Beautiful Sweet James

by Ratmist



Standard Disclaimer: Marvel characters appear here in a work of non-profit.

Rating: PG13 for language

Author Notes: Wow do people really read these anymore? This is the sort of a sequel to 'On Duty', as well as a response to the 'Sibling Challenge' on Alternative Timelines. No basis in canon because that's not *my* Sarah.

I hate angst. You would think that after all the negative emotion I radiate, I would be more than willing to angst.

But I don't. I hate angst. I honestly don't see the point of it, although most of the other team members seem to love to wallow in it. Do they think it makes them prettier?

A long time ago, I had a brother. No one knows about this, well, no Upworlder anyway. Callisto is the only one left that remembers him, because all those that knew him are dead or were too young in the first place. I doubt seriously that those brats Artie and Leech remember. Not that I care.

He was a mutant, of course, but he was beautiful. He didn't have a mutation that normally would've sent him underground, with the rest of us. Mama said James' mutation was to protect me from the sun. He was my umbrella, or something. We never needed umbrellas in the sewer, so I never understood that word until yesterday when I saw Beast come in with that strange looking device.

Mama was a heroin addict. She was usually more interested in her next smack meal than whether or not James and I had eaten that day. I was never an orphan, but I never really had a relationship with Mama. I think the only thing we ever did together was argue about James. I wanted her to love me like she loved him; I still do. But she's dead, just like James, and I haven't thought of them for years.

James was older than me by at least three years, although I can't remember much beyond that, and he was my protector from the bullies. The Morlocks were a close-knit band of mutants, but have you ever known a band of mutants to be a happy, completely adjusted bunch? I didn't think so.

But James was beautiful; he didn't belong with the Morlocks. He belonged up there, in the sky, among the lilacs and the pretty ones. But he was family, and Mama couldn't dare give up her darling little boy.

I was the ugly one, the unnecessary one. If it hadn't been for me, we wouldn't have had to go underground, with the Morlocks. James was perfect, from his wavy brown hair to his soft, angled feet. James was my beautiful protector from the sun, a boy hardly older than myself standing between my ugliness and the rest of the angry world.

Their deaths became my ticket out of the sewers I had come to love in a sick, fascinating sort of way. I had a favorite corner in the disgusting squalid palace, and I used to nurse Mama back to a semi-aware state of mind when she tried periodically to overdose her body. Callisto wanted to kick her out of the Tunnels, but Mama threatened to take James and me with her. And Callisto loved me, so she always relented, however grudgingly.

Mama used to say over and over the Tunnels were the best place for me, and I was the reason we went underground. It didn't have anything to do with James or herself; it was a sacrifice she made to give me the best possible environment for my ugliness. My mutancy, my curse.

I'm not sure why I think of this now, sitting in Sam's grassy field outside his old homestead. He wanted me to meet his mama, and I was so shocked I stammered a yes and was quickly whisked away into the air, towards Kentucky. My arms had tighted around his body as we raced across the hot sun, one wrapped diagonally from his shoulder and the other meeting near the X of his uniform. I don't think he felt my tears, half for sorrow and half for joy, soaking through the back of his uniform.

I finally get to soar through the sky, my arms wrapped around a man I'm learning to trust even as I cynically note his extreme naivity.

That's half the attraction too.

I think the X-Men try to willingly place themselves in a bubble of joy, because they've seen the hatred, the pain, and the utter despair that has been my life for so long. Sometimes it works, but most of the time they only get halfway out of the pain. They get to the angst stage, but never to the peace they crave.

I'm arrogant enough to believe that my association with hatred and pain was longer and more intense. After all, I don't need the X-Men. I don't need them to survive. They can't help me kill these memories; all they want to do is help me _deal_ with them. I'm sick of dealing with these shitty, angsty thoughts. I just want it all to go away, and all they want to do is talk about it. Idiots.

It is a burden I carry inside, and they want me to show it to the world. But the world already rejected the ugliness on the outside; I'm not about to reveal these precious things to feel it happen again. And besides, James was beautiful. There's no need for me to therapeutically deal with someone so beautiful.

But I still stick around, hoping that the bubble of joy I see wrapped so intensely around the Sam will one day wrap around me. In my mind, it is a healing balm full of lilacs and sunshine, where my ugliness is embraced, not forced underground.

James was killed because he loved me enough to stay underground, with Mama. I wonder if Sam could make the same sacrifice, if he could ever care that much.

The Weather Witch once told me that she believes that death shouldn't be equated with stopping. She thinks that the dead Morlocks live on inside of me, somehow. I'm not sure I understood everything she said, but somehow it comforts me to think James might be inside of me. It would be like him to reside within my messy body, just to keep me safe and not so alone. I want terribly to agree with her, for only this once.

Maybe that's why I hate angst so much; James was the sky, never unhappy or selfish, never depressed, always cheerful. He had a mean streak, but then again, he was my brother.

_I_ should've died, not him; he shouldn't have tried to protect me from Arclight, but he did.

Some heroes the X-Men are proclaimed to be. They saved my body, but ripped out my heart. Out of _necessity_.

So James still saves my heart because he's curled up into it, protecting it from the heat of the sun. Just like any good brother would do.

I dreamt of him last night, and the sun was glaring upon his hair so intensely that it seemed there was a halo around his head. And he smiled, so beautifully, and reached out his grubby little hand, asking me if I wanted to fly into a sunrise, if I wanted to touch a star.

Before I could answer, I woke up to some new threat Magneto was causing somewhere on a stupid asteroid. James was trying to cheer me up, because he remembered I had always dreamed about the starry sky we never experienced.

I haven't thought of James since I nearly died at Storm's hands. It was the only time he cried in my dreams, and when I woke up it was Callisto's tears from her only good eye, bathing me. My chest had hurt so much, just like James' had when he had died.

Arclight had ripped his heart out, and James hadn't had another one to spare. His mutancy was to protect me, not himself. My mutancy simply gave me another chance.

On days like this, when I am allowed to walk barefoot through grassy fields, allowed to pick flowers and roll through hay, my heart brims with so much joy I can't express it right. It's James, expanding the walls of my heart to encompass more of my life.

We weren't lucky. We had pain and sorrow and unending hatred. But I've thought about James so much since I came to live here, with the X-Men.

Beautiful James, he gave me back my heart. James, with the mutant power to heal little sister's souls, even after death.

Beautiful, sweet James.



"Sarah. What's up?"

"I... want to tell you...about something. Someone..., actually. Um, if you aren't busy..."



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