"How are you, Hank?"
"I've seen better days, Ms. Cooper," the blur-furred X-Man replied as he entered the head of the ONE program's office.
"Have a seat," she replied as she took one herself. "And for god sakes, Hank, call me Val."
"Ms. Cooper," he said coolly, "perhaps another time."
The woman stiffened as she stared into McCoy's eyes – his stature was tense. "What's on your mind, Doctor?"
"The results of your program as of late aside," he began, "I don't believe I've questioned the efficiency of your department more than as of late."
"If you're referring to—"
"I have a list, I assure you."
They stared at one another.
"This office is feeling a bit crowded."
"Indeed," he said shortly. "I've recently visited Neverland."
A puzzled look came over Val's face – though it didn't last long when she saw the look of disbelief wash over his. She didn't try to deny her knowledge of the mutant concentration camp.
"Where were you then?"
"It isn't even part of –"
"Ah," McCoy cut her off yet again. "Always the public relations… though you've asked me to call you Val."
"McCoy," she said tensely – rising from her seat.
The Beast threw a notebook on her desk and turned. "Give this to Reyes."
Colonel Reyes stared at the notebook before him for several minutes before taking a seat and picking it up. He nodded to Valerie Cooper as she left and took in a deep breath.
He recognized his sister's handwriting immediately.
If I'm going to die here I feel like I should have a few final words.
God. I can't believe this is really happening.
Get it together, Cecelia. Lord knows you're no stranger to death.
You know – if someone were to ask me what my crowning moment in life has been… or even a few of them… I don't know that I'd mention being a mutant. Funny, then, that I'm going to die because of it.
I worked with the X-Men. I made a few friends.
But I'm a doctor.
I've done my best with the other – prisoners ?Inmates? Trying to stitch them up, offer whatever assistance I can. There are so many people here that have defined themselves as simply a mutant… but without their powers… what are they?
If you can't soar through the sky because you're caged, can you still fly? Why have they limited themselves so much?
I don't have the supplies I need. They barely feed us. I don't even know why they've let me keep this little notebook – and I found the pencil. This is awful.
I've watched children die – fought for them to keep fighting. I've helped gunshot victims, burn victims. And here I am without my tools… watching people die left and right.
Am I any different than the man who can't spread his wings? Have I limited myself to just being a doctor in the same way they identify solely as a mutant?
It's ironic. I would have been safer with the X-Men.
But if I was going to save lives it was going to be in a hospital.
I'm more than a mutant. I'm a doctor.
And now look at me.
God, this is depressing.
I wonder if anyone will ever even read this.
My brother and I used to argue about optimism – I suppose I'm more like him than I really thought.
I feel so broken. Helpless.
I'm a doctor who can't help any of these people. I couldn't care less about being able to access my force field or not… how would that possibly help now?
Nothing can help.
I don't even remember how long I've been here.
If someone reads this – no, that's too much.
Just know that I may be going to die here – but every life I've ever helped save kept me living too.
I don't have regret.
I could do with some more hope.
All of this … because I'm a mutant.
Where's the better world I was supposed to be living in? How could this happen to anyone again?
I hope someone catches these bastards.
I just wish
Colonel Reyes stared at the word wish for a moment. His mind wandered – why had she stopped writing?
He'd never know.
Closing the book, the Colonel stood. He began to pace. "I love you, Cecelia."
Damnit, he thought as he picked up the phone. "Val?"
"We need to talk about ONE."