The Resurrection Gauntlet
Chapter 11: OLD HABITS
"I'm going with you," Siryn said stubbornly, placing
her hands on her hips and meeting Magneto's angry gaze without
backing down an inch.
"Theresa, you are still not well," he said, as
if the matter were settled with that one statement and turned
away toward the door.
"Just as you were not well when you joined the X-Men
and led the New Mutants," she shot back, walking around,
stopping in front of him and blocking his path through the
doorway. "I never saw Magneto take as many hits as you
did when you were with the teams. You weren't fully healed
from your battle when Asteroid M was destroyed by Warlock,
it took you over a year to come back, and still you never
stopped fighting. Can you expect me to do any less?"
Magnus felt his resolve slipping as he met Siryn's eyes fully
and saw the fire of determination burning within her. There
was a reason he had always felt kinship with this girl ...
woman, he mentally corrected himself ... she, too, had been
led astray in her quest for heroism, followed down the wrong
path, and made her way back time and time again. In the years
following his finding of her and her return to the team, the
kinship between them had deepened into something much more;
a familial bond, of sorts. She had needed someone to look
up to, to lean on for guidance so badly then ... the loss
of her father, uncle, lovers, team, and everyone she had ever
been close to had left her as alone as a frightened child.
Just as alone and confused after his possession by the Shadow
King, he had been looking for a bond, something to hold him
and give him a place in this new world, something to help
him identify himself again. His team of X-Men had been shaping
up well, but the feeling of family that had always been integral
to the X-Men was lacking for him, as it always had in the
past. Siryn's demon had been alcohol, and she had given herself
over to it completely after the Shadow King war, no less so
than Magnus himself had given himself over to his insanity
after Aushwitz. For her, he knew it was a constant battle
against her addiction, but he himself had finally gotten lucky,
if one could call it that. When Rogue had shoved Psylocke's
stolen psi-blade into his mind, she had not only separated
the Shadow King from Magnus, but she had set right in his
mind whatever psychosis had possessed him, prior to that.
Still, he hadn't been whole ... he'd always felt alone, even
when surrounded by the X-Men, even when he had been friends
with Charles ... the emotional bonds in his life had been
sorely lacking since Magda had left him. So he had brought
Siryn home, helped her kill her demons, and they had, strangely
enough, each provided what the other needed.
It was strange to Magnus, when he thought about it. All of
his surviving children had turned their backs on him at every
opportunity ... not that he supposed he could really blame
them, after what he had put them through. But that this woman,
who was no blood of his own and had fought against him on
more than one occasion, could look up to him as an almost
parental figure and respect him ... it never ceased to fill
him with a sense of pride that he imagined only a child of
ones own could give. The kind of feeling he might have gotten
from Pietro and Wanda, had he not been consumed by insanity
at the time he met them. It was far too late, he knew, to
repair the damage with them. Pietro had died virtually at
Magnus' own hands when he had been possessed by the Shadow
King, and Wanda had never forgiven him for either his treatment
of her when she was younger, nor for his part in her brother's
death. But with Theresa, he felt he had been given a second
chance at fatherhood. His natural instinct was to protect
her, keep as far from this battle as possible, but he could
not deny her the path that he himself followed, no matter
if he liked it or not. Besides, indomitable will was another
thing they shared in common, and he knew that even if he stood
solid on his decision, she would find a way to get around
it. That, and he often found that he could deny her nothing.
"Not to mention," Theresa continued, not realizing
that she had already won the argument, "I want to get
to the bottom of just what exactly happened at the Alpha Flight
base as much as you do. They were your friends, and students
to a degree, but they were in MY care, under MY leadership
when they died, and I'll see the person who did this to them
dead before I rest." She folded her arms over her chest
and drew her chin up defiantly, as if daring him to contradict
Magnus nodded once, holding back the faint smile that her
expression inspired, once again struck by how odd it was that
he should feel so fatherly toward her even though she had
been a full-grown woman when he had taken her in. There was
something so childishly charming about her in his aging eyes,
and it had gotten right under his skin and into his heart,
years ago. "Very well, Theresa. Get suited up. But you
will stay as far from the fighting as possible unless we absolutely
need you, on my order. Understood?"
"Understood," she returned with a salute, then
Magnus shook his head and watched her go, as unhappy with
placing her in danger as he was happy that she would be at
his side during the coming, almost certain battle.
Wanda sighed as she saw her father's face come into view
behind the X-Men teams filing into the docking bay, wishing
that she had stayed behind in New York. It made her very uncomfortable
to be here, in the presence of the man who had done little
more than impregnate her mother and made her life a kind of
living hell for most of her youth. Certainly, she had heard
Moira's theories years ago on Magnus' insanity, but the facts,
if they even were facts, had little bearing on her feelings
toward the man after the years of torment he had inflicted
on her and her brother. She didn't hate him, exactly ... he
had certainly come a long way since his recovery of being
possessed by the Shadow King. In many ways, he was now a man
she had never even known; a man she would have liked to get
to know, had the wounds they had inflicted on one another
over the years not made the distance between them unbreachable.
Yes, she had overcome her fear of her father many years ago,
but the oldest hurts still remained, and contact with him
was no less painful now than it had been in the past. She
wanted desperately to be anywhere but here.
A hand fell on her shoulder, and she turned, startled from
her thoughts. "Oh, Lasher," she smiled at the younger
man, her teammate and friend of many years.
The slight frown he wore did not lessen as she smiled, if
anything, his concern seemed to heighten. "Something's
troubling you, Wanda...," he said, leaving the statement
open for her to finish.
She shrugged lightly, ducking her head away, red-brown hair
obscuring her features as she answered. "It's nothing,
Lasher's gaze traveled over the room briefly, coming to rest
on a man he had only just been formally introduced to, the
same man Wanda had been watching with a troubled expression
a moment before. "It's Magnus, isn't it," he asked
with such finality that it almost wasn't even a question.
"My father," she replied, speaking the word
with sarcastic emphasis.
Lasher nodded silently, his eyes still on Magnus as Wanda
spoke, studying the man carefully. He had noticed the mans
seeming lack of compassion, and that he rarely wore more than
a frown to express himself. Yet his eyes did not differ from
anyone else's in the way that they gave voice to the soul,
so Lasher had taken to watching the mans eyes for reaction.
And so it was that he was the only one who caught the look
of pained longing Magnus gave Wanda as he passed her by, the
same look he had been giving her since their arrival here.
"He still cares for you," he said after a moment.
Wanda fairly snorted with disdain. "Sure he does. That
must be why he's tried so hard to be a good father all these
Lasher licked his lips, feeling his tongue grate against
the texture of his skin like stone on stone, trying to gauge
how to best phrase his next statement. "Wanda ... you
know I think you're one of the bravest, smartest women I've
ever known. You've always represented what's best in a hero,
to me..." he trailed off, wrestling with the next words.
Wanda eyed him skeptically, waiting for him to continue.
" ... which makes what I'm about to say that much harder."
He forced himself to meet her gaze as he continued. "For
a woman so brave and wise, you seem to be so afraid and close-minded
when it comes to your father. I know it is not my place to
say so," he added hurriedly as he saw her anger rise
up suddenly. "But I believe the man deserves another
chance. He has done nothing but try to make up for his past
mistakes since he was released from the Shadow King's thrall.
I have read his file ... I know what he's done in the past,
and I know that he has tried to atone for it more than once.
I believe him at heart to be a good man, albeit one who was
misguided and affected by an emotional disorder."
Wanda stared at Lasher in shock, hardly able to believe the
words she'd heard come from his mouth. Then, her anger rapidly
catching up and overtaking her, she found the voice to respond.
"You know NOTHING of him, of what he did to me, to my
brother. You have no right to even speak of such things, much
less in his defense."
"Wanda...," once again, he struggled for words.
"Please understand ... I don't say these things for him,
but for you. Because you are my friend, and this is a wound
you have carried too long without healing."
"What he has done to me is beyond healing, Jonathon.
If you understand nothing else, understand that."
He lowered his head in defeat, having hoped to reach her
with this tactic without angering her. He had known better,
really, but they had been so close for so long, and he had
watched her wrestle with the demons of her father and all
the words they had left unspoken over the years, for far too
long. She needed to find inner peace, some sort of balance
with this situation, or it might eventually consume her and
eat her alive. He had seen it happen to others, during his
childhood in the Morlock tunnels, and he would not see it
happen to her, would not let it happen to her without a fight.
"You need to forgive him, Wanda, need to forgive yourself.
You'll never be happy until you do."
"My brother is dead because of that man," she spat
bitterly. "I can never forgive him that."
"And yet, he would not have existed without that man,
either. He's not a machine, Wanda. He may not have been much
of a father, but he IS a father, and the loss of a child is
something that no parent ever truly recovers from. Now imagine
that you are that parent and you are the cause of your own
child's death, even though you were not in control of your
mind at the time. Could you ever forgive YOURSELF for that?"
"It's never seemed to bother him a bit."
Lasher noted with relief that her anger seemed to be fading
a bit, hopefully having burned itself out or at least been
distracted by his argument. "Why don't you ask him?"
Wanda stared at him as if he had suggested stripping naked
and throwing herself from the top of a building. "Why
don't YOU ask him?" she retorted hotly.
"I would ... if he were MY father," Lasher replied
without hesitation, keeping his eyes fixed on hers.
Wanda's gaze slipped from his, coming to rest on the floor
as she replied quietly, "He's never bothered asking me
anything, why should I?"
"Because you both believe that neither of you will ever
accept the other, and he has much more reason to believe that.
He knows what he did to you and your brother was wrong, and
he is ashamed of it. If he were not, he would not have looked
at you like he did just now, he would not have respected your
space and left you alone all these years since his recovery.
He longs for your forgiveness, but he cannot come to you and
ask for it, expecting to receive it. That's something that
you must give freely."
Wanda squinted at him in silence, as if sizing up his words.
He seemed to believe what he was saying so much, as if it
were the absolute truth. She'd always known Lasher was an
idealist, a romantic of sorts, but he sounded so sure of himself,
so passionate. "Do you have some sort of empathic power
I'm unaware of?"
"No," he smiled. "But I do watch people, you
know that. I like to study them ... and I did study psychology
for a few years back home at the school." He shrugged.
"What can it hurt to try, Wanda? You might find the father
you always wanted."
"Or I might just stick out my hand and get it chopped
off, like every other time in my life."
Lasher shrugged again, still smiling as he turned to board
the Blackbird jet, throwing his last piece of advice over
his shoulder. "Wear gauntlets."
Wanda smiled darkly at the comment, then boarded the jet
behind him, muttering beneath her breath. "You can bet
your stony butt that if I did follow your advice, I'd be wearing
an entire suit of armor.."
"Pardon me, sir, but is this seat taken?" Lorna
asked without waiting for an answer as she sat down in the
seat next to Bobby.
"Why no, it isn't," he joked back, slightly taken
off-guard but glad that they were finally returning to their
They sat in silence for a few minutes as everyone settled
in and the jet took off from the docking bay. Once they had
achieved their altitude and leveled off, Lorna turned to Bobby
with a much more serious look, her smooth, joking polish of
moments ago completely gone. "Bobby...," she ran
a hand through her hair rather nervously, smoothing it back
from her face, hesitating as she searched for the right words.
"We've been treating each other with kid-gloves for a
couple of days now, and I think it's kind of silly, really.
We've been friends for so long ... I just wanted to say that
I'm sorry for what happened in the med-lab the other day.
I should have never-"
"No, I'm the one who's sorry, Lorna," Bobby broke
in. "I got carried away by memories and let myself slip.
I should have been more responsible than that."
"Responsible for both of us?" she asked with just
a touch of ire, though her smile softened the question.
"No ... I didn't mean to presume to be responsible for
you, too...," he struggled for a few seconds more, then
chuckled slightly. "Look, here we go, getting all tangled
again. Can't we just chalk it up to being melancholy and let
it go at that? I hate feeling awkward around you."
She hesitated for just a moment before nodding. "Of
course we can. We've been friends too long to let a little
thing like this get in the way." She paused again, eyeing
him uncertainly, then asked slowly, as if gauging the words,
"It's not like anything would have come from it, anyway,
Too embarrassed by the subject to meet her gaze, he completely
missed the intensity she was watching him with, waiting for
his reply, completely missed the turmoil of emotion in her
eyes. All he heard were the words themselves, the words that
confirmed his own feelings; "nothing would have come
from it anyway". He'd expected the blow, though that
didn't make it hurt any less ... expected it so much that
he missed the question beneath the question of her words.
"Right," he replied, nodding his head in agreement.
"Right," she said again, rising from her seat rather
He finally turned to look at her with raised brows. "You
going somewhere? You just got here."
"I ... have to help Magnus go over some of the maps
we found ... I just wanted to get all this straightened out
with you before we got into battle."
He nodded again, wishing that she would lift her head just
a little, brush back the strands of fine green hair from her
eyes so that he could see them, and smile at him. Then he
shook his head to rid himself of such thoughts, knowing that
they would get him nothing except more hurt and endanger their
friendship once again. "Well, I'm glad you did,"
he said with a genuine smile, and in a way, he was. At least
it wouldn't impede their communication anymore.
"Yeah ... me, too," she nodded, then hesitated
for a few seconds before moving on down the aisle.
Bobby and sighed and threw his head back against the high-backed
seat, feeling both relieved and more frustrated at the same
"So what's the deal with you two?" came a sly voice
from behind Bobby's head, startling him so badly that he literally
jumped up out of his seat.
"Thank God it's only you, Alison. You nearly gave me
a heart attack."
"Yeah?" she asked with a grin as she kneeled up
on her seat and rested her chin on the back of his chair,
looking down at him. "Well I'm gonna tell the whole ship
what I saw if you don't come clean."
He sighed again. "Lorna and I ... we almost ended up
... well, kissing in the med-lab the other day."
"And this is a tragedy?" she asked, arching one
"No..I mean yes ... .well, not really. Ah hell ... I
don't know," he said defeatedly.
Alison Blaire chuckled at her friend's confusion, recognizing
it all too well. "You're in love again, you poor sucker."
"Well ... I guess you could say that ... but I've always
loved Lorna, to a degree. It's just gotten stronger since
we've been on the new team together."
"I see that. And I'd daresay it's mutual."
"You're crazy," he said, staring at her as if he
believed what he had just said was true.
"And you, my old friend, are a blockhead, as usual,"
she replied, not unkindly as she shook her head. "It's
so plain a blind man could see it. Listen to the two of you:
'Oh, I'm so sorry' 'No, I'm the one who's sorry', falling
all over each other in your anxiety. It's a classic case of
"No way. Maybe for me, but not for her. I mean Lorna
was involved with Captain America ... what could she possibly
see in an immature guy like me after being with an icon like
"You just summed it up right there, chump," she
smiled, punching him lightly on the shoulder. "Cap's
an icon, you're a man. He's a soldier, and soldiers tend to
be more devoted to their job than to anything, or anyone else."
"I just can't see it," he said, slinking down further
in his chair.
"You don't have to, Bobby. Just do something about it.
If you two keep going the way you are, you're gonna let it
slip right by you. I don't think I need to tell you what a
precious commodity love is on this planet, these days."
"You really believe that, Dazz?
"Then why haven't you ever..." he let the question
trail off, not wanting to bring up painful memories. Longshot
had been dead a long time, but then, so had Angelica, and
it still hurt whenever Bobby thought about her.
"Fallen in love again?" she asked, finishing up
"Um ... yeah ... ."
"I almost did, once, several years ago ... but he was
in love with someone else already," she said, a bit wistfully.
"Really?" he sat upright in his chair again, his
curiosity piqued. "You never told me about him..."
"Oh, he was really wonderful ... sweet guy, biggest
brown eyes you ever saw, gentle, kind, giving, great sense
of humor. Sometimes he was a bit rash, but that made him all
the more captivating, somehow. He was so alive..."
"So if he was so great, how come you never mentioned
him until now? I thought we were supposed to be best buds?"
he asked, feeling a little betrayed by her silence all this
"Because he was you, blockhead," she said with
a gentle smile.
He stared at her speechless, a million things running through
his mind, at least a thousand of them he wanted to say, but
all he could do was stare at her.
"So don't play the waiting game, old buddy, old pal,
old friend of mine, because if you're too afraid to make that
first step, someone else will come along and steal her heart."
She gave him a last smile and squeezed his shoulder affectionately
before slipping back down into her seat and out of view.
Bobby spent the rest of the two-hour trip in total silence.
Magnus spent most of the flight in silence as well, occasionally
checking in with Kitty to make sure their flight path was
continuing unhampered. The sky was gathering black clouds
quickly, the further south they went, and Magnus mused rather
ironically that there was indeed, a storm coming.
Gathered on the jet were some of the finest fighters alive;
Wolverine, Storm, Iceman, Polaris, the Scarlet Witch, Shadowcat,
Colossus, Dazzler, Siryn, Lasher, himself ... his eyes roved
over all of them in the main cabin. Some of the finest fighters
alive, he was honored to fight alongside and even lead them,
and yet ... he wondered. What could any of them, even combined,
hope to do against a cosmic force of nature like the Phoenix?
Outside, lightning flashed and thunder bellowed distantly,
a deep booming voice that seemed to echo Magnus' thoughts
Continued in Chapter
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