Hello all! Here I come with the promised sequel to "Silver Tongue" staring Emma and the beginning of the X-Men.
Chapter 1: Mourning Period
"There is crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here that topples all our success." The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck.
The morgue at Harrisburg Hospital, Pennsylvania, April 3 1979
I thought I could handle this. I thought I could be strong enough but my hands are shaking against my thighs and I've broken out into a cold sweat. I don't know if it's the hospital setting and that antiseptic smell or the fact that in about two seconds I'm going to see if my sister really is dead.
Part of me doesn't want to know. That part of me would love to go on and imagine that she and Logan got out of there all right, that they are waiting for me back in Canmore. And yet….I have to know, I have to know if she really did die all those weeks ago.
"Are you ready?" The coroner with thin metal frame glasses asks me. The photograph that will change my life lies face down on the cool metal table. His eyes are kind, sorrowful and empathetic. It's just another day for him, I suppose.
Don't let it be her, I pray. God, please don't…. "I'm ready." I reply on an exhale.
In an instant, he flips the Polaroid labeled "Jane Doe, March 29 1979. Estimated time of death: 8:45 am (?)" over.
I hold back a scream; The billowing black hair frames the hauntingly familiar face that is pale and waxy in death. She lies on a cold metal table, eyes closed as if she were only sleeping. But I can see the dead veins in her eyelids, temple and neck. They are blue against the shocking white of her skin. Her lips are deflated but there is a delicate smile puling at them. Just like Mom….
"Is she…?" Professor Xavier prods, hand on my shoulder. He wanted to come with me, I don't know why and at this moment, I am glad I'm not alone.
"Her name isn't Jane Doe…." I rasp. I can't tear my watering eyes away from photograph.
The coroner flips it over again, thankfully, and takes to his notes. "What was her full name?"
"Makayla Rose Silverfox." I manage to spit out and the first of the tears falls down my cheek. I don't do a thing to stop them; I don't want them to stop. Maybe if I scream loud enough, it'll fill this void gnawing at my insides.
"Do you have any idea who could have done this?" He asks, pen poised above the paper. "Boyfriend? Husband? Enemy?" His eyes narrow slightly in worry. He's seen the tear tracks in the low light.
"Not her boyfriend…." I shake my head. "He loved her too much….He never…" I can't find the words to explain to him. Hell, I'm even sure if I understand it. I saw the way Logan looked at her, like she was the only person in the whole wide world. "Not him." I sniff.
"Any enemies?" The coroner prods.
I shrug, feigning innocence. "I don't know…I haven't talked to her in three years." But I can see him, the devil man with the ice cold smile and dark blue eyes, the needles pushing against my skin, waking up to cold metal bars. He had to have done it. He had to.
"So, you have no idea who shot her?"
It steals the breath from my body. "She was shot?"
The coroner nods. "From what we can tell she was shot and bled out."
I don't want to hear this or know it or have to deal with it…I can hear my breath growing louder and louder as I hyperventilate.
Xavier places his cool hand on the back of my neck. To the coroner, Xavier is just a family friend offering comfort, what he doesn't know is that Xavier is the one controlling my mouth. I make all the answers available to Xavier and hide somewhere in the back of my mind where the low light isn't so harsh and no one can see my tears.
Finally, the coroner stands up to go. As he gathers his papers, he gives me a mournful look. "I really am sorry for your loss." I believe him actually. Maybe it isn't just another day for him.
But I don't have the capacity to thank him for his sincerity, I nod.
"Expect some results in a few weeks. Can you get mail at this New York address?"
Again, I nod as he leaves. When the door shuts behind him, it echoes with finality and it rings and rings and rings until I think I'll go crazy.
"Emma?" Xavier's voice is soft in the silence. "Emma, I can't imagine-"
"She's gone…" I hiss as my hands tighten into fists of rage and shame and a sadness that I can't find words for. I don't really think there are words for it. "She's gone….and I'm alone."
Xavier Mansion, Upstate New York, April 16, 1979
It's the sunlight that wakes me. That and the heavenly smell of coffee. It climbs the stairs and steals under my closed door. Wrapping its tentacles of flavor around my nose, it tempts me down stairs. I know it's a trick; the only way they can pry me out of my solitude. But if there's one thing my sister taught me it's that coffee is sacred.
I roll over to my side on the narrow window bed; I refuse to sleep in the one sitting in the dark corner of the room. I can see out the window and through the tree line, the beautiful cerulean morning sky. I close my eyes briefly, feeling the sun pouring down on me. It's too bright and it burns but I welcome it. I won't be without it again. But the coffee is relentless in its conquest and now it's filled the whole room.
Thinking of coffee makes me think of her and that chokes me a little. I want this all to be some crazy dream but the days pass and still I don't wake up. Nothing has changed; the world is spinning on with no regard to anyone else. The run rises and sets. Hours flit and minutes flicker. Shadows stretch and shrink. I'm eating up this time but going nowhere.
Below me, the mansion is alive with noise; cheerful yells, rampaging footsteps and games of make-believe. A part of me smiles, glad to know they are putting that part of their life behind them, finding solace with others of their own kind and all right with who they are. But another part of me knows that the cat is out of the bag now. It's just a matter of time before the real trouble starts.
I'm not as stupid as I was before, thinking that we can all just get along. Not in a world where a father hates his son for what he can do, who he is. Not in a world where mothers die and leave sisters to fend for themselves. Not in a world where sisters abandon each other when they need each other most. There is something horribly wrong with us. Something that needs to be fixed.
The coffee is demanding now and I can't ignore its siren calls. I find the energy to rise, despite the part of me that pleads to stay and revel in the sunshine. I pull on some clean clothes and go down into the kitchen.
It's quite possibly my favorite room in the mansion. The wide marble counters and gleaming silver fixtures are simple but elegant. They just beg to be used and admired. My fingers itch to test out the stove, fry and sauté, fill it with the smell of cinnamon rolls. And yet….I can't bring myself to do it.
The Professor, Scott and Hank McCoy are waiting for me at the kitchen table, as I knew they would be. I congratulate myself when I don't jump too much at the sudden sight of Hank. It's not that I don't like him or that he's frightening, he's very friendly; it's just that the blue is still a bit of a shock.
"So good of you to join us, Emma." The Professor intones in his lovely voice as I cross the kitchen.
"I could smell the coffee," I rasp, my voice returning after a few weeks of not speaking in full conversations. I grab a plain ceramic mug and pour the perfectly brewed coffee into it, not looking at the tribunal at the table.
"I wonder if you might sit, I'd like to ask you something." He pulls a chair from the table for me.
I sit, staring at my coffee as the steam swirls up into my face. Across from me, Scott fiddles with the new rose quartz glasses Eric made for him the other day. Now, Scott's able to control ….whatever it is he can do. He gives me a crooked smile as if to say: This is gonna knock your socks off.
Somehow, I really doubt it.
"Emma," The Professor clears his throat and I glance up. "How would you like to stay here?"
"What do you mean?" I ask slowly, carefully.
"Eric and I have been talking lately about what to do…" he glances around to see the storm of mutant children and half-children running amuck in the rather expansive backyard, some of them free from Stryker's kennels and some picked up by Eric and the Professor themselves. "About them….Some of their families showed no interest in taking back a mutant child…"
"Where will they go?" I murmur into my coffee, really not concerned. They aren't related to me nor do I have any kind of claim on them. It's the last thing I need.
"That's where Scott suggested the idea of a school," the Professor beams at Scott as if he is the prodigal son. "….a haven for the mutants who have been turned out by their families. A place where they could learn in safety."
"Who would ever do that?" I wonder.
"Us." Hank smiles so wide, I can see his canines gleaming against his blue fur.
I glanced between Hank and the Professor. "You're crazy," I breathe. "You're both gone stark raving mad."
"What are we supposed to do?" Hank retorts. "Turn them out on the streets where they can be taken advantage of? Hurt? Killed even? Because of what they are?"
I shrug. "Why are you asking me? What do I have to do with any of this?"
"If we're going to attempt this," the Professor lets out a deep breath. "We need all the help we can get. We need you Emma."
I don't want to be needed. I don't even want to be friends or even acquaintances. I just need time to figure out my next move and get going. I only stare at my coffee when the swarm of children come racing into the kitchen.
I hear the Professor talking about Muir Island and a doctor friend he has there. Hank counters with a snort about numbers or something. Scott points outside to the backyard, his mouth moves but I can't hear anything they're saying. It doesn't matter.
I lace my fingers around the hot ceramic and take a deep breath, suddenly all the sound, the yells, laughter, talking…all of it is gone. The steam warms my chin and I close my eyes, imagining that I am in Canmore and that all of this is more than a horrible dream. Kayla could be behind me, her hand soft on my hair as the sun comes up. But when I open my eyes, I am back in New York and alone, even in this too crowded kitchen.
I catch Ororo, the tiny twelve year old ring leader, staring at me in confusion. Her huge blue eyes are solemn beneath her white tufts of hair that lay against her forehead like feathers. She can't put what she wants to say into this new language she struggles with, but I can tell she wants to say something and….I find I don't want her to; I don't want any of this.
Thankfully, Eric and the new girl, Jean, come into the kitchen and thoroughly distract everyone else as I slip outside to the patio for some air. Its funny how things change…I used to be the life of the party, the go to girl for a good time. Now, a room full of kids is enough to make me want to climb the walls. I wasn't in the kennels as long as some of them; but the thought of confined places still make me twitchy. I breathe in free air and exhale coffee breath.
The patio door opens and closes quietly but I don't turn around. "Too crowded?" says a voice I don't expect. It's Scott, not the Professor.
I shrug and take another sip, keeping my eyes on the blue horizon.
"I've decided to stay," he says matter-of-factly.
"Why?" I look over at him finally. He's lanky at sixteen and a half, with longish brown hair and a face he hasn't grown into yet. "Because we're all freaks and we need to stick together?"
"I don't think I'm a freak…" he replies quietly.
I chuckle a little at him. "Says the boy who shoots laser beams from his eyes."
He mirrors me and leans down on the porch railing, ignoring my last comment. "I think it's a gift…"
"Yeah well," I stare hard at my coffee as if it can give me some kind of reprieve. "Your gift didn't kill your sister, did it?"
"Emma…." Scott, trying to be more grown up than he is, places his hand on my shoulder before I shrug it away. "You didn't-"
"No," I'm sick of their sympathy. It won't bring Kayla back. "No, I didn't pull the trigger but I might as well have."
"You don't understand….I need to get away from all this. It's too much." I start for the door because the patio has gotten too crowded.
"I know you think I'm just a stupid kid…." I stop short and glance back at him. Scott shrugs his narrow shoulders. "But what else do you have?" He waits for me to say something but I can't find the words to contradict him. Scott leaves me to think it over.
As I watch his back recede, I suddenly realize that it's a terrible thing to do the leaving, but even more terrible to be left.
Jeez, you guys have no idea how hard that morgue scene was for me. These characters have entered my brain and taken over. I hated seeing Kayla like that but Emma had to, Emma had to be sure she was dead.....let me know what you guys think!