I didn’t plan on talking about me. I don’t know why I did. That’s not what I was there for. The Professor’s orders were clear and I’d agreed to follow them. When I say I’ll do something, I do it.
I knew my mission in Vermont. I was going to figure out just how safe that house really is. See what I had to do to take an old ski house and turn it into a fortress that still looks like an old ski house. Use the men there however I needed them – Nightcrawler, the Alpha Flight guys, the G-Men. Get whatever I needed without anyone in the town of Peru knowing what was going on. And report to Leeds on my mission and any progress. The Professor said to meet with the doctor once right at the beginning to tell him what the security weaknesses were, and again once I figured out what I was going to do about them. As many other times as he wanted me to come and report. Give him whatever information he wanted, keep him in the loop.
Now why a shrink needed to know about fortifying that house is beyond me, but it’s what the Professor wanted, so it’s what I was doing. I headed off to the shrink’s office the second day I was there. Like I said, I wasn’t going there to talk about me and what was going on in my head.
So why did I tell him all that? There was a lot of stuff bugging me, mostly this whole thing with Scott, but that’s no reason. I know how to keep quiet about stuff that’s bugging me.
I didn’t see Scott at all after that night in his room. I left two days later without talking to him. Said goodbye to Marie and the rest of them, but not Scott. I thought of going to talk to him, to ask him about arrangements for my classes while I was gone, but the Professor told me ‘Ro was taking them. So, there wasn’t anything I really needed to talk to Scott about, and he didn’t come looking for me at night like he usually did. I did try to go see him once before I went. The night before I left I was going to his room, but before I even got close I could hear Jean’s voice. She was talking to him in there and I didn’t want to know what they were saying. I turned around and left.
I almost didn’t take his bike after all, but I figured he said I could and I might as well. Rode all the way up to Vermont on it, cursing the guy I borrowed it from. And then rode it over to Bellows Falls to see Dr. Ethan Leeds, just like my orders said.
I don’t think Leeds did anything to make me talk, or if he did, I don’t know how. He’s not a mutant, so it wasn’t mind control. And he didn’t try to worm it out of me or anything. Hey, I probably would have clammed up if he did. I hate it when people get nosy. But he wasn’t nosy. Just... interested. He just listened. Asked questions sometimes, but only about what I was already telling him. Nah, it’s nothing he did, not that I could tell. There’s something about him that just makes you want to talk.
I don’t even know how it started, really. Somehow I went from talking about fortifying that house to talking about me. I told him about the nightmares, the amnesia. Maybe that’s how it started – telling him about the damage I’d done to the room I’d stayed in the first time I’d come to Peru, when Scott and me were digging the tunnel. I told him how the wall near the bed was all busted up because of the nightmares. And said I’d fix that while I was doing the fortifications. So, then he asks me how often that happens to me in the night and have I ever hurt anyone. And I tell him about Marie and how scared I am I’ll kill somebody when I’m like that, somebody I don’t want to kill.
So that leads to me talking about how Scott started helping me when we were at the house in Peru together, how he used to listen for me moaning or crying and then woke me up when he heard me. I told him what a relief that was, how I’d feel like I was a prisoner in this dream and couldn’t get out, and then Scott would come and spring me. I told him I wished for so long that I could do *something* to make it stop, but I never thought there’d be anybody helping me. So, Leeds asks how long I’ve had nightmares and I tell him the truth – that I don’t know how long because I can’t remember anything except the last 15 years. I told him I don’t know where I’m from, don’t know how old I am, don’t even know what my name really is.
He didn’t act like that was crazy or anything, and he didn’t fall all over himself saying how sorry he is or how hard it must be. He just seemed interested, wanted to know more. And I don’t know why, but I wanted to tell him. So before I knew it, there I was, telling Leeds about waking up in the woods all those years ago and not knowing who I was or what I was. I told him about how I kept trying to kill myself any which way I could, but nothing worked. And then all about living on my own for so long - moving around, trying to find out what I could about myself for a while there. Then just giving up on that. Living any way I could manage as long as I didn’t have to stay in one place - cage fighting some of the time. No family, no friends, no ties. There was close to a year when I never said a word to another human being. Lots of years when I didn’t even feel like a human being. I never told anybody some of that stuff before, but here I was telling this old doctor with that listening expression.
And then I told him how all that changed. How I’d found Marie, or she’d found me, I guess. Which had led to me getting all mixed up with the X-Men. How the longer I was with the X-Men the more I realized that I had feelings I didn’t understand, didn’t want to know about. I’d left to find out about my past and how I got to be this way. Or maybe I’d left because I didn’t want to find out some stuff about myself, some stuff I was getting too close to finding out by staying there in Westchester.
But I’d come back. I’m not even sure why now. For Jean? For something else? I didn’t even have time to figure that out. I was hardly back when I got thrown right in the middle of a fucking siege. Nobody had time to think, not me, not any of them. It was all kill or be killed, all survival. And trying to get those kids out alive. Trying to get the ones they took back.
Stryker. I told him about Stryker, too, about how he knew me as soon as he saw me. I didn’t know him. I started shaking all over when I told Leeds that part, same way I do with the nightmares. I tried to stop it, not wanting to do that in front of him, but I couldn’t stop as long as I was talking about Stryker. And I didn’t want to stop telling him. My claws came out, too, without me trying, when I told him about Stryker looking at me like that, how he called me an animal. I’d been feeling like I really was human, like there might be a place for me with the X-Men, but when he called me that it felt like it was all over. Like even though I hated his guts for saying it, I knew he was right. He was telling the real truth about me. Yeah, my whole body was just trembling all over, claws extended, while I told him that.
That never happened in front of anybody before, not the shaking or the claws. Well, nobody except Scott and it’s okay when I’m with him. It feels safe when I’m with Scott. But somehow it was okay with Leeds, too. He was just so calm about the whole thing. Leeds acted like there was nothing strange about it, like he saw bodies shaking all over and adamantium claws all the time.
And maybe that’s why I kept talking. He has this sort of way about him. Patient and listening and interested, but not surprised by anything. Like nothing could shock him, like you could tell him anything and he’d just ask a few questions and listen to you tell him more.
So, yeah I kept talking. Told him what I thought they’d done to me. How I think some of the dreams are real, parts of them, anyway. I think some of it is really memories of how they took me apart and put me back together and somehow even though I can’t remember it during the day it comes out when I’m sleeping.
I told him about people I’d killed and people I wish I’d killed. About the whole battle against Stryker, too. How I found out some stuff, found out that Stryker had been part of it, whatever the fuck “it” was. Whatever they’d done that turned me into what I am. Put the metal in and took my memory away. Turned me into an animal that could only kill or be killed. And that sometimes I feel like that’s all I am, but sometimes I think I’m still human.
I told him how it was after we got back to Westchester, after we left Jean there, Scott trying to stop her, trying to make her come with us. I’d come back there looking for Jean but then I found out she wasn’t what I was looking for. Told him about what happened after we thought she died. About me and Scott and how we’d gone from hating each other’s guts to being friends. I told him we’d been having sex, too, and how that helped me. Helped with the nightmares, but not just that. How being with Scott made me feel more human, too. Close to somebody.
And then I told him about Jean coming back and Scott not believing in her and me not knowing what to think about that. I told him about all my confused feelings about Jean and Scott. I told him how Scott and me had had a fight. Sort of. Well, I’d left there mad at him and he seemed mad at me, too. And how I hated feeling like that. That being friends with Scott had been the best part of being at Xavier’s and how pissed off I was now with things bad between him and me. Mad at Scott, at Jean, at myself, too, maybe. Wondering why it bothered me so much. Not sure even what I was mad about.
I can’t say I felt any less confused from talking to him. But I felt something. Better. Calmer. Like just saying what was going on was worth it, even if I don’t understand it all.
“Have you talked to Scott since you got here?” he asked.
I shook my head. “He called once, but I was out. Kurt told me he called.”
“But you didn’t call him back?”
“He can call again if he wants to talk.” I stopped to think about what I’d said. “I think about him all the time,” I said. “I don’t like that.”
Leeds laughed. “So why don’t you call him?”
“What would I say?”
“What do you want to say?”
“I don’t know.”
“What do you want him to say?”
See what I mean? I wasn’t going to say anymore, but then he asks a question like that and it gets me thinking. And talking.
“I want him to say that he knows I wouldn’t take his bike without him saying it’s okay. Not now that we’re friends. I want him to say he believes me that I’m not doing Jean anymore. I told him I did her, didn’t I? So, if I tell him I’m not gonna do it with her again, he should know I’m saying the truth. I want him to tell me if it bothers him that me and her did it. And not just that, but why it bothers him, if it does. You know? Is it because of her or because of me? I want him to say he still wants me.” I didn’t know I was going to say that last part until I said it. Didn’t even know I was thinking it.
“Are you worried that he doesn’t want you anymore?” I shrugged. “Do you think that might be something you could talk to Scott about? Could you tell him what you want to hear from him?”
I didn’t have an answer to that one, either.