Really, I AM Dying! (Epilogue)

Sandoval was returned to prison, this time in the maximum-security wing. He never got out again.

Upon their release from the hospital, Mrs. Ellis put the younger X-Men and Brotherhood members up at a friend's house, where they spent the next three days recovering in peace.

Wanda stayed in the hospital for a few days before going home with her father.

"I have to go away for a while," he said.

"Why is that?"

"I have . . . business to attend to."
"You're not going to hurt anyone, are you?"
Magneto's expression darkened. "Not anyone who doesn't deserve it."

At the Institute, Xavier gave his students the rest of the week off to recuperate. Danger Room sessions would start up again the following Monday.

At the Brotherhood house, Mystique let the boys watch the big TV in her room. Everyone except Fred curled up together on her king-size bed.

"When's Wanda coming home?" she asked during a commercial break.

"Tomorrow, I think," Pietro said.

"Do we have to clean up?" Fred asked, from his position on the floor.

"I think that would be a good idea."

At the hospital, Dr. Armstrong was thinking about appealing the complaint Professor Xavier had lodged against him.

But first, there was something he had to do.
He left the hospital and took a walk into town. Shortly he reached his destination.
He didn't have to think about where he was going. He'd been there at least three times a week for the past five years. Two rows down, five rows over from the main walkway.
He knelt beside the stone, his hands running over the carved letters: ARMSTRONG, ELIZABETH ANNE 1986-1997

Ironically, Elizabeth had wanted to become an instructor at Professor Xavier's school when she grew up.  She thought mutants were cool, and was convinced she would have powers in a few years.
Then one night, she was walking home from a friend's house and . . . something grabbed her.

She'd been teetering on the edge of an abandoned bridge, and a homeless mutant pulled her to safety just in the nick of time. Unfortunately, a few hours earlier he'd gotten in a brutal fight with another mutant, and his vanquished enemy, being in a vengeful mood, tracked him down, slit his throat, and hurled Elizabeth off the bridge to a gruesome death 200 feet below.

Maybe he had been wrong, Dr. Armstrong thought, to hate all mutants for the actions of a few, but it had been his first response, and he'd been feeling it so long . . .

He had promised her, right here, that he would find whoever or whatever did this to her, and punish him . . . even if it took the rest of his life. 

 Maybe . . .
No, it was a bad idea. They'd never trust him.
On the other hand, what did he have to lose?

The doorbell rang at the mansion.
"I'll get it!"

Kitty opened it and almost died of shock when she saw Dr. Armstrong there. "How did you...?"

"The address was on your release form. Could I come in?"

Kitty turned to Xavier . . .

He nodded. "Let him in."

Dr.Armstrong stepped in. "First of all," he said, "I want to apologize for the way I acted."

He took a deep breath . . . and told them the whole story.

"Oh, God . . ." Jean gasped.

"I'd like to find this mutant if I could," he said. "Do you think you can help me?"

"I think I have an idea where the killer might be." Magneto said.

"Where?"

Magneto showed him a map. "You leave this to me . . . and my special operatives. We'll find him."

Across town, the mutant that had killed Elizabeth Armstrong slipped into the sewers unseen. He had business to attend to at the hospital . . . or so he thought.

He wanted to finish what he'd started, this time leaving no witnesses.
But someone found him first--and not someone he wanted to meet.
"Going somewhere?" Sabretooth growled.

"Back off, Creed." his opponent snarled. "Armstrong's mine."

"You killed that little girl!"
"So? You never killed before?"
"Not anyone who didn't deserve it."

Storm appeared from behind Sabretooth . . . and Wolverine wasn't far behind.

"Let's see how you like messing around with somebody your own size." Wolverine growled.

"Three against one. Real fair of you."

"Considering what you're capable of," Storm retorted, "that just about evens up the odds."
A peculiar light flashed in the mutant killer's eyes. "You have no idea what I'm capable of."

Wolverine lunged at the killer... who had some fancy moves of his own. He put up an energy barrier between himself and Wolverine...

"This guy's good."

The mutant turned on Storm. In addition to the barrier, he could use energy beams like a knife to cut and slash.
"AAAH!"

Just then . . . the cavalry arrived.
So to speak.

"Try picking on someone your own size, yo!"

"Let me at 'im!" Blob bellowed.

The killer hurled a blast of energy at Toad and Blob . . . only to have Kitty save them by tackling him at the knees and knocking him off his feet. Then, before he could recover, she phased through him . . . which provided the perfect opportunity for Cyclops to deliver the final blow.

Using his optic blast, Cyclops brought a chunk of concrete down on the killer, pinning him under it.

"You'll never prove anything," the mutant sneered.
"We don't have to. Our eyewitness will do the talking."

The mutant's eyes widened. "What witness?"

"Oh, we have several. We'll have no trouble at all getting a conviction . . ."

"See, bub, you weren't exactly alone the night you killed that kid . . ."

"Of course I was!"
"You forget about the other folks living under the bridge. But that's okay, a lot of people do. They tend to be kind of invisible most of the time . . . until something like this happens."

"Am ah missin' anything?"
"Yeah, we wanna hear this too, yo." The kids crowded as close as they could.

"On your feet." Sabretooth cleared the debris off the homicidal mutant and hauled him upright. "The cops should be here by now."

Dr.Armstrong approached his daughter's killer. "I've waited a long time for this," he said.

He reached down to the mutant killer . . . and grabbed him by the collar.
"Anyone who kills a child is lowlife scum," he said, "but you didn't even care about her. She was human and she was in your way, and the fact that she might have had a family, and a life, and a future, meant nothing to you. You swatted her like a bug."

The mutant killer looked as if he might have a heart attack. "You can't hurt me!"
"No . . . I can't. But I can see that you get put away for a long time."

The cops took the evil mutant away . . .
He ended up in the same prison as Marco Sandoval. In fact, they were cellmates. Until word got around that Sandoval was a mutant-hater . . . after which he was quickly transferred. He spent the rest of his time at the prison hiding in the laundry room, convinced that everyone was out to get him.

In the end . . . they did. But that's another story.

"I owe you all an apology," Dr. Armstrong said. "If you ever need anything, just call me . . ."

"If we can get through the hospital switchboard . . ."Kurt joked.

Armstrong shook his head and handed them a card. "That's my home number," he said. "Don't abuse it, but . . . don't hesitate to call if you need something."
"I'm sure we will," Wolverine said. "These kids have been sick a lot lately."

"Listen, Doctor,"Kitty said.

"Yes?"

"Could you show me where Elizabeth's buried?"

He seemed a bit taken aback by the question. "Of course I can. Maybe tomorrow."

The following afternoon, everyone gathered at the cemetery for an impromptu memorial service.

It was an odd thing to do for someone they'd never met . . . but it seemed fitting.

Toad and Kitty placed flowers beside the stone, while Jean and Mystique lit a pair of candles.

The second one represented the mutant who'd tried to save her; no one knew where he was buried. He probably didn't have any family . . . so Xavier spoke in their place.
At the end of his service, they split up, awkwardly. The Brotherhood made some excuses about homework and stuff, but Mystique lingered to talk to the doctor.

"I don't suppose you make house calls?" she asked.
"I might consider it. Why do you ask?"
She waved a hand at the rest of the Brotherhood. "I swear they go out and find germs to bring home. It probably won't be a week before they've got something else."

She hesitated for a second, then added "And then give it to me."

"Muzzer," Kurt said, "you could come live vith us."
It was an intriguing offer, but . . . it would be very awkward for all parties concerned.

Besides, who would keep those idiots from destroying the house if she wasn't there?
She said as much to Kurt.
"I meant all of you," he said. "Zhere's plenty of room for everyvun."
That was an even worse idea, in her opinion.

Still . . . it was something to think about, for the future . . .

THE END

(Wanna see a sequel? Let me know in your review!)