The dream starts out like most of your dreams: awash in black and white, the sound turned low. Like always, there's a house dark, and dank. You never feel like yourself here, opening the door, wandering in it’s rotting shell. This time, the Feeling is different, though: your toes sink into the carpet, flex and find it wet and unappealing and strange, the walls seem closer than usual, the air stale in your mouth, and the windows darker than ever. It never fails to make you shudder, but you have nowhere else to go, anyway. There's no choice but to push forward, to turn the knob in every room to root out the crying.

There's always something wrong about that. If it isn't crying, then it's muffled voices behind dark walls, and the sense of failure wrapping around the pit of your stomach.

Even this is different than the others; usually the crying sounds like the baby being pushed out of you, screaming against your chest that you can't ever forget. Not this time, though. This time, it sounds too much like your own voice, trying to get free as you go from to door to door.

The hallway gets longer, the screaming louder (it’s painful, disorienting how much it sounds like your own voice, even as your throat seems to gum up, and your lips clamp down tighter), and this time, when you open the door to another empty room, there's a mirror. It's unfamiliar, old, and it's not the make that catches your attention but your reflection. You can see that you look older now. Your hair in a bob, wearing a jumpsuit in a yellow. You look older, but it's your face, your body.

And yet… it isn’t. There’s something inherently disorienting about your reflection as you step inside the room. The screaming grows more and more distant, the sound of your heartbeat in your ears grows faster and you reach out to touch the mirror.

The cool surface of a mirror doesn’t meet your fingers: it’s something akin to a fire so hot that it reaches into your body, wraps itself around your heart and begins to immolate your being. There isn’t time to let out any sound, there’s not time to think except to let this thing, this heat devour you in one go. It pulls you inside of yourself, and you don’t resist.

(somehow, you understand that this has happened before. That this thing chewing away inside of you has always made a home like that’s burning away anything and everything in it’s path.)

The fire calms. You breathe, feeling much more like yourself, but not safer. It’s only your body pressed against a cool, familiar bed. Your fingers sink into it; there’s so much memory here, there’s so much you have missed. And there’s someone else there, too, their body pressed against yours.

Your eyes open and you understand that the body beside you is that of a man, that this bed you find yourself in is one you two have shared for years now. And this man, you’ve known for years, and in those years, you’ve loved him. You’ve loved him with everything you’ve had. And in spite of that love, you doubt that he loves you the same. You understand as you turn over on your side, cool sheets against skin, that that still doesn’t change your heart. You love him with everything you have. You always have.

You also understand, as he turns to look at you through his glasses (lens a burning red) as he smiles at you, that you have all the capacity in the world to despise him. It oustrips the love you know you have, because you understand that he doesn’t see you. He sees someone else, even as he kisses you, even as he marries you, even as you have his son---

He would fall at her feet, this woman (a copy of a copy of a copy) who looks like you.

Your fingers dig jealously, angrily into his skin. You kiss him with every ember of anger you have in you, uncaring as he starts to squirm, as the flesh starts to sear beneath your fingers.

The memories pour in one after the other: You have no right to him. You abandoned us. Taste of power on her tongue, rage welling up from the very pit of ber being. Goblins and demons at her feet, taste of betrayal.

I want Scott to lose, so he’ll be coming with us. Except losing will break his heart. Oh, why can’t it be because he wants to, instead of because he has no other choice? A soft baby, the crack of thunder and rain, sudden and close. Fear mixing with disquiet, and the sense that this is the beginning of the end.

Me. She’s ME! I must have seemed an answer to your prayers. The photo in your hand, of your reflection, smiling and--

The body in your arms, it pushes back. Teeth sink into your lip, and you pull away. It isn’t Scott Summers who looks at you defiantly, it’s her. You.

Jean Grey.

You lunge, and wrap your hands around her throat. Images start pouring in immediately as you try to choke her: the airplanes, the bite of cold; Cerebro placed in your head, Xavier saying your mind wasn’t accessible; the warmth, the power of being useful: Anodyne; a marriage, bathed in white, feeling of happiness; and then things unraveling. Jean, Jean, Jean. Scott leaving, your soul being offered. Resurrection, and anger, bitterness. And a bargain, deep in dreams, made out of naivete and desperation. Power. Agony. But it’s hers in a way it never had been.

Jean Grey turns to cinders beneath your fingers. And you laugh: you know who you are -- and haven’t you always wanted this?

(molly wakes up, in the center of her room, hovering six feet above her bed, drenched in sweat. there’s only a second when she realizes that everything in the room is floating in the air with her: her bed, her desk, her television, her phone, her jewelry. she screams, and plummets back down with everything else, panting frantically, but the memories do not budge, do not fade. each and every last one is as real as her ragged breath, and each and every one is lurid, fantastic, happy, and mournful and painful. she holds herself, and for the first time, understands exactly who she shares herself with. and she finds that she doesn’t hate her. she understands exactly why she’s done what she’s done. she would have, too.)