"But… the Phoenix Force-there's so much about it we don't understand… and so much more I've- we've lost because of it."
-Scott Summers to Nathan Summers when told to protect Hope at all costs, Avengers X-Sanction #4
Her hollow footsteps echoed through the corridor of the prison before she stopped in front of a large, metal door. Green eyes peered beyond her red hair as they traced the letters on the nameplate beside it.
Cyclops. It read, and below it in hollow letters, Scott Summers.
The former leader of the X-Men.
Hope clutched her chest tightly as she willed her aching heart to still and quiet.
It had been a long and arduous battle against both the Phoenix and the hosts its fragments had chosen but, after much perseverance, the Avengers managed to prevail. The combined efforts of Earth's Mightiest Heroes had managed to bring down the X-Men, and she had played a large part of it.
And yet, she wasn't happy.
The door slid open with a quiet hiss, revealing a red-tinted room. Ruby-quartz covered every surface of the prison cell save for the lone bed in the middle where the man sat. Sunlight flittered in through the ruby quartz-tinted glass window, but had she not had a watch on her, she wouldn't have been able to tell the time because of its crimson rays.
"Cyclops…" She called out to the seated man. As an added precaution, Cyclops' arms had been bound together, and his legs were chained to his bed. His visor was gone, replaced by a metal helmet that served as a blindfold. Fitting, she had to tell herself, for the most dangerous man alive.
Cyclops showed no sign of acknowledging her presence as he remained seated on the edge of his bed, facing the window.
"Cyclops," she called again, this time more firmly. The young mutant approached her former leader with uncertain, but brave steps. No reaction came from the man, still, and Hope cautiously reached out to grasp his shoulder-
-and suppressed the reflexive flinch when he drew further away from her reach.
At least he knows I'm here, she thought to herself hopefully. "Do you mind if I sit?"
Again, Cyclops' lips remained sealed.
Hope waited silently, doing her best to ignore studying the man before her. That would only lead to darker thoughts, and she wasn't here for herself, right? Eventually, she realized an answer would never come, and so she sat herself on the bed close to him.
"Cyclops- Scott," she tried again to get his attention, only to still be met by his cold shoulder. Her temper flared and she roughly grabbed his shoulder. "Listen to me-!"
She caught herself, realizing that this wasn't how she wanted to talk to him. Not in anger; never again. "…Scott?"
Her heart sunk when he continued to ignore her, and her shoulders slumped.
"Hey, Scott…" Hope pleaded with him, for him to acknowledge her the way he always did. Just like before. Scott had always been on her side, even when Utopia was against her. He had always listened to her, even when she was just ranting at and blaming him over every little thing. No, Hope. Don't think of that. You're not here to feel sorry about yourself. "I'm just gonna say what I have to say, alright?"
Still no response.
"Well," She took a deep breath before steeling herself. "About the Phoenix, I-"
Hope's caught herself again as daggers of doubt pierced her bravado. Was this the right choice? Should she tell him why she did what she did?
That she had been intending to control the Phoenix by herself because of Unit's warning, that the Phoenix would possess her Five Lights to extend her will as its host? That she didn't want to tell him because she was afraid of failing, of being unable to control the cosmic bird that governed over life and death, and her friends would pay the price?
If she told him this truth, how would he react? What would he say if he knew that she used him, that she knew the Phoenix would choose five more hosts. And that he had to pay the price.
Oh god, she couldn't tell him that what happened was a mistake.
And what about the truth of why the Phoenix came?
During their final battle against the cosmic beast, Hope had managed to make contact with the Phoenix before it dissipated. And it was then when she learned the bitter truth.
Scott was right.
Scott Summers, the man who had fought hardest to keep the mutants alive, the man who bled to keep her alive, the man who placed his utmost trust and faith in her, was right.
The Phoenix had hatched when Wanda Maximoff killed all those mutants - snuffed out the lights of their existence - after the Scarlet Witch snapped, and had arrived on Earth to bring about a new generation of mutants. The Phoenix had come to right Wanda's mistake.
The truth made her sick.
I joined the Avengers, Scott, because I felt you needed to be stopped. I felt the Phoenix needed to be stopped. I… I didn't know. I wasn't sure- I thought it was here to destroy all of us. I mean, even you were corrupted by the Phoenix, blinded by its power! Can't you see, Scott? I wasn't at fault! I was just doing what I felt was right! I'm-
Could- could she really tell him all that?
Tell him that it was her mistake that landed him here, that it was her lack of trust in him that cost him so much?
:: "That's what the X-Men are all about, right Scott? Sacrifice." ::
Hope gripped the sheets tightly in an attempt to suppress her overflowing guilt.
It wasn't her lack of trust in him. She- she was just too stubborn and impatient to listen to him. Just like always.
A power trip, because she could, because she had power. He was such an easy man to vent off her frustrations, because she had always hated him ever since he ordered Nathan to his death when Bastion attacked them. She refused to acknowledge that Nathan chose that path so she would live, that her father had died for her, because it was so much easier to accept that Cyclops had no heart. She hadn't wanted to forgive or understand him, no matter how hard he tried to bridge their differences.
:: "Stop treating me like a kid! I can take care of myself." ::
:: "I've trained my whole life for this; I don't have to listen to your crap!" ::
:: "Don't you even think about trying to stop me." ::
:: "No. You listen." ::
:: "I'll find my own answers." ::
:: Tonight I shot Cyclops with his own eyeblasts. It felt good. ::
Hope choked back the bile threatening to spill from her throat before remembering where she was. Immediately, her eyes darted towards Scott and, to her dismay, his stance never changed.
"I-" Come on, Hope! Pull yourself together and tell him! "Steve wants you."
Not- not exactly the explanation she wanted to tell him, but at least she said something. And it was true. Captain America needed Cyclops' help.
Because of her impatience, the mutant race lost its chance at regaining its culture, and so her species was still on the brink of extinction. When the war ended, Steve Rogers had promised to protect the mutant race, and she believed him.
Except, a couple of mutants died when the Red Skull resurfaced.
It was a crushing blow to the mutant species, and Steve realized he didn't know the first thing to preserving an endangered race, especially one with so many enemies, and Logan couldn't lead effectively with the way he always ran off in anger. It did not help that the countries whose problems Scott had managed to solve – providing them with food, water, and renewable energy, erecting countermeasures against natural calamities - were angry at the Avengers for putting a stop to him.
Professor Xavier wants to apologize too, Scott. She wanted to tell him so badly. He wanted to say that it was he that didn't see the larger picture, not you.
Charles had been distraught when Scott first began reshaping the world. He felt everything was moving too fast, too soon, that Scott was trampling on humanity's rights. On some level, the old professor was right. The sudden change in the status quo had upset many, that was completely true. But, as the people began to appreciate the gifts they were given - began to stop fighting for resources that were already there and plenty – they began to accept their new life, and the mutants that made it happen; Xavier's dream come true.
And then those resources were depleted.
Charles wanted to apologize for only seeing what was in store for tomorrow, unlike Scott who had a dream for the endless future.
"I-" Hope started again, telling herself to say something. She needed to tell Scott everything. She needed to-
:: A lone tear slid down the cheek of Cyclops the First. There, cradled gingerly in his arms, was the corpse of Emma Frost. ::
Could she really be so cruel? How could she apologize for the vain paranoia that fueled the Avengers to do what they did, provoking Scott at every single chance they got? For how the mutant race didn't trust in Scott Summers when he needed them the most? For how her impatience and stubbornness had broken this man? For listening to Unit and Sinister when she should have listened to the one that cared for her, instead?
"Scott, mutants are dying." She told him tensely. She couldn't apologize, because she knew it would only serve to anger – or worse, devastate – him further. Hope could only help him move on, right? Give him a new focus, a new drive. Apologizing couldn't help, right?
Please say something, Scott. Her green eyes pleaded with the stoic statue of a man to react. Vent on me the way I vented on you. Shout at me; tell me you don't want me here- anything!
"We need you, Scott. We need you to lead us again."
Please, Scott. I'm really sorry.
Another wordless pause fell upon them, and Hope felt like she was drowning.
Hope's eyes glistened when his words never came. She reached out to him one last time-
-Scott pulled away.
His silence had told her so much more than words ever could.
Reality had never been so unforgiving to the young messiah.
A/N: I feel Marvel could have pulled off AvX so much better. And that Cap, Wolverine, and even Hope are douches. Oh well, AvX is coming to an end. I do hope Marvel addresses the good the Phoenix Five actually did before the Avengers pushed them into the offensive. And how Hope has been completely out of character, given how rebellious and even antagonistic she has been to anybody that isn't Cable telling her what to do. C'mon Cable, slap some sense into that ungrateful child!
Funny how bad writing has made me hate a character I had enjoyed watching grow since she was first introduced at the end of Messiah War o_o