Chapter 3: A New Age
A teenage Lorna Dane watches a fight between the X-Men and Magneto on TV and wonders: why can’t she be one of them?
Author’s Note: This chapter takes a tense shift from past to present tense. I realize this is generally a bad idea, but I think present tense works better for what I’m trying to do. Anyway, this is a ‘fanon’ chapter, and I explained its inspiration on AO3 if you wanna see what it is there.
She watches them on TV. These superhumans. These homo superior. These X-Men. Their faces play over and over on the screen in sheer radiant glory, blasting debris, icing roads, tossing boulders. One majestic mutant soars to heights under his own power that only an Angel could dream to reach. Each of the boys – and one girl, she reminds herself – take to action with a youthful rebellious zeal only teens could bring.
An apocalypse. A revolution. The dawning of a new age filled with awe and wonder. People call these strange times many things, but as she looks on, Lorna Dane asks herself one simple yet important question.
Why not me?
She hides herself in hair dye. Chestnut waves roll down her shoulders, obscuring the painful truth of an emerald lie teasing her with the idea of becoming something more, something different, something special and better than a meek girl sitting in her living room. She wonders why her hair couldn’t stand for more than a rare condition inherited from a father she couldn’t even remember. Just enough strangeness that people might mistake her for a mutant. Not enough to be one.
A pitched battle between good and evil rages on the tiny box in front of her. Lorna bears witness to a scowling man in red and purple as he lifts whole cars off the ground. She imitates his motions, dreaming of the power to make them sail skyward as he did. The thrum in her fingers dissipates when she sees the Angel weave between those cars. Darting up, dodging right, all with the grace and finesse of an avian god. His gloriously fluffy feathery white wings pin to his back as he spin-dives into his foe.
For a moment, this Magneto looks finished. He topples over, rolls backward, electricity sparking along his body. Another lad’s crimson optic blast rushes toward him at the speed of light. Blink of an eye. But then, Magneto recovers at the very last second. A wave of his arm sends the blast into Angel, knocking him out of the air.
In her mind’s eye, it’s her deflecting that blow. Her feet lifting off the ground. Her cape billowing in the wind. She sees green all around her, on her, inside her, rippling like a force of nature.
Then, her mind drifts to other thoughts. Kinder thoughts. Gentler thoughts. She wouldn’t have to use such a wonderful gift for fighting. She could build things. Create things. From the tallest skyscraper in the world to the most elegant statues of these mutant heroes she could imagine, Lorna could mold each scrap of metal into precisely what she imagined. She could show everyone what a boon these mutants were.
… If she had the parts. She doesn’t have the parts. Her hands shake because her heart can’t. Tears stream down her face. She doesn’t understand the hole buried in her chest. Why she can’t fill it. Why the images playing in front of her press upon that void but don’t quite fit, tapping at the edges, slipping at the corners.
In those moments, she thinks about the man in red and purple. An outcast among his own kind, she knows he wreaks havoc and causes trouble for his fellow mutants. The X-Men wouldn’t fight him if they had no reason. Yet, she can’t help seeing some part of herself in him. His defiance. His rage. His spirit, burning as if guided by some higher calling. He glows so brightly that she finds it hard to believe all those horrid things people call him on the news. Murderer. Monster. Despite them all, one insidious label sticks out most of all: Mutie.
That word. The M-word. The reason her parents insisted she hide her green to make herself look normal, mundane, ordinary, like everyone else. The reason she sits inside the house while bigots and haters march along city streets, denouncing the future.
Not her future, of course. Her little quirk of color means nothing. ‘Minor detail’. Even Dr. Moira said so.
But it doesn’t stop her from wishing, and dreaming, and thinking. Her eyes light up. What if she could be part of something greater? What if she had the power to set an example, to right the world’s wrongs, to become her best self while standing beside friends who saw her green hair and loved her for it? She reaches out to the screen… and pulls away when it crackles.
When it spits sparks. When the picture flickers in and out with fiendish abandon. She mentally chides herself for not remembering her mother’s warnings about how sensitive these so-called technological wonders truly were. One wrong touch or one hand in the wrong place set them off in a smoldering heap. Like a good girl, she leans back in her couch and waits for her chance to see her mutant heroes once again.
Wishing she could join them.