Despite everything that has happened to me since I turned sixteen, I can safely say this is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me. Ever.
I scrunched down farther in the squishy seat I currently occupied. I had my writing arm propped up on the half-desk surface, my long legs out in the aisle. (People were shooting dirty looks at me as they walked past. I am sometimes grateful to be left-handed.) My right arm was tucked into my side. I don't even know how to begin going about using it like a normal person.
If I thought too hard about - well, anything - I would more than likely break down into a blubbering mess of fear, panic, and grief. So like any mentally unstable person, I decided to ignore everything and push forward.
That somehow included going to class.
Class, as in college.
Perhaps just a summary of my morning would be better.
Wake up after an indeterminate amount of time unconscious into a body that is very, very much not mine. Freak out and injure myself. (Breaking my previous record by about three days, nonetheless.) Freak out the roommate I didn't know I had, almost punch his lights out, flee back to 'my' room. Shuffle into some clothes, have another panic attack about the limb currently giving me so much trouble. Proceed to stalk roommate person to the local college campus and into a lecture room for lack of a better plan.
So, here I am.
Luckily it's not a test day. Also luckily they don't take attendance or check IDs. Hooray for the general lack of caring, I suppose.
I ran a hand through my hair, brushing over my ears again, feeling smooth, rounded shells under my fingertips. I shuddered. The girl sitting next to me cast an askew glance from behind her fringe and not-so-subtly leaned in the opposite direction.
Of course, that could be due to the swollen, black and blue goose egg I have on my temple. At least the bleeding stopped, right?
A light hum caught my attention. I swiveled in my spot, adrenaline shooting through me. Battle instincts reared their ugly heads. I reached for my winds, and felt emptiness instead, which was painful in its own sort of way. A huff of breath was the only thing I allowed myself after feeling the void inside of me, because breaking down in public like this would serve no purpose other than to get me noticed by all the wrong sorts of people.
Another shudder. My chest ached, although this body had no scar where the disk had been inserted, no black veins that wouldn't fade from months of poison being pumped into my blood. It was relatively smooth and unblemished. Skinny.
Just like it was supposed to be, had my life been different.
Movement on the stage. The source of the noise that had seized my attention in the first place. When my eyes deigned to focus, I couldn't help but bite back a gasp. "Jean...?" I murmured.
It had to be her. But she looked nothing like the Jean I knew. The Jean I grew up with. The Jean that sang with her hairbrush in front of the mirror when nobody was watching, who loved to sit and read in the shade of a particular tree out in the backyard, who was hopelessly in denial about being in love even though she sighed quietly every so often when he was around.
This Jean was... older. Her face was lined, more from frowning than laughing, and there seemed to be a permanent crease between her eyebrows, like life was a puzzle she couldn't quite figure out. The humming was coming from a laptop, which she deftly connected to a podium off to the side. The projector screen began to unfold as she stared at it warily.
The lights dimmed. A mike crackled as some of her maroon hair brushed it. She tossed it impatiently out of her face, turning to face the crowd.
"Good morning, everyone." A quiet response. My voice seemed to have fled. I was awkwardly half-leaning forward in my chair, straining for a taste of something, anything familiar, but rationality was holding me back.
"I am here to discuss mutants. No surprise, I imagine." There were a few snickers. I was only confused. Was she some kind of advocate for mutants? Did she teach here? Why was she older?
How long was I gone?
"I will be giving you the same speech I will later be presenting to Congress in order to sway opinions on the Mutant Registration Act that will go into vote. My hope is that you will approach me afterwards with feedback. I feel very strongly about this issue, and by the time class is over, perhaps you will too."
She pressed a button on her laptop. A slideshow popped up on the big screen; the first slide showed a very grainy picture of what appeared to be a girl. One of her hands was splayed on the side of a dark blue vehicle; the other appeared to be elbow-deep in crinkled metal.
The rest of the hour continued in much of the same vein. She made a very strong case against registering mutants, likening back to Nazi Germany and comparing mutants to Jews and other downtrodden folks of that particular historic chapter. There were other things, too, but my attention span has never been up to snuff, and I was too busy trying not to have a complete mental breakdown.
Jean thanked us for our time. Most of the occupants in the lecture hall applauded, while others silently stood and left, probably fuming. I did neither.
I was frozen. I was almost certain that if I moved, I would break into a million shards of person and I would never be able to put them back together again.
The hall emptied quickly after that.
My eyes slid closed. Images danced behind my lids, of happy times when I never had a care in the world other than school and making sure no one knew my dirty little secret. What I wouldn't give for those times back, I thought to myself. What I wouldn't give to be back where I belonged, not in this awkward place with this unfamiliar body and broken mind.
A light touch broke me from my thoughts. Despite the fact that this body was not battle trained, my mind reacted quickly. I rolled over the row of seats in front of me, left hand cupping - nothing, nothing, nothing - right arm dead to the world, teeth bared. I scrambled to my knees, in full threat assessment mode, only to discover that no, someone was not out to take my life (for once).
Jean was looking at me. Looking through me. Same difference, at this point.
"Interesting reaction for a college kid," she said pointedly. She gestured to the door. "Shall we?"
For about .2 seconds I thought about lying. And then I promptly remembered how difficult it is to lie to a telepath.
My shoulders slumped. I clenched my hand into a fist, feeling the fingers of my right hand twitch, and tamped down the panic that stupid little action brought. Though I was shooting for uncaring and nonchalant, I stood and stiffly walked over to where she was waiting. Someone at a boarding school would have looked at my posture and said, Not bad, seeing as how they aim to replace your spine with an iron rod.
I held the door open for her as we exited into the bright sunshine. Speaking of, I don't even know what month it is. Or day. Or anything, really.
"Today's Wednesday. We're in the middle of September. I'll get you a calender soon." Jean's voice made me jump. I could feel my neck and ears heating almost as soon as I did it.
"Ah, thanks." I paused. "How much do you know?"
"Not a whole lot. You're projecting quite a bit, though. We'll need to work on that." She scuffed her shoe on the sidewalk, kicking a leaf from the path. Kids were milling all over the place. Passing time, I suppose. "How-" She stopped, shaking her head. Her hair shimmered, I swear it did. Stupid red hair. Stupid body hopping consciousness. Stupid life.
I tried to focus on the scenery while she phrased the question in her head. Trees lining the street. Bad parking jobs, too, incidentally. Friendly little mom 'n pop shops with badly painted windows, and enough passerby activity to send my tactical planning senses into spiraling insanity.
Jean pulled up short to a black, nondescript vehicle. I overshot a little and was forced to backtrack, coming up to a stop next to the parking meter.
"You seem to know me," she said finally. "And yet, I don't recall having met. But you were thinking so loudly, louder than any other student there, and you knew who I was." She lifted one eyebrow. "Not only that, but you know where I'm taking you, and who I want to you see. Care to explain?"
Breathe, I instructed myself. Don't panic. Just don't panic.
"I know who you are because I grew up with you." Breathe. Air into lungs, and out again. "You and several other people. We all had something in common. And a lot of things have happened since then, suffice to say. I don't know why I'm here; all I know is that everything is different and this is absolutely the last thing I needed right about now."
What I did need was some kind of recreational substance that would allow me to forget the last several years had ever taken place. That would have been a mercy.
And thus, the universe was far too kind to provide it for me.
Her eyebrows climbed almost to her hairline. I could feel the suspicion rolling off of her; I could see the hesitance in her eyes. I wanted to curl in a ball and cry, or beg for her to take me back home so I could crawl in bed and sleep for a year. Sleep until I could scrub the horrors from behind my eyelids, sleep until I didn't have any more nightmares.
She flinched, one hand rising to rub at her forehead. "You hurt so much," she whispered gently, stepping closer, ignoring my flinch as she lifted one hand and placed it comfortingly on my shoulder. "Please, just come with me. He can help you."
"I know." I grabbed her wrist lightning fast, practically throwing it off of me, before yanking the door open and slamming it shut behind me. I pulled my knees into my chest, pressing my face into denim to get rid of the familiar-yet-not face taunting me. I dimly heard the other door close, and then felt the rumble of the engine as the vibrations seeped into my trembling frame.
She didn't try to touch me again. For that, I was thankful. I may not have my powers, but that didn't mean I couldn't throw a punch. Soft music filled the otherwise awkward silence as we accelerated, pulling out of the burbs and onto a backroad.
Time slipped past, trickling through my fingers, much as it had the day I lost my sanity. I stifled a shrill giggle. How would that look on Jean's record, I thought, going off to guest lecture and coming back with a crazy little human mental patient?
I almost missed it, I was so wrapped up in my thoughts. Almost missed the three right turns and the weird little branch.
But when I did see it, a relief so profound it bordered on holy filled me. Every muscle I had been holding tense, every tendon that had been wound tight as a spring, loosened. The iron bands around my lungs faded, and I took a deep breath, fighting back tears.
Home. The place I could truly call home without guilt, without bad memories, without expectations or anything else.
Jean must have tuned in to my head's radio station. (Or I was projecting again.) Either way, she let out a little breath, like she'd been so worried about something and now knew it would be alright. She turned to me, eyes bright, face relaxed and unlined.
"We're here, Loki. We're home."
A/N: Hello once again, peeps! Did you miss me?
And so begins the journeys of Loki anew. For my new readers, this is a sequel to another X-Men fic titled Winds of Change. I will provide a quick summary, so everyone will start off on the same page.
Loki was sixteen when he found out he was a mutant. His father kicked him out and he sought refuge with Xavier and crew. Many zany adventures ensued. Two important events happened at the end, however. (Everything else is fluff, for the most part.) One: Loki is kidnapped, tortured, and conditioned to use his powers against his will. He was put into a sleep-like state for three months, during which he killed several people under the orders of Bolivar Trask. As such, he has issues. Two: during the events of the t.v. series finale (X-Men vs. Apocalypse) Loki is forced into and trapped in Apocalypse's time/space travel unit. It then disappeared, leaving his teammates to believe he was dead. The epilogue of Winds of Change explains his sudden re-awakening in the movie-verse, complete with a shiny new human body to make up for his old, broken one. Hence more issues.
I love my character, but you may not. If that's the case, just be on your way. However, if you'd like to leave a review, that'd be stellar. Bonus points to whoever gets the story title reference! Peace out until next time, guys!