always loved fairy tales. Cinderella, Snow White, Jack and the
Beanstalk, it didnít matter. My sister and I always used to pretend we
were the characters in whichever story caught our fantasy that day.
Later on, I used to get as much joy out of them as did Nathan back when
he was a baby and would crawl onto my lap and beg for a ďstowyĒ.
I was younger, I think I loved them for their exoticism Ė the
beautiful princesses, the scary monsters, the witches and goblins and
all of the other beings that showed up in every little town in fairy
tales, but never seemed to visit Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.
I was older, I think it was a love born of nostalgia Ė nostalgia for a
childhood when the bad guys could be put back on the shelf and saved for
another day, instead of being chased with plasma weapons. I missed the
simplicity of it all. The bad guys always lost, the heroes saved the
day, and nobody ever had to call in the claims inspector to assess the
damage for insurance purposes.
of all, I missed the simple fact that if I didnít feel like playing
hero on any particular day, I didnít have to. Now, Iím not allowed
to leave the book on the shelf any more than Iím allowed to let the
answering machine pick up for the emergency phone line.
after I got married, I used to keep a few of my childhood books around,
theoretically for the children I always assumed weíd be having. Scott
used to make fun of me for reading Cinderella after we returned from yet
another battle against Sentinels or the Hellfire Club or whoever the
opponent for the day had been. But he understood why I did it Ė I
needed to be reminded about how good it could feel to be a hero.
Especially after you get chased away by the very people whom youíve
I havenít touched any of those books for a while now. I canít bear
to think about fairy tales at all. Because in fairy tales, the heroes
get to live happily ever after.
it was naÔvetť, but even after all my other illusions about heroes and
villains were shattered, I always held out hope for the
happily-ever-after. I never, *ever* doubted that Scott and I would grow
old together. Even in my most fatalistic moments, I always had a
sneaking suspicion that Scott and I would at least be killed in the same
explosion. Widowhood was never in the cards.
know heroes die. I have always known that, even before I had to watch
friends perish before my eyes. I just didnít ever imagine that it
would be *my* hero. Not Scott.
now, instead of fairy tales, I have the dreams to remind me of all that
I used to believe in and all that Iíve lost. Not every night, but
often enough to make me dread closing my eyes.
dreams arenít identical, but, like fairy tales, the theme is the same.
In them, I always wake up next to Scott, opening my eyes to see him
watching me like he sometimes did. And he always has some disturbingly
cheerful thing to say after Ďgood morningí Ė to me, Scottís
greatest flaw was that he was a morning person Ė and then itís a
peck on the forehead and he swings his legs out of bed.
the dreams, life goes on as normal, as normal as it used to be around
here during downtime. Arguments over who made coffee, Danger Room
sessions, dealing with whatever angsty crisis someone is invariably
having right before lunch, everything is like it always is. With one
exception. I know whatís going to happen. I know that Scott is going
to die before the day is done.
we get to Akhaba differs in each dream, but thatís where we invariably
end up. And Iím standing there with Scott just out of armís reach
and weíre watching Nate Grey face off against Apocalypse. And I feel
the same flash through the psi-link that I felt on that day.
didnít know what it meant then, but now I do. It was Scott doing the
lightning-fast calculation that added up to him pushing his love for me
through the link just as he took that flying leap towards Nate. It was
Scott knowing that he was sacrificing himself and not giving a second
thought about the rightness of it, only to the necessity of it.
if I didnít know what that red-amber flash on the link was the day it
happened, I know what it is in my dreams. And the instant I feel it, I
try to stop him. Sometimes, I scream for Scott to stop. Sometimes, I run
and try to catch him, either physically or telekinetically, before he
can get to Nate.
ever works. Those times that I cry out, the best Iíve ever done is get
Scott to say ĎIím sorryí as he flies through the air, which is
close enough to what he actually said on that day. I canít physically
catch up with him and if I try a telekinetic grab, itís like Iíve
suddenly realized that Iím not a telekinetic anymore. Thereís no
know what happens next. Thereís the flash of light, that burning, hot
wind, and then nothing. Nothing until I feel Nathanís hands on my
shoulders, pulling me into his arms and whispering over and over that
heís sorry, heís so sorry, that it should have been him. When Nathan
whispers like that, he sounds just like his father. And so the last
words I hear from Scott are the first words I hear after he is gone.
that, it wasnít the silence around me that I noticed first, it was the
silence inside me. The psi-link going dead. No matter how angry Scott
and I ever got at each other, we never broke that link. Sure, weíd
block it off, but you couldnít stop it up completely. There would
always be background noise seeping through.
this time, there is silence.
then I wake up.
not a mercy that I do. The pain doesnít ebb along with the dream. I
wake up with a lump in my throat so big that I can barely swallow, and
then thereís that half-second before I look over at what used to be
Scottís side of the bed and expect him to be there, expect this all to
have been a nightmare.
of course, heís not there. Had he been there, there would be no
nightmares Ė Scott would have woken me up long before they got too
far. He would have mumbled something about being a little concerned that
his wife was dreaming about his own demise and what would Freud think
about it. Then he would have pulled me into his arms and kissed my cheek
and sent images of candy canes or pink ponies or some other truly
ridiculous image of harmless happiness. That, or some decidedly more
mature images of happiness and heíd offer to prove most definitively
that he was quite alive and well.
there is no Scott, there is no sex, no candy canes, no pink ponies, no
relief from this hell that I havenít figured out a way to get out of.
know I should talk to Nathan Ė for his own good as well as my own.
Nathanís already dealt with losing the love of his life and if he can
learn to move on, then I should be able to as well. Especially since he
got his obsessive need to fixate from Scottís genes, not mine (through
Iím not ready to move on, no more than Nathan is ready to discuss
losing his father during a mission that was supposed to be his own. He
got that perverse sentimentality from me.
not to say that we donít talk, Nathan and I. We dance around the
subject, be it when he catches me over coffee when Iím bleary-eyed
from another dream or when I see him slipping into one of his funks.
Neither of us has gotten very far on the seven steps to dealing with
weíve both learned the same lesson from Scott Ė that personal
anguish cannot get in the way of effective leadership. And like it as
not, Nathan and I are very much leaders here in our merry band. Rogue
and Gambit call the shots Ė and howís that for watching history
repeat itself, as Warren likes to ponder aloud when he thinks Iím not
listening Ė but when it comes down to it, the Summers family is the
first family of soldiers.
suppose itís a fitting homage to Scott that his son and widow hide
their grief behind masks, to be taken out and kicked around only when
there is nothing more pressing to deal with. We are a warrior clan,
after all, be we Dayspring Unit or X-Men.
we have, I think, learned a second lesson from Scott. Never give up. Not
to anguish, not to enemies, not to self-pity. Iíd like to think that
that is what we are doing. Iíd like to think that that is why we
continue to fight Ė because it is what we believe in, not just because
it is what we have always done. Maybe because of it, someday, some other
set of heroes will get their own happily ever after.
when they do, Iíve got a great set of books on a shelf in my bedroom
just waiting for them.
Other Stories by Domenika