Challenge: The Album Challenge
Timeline: Two years after X3
Summary: Pyro contemplates, only to be interrupted by an old "friend".
Disclaimer: I don't own St. John Allerdyce (Pyro). I don't own Kitty, Bobby, Rogue, Professor X, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Storm, or Wolverine. I don't own X-Men. Oh, and I also don't own Hamlet or the existence of Shakespeare. Or, of course, the song.
Author's Note: This was written to the song "Back Home" by Yellowcard, the lyrics to which can be found here.
WARNINGS: A little bit of foul language but not too much. Nothing else, really.
I seriously don't know why I came back here. Was I looking for something? Or am I just naïve enough to think that the X-Men would be that accepting? Fuck, I'm such a fool. Everyone here just gives me dirty looks like I'm evil incarnate. Not too far off, but they could as least try to come up with something more interesting and creative.
In all honesty, I feel more alone here than I did in prison. Sounds funny, I guess, to someone that doesn't understand, but it's true. People care more here—all right, Munroe and Wolverine care more than the prison guards—but everything is too real here. In prison, nobody gave a damn, and, for some reason, that was comforting. I don't know why, but it just was. Here, it's like they care but they don't care enough to just say something simple to me, to see if I'm all right. At least they did that at prison… only not a very caring way.
The mansion's more like a prison than jail was, to tell the truth. There are so many people here that I knew from before—actually, a lot of those have graduated and left, but some stayed like Iceman and Rogue and Kitty and Colossus and several others that I don't recall by name—but they won't associate with me. It's not like I want to associate with them. I really don't like any of them. The worst part is that I'm stuck here without any powers and they're all here of their own free will with their powers (except Rogue, but she can handle herself without stealing life and memories with just a touch).
Fuck, I wish I was still in jail.
It's been two years since Alcatraz. Seriously, today is the day. I think there's going to be some memorial service for the Professor and Dr. Grey and Cyclops. I'm not going. I might pay my respects later, but definitely not with everybody else. They'd just go on thinking, 'Oh, yeah, he better be doing that, saying he's sorry for all the shit he pulled.' All right, it'd be put more eloquently and probably more elegantly, too, but I'm not going to waste time thinking up a bunch of shit like that.
But I can hardly believe it's been two years already. It's actually a bit scary that so much time has passed. Nothing's the same… and nothing ever will be. That war changed our lives completely. But some things changed before the war—like me. But I guess I was slowly moving toward the same thing that Magneto taught me to be. It was inevitable. It wasn't just his teachings.
I slowly push myself from my room and leave the building. I don't want to be near anyone right now. I just want to walk and walk and never stop.
Sometimes, I wonder why I left in the first place. It was stupid, yes, but I don't regret it. Why regret something you can't change? It was inevitable for me to leave the X-Men, but it was more than just inevitability and my need to be a rebel.
When I was in school here, I always wanted so much more than the X-Men could give me. I wanted to be completely free without any cares in the world so that I could just be myself. I wanted to be able to feel alive. But now I don't know what I want. Everything I worked toward and fought for was just a load of bullshit that Magneto fed to me off what looked like a silver platter but was really old and worn.
I stop in front of the three monuments to my former teachers and hesitate before sitting down there to just watch them. No one else is around. The service won't be for a little while. I had thought that, if I were to come here at all today, it would be after everyone else—just to say that they didn't matter to me or make a difference. And yet, for some reason, I ended up here an hour and a half ahead. What does that say about me?
After those two long years, though, I still have nothing. Absolutely nothing that I could possibly call my own. Nothing to really live for. Everyone and everything I could possibly love was ripped away from—or else I ripped away from it. It was all so premature, too. I didn't even really have enough time to doing the things I love and enjoy it all. I didn't have time to spend with everything important to me. Because I just left. And I know it's my own fault, but I can still reminisce, right?
I won't let anyone know this, but I miss the days before I left school. At least I wasn't so lonely then. Of course, I won't let anyone know that either. Pyro doesn't get lonely. It's just… wrong. Now no one cares—not even my teachers even if they say they do—when before I actually had friends, even if there weren't very many. And, before, I was actually free, even when I didn't think I was. I wasn't held down by Magneto and the Brotherhood or by the very thick chains that the government and the X-Men have here.
And yet, beyond all these flaws, this place still seems so perfect. Most students carry on with their lives like nothing really matters, but they still live like all the stupid rules here are really important. What they don't know is that those rules don't mean a damn thing in the real world. What they don't know is that life isn't as simple as it's made out to be here at the school. And it all just makes me sick. I just want to get away from here.
Maybe, if I could run away again, everything would be fine. But where would that take me? To the streets and eventually back to jail? Or maybe just to death? That doesn't answer anything, though. I'd still be stuck, trapped. I'd still be exactly where I am. There are no second chances for me. I've ruined everything I could possibly have that would be good for me.
I glance up to look into the eyes of my visitor, only to realize that it's just Kitty. That look is the only acknowledgement I send her way, for I easily reach into my pocket and produce the one thing I still truly love and its current companion. I open my Zippo and light a cigarette from the carton I keep with me. I don't really like smoking—in fact, I hate it—but it's the only justification I can find for still carrying around my lighter. I don't have my powers anymore so what's the point other than what I'm using it for now?
She sits down beside me and sighs heavily.
Kitty's really the only person that spoken to me at all. She's still the same as she was before I left. She's still calm and eager and kind. But, at the same time, she's sobered a little bit. Alcatraz probably did that to her. She's not at naïve anymore, and I think that, sometimes, she has to force herself to be the same as she was before. I'm not sure why she even tries, but I guess that's still the Kitten in her.
Bobby, on the other hand, still hates me—and I certainly don't blame him. But it's not like I don't hate him back, so neither of us has made any effort to change what's happening between us. Our friendship was doomed from the start, anyway. I don't even know why we became friends in the first place—it certainly wasn't anything made on my part. Sometimes, I remember that first day when we met and he forced himself into my life, but then I remember that we're complete opposites and that was just his way of being the same cool and collected Bobby that I absolutely hate.
Rogue has said a few words to me but not very much. She tried a little bit at first, but I don't think her heart was fully in it. I don't think she wanted to even be in the same vicinity as me let alone talk to me. Besides, all her attempts were fruitless because I've lost all respect for her since she gave up her powers. I thought she was stronger than that, but I guess not. But that doesn't really matter anymore, does it?
"Do you miss them?" asks Kitty, glancing up from the tombstones and over to me.
I'm not sure how to respond to that. I never really thought about my opinions of my old teachers after I left. Before, I had only really liked Dr. Grey, and I'm not even sure why. She was just… nice, I guess. "I don't know," I finally say, suddenly realizing that this is the first thing I've said to anyone other than the teachers.
She smiles, but I know it's not because of my answer but that I said something in the first place. But her smile is hesitant, and I know, now that I've spoken once, she's got a million questions she wants to ask me—millions of simple questions, but I still don't want to answer them. Her first question is even simpler than the one she's already asked. "What's on your mind, John?"
She called me John again. I guess I've gotten used to it. It has been two years, after all, and that's all the teachers insist on calling me. Well, Wolverine still calls me Pyro sometimes… or Hothead.
When I force myself to think about the question she's just asked me, I realize that there's too much on my mind to say it all in one sentence—that is, if I wanted to tell her, and I'm still not sure whether or not I do. So I just shrug, knowing that's far from the answer she's looking for. She wants me to speak my mind, tell her what's wrong. But the problem with that is: every single thing is fucking wrong!
And I realize that this is exactly what I've been wanting: someone to talk to that doesn't do it because they were told to or because 'it's better for me if I talk to someone', someone that does it because they actually care. But, still, why should I trust Kitty? Yes, every time I've ever spoken to her, I've always known her to be honest and truthful, but I really don't know what to think of anything anymore.
So I finally force myself to say something more than, "I don't know." I say, "Denmark's a prison. Were you sent here by them?"
"Denmark?" she asks in confusion. She doesn't know what I'm talking about, which is actually quite understandable. "Sent by whom? What are you saying, John? I wasn't sent by anyone." I know she's telling the truth.
"Denmark's a prison," I repeat. "It's a line from Hamlet. Bet you didn't know I've read Shakespeare on purpose."
"You always had surprises set up for me," she answers. "Why are you thinking about Hamlet?"
"Then why did you say that?"
"I was just thinking about how my life is similar to Hamlet's right now. Everyone's watching me. No move I make goes unnoticed."
"Except no one killed your father and stole the throne, and you're anything but a prince."
I laugh bitterly at that. "You can say that again."
We sit in silence for a while, and I just can't seem to think properly. My mind drifts back over everything I've already thought of, reiterating and repeating like I haven't already thought of it.
"Why did you leave?" she asks quietly, leaning in toward me like it's some big secret, but I guess it really is. I never told anyone. I never thought anyone would care, really.
I shrug again, and I know that, as I do that, I'm squashing her hopes. Somehow, that doesn't seem right to me, so I force myself to say, "It was too perfect here."
"What do you mean? How can anything be 'too perfect'?"
"You're still naïve, Kitty," I whisper, barely loud enough for her to hear it. Then, I allow my voice to get louder so that she doesn't have to strain to listen. "Life doesn't seem real unless there's pain in it, don't you know that? Everything here was too happy and different from what I grew up with. It just didn't feel right. It was unrealistic. I thought that, if I could get away from it all, everything would be all right."
"While you were… with the Brotherhood, was there anything—anyone—you missed?" she asks, her voice straining. This is probably one of the questions she deemed most important.
I shrug at that. I hadn't really missed anything—and definitely not anyone. Well, not in the beginning, at least. I struggle to answer. "I—not really," I say, furrowing me brow in confusion. "But I guess I did—a little—toward the end. Honestly, the more I'm here, the more I miss prison."
She appears hurt by that, and I'm not sure why, but I know she wouldn't want me to lie to her. "Oh," is all she says at first. Then, "Is it really that bad here?"
"I'm an outcast here. Sure, I always was, but it's different now. It's not that I'm evil and everyone else here is good. It's more that everyone here has their powers and I don't. Without my fire, I just feel lost."
She doesn't say anything to that, and I don't look at her to see her opinion on the matter. We just both sit there and stare out at the graves, but, after a moment, I realize that something is touching my hand. Startled, I glance down as she tries to slip her hand into mine, but I ball it into a fist to stop her. Using her powers, she forces her way through and intertwines our fingers.
When I glance up to her face to ask her what she thinks she's doing, she says quietly, "If you're so lost, I'll help you find your way," she says, squeezing my hand reassuringly. "And, if you ever get scared, even if you're too proud to admit it, I'll be here."
Sometimes—rarely—I'm glad I came back here.