They just assume that we were evil all along, and it was only a matter of time until we reverted. If anyone else were to undergo such a severe personality change, then they'd be all over it.

Not that any of the psionics would know right off the bat that we were not one. My little habit of absorbing and mimicking the mental energy of those around me has created a sort of blanket over us, to those who don't know what they're looking for. Not that it's impossible to penetrate. The three of us make three pretty distinct lumps under the blanket, if you take a look beyond the fabric.

Maybe Bobby would see, if he was here. Emma spent a good deal of time in his head. Maybe he'd be able to tell that she wasn't there anymore, that she had been wrapped inside her own telepathy, and had sunken, in her guilt, deep into our subconscious.

Maybe he'd just agree with the rest, when they said that, in the end, we were just a cold-hearted bitch.

Xavier is supposed to be the most powerful telepath in the world. He's got the fanciest toys, designed to push him well beyond the realm of what he can normally do.

I should have faith that he'll figure it out.

But he never did before, not even when given unparalleled opportunities to do so.

He doesn't even know that telepathy wasn't the mutation.

Maybe if they knew that, then the rest would fall in place.

Maybe they wouldn't care.

The only reason that I'm not bound like Emma is that I don't give the Queen much trouble. I go with the flow, so I'm allowed some freedom.

We're sitting in the Mansion's rec room right now. God, I hate this new outfit. I feel like I should have a few more X's attached to me. Emma hates it too. That might be why the Queen chose it.

Logan is sitting in the chair farthest from us, pretending as if we're not there. The Queen tires of the inanity of television, and rises to go. Our path to the door takes us right by the team's glowering Canadian, who is still acting as if he's the only one present. He doesn't even flick his eyes our way.

The Queen hates to be ignored. It's hard for her to keep a steady pace as she glides down the hallway.

Hank is approaching from the end, buried in his research. He truly doesn't notice us.

The Queen gives me more autonomy because I don't cause waves.

She brushes our hair back as she nears him, stopping his progress with a hand on his arm. She starts to make some sly comment about coming in for a physical, when I drop a boulder in the lake.

She watches from outside as our reflection in his eyes alters, face becoming somehow different, soft, maybe even pleading. She listens as I whisper to him, voice higher than hers.

Telepathy isn't the mutation.

As soon as those words are out of our mouth, I'm out of control again, the Queen's shock having quickly worn off in an instant. I can see the confusion in his eyes as red spots apple into being on our cheeks, and she mutters an apology in her husky voice.

She heads down the corridor with great alacrity, white hair spilling behind us.

And as I'm pushed down below, I wonder when the waves will hit the shore.

Or if we're too far from the beach, and by the time they reach solid ground, no one will notice them, involved in their own parties, their own lives.

And no one will see us drowning in each other.