The Answer is Yes

by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)


Author's Notes: Thanks/Dedication: To Richel, who helps to spawn plot bunnies (one of yours is in the editing stage at the moment!), and to kaly, of course. This fic was an unorganized mind dump before you wrung it out and turned it into a real story. My thanks for your time, your encouragement, your thoughts, and the bits of this that you wrote practically word for word. *smiles* You improve my stories, and my skill at writing. All jokes aside (well, not entirely - you've given me laughs when I need them, too), I'm lucky to have you as a friend and beta. Now if only you'd lend me some of that bunny repellent...or stop breeding them for me... *g*


I expected the fight to last beyond my lifetime. Whether it would be a long fight or one during which I would die, I didn't know. I just took it for granted that I would not see the end of it. Our goals were not reached in a single generation, or even two. How was I to know I'd live longer than I ever dreamed possible?

I fought as Cyclops for a long time. They were good years, even though they were full of danger. Xavier's dream was at it's brightest then, when it was the furthest out of our reach. We could face our enemy head on and know that either we would win or we would lose. And if we lost, we knew that there would be others to take our place in the fight. Sometimes I envy those that died then, but not often.

When the time came, I set aside my visor - and Cyclops with it - and fought as Scott Summers. That was after Charles' time, but Jean swore she was still in touch with him and I believed her. It was after the professor's time in another way, as well. Instead of fighting then, we campaigned. Our battles were won with words instead of weapons. It was hard on a lot of us, but we always knew it would have to be done.

It's strange how fighting battles in which we risked our lives turned out to be easier than fighting from within the system. In hindsight, I can see that the sides in a battle are clear, your options limited. You go in knowing exactly what you risk and what you will win. Trying to negotiate and talk, to work around rules and regulations... It blurs the line between enemy and ally.

Those were hard years. Our foe stood protected by law and process and bureaucracy. Sometimes we didn't know whether a battle had been won or lost when it was over. Only finished. The dream grew murky then, and clouded. But we remembered, and we hung on, and it didn't die.

At last there was nothing more we could do in the courts, nothing more we could change in the government. The last battle would be fought on the streets - in homes and in businesses. Bureaucracy and law have little to do with the human mind and heart. The last frontier lay in these. Patience became our weapon, and those of us that had been warriors became ambassadors. This battle took the longest to win. Decades.

I created a ritual for myself and have performed it every year since I set Cyclops aside. On the anniversary of Charles' death, I read a list to myself. It is a list of those that died during the fight, those that fought with me, whether during the literal battles or the figurative ones. On the list are Charles and Storm. Jean and Rogue, though it is her mind that has gone, not her body. And dozens of others. When I am done reading the list and remembering, I add those names that have passed during the year. After the list is done, I ask myself a single question. Is the fight over?

Always the answer has been no. In the days when I fought as Cyclops, the answer was so obvious I didn't have to ask the question. When I fought as myself, in the courts, the answer was always we cannot do this, or this, or this. After that, the answer grew less clear. But always I found a reason to answer no. Until today.

There will always be prejudice. It's human nature. But now there is no more against mutants than there is between races or religions. People laugh at the two of us who survive. We are eccentric because we once called our gifts powers and put on costumes to wield them. We worked under codenames and trained in secret. It's a ridiculous idea now. I laugh with them, because they are so načve. Logan just gets pissed. Some things never change.

The man that was once my rival - who would have been my enemy if not for the war - is now my closest friend. We understand things about one another and the world, about life, that no one else could understand - that words cannot express. We once shared only a cause, brought together against odds and desires. We came to share memories and years. In the end we share a life - full of the friendship, arguments and love that complete any true life.

We were two of the first, and we are the last.

Logan survived because his healing ability won't let him die. He's aged, but not much. I've survived because circumstance won't let me die. When my life was in danger it was saved. When old age crept up on me, someone - or something - drew it back.

I'm never sure whether or not I should regret the experiments that slowed the aging process. They were painful, they were a violation of me as damaging as rape, and they helped our enemies in many ways. But they also allowed me to continue leading the team and to make the dream real to the newer X-Men. I wasn't ready to stop fighting, but the war is finished now. Now when I ask myself if the fight is over, I can finally believe that yes - it is.

Logan asks me a question every year, too. He asks me if we can die today. He's been waiting for me, I know. I'm glad. He doesn't want to go alone, and neither do I. After all that's happened - with all we've shared in life - I cannot imagine sharing my death with any other. I think it's the same for Logan. So he asks, and he waits. My answer has always been no.

Today, the answer is yes.

--End--