by DuAnn Cowart
Standard disclaimers apply.
This is an experiment, so forgive any infelicities.
"Jean? 'zat you?"
"Hey, woman! It's good t' hear from you! How's Scoot? What's the gossip from home?"
"Scott's fine. We're all. . . fine."
"Are you sure? Your voice sounds kinda funny."
"I'm . . . fine, honey. Is Sean there?"
"Yeah, he's in his office with Frosty. You wanna talk to him?"
"Are they busy?"
"Not unless you consider venting unresolved sexual tension by arguing about next semester's class schedule busy."
"I calls it like I sees it, Jean."
". . . I guess you do."
"Anyway, you wanna talk to him?"
"Yes. . . no. No, hold on a minute- you said Emma is there?"
"In the flesh. And lots of it."
"Let me talk to her instead."
"How very nice. We know each others name."
"This isn't the time, Emma."
"What's the situation?"
"I take it you haven't heard?"
"Emma, Kitty just called from Muir Island a few minutes ago with some very . . . bad news."
"Has there been an attack? Is anyone injured?"
"There hasn't been an attack."
"Moira died this morning."
". . ."
"But. . . I thought- Sean thought- her condition had finally stablized. The new treatments-"
"-apparantly don't work as well on humans as they have on mutants.
And, from what I understand, he didn't know because she didn't want him told it was nearing the end. She didn't want anyone not on Muir to know."
". . . Jean. . . did you have any idea she was worsening?"
"No! I swear, I had no idea, Emma. None of us did."
"I . . . don't understand. Why didn't Excalibur at least let Sean know so he could be with her?"
"I don't know! All Kitty said was that Moira didn't let them even know how bad it'd gotten until the very end, and at that point she made her wishes painfully clear! She didn't want to see him- to see anyone but Rahne and her minister. I guess she didn't want Sean to see her. . . like that."
"She. . . *what*?"
"I'm stunned, too, Emma. Moira is- was- a dear friend to us all. Her loss is a terrible blow."
". . . Jean, do you have any idea what this is going to do to him?"
"I think I do. That's why I asked to speak to you first. I know this places you in a difficult situation, but I'd very much appreciate it if you would . . . tell him. I don't want him to hear this over the phone, and the news is already spreading. Theresa's already on her way from San Fransisco. I thought Sean should know as soon as possible, to be prepared when she gets there."
"I . . . appreciate that consideration, Jean. Is there anything else I need to know?"
"Just that. . . like I said, Rahne and her minister were with her at the end. She didn't die alone. And- there was no pain."
". . . Well, that's something, at least. He'll want to know- did she leave something for him? A letter, a note, a whispered message? Anything at all?"
". . . No."
"Not even so much as a 'Tell Sean I love him?' Or at the very least, a quick 'Thanks for sharing the last ten years of my life? She didn't even tell him goodbye?!?"
". . . No. . . . Emma, you've got to understand- the woman was dying. And she and Sean- I'm not trying to justify her actions, but from what Kitty tells me, she didn't *want* to see him- she wanted him to remember the strong, proud woman she was- not the bed-ridden invalid she'd become. Surely you can understand that."
"I do understand. I know she must have had her reasons. What I don't understand is how she could be so cruel as to have not told him *anything*. One phone call, Jean, one whispered message, one quick note to give him a modicum of closure- how much would that have cost her precious pride? How much?"
"I know you and she weren't close-"
"Weren't close? That's really a rather amusing understatement. No, we weren't close. I know very well her opinion of me. I know how many of you share it."
"Please, Emma. Surprising as it sounds, I know how much you genuinely care about Sean-"
Yes, I realize how very surprising it must be to realize that the
White Queen can actually be concerned about a friend's well-being.
You must forgive me for evidencing a shred of humanity. It's
been a trying day."
"Get over it
already, Emma. You're not the only one with a dark past. I am- I
*was*- the Phoenix. With nothing but a thought I caused more
death and destruction than a thousand Hellfire Clubs. I know it
hard for you to realize this, but you don't have a monopoly on remorse."
"I. . . know. I know, Jean. I . . . apologize. I'm simply . . . worried about him."
"We all are."
"Yes. Well, if there's nothing else-"
"That's all. Let me know if there's anything we can do. And Emma. .."
"Thank you. I'm glad Sean has a friend like you."
"Ah, there ye are, woman! I swear, ye spend more time on the phone. . . Emma, are ye all right, lass? Ye look like hell."
"Sean. Please. . . sit down."
"Saints, Em, ye're hands are cold as ice. Who was that on the phone?"
"And what did Jeannie want, now?"
"Sean. . . she had some bad news."
"Is everything all right at the mansion? Are the X-men all right?"
"Everything's fine, there."
"Good. Then wha- ah, no! Saints, tell me it's not Theresa-"
"No, no, no, Sean. Calm down. Theresa's fine. Nothing's wrong with her. . . she's on her way here right now, as a matter of fact."
"Coming here? What in th' world for?"
"Sean. . ."
"Emma, dammit, quit stallin'! What th' bloody hell did Jean say?"
"Sean. . . Kitty Pride just called the mansion. Moira- I'm so sorry, Sean, but Moira passed away early this morning."
". . ."
". . .If this is a joke it's in damn poor taste."
"It's no joke, Sean. I'm truly sorry."
"Wha. . . what happened?"
"She finally sucuumbed to Legacy. She . . . apparantly was in worse shape than any of us knew."
"She's. . . gone?"
"Sean, oh, Sean, I'm so sorry. I wish I could tell you how sorry I am. . ."
"But. . . she was gettin' better. And Hank- he just told me last week that he almost had the last gene sequence figured out. . ."
"I know. I know. . . Sean, please sit back down. . ."
"She just. . . passed away this morning. Rahne and her pastor were with her."
"But that . . . that doesna make any sense. Legacy- even in its most virulant forms- there's a gradual decline at th' end. It doesna strike that suddenly. . . That. . . that doesna make any sense. . ."
". . . If it helps, Kitty said that she was calm at the end, that there was no pain. . ."
". . ."
"She's finally at peace. Take. . . comfort in that. She's . . . in a better place."
"I know that. That doesna change the fact that I should have been there for her. . . I should have. . ."
"You didn't know. If you had known, you would have moved heaven and earth to be with her. You know that's true. You didn't know how sick she was."
"That doesna matter. I wasn't with her. . . Emma! Emma, did they TRY to call me, let me know how ill she was? I swear, if one o' the kids didna give me the message, there'll be hell to pay. . ."
"You can't blame the children. They didn't know- none of us knew."
"Then- why didn't someone call me? Why wasna I there? I should have been there with her. Oh, Lord, I should have been there. . ."
"Sean, I know this isn't easy to hear, but Moria . . . she wanted to do this alone."
"But. . . why would she. . . "
"It was her choice. She decided this- not you. She didn't want you to see her like that. She decided this herself. You have to respect her decision. . . "
". . . Oh, Saints in Heaven, why wasn't I with her?"
"Listen to me.
Sean! Come here- Sean, look at me! Hear me now, THIS WAS NOT YOUR
FAULT. There is nothing you could have done! If you had known,
you would have been there. She should have let you
know, Sean. She made the decision, not you. She should have TOLD you!"
"Don't ye dare presume to know what she should or should not have done! Ye don't know her!"
"Shut up! You, of all people- ye're the LAST one t' say anything against m' Moira!"
". . ."
"Oh. . . accushla. . . I shoulda been with y', I knew y' were sick, I shoulda known . . ."
"This . . . wasn't . . . your fault."
"And how do I
know that, hmmm? Maybe if I'd have gone t' Scotland when we first
learned she was sick, insteada stayin' here with ye, bein' *distracted*
by ye, I could have stopped her from pushin' herself so
hard, wearin' her poor body down like she did. I could've helped her. . .I *could* have . . . but instead, I chose . . . to stay here, w' ye and th' kids."
"And that was a *good* choice! Without you, your guidance, your protection, the students would be dead a dozen times over! *I* would be dead, or worse . . . without you here we would have been lost."
"And now *she's* lost t' me. I made my choice! All this time, while I've been here, she's been slippin' further and further away, and I've been too bloody selfish and stupid to realize it. For th' first time in years, I've not been thinkin' of her, when it's *always* been her. And then when she needed me so much, I deserted her, and now, now it's too late. . . I gotta get out of here. . ."
"Please, don't go. Stay here, Sean-"
"Ah, I canna breathe. . . I . . . "
". . . SEAN! Where are you going?"
"Away from here! Away from you! I can't. . .not when th' very sight of ye reminds me of how I betrayed her with m' choice!"
"NO! Don't run away! Don't you see? Don't you understand? It WASN'T your choice! It was HER choice! SHE chose not to tell YOU! It's NOT your fault, . . . "
". . . Sean. . . it's not your fault. . ."
"Hello, Frost. Ye look like shit."
"Likewise, Theresa. Hello, James."
"Where's me Da?"
"He flew off about an hour ago."
"Where did he go?"
"Down by the creek."
"Ye let him go off by himself in this condition?"
". . . I've been keeping a light telepathic link on him."
"I said 'Good'. I dinna want him by himself right now, even if it is th' bloody White Queen lookin' after him. . . Ye looks surprised, Frost."
"Simply curious. I was expecting a diatribe on psionic ethics- but then again, you *were* trained by Cable, weren't you?"
"Sometimes I forget that I'm not the only telepath with a more realistic world view than Xavier's."
"Whatever. I don't care what ye world view is so long as me Da's all right."
"Theresa . . . I know you and Moira were close. I'm sorry for your loss."
"Sure ye are, Frost. Sure ye are. Now which direction is this creek?"
~I'm surprised to see you out here.~
~The students wanted to come with Sean. I came with them.~
~I meant here outside on the church steps.~
~Why *are* you out here?~
~Probably the same reason you are. Too many grieving minds in too enclosed a space- too much emotion, too much raw sorrow- it's overpowering. And, I'll admit, my shields are. . . strained by the events of the last few days.~
~I understand. It hasn't been easy for us, either.~
~I'm sure it hasn't.~
~. . . He's not taking it well, is he?~
~He's taking it as well as anyone whose lover of ten years dies without bidding him goodbye could possibly take something like this. No, he's not taking it well.~
~I . . . see.~
~Do you? Do you see? Can any of you possibly know what this is doing to him?~
~Emma, you're broadcasting. . .~
~. . . Forgive me. As I said, my shields are a bit strained.~
~That much is apparant. It's not easy to be a telepath in such emotional proximity to someone hurting so badly. I . . . know.~
~I suppose you do.~
~I assume you are . . . keeping an eye on him?~
~If by that remark you mean if I am constantly monitoring his mental state to ensure that he does himself no harm, then yes, Elisabeth, I am 'keeping an eye on him'. He has promised Theresa that he will not injure himself, but at least until the services are over, I thought it best. . .~
~Yes. I agree. . . . What about you? How are you dealing with this?~
~Me? I hardly knew the woman.~
~That's not what I mean.~
~Then what *do* you mean?~
~The strain is obviously getting to you. You're exhausted. Your shields are ragged, you actually have bags under your eyes, and I think I see a hair out of place.~
~Ah. Thank you for pointing that out.~
~That last was a joke, Emma.~
~Of course. Very amusing.~
~I *do* still have a sense of humor, though it's not what it once was. . . But I suppose you understand what it is to go through changes.~
~Not according to some of our. . . colleagues' stares. They look at me and still see the White Queen of the Hellfire Club.~
~Do you really care what they think?~
~. . . No. No, I suppose I don't.~
~I didn't think so. Even so, you do need to know that not all of us still believe that. And. . . you're not alone. After the Crimson Dawn- they stare at me, too. ~
~I imagine your uniform- or lack thereof- has something to do with that.~
~You would know.~
~Heh. I suppose I would.~
~A good thing neither of us wore them today, eh?~
~Speak for yourself.~
~I wasn't. Now come, much as I'm enjoying this little chat, the service is about to begin.~
"I know you're in there, Sean."
"How did you get here?"
"I asked directions."
"Go away, Emma."
"Dammit, woman, there's a reason I came t' Cassidy Keep instead o' goin' back t' the School. I want- I need- to be by myself for a while."
"It's been two weeks since the funeral. I thought you would be home already."
"I *am* home."
"What does that mean?"
"What does it sound like it means?"
". . . Henry is at the Acadamy. He promised to look after the students until we return."
"Then ye're wasting his time, for I'm not returnin'. Ye are. Now."
"No, I'm not. Eamon has already shown me to one of the guest rooms."
"Remind me to have a talk with him. . ."
"It reeks in here. How much have you had to drink?"
"Not nearly enough."
"When was the last time you ate? Or took a shower?"
"I guess that would be my business, now, wouldn't it? Go away, Emma. I didna invite ye here, an' I dinna feel like playing host right now."
"You don't have to. I can entertain myself."
"Of that I have no doubt. Listen t' me, woman. I don't want ye here. I don't want to talk. I don't want t' feel 'better'. All I want is to be by myself-"
"I'm not leaving until we get some things straight."
"What are ye worried about, Emma? I won't break me promise. I won't do that t' Theresa, so if that's what ye're concerned about, don't be. Just leave me be."
"I believe you. It's just. . . Sean! Look at me!"
"What's t' see?"
"Somebody who's trying to help you."
"That's a laugh."
"Ye. Actin' like ye give a shit about anyone besides yerself, tryin' to pretend ye care. It's a joke. I know better. Ev'rybody knows better."
"Sean, you're drunk. . ."
"Damn right I'm drunk! But ye. . . ye're playin' a dangerous game, here, Emma."
"And what sort of game is that?"
"Do ye really think we all don't know what ye really are? Ye're foolin' yourself, 'White Queen'. I don't know what ye've got planned by comin' here, but it won't work."
"I'm not planning anything, Sean. If you could go more than a few seconds without taking a swallow from that bottle, you'd know that."
"I don't know anything of the sort. Now please- please just go. . ."
"I'm not leaving until you talk to me."
"Ye want t' talk! Fine, then! Let's talk! How are you today, Emma? I'm just bloody fine, thank ye. Lovely weather we're havin', ain't it?"
"Sarcasm doesn't become you. I'm trying to help, here, Sean. I. . .care about you. I don't want to see you hurt like this."
"I don't want yer
bloody help! I've had time t' think about it- nothin' *but* time-
and now I understand ev'rythin'! I know why Moira didna call me.
I know why she didna want me there. It was because of MY
mistake, and it was only right I pay for it."
"What mistake? What the hell are you talking about?"
"Ye KNOW what I'm talkin' about!"
"NO, I don't! What? What is it that you think I know?"
"YE KNOW THAT I CHOSE YE OVER HER AND SHE DIED! I betrayed her! I didn't DESERVE t' be with her when she left this world!"
". . . That's ridiculous. How could you have betrayed her, Sean? You flew to see her. You called her every week. She was *never* far from your heart OR your thoughts!"
"My thoughts- ah, my thoughts! My own thoughts condemn me! Moira- she knew my mind better than any of ye did. She knew. . .she knew I wasna faithful to her, and that's why she didna want me there. I. . . I canna blame her!"
"What are you talking about? You've never been anything *but* faithful!"
"Hah! Do ye
really believe that, Emma? Ye, of all people, should know that
isna really true! Surely ye've seen me thoughts- ah, look at ye,
all blue-eyed innocence- don't pretend ye don't know what I'm
about! Ye've even encouraged them, prancin' around half-naked, incitin' all kinds of thoughts in me head. . . I may never have betrayed her with m' flesh- though God help me I wanted to- but in m' mind, m'heart, I
betrayed her love a thousand times!"
"And . . . what makes it worse. . . she knew it. She knew what I was thinkin', what I was feelin', I could see it in her eyes every time she looked at me. . . until she couldna bear t' look at me. THAT'S why she didna call me."
"How can you say that? You didn't desert her! You loved her! She *knew* that!"
"Love? LOVE? What kind of love lives an ocean away with another woman?"
". . ."
"It doesna matter anyway. She knew. She told me, and I laughed it off, told her she was crazy, that there'd never be anybody else but her, that all th' temptation in th' universe couldn't pull me from her side. I LIED t' her, Emma! There, knowin' she was dyin', I told her those things, all the while knowin' deep in m' heart she was right. Choosin' t' stay at th' school instead of move back t' Muir just proved it."
refuse to believe that. You can't bear to admit how angry you are
at her for leaving like she did, so you're funnelling those
feelings into guilt! Listen to me- it's not your fault, Sean! It's
not your fault that
"Then whose is it? Hers? Mine? Whose?"
"Dammit, Sean, it's not about fault! It's about life! And death! And knowing when to let go!"
"Ah, listen to ye, the expert on lettin' go. Ye're nothin' but a hypocrite, Emma. Ye know so much about life and death, don't ye, that ye still wake up screamin' at night wit' dreams of ward guards and Hellions! I hear ye in me head sometimes ye scream so loud!"
". . ."
"Ye know so much
about lettin' go that ye still feel th' need t' dress like a
harlot just so you have that much more control over men! Ye know
so much about lettin' go that ye keep yerself apart, refusin' t'
ye're not the same woman ye were when ye did th' things that still haunt ye so! Yeah, ye know all about lettin' go."
". . . You can't have it both ways, Sean."
"What d' ye mean?"
"I can't be a malicious, manipulative bitch AND the wounded victim. Make up your mind."
"That's th' problem, Emma. Ye *are* both."
". . . "
"But it doesna matter anymore. Moira's gone, I betrayed her love, and none of it matters anymore. I made m' choice, and now I've got t' live with it. But I don't expect ye t' understand that."
". . . Sean, you are treading perilously close to the line, here. . . . It was *her* decision not to call you, not yours. I am getting very tired of you heaping all the guilt upon yourself."
"Then where else does it belong? Tell me THAT, Emma!"
"ON HER! Damn it,
on her! SHE was the one who didn't let YOU know how ill she was!
You were there for her! SHE was the one who chose not to see you
at the end! She may have had her reasons- they may even
have been good ones- but that doesn't matter! What matters is that she made her decision and now you're left behind to deal with it!"
"SHE WAS DYIN'!"
"She wasn't dead yet! She could have made peace with you! She didn't! That would mean giving up just a bit of control, and her damn pride couldn't handle that! . . . I know about pride, Sean. I know about control. I know how. . . important those things can be, especially when you have nothing else. It was Moira's decision, Sean . . . it was what *she* wanted."
"I took that decision away from her! I wasna there when she needed me! I *betrayed* her!"
"NO! Don't you understand? This wasn't about *you*! This was about *her*! *That's* why she didn't call you, Sean! Not because you betrayed her, but because that was how she could exert that last bit of control over something that no human *can* control- death. She used you in order to make her death comprehensible! You have to accept that, and know it's not your fault!"
"Go to hell, ye bitch. . ."
"THAT WILL BE ENOUGH! . . . You call me a bitch? That's right! I am! What other ugly little names do you want to call me? Whore? Slut? Tramp? I've heard worse in a thousand filthy minds, and every one of them has paid dearly for dismissing me like that! Friend or not, there's just so much of this I'm willing to take from you, and you just crossed the line! I have TRIED to help you- granted, it's not a role I'm comfortable with, but I'm trying, and you respond like this?!? How dare you!"
"Saints, I'm sorry, Emma. I didna mean t'. . . I'm sorry."
". . . I. . . know. It's. . . allright. Sean. . .you're the closest thing to a friend I've had since Leland died. I just want to help."
"I . . . don't want yer help, Emma. I didna ask ye t' come here. Please. . . just go away and leave me be. . ."
". . . It's all right to be angry at her, Sean. It's all right to miss her. This isn't clean grief- this isn't just about losing Moira. Listen to yourself, Sean- you can't get past the guilt and anger to even touch the grief underneath! You're destroying yourself, and I won't have it!"
"Don't ye understand?!? It's not your decision to make!. . . What? Why are ye lookin' at me like that?!?"
". . . . . . You know, you may just be right."
"You're. . . absolutely right. Damn. It's *not* my decision to make. . . I came here thinking I could heal you, make you better, bring you back to the land of the living. I wanted to help repay some of the good your respect and friendship has done me these last two years by forcing you to realize that this whole thing isn't your fault. I wanted to gain absolution for whatever part I played in her decision. . . but I should have known better. It's not my fault any more than it is yours. The decision was *hers* to make."
"What are ye talkin' about, woman?"
Decisions. You and I keep throwing those words at each other, but
. . . when you stop to think about it. . . that really is at the
crux of this whole thing. Moira made her choice, and now you've
to make yours. I just realized that. I *can't* make your decision for you, much as I may want to. All I can do is make my own and then be here to help you if you'll let me."
on the edge, Sean. You need to decide right now whether you want
to honestly mourn Moira and celebrate her life for what it was or
whether you're going to keep on trying to fill that hollow
ache in your heart with misplaced guilt and whisky. I can't make it for you. Until you make that decision, nothing anyone can say or do will matter.
It's *your* decision,
after all. It's all up to you- until you decide you want my help,
nothing I can say to you will make a difference. After everything
I've been through, everything I've done to get to where I am
now I'm not going to be sucked into the abyss again for anybody, not even you. All my worrying or yelling or arguing won't change anything- and I just decided that I'm not going to lose myself in the trying."
". . . "
"It's up to you, Sean. You can take my help or turn it away. Either way, I'll be fine. I'm going back home, and I'm going to teach our students, and I'm going to make my peace with this as best I can. I'd like you to come with me, but it's your decision."
"Emma, I. . . I. . . "
"It's your decision, Sean. What's it going to be?"
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you. Not as the world gives, give I unto you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. -John 14:27
Back to Archive