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The Man I Am Inside

Disclaimer time! I don't own anybody mentioned in here, they're all Marvel's. 
Nothing too gruesome, graphic, or sexy in here, so I guess I don't need to give 
anybody any kind of warnings on that. Continuity is sometime after Apocalypse 
takes over Cyke's body.

And now that the formalities are taken care of, on with the show!

I'm not afraid. I am not afraid. I refuse to be afraid.

I'll get through this.

One day at a time. I can do this.

So what if he's five thousand years old? Who cares if he's got a mind that makes an open sewer look fresh as Ororo's rose garden in comparison? I'm not going to quit.

This is my body. He may be controlling it, he may have altered it, but it's mine. And I'm not going to give up until I have it back. The others always said that I was the stubbornest man they'd ever met, and now's certainly the time to prove it.

It's not easy. But then, neither was leading the X-Men. Neither was losing my parents when I was a child. Or having my powers kick in uncontrollably and being forced to wear those damned ruby-quartz glasses all the time.

There's only one thing in my life that was easy, and that was falling for Jean.

Well, okay, falling for her was easy. Getting up the nerve to tell her I'd fallen for her took me a couple years...

I guess that wasn't really easy either.

If I could grin, I would. Maybe Logan had a point when he accused me of being a one-man pity party.

Jean. That's what keeps me going. More than the knowledge of what Apocalypse will do with my body without my subtle manipulations, more than the Dream, even. I've been accused of being obsessed with making the Dream reality, of being more in love with Xavier's vision of what the world could become than with my wife. It's not true. If the choice had to be made... I'd choose her.

I want to be with my wife again. I want to hear the sweet music of her thoughts in my mind. It's the only music I like, actually. I may be a whiz at calculating vectors and trajectories, but I'm pretty much tone-deaf. As anyone who's heard me try to sing will testify.

Fortunately, Jean doesn't have perfect pitch, or she'd have killed me by now in self-defense.

God, he's at it again. Fortunately, he's just terrorizing the Dark Riders. Those bastards can take some damage. He doesn't seem to have killed any of them this time. I slip into his mind and engage in a little sabotage. He's always distracted by violence. I have to be careful, though. After his rage is spent, he always goes back to his memories.

I barely make it out in time. His rages are sudden and violent, but generally don't last long. I'm seeing what I can do about that... the more damage he does to his own people and equipment, the easier it'll be for the X-Men to take him down.

I know they'll come for him, once they realize that he didn't die. That's why I'm trying to make him easier to provoke. As an immortal, he's developed a certain amount of patience. He has the time to wait for an enemy to become vulnerable. Hell, he has the time to wait for his enemies to simply die of old age. I don't want him sitting back and gaining strength slowly, gradually spinning a web that will ensnare my friends and family. I want him to make the rash move, to go into the situation unprepared.

I'm setting him up for the kill, and he doesn't even know I'm here.

The problem with that being, to kill him, they're most likely going to have to kill me.

Ah, well. I'm an X-Man. If I wanted to live to a ripe old age, I should've become an accountant.

Hmm. Come to think of it, Bobby's an accountant, and he's not likely to live long enough to get old. But then, that's because in addition to being an X-Man off and on, he's got this really stupid habit of playing pranks on people who're a lot longer on power than on humor.

My son Nathan comes to mind.

I wonder if Nate'll be the one to do the job when I manage to goad Apocalypse out of this stronghold of his? If he'll be the one that kills me? Probably. He almost managed it last time. He doesn't realize that I'm here. No one does, except Jean, and she may have decided that she was imagining things by now. The link's gone, after all. My mind's empty of her presence, the sweet love-song that was always there in the back of my mind since we first mind-touched is silenced. All that's left is the memory of joy and warmth and safety.

But maybe I'll be able to get through. Maybe they'll find a way to take Apocalypse out without killing me. I don't know, but it's worth the risk if it means that there's a chance that I'll hear that beauty in my mind again, hold my wife in my arms once more. It's a small chance, but it's enough to give me hope.

It's enough to keep me going.


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