In the park, she feels like she’s being watched.

There’s still not a consensus of who, exactly, she is now -- Madelyne Pryor and Molly Patton both, awake at the same time. It isn’t like the beach back in December, where they thought as one person -- no, in the here and now, Molly Patton feels waves of nausea, is counting her steps as she walks, and keeps her hand in Adam’s hand.

Madelyne Pryor, however, is the one that can feel the hairs standing on the back of her neck, who feels distinctively that they are being watched every step of the way and who wants to go back home.

Molly ignores her, and they keep walking until it’s cool, and she can lean on Adam on the way back.

Madelyne doesn’t like it. There’s something foreboding, something honestly frightening prickling the edges of her senses that tells her that this is just the calm before the storm. When Molly eventually fades to sleep, Madelyne does not.

She keeps awake for as long as possible, feeling her magic settle in, opening up to her. It courses through her -- their body, inching along the back of her skull, twisting around the still flat abdomen, the core of it against her heart.

What she finds is restlessness, paranoia. The power wanting to pull her down, to overwhelm her.

It’s not entirely a surprise to feel this. The news of being pregnant had rattled her, pushed up so many old memories that she had rather not dwell on.

“Hush,” she whispers in the dark, pushing everything down, muffling the urge. “We’re safe here. We’re safe.”

Saying it outloud, that was a spell in and of itself.

She was safe. They were safe. They had to be.

Her dreams are not susceptible to spells or words of encouragement.

She finds herself at sixteen, curled up in a bathtub, shivering and shaking, the pain so overwhelming that screaming is beyond her. She’s dizzy, able to hear a storm outside, banging and rattling the windows, and tears running down her face. The smell of ammonia, blood, and something foul she can’t name fill her nose. The tub sides dig into her fingers as she pushes, knowing that she can’t stop, she can’t stop. The cry of a baby

pierces the air. She gasps, sobs, and presses her face against the kitchen tile. Her son is wailing, and she feels bone tired. No one is here: not Ororo, not Logan, not Xavier, not Scott. Madelyne is the only one here, cradling her son against her, the one human in a group of mutants. They have lives to save -- and she does not.

The only person who needs her in this moment is wailing against her breast: Nathan.

“Nathan, Nathan,” Madelyne sobs, fingers running through his sparse hair. His little hand strokes her cheek

his eyes so wide in his face. Except it isn’t in love, or awe. No, her son -- her little Scottie -- is afraid of her.

“Scottie?” She asks, her voice soft. “Scottie, what’s wrong?”

He looks beyond her: into the shadows. “I don’t like it, Mommy.” He whispers, urgent and afraid. “Mommy, it’s scaring me.”

Madelyne looks over her shoulder

and into the eyes of her mother. Her hand is inches away from the bookshelf, fearing her response.

“Why are you having second thoughts?” Karen’s voice is cool, tempered to a stranger’s ear. To Molly, however, it’s a warning sign. “You’re too young to keep it. You aren’t even on schedule to graduate anymore.”

On schedule. Her stomach turns. “I- I just read stuff,” Molly lies, “it makes me nervous about those other families.”What if they hurt him?”

Karen’s mouth twists in displeasure

as thunder and lightning strike. She tries not to hate Scott, tries her damndest to love him, to want him, to be with him. She tries so hard to be a good wife, a good mother.

But Scott is fighting Storm. Scott walked away from her, Scott wants so badly to be a leader, and not to be a father.

All for what? For people who would call him a mutie? For people who would gladly deny that he was of any help, who wouldn’t even say hello to him or open businesses to him or even appreciate their meaningless lives being saved.

Nathan cries in her arms

and her fingers caress her son’s hair, eyes focused forward, hatred coursing through her veins. She knows, she understands now exactly how Madea felt on the island. She knows why she would kill the children she so loved when the man who had set the sun in her world left.

Nathan cries and cries, and Maddy can almost taste the satisfaction when Scott sees him dead in her arms. To have this child he so wanted from her, the child they had done so much to make, cold

greets her fingers when she touches the pod. Her face replicated over and over and over and over. All of the version of hers sleeping, machines humming, and the knowledge, the reality sinking in.

Sinister smiles behind her. She is his creation. His perfect plan, fortuitous.


seeps into her again and again the more she thinks about it, the more that she contends with it. Her foot presses the gas pedal, the car glides forward, the engine roars.

She wanted her son. She wanted Teddy.

All she had wanted was Teddy, to be a mother.

And she didn’t have him. She never would have him ever again, as long as she lived.

The car engine roars. The sound drowns out everything

around her, leaving just herself in the dark. The tears roll down her cheeks without prompting, and she stays huddled in the dark, in the bushes wishing that things could be different, that she could unread what she knew now.

Her mother’s name, listed there. Her mother, claiming her son for her own. Giving him away to a family she’d never meet, to a place she’d never know.

Everything taken from her, everything she wanted.

Sirens wail. She knows that people -- that Adam, that Lainey, that Callie -- were looking for her. Molly doesn’t want to be found. She wants to nurse her grief, her rage fully.

The cold

seeps into her heavy limbs, looking up not at her face, but Jean Grey’s. It’s always been Jean Grey’s face -- always her body, her womb, her lover, her husband, her son. It’s always been about Jean Grey.

(it hasn’t it hasn’t she loves you doesn’t she you showed her yourself she loves you she loves you)

Jean’s fingers touch her skin; they are like a flame to her, the warmth, the life inside of her. She was beautiful, the goddess, and Madelyne Pryor was a joke, a broodmare anod thing else. Madelyne takes a rattling breath

and sobs into the pillow, waking up in Arthur’s arms, in bed, trying to regain her composure. Trying to stop the anger, the fury, the fear that eats and eats and eats at her. The memories, the full swath of it tearing inside of her, ripping open old wounds over and over again.

She tries to make it stop. She tries so hard to quell each and every emotion, but the more she thinks, the more afraid she gets. Afraid of a perfect plan coming to bloom in nine months, afraid of hands ripping her child from her arms, of betrayal over and over and over again.

Dreams, wakefulness, it doesn’t matter.

She looks at the mirror, and sees herself with blood red skin and horns arcing upwards and bright green eyes that glow sickly.

Goblins lurk on the edge of her vision, populate mirrors, whisper in her head over and over: goblyn queen, goblyn queen, no clone, no broodmare, rise, rise rise up, take it, rule, rule, rule over them.

Maddy wants them to stop -- she wants them to stop being right. She wants to stop it because she can feel herself getting closer and closer to the edge with every moment. Ignoring it, pushing it down -- she’s trying. Madelyne is trying, she wants to keep herself, she doesn’t want to give in, doesn’t, can’t let go again. The paranoia, the fear, the anger, she tries to fight it. Tries to insist that Sinister isn’t here, that whoever is keeping them here won’t target her, will leave her alone. There’s no plan, no scheme, no one to take her cild away

Arthur doesn’t calm her, Lainey doesn’t pick up the phone, and she can’t feel Jean anymore. She can only feel her own urge to destroy, her own wrath inside of her -- and worse yet, it’s not just her.

It’s Molly, too. All that untapped rage, all of that fury is there too now, mixing with hers, growing stronger and stronger, blending together more and more.

Her hands shake, her head pounds, and all it takes is a look at her phone, at the phone number displayed for her magic to start to spill out of her: Mom.

“Don’t -- don’t pick it up,” she hisses out. The sink rattles under her grip, the magic starting to seep out of her fingers. The phone rings and rings and rings.

It falls silent for all of five seconds.

Then the messages pour out:

I spoke to Matthew.

You’re pregnant again. When were you going to tell me, Margaret? I’m your MOTHER. I deserve to know.

Pick up the phone. We need to talk.

God, she tries. She tries so hard.

But she can’t fight it anymore.

All of it pushes out -- everything Molly has ever wanted to say to Karen, has wanted to punish her for; all the years of rage Madelyne has had rush up, all the half healed wounds tear open all at once.

Rage, power, spills out of her, and Apocalypse smiles, lending her enough power to truly show everyone who the Goblyn Queen truly had the potential to be..

may 17, 2018

You wake up, happy for the first time in the week. Things are...going better. They're getting a lot better, actually, and you have your friends to thank. Some are more help than others, and you lean in heavy to Thom's friends to make them your friends too, but things are getting better. You try to avoid awkward conversation, and you keep your Big Secret (tm) to yourself. You don't want people to freak out about the whole "back from the dead" thing, but it seems like that's kind of a Thing around here. So, you don't really think anything of it.

You grab your phone and you reply to a text from Michael making fun of you and wondering what you're doing today. You respond in kind, thinking you've texted a particularly good burn, and wait for him to reply. Only he doesn't. And it's weird. He's usually so quick to answer you, that the fact that the morning goes on and you haven't heard from him is a little weird. You think that maybe he's sleeping off a hangover, or maybe he's with a girl he met last night.

But when it's been the entire day and you haven't heard from him, now that is weird. He usually can't go an hour without telling you stupid stories, or making fun of you, or claiming he's bored...which, okay, he's usually bored. So, it's weird. It's close to 8:30 PM now, and it's been nothing for 12 hours.

And either way, you're bored and impaitent and you need advice, so you head over to his place.

He doesn't open the door when you knock, but you have a key since Matt had given Thom one, and so you use it. You expect to see him playing video games and screaming at the tv, or drinking beer, or maybe he's even got too many women over and you're just intruding.

What you don't expect is to see him alone, lying dead on his couch.

At first, you think he's sleeping. You think he's playing a trick on you. But as you get closer and realize that he's not breathing, that he's not moving, you sink to the ground on your knees and cry. Because you were too happy too soon. That you're throwing the entire universe off by being here -- you're alive, so the universe needed a sacrifice and it took Michael. Michael, who is so good at going to all the other timelines and traveling and okay maybe he fucks up the other universes from time to time, but he always tries to do the right thing. The same Michael, the same Booster Gold, who has tried to find a million different ways to save you from being shot in the head by Maxwell Lord, and the same Michael who tearfully told you there was no other way. It was the way of the universe, and it had to stay restored.

Only, that's not the case now, is it. Here lies your best friend, Thom's best friend, and he's gone. And there is this deep overwhelming feeling that it's not just Booster that you've lost that day. That you've lost someone else who is like a sister to you, and that feeling takes you over completely. The grief is overwhelming, the feeling of loss. The feeling that this is all absolutely your fault. You lived, so someone else had to die.

And you didn't want it to be this way.

You turn to Michael lying lifeless on his couch, and you get angry. You scream at him tearfully, "We've fucked with the timeline somehow!" You cry out, and you shove your hand to his arm but you're too weak to actually hurt him, and its not like he reacts anyway. He can't. Not anymore. "You always promised me you wouldn't do that! Did you do this?" You know he didn't. You know Michael, you know Booster Gold well enough to know that he would have gone through all the timelines to see if he could save you, because you've both already done this. And yet, here he is. "Fuck you, Michael, Fuck you, don't you fucking leave me like this!"

And it's a long silence before everything just overwhelms you and you break down. Your legs fall out from under you and you topple over to the ground, leaning forward to hold your head in your hands and you sob. There is nothing manly about sobbing but you don't care because everything is overwhelming. That you've lost so much time, so many years, and if this is all real, and because of you others died, Michael died. And that's not something you're willing to face. Because you're a good guy. You're a good guy who has good friends and a messed up social meter and a lack of a love life, and a best friend who would literally do anything in the world for you. He died because of you. He depended on you as much as you depended on him, and you realize way too late that you never asked him what it was like for him when you were gone. Because you know there's no Beetle without Booster. He's practically your brother.

Or was. He was practically your brother.

You're sobbing uncontrollably, and you don't know what time it is or how late it's gotten, and you know you need to call the police but you haven't yet. You're too grief stricken, that you don't know what to do. So you're practically collapsed on the floor, in an not manly way, crying your eyes out.

There's no Blue without Gold, and you don't want to him to go. But he already has.

may 18, 2018

You feel Michael's hand on your back as you cry, and normally you'd make a joke about this, tell him to back off cause you're into women, and all of that, but you don't. You just cry harder because you're exhausted and you still feel so broken and you're not sure what to do. You're not sure how to make it feel better, because if you're stuck here, then you...have a lot to deal with. Therapist, that would be a start. Your mind starts to wander and then...

Wait....Michael touched you? How do dead people touch you?

You turn around and you stare at him, and he's sitting up on the couch and looking at you bewildered, wondering why the hell you're crying in his living room, looking like a fucking mess.

So you do what any reasonable person would do. You punch him hard in the face and you start screaming at him. "What the fuck dude, what makes you think I would think you pretending to be fucking dead would be fucking funny?" And Michael is just staring at you, holding his face, freaking out at you, asking why the fuck you punched him.

You explain. You tell him that you thought he was dead, you tell him that you came to see him and you were texting him and he wasn't answering at all and then you came here. To find him dead. And so you broke down, because you thought you were completely alone again, that you were the reason he died.

Michael blinks a few times, "So that's why you were acting weird when you came over?"

"W..what?" You ask, as you move to sit on the couch next to him.

"I responded to all your text messages, and you weren't answering me directly? It was weird. You were frantic asking why I wasn't answering you, but I was answering you. Then you let yourself into the house and I asked if you wanted to play Rocket League and get some beers and then you started crying and screaming about me being dead? So....I kinda let you go with it, I don't know I thought it was some weird performance art you had going on." Michael shrugs.

"What makes you think I'd do performance art?" You ask, and actually laugh for a second.

"Well, you won the poetry slam competition in high school!"

"I told you to never talk about that again, dude!"

"It's not my problem you're a dweeb!"

"I AM NOT A DWEEB, DICK!" And you're both laughing hard, and you're finally realizing that things are okay. But now you're even more confused, and scared. Because what affected you like this? What could have possibly made you hallucinate this so badly, that you couldn't see his text messages, or that he was alive in front of you?

You take your phone out to check, and there they are, all of Michael's messages, and your answers that make you look like a complete psycho. Jesus.

"I am going to get us beer," Michael announces, and gets off the couch, "And then we're going to play Rocket League and we're just going to...not talk about this. Deal?"

You look at Michael with a bit of a shell shocked look on your face, because you're not sure what is going on, and you're trying to figure it out, but you nod. "Deal."

And when Michael heads out of the living room, you pinch yourself a few times to make sure you're awake. You touch your head, where you know you had been shot before, and you make sure there's no scar, there's no blood. That maybe, you just were imagining things. Or had a walking dream. Nightmare. Or something.

The sound of beers opening is heard, and soon Michael returns and sinks into the couch next to you, handing you a beer, "Though, it's nice to know that when I do die, you're gonna be a fucking mess about it," he teases.

You're not thinking when you reply, "Like you were for me?" and the words leave your mouth before you can realize and the two of you fall silent.

Then, "Well, yeah." It's his only reply, and you both drink the beer and pick up the controllers, and Michael holds the beer to his cheek where you punched him earlier.

Back to normal...kind of. But you can't fight this feeling you have now, this dread hanging over you.

Wondering just how much time you have left.