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Iron Will 

Disclaimer: Scott Summers and company belong to Marvel Comics. 
They 'killed' him, so I don't think anything I do to him will be any worse. 
If there is something amiss with my take on Pocky-Lips, 
please let me know why you disagree. I am admittedly not an expert 
on the character. Please ask before archieving.

I have had to be strong for so long. For as long as I can remember.

When I was small and weak and hurtling toward the jagged ground with a burn-damaged parachute between me and untold pain, I was strong because tied to my back was a my only family, my little brother Alex. When I was just a little bit bigger, a little bit weaker, and the welts on my skin kept sleep at bay and bogey man below the stairs took blood samples every chance he got, I was solid, because the other orphans wept through the night. And when I was Slim, and my eyes burned with ruby fire and my face burned with embarassment, I was steadfast, because Warren and Bobby and Hank and Jean, especially Jean, needed me to be.

Over the years, I have remained the stoic, heroic one, with a backbone made of steel. Only, I sometimes think of it as lead, my famous iron will. Lead, because it pulls me back from every dream I've ever reached for, every star just beyond my grasp. Lead, because it poisons my hopes and fears until all that is left is a sickly shell called duty.

Duty called me. It called me son, soldier, leader, lover, husband, father. In the end, a father's duty pulled me hardest, for child not really mine. But how could I look at that face, a face my baby boy could have worn, maybe ten, fifteen years down the twisting path of life, and let that monster take him, corrupt him, steal that life away, the life I once stole from him? Ironic that this cycle was also started by my dedication to my duty as a father when I let them take my little Nathan away.

In the still moments, when we rest from our internal struggle, I wonder why. Why would a man like me, a survivor, a man with so much to loose, do something most would consider tantamount to committing suicide? If I look past the hard thumping in my chest at seeing Nathan's face and Nathan's body about to be violated, I know I had to do it for more reasons than once and future heartache. Because it's what I've always done, fight the world with fire of my convictions, with my determination to be alive and live well. I thought I could pit my iron will against ancient evil and win.

I read the books we had to for classes, studied for the tests and assimilated the knowledge I was expected to have to succeed as a 'gifted youngster'. I have pondered philosophy and the nature of man with geniouses both bald and blue. I have travelled from the beneath the Earth's crust to the far reaches of space. Nothing I have read or heard or seen or done prepared me to understand what I am up against. The carnage and inhumanity of Nazi Germany and the Genoshan Magistrates has been seared into my mind by the memories of survivors and the testimony of my own eyes. The Phalanx, the Skrulls and the Brood have tried to destroy every thing I hold dear. They are all pale gray or dusty off-white, compared to the deep dark blackness of the evil I must grapple with for all eternity.

I vaguely remember Sunday School lessons about the Devil and original sin. Perhaps it is the Devil that trashes against my mortal mind, trying to wear away my iron will, to take me whole and vibrant as his recepticle. This Devil calls himsef Apocalypse and seeing for the first time what he really is, I'm beginning to believe his claim.

En Sabah Nur. The Tomorrow Walker. Apocalypse. He is endless, or so he imagines. He sees himself as immeasurable, like the grains of sand across the Egyptian desert, unfathomable, a pyramid of sandstone reaching for the heavens. He is the Fittest, a survivor bar none who will crush the unfit beneath his purple boot for the shear pleasure of watching them bleed.

Visions fill me to bursting of slaughter, viscious combat, contests in survivial from gladiators to abandoned children.  Its not my fault, and I couldn't destroy this many lives if I live another hundred years. But he has and he and I are one. My iron will rusts under the acid burn of guilt for sins I could never commit, my steel spine is corroded by suffering screams and last moment corruption of good men into traitors. He sees the course of history that winds around him as a testament to his philosophy. I see the madness, the pointless cruelty of his beliefs, far stronger than I ever have before. I can watch his life through his one eyes and see countless battles for 'Survival of the Fittest.'

On thing I've learned from this hell I exist in: the truth about survival. Millions of people fail and die. Thousands succeed and die.

That's the part he won't acknowledge, that's the weakness that prevents him from achieving any substantial victory. Even the strongest meet their end at some point. Even he must find new ways to cheat death, the only true survivor. Elaborate schemes and fearsome prophecies aside, he's just a man trying to prove he is stronger than death itself.

I'm doing everything in my power to make sure he fails. I hold on to my core, clinging to myself because there is no one else. Jean is gone. Charles and the team are mere memories, vivid memories, but still not real and tactile. Jean is gone. Jean. Is. Gone. Again. I can't allow myself to think about what I have lost. The stomach I share with evil incarnate knots with gut-sobs I can't indulge in. The tears I am too strong to shed are a brine eating away at my only defense.

I'm a survivor, I'm as strong as they come, but am I enough to defeat him?  I wonder if Cable, if Nathan, my Nathan, would be stronger than I am? Could he fight any harder than I do now? I don't regret my choice, but does he? Have I stolen his destiny, usurped his Messiahship? Maybe. But at least my son is not here, living as the mind and body of a monster so evil there are no words in my private school vocabulary to describe the world Apocalypse shows me.

My finest hour is my final hour. I know I won't walk away from this, but as long as I take Nur with me, I really don't mind.

I am iron. He is sand. He may wear me away, but it will take every grain of him. I will stand because the whole world is tied to my back this time and the rocks are ultimate annhilation.

I will stand on my iron will.



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