Legend: Thoughts = <>
Stray thoughts = ()
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Ok, guys, all the disclaimers apply, that means all thanks goes to Marvel
For the X-Men, I'm just making the story. And I do read all the other
Stories and they're great, keep up the good work. They inspire me!
Little red-headed Cynthia Madia sat outside her house, playing with her dolls. She was angry because Ms. Wetsy kept eating dirt and baby cry-all was hiding from her. She was angry with her dolls, but she loved those dolls. Ms. Wetsy's now dirty blue and white baby doll dress was ripped at the bottom. Cynthia had been very upset with Ms. Wetsy when she had ripped her new dress. It had taken days for Cynthia to get her the new dress and for her to be such a bad girl...it was almost like betrayal. But little, innocent Cynthia knew nothing of betrayal; after all, she was only five years old. She was playing with Ms. Wetsy, since Baby Cry-all was hiding, when a man walked up to her. He looked weird, like a stranger her mother had warned her about. He wore a skintight black leather cat suit with black combat boots that went all the way up to his knees. On top of that, he wore a black jean jacket and his hair was managed in a messy afro, but what really scared her was his eyes. They were black like her crayons.
The man bent down, surveying her play area, and then titled his head.
"Hello." Cynthia said, "My name is Cynthia Abernathy Madia. Who are you?"
The question was simple. He was the Hollow! Ruler of an entire dimension, or he used to be. The questions, no matter how simple, annoyed him. Infuriated him. His first inclination was to kill her. His second was to kill her. Also his third, but there a pesky doubt. Something was telling him not to, to move on. He fought this inclination, much to his chagrin. Instead, he took the girl's doll and smashed it without so much as breaking a sweat. Cynthia began to sob, calling for her mother as she ran into the house. The Hollow felt something, a twinge, and then walked away.
"You sure this is the guy?" Darkness asked his contact as they met in the dark alley in the middle of the busiest part of Manhattan. Darkness got all his info through this contact, Jeffery Border, and they had known each other for a while. Darkness looked at the manila folder in front of him, pulling out the info. There was a picture of Pane in front of him and he knew in an instant that it was him, "That's him!"
"Another super baddie?" Jeffery asked.
"I'm not sure yet." Darkness said.
Jeffery chuckled, "So, why do you need him?" he asked.
"I've seen him a few times." Darkness said.
"Floating in the air." Darkness added.
"Oh, well yeah, that warrants some investigating." Jeffery said.
"Thanks for the info." Darkness said.
"Anything for you." Jeffery smiled, looking down and trying to pull something from his pocket, "I have two tickets to..."
But Darkness was gone.
"...Never mind." Jeffery said to himself in the dark alley.
"We could wipe humans off the face of the Earth...To make them bleed." He said, taking in all the pain and liking it.
I thought about it, "Not all of them are bad. I'm an adult now, I know this." I said confidently.
"Have you noticed that your boyfriend is busy with his girlfriend? Or haven't you noticed? I mean, with plenty other guys here, Warren is left in the shadows." The Hollow smiled.
I looked down.
"Sorry, it's the truth. You could never love him...and the only reason he's with you is because Psylocke broke his heart." The Hollow said.
"I know." I said sadly.
"No matter how grown up you feel, you'll know when you're finally grown up. Nothing will ever look or feel the same. Ever." The Hollow smiled, "
Sorry, kid, but this is where I get off." he said, disappearing.
I stared at the scene.
"It was right." Pane said to me.
"You can't believe that." I said.
"I do. Nothing ever feels the same." Pane said.
"You're a Nigger mutie!" a kid yelled.
"I am not." a kid version of me said as he tried to get up, just to be kicked again.
"I think ya are and who's got the power here?" another kid laughed.
Sand around the kids began to grow to phenomenal heights and a storm flooded the playground!
"What was..." I said slowly, trying to see beyond the sandstorm.
"NO! NO!" the kid version of me said as he rose from the sand.
"No." I said watching this new development.
The sand began burning and the kid me landed on the ground, surrounded by the bodies of the kids. He looked around and noticed what he'd done and ran away. The building was scorched and crumbling. I had heard about this. They said that it severely injured many kids and teachers. It was said to be caused by a testing plant nearby. But it wasn't. It was me.
"What is all this?" I asked, "The Astral Plane, but these..."
"...Memories." Pane smiled, "Our important moments."
"The first one I get, this one is just a shot in the dark." I said.
"You felt something." Pane said, "Remorse."
"I did a bad thing." I said.
"And you felt bad. Never underestimate that power, a power that many people don't have."
"How could I ever forget?" I asked.
"You won't. In fact, there won't be a day when your remorse is depreciated." Pane said, "Next memory."
"Save it. Penance is for those who have a chance at redemption. You don't. Welcome to the Judgment."
The words echoed through the plane and I looked to Pane, "Next." I said quickly.
"I don't belong here!" I said, rising from the table, "Do you think any
of this matters? NO! This is my hell...this is my punishment for whatever I
did. I was so sure I was a good person. I tried to help. To save the
world...but I guess that wasn't enough. I just wanted to rest. Don't I
deserve to be there? Don't I deserve to be in heaven?! I'm stuck in this
hell...forever. Trapped in this body with all this power. If I die, I go to
a room full of white. That is the closet to heaven I'll ever get. When
everyone is gone, I'll be here. Alone." I shouted, causing me people to
look at me.
"People...loopy." I said, making a crazy gesture with my hands.
"Selfish, is what it is." Pane said.
"Selfish? To want to be back in the light, to feel..." I put my head down, smiling to myself, "I had almost forgot."
"Me too." Pane said, "It's like a distant echo now. We don't get to take days off, ever."
"Not who I meant." Pane said, "There's this one guy and he's all `With great power, comes great responsibility' and he's right."
I looked at Pane.
"We never get to rest. It's our cross to bear, it's us, and we live forever." Pane said, "No time for it. The only person that can really hurt us is ourselves."
"It's lonely." I said quickly.
"We used to wish, to wish for anything. For everything." Pane said, "But we always come up with nothing but this burden."
"Who would have thought I'd live forever?" I asked.
"Not us." Pane said quickly and sadly. It was as if I was really looking at him for the first time and I could see the true sadness. The loneliness. I had noticed a sadness, but it was sadistic, this one was heart-breaking, "We never get to say goodbye."
"It's not that simple." I said through gritted teeth.
"Of course it is...You've committed a crime. You used your power on another
mutant." Hollow smiled.
"It's not that simple." I said again.
"Oh, it's all simple. Every last shred of it. You will never belong with
them because you are the 'hero'. You don't play well with others." Hollow
smirked, "You will do anything to save the world because you feel you have
to, not because it's right."
"It's wrong, it's never simple. If it's easy, then you're not doing something right." Pane said.
"I'm hoping your gonna come to a point soon." I sighed.
When I woke up, pillows were thrown about the room, the trashcan and all
its contents rested on the floor, the sheets also on the floor, covering
us. Yes us! Bobby and I...it had a nice ring to it, don't you think? I
layed there looking at his face, which seemed so odd. It wasn't...I didn't
expect this. I wished it, but never expected it. I watched him again, but
he must have felt it because his eyes slowly opened.
Bobby, waking up: Wow, yeah, I knew we'd gotten rough, but...sorry.
I surveyed the room with Bobby: For what? That's like my second time...and my third...and my fourth...and...well, it was worth it, but did we really do it in there?
I pointed at the closet and Bobby and I laughed, then he leaned over and kissed me.
"You asked if we ever found love." Pane said, watching the scene, "We never lost it. It's always there, we just never bothered to pay attention to it."
There was quiet, nothing loud or disturbing in the White Room. Just the light and the nothing that calm brought with it. It was truly peaceful, truly an innocent place for the host. Jean rested in the room, trying to align herself with the Phoenix. She was cast off-balance at the sudden pounding all around her! The other hosts of the Phoenix looked around, trying to identify the sound and space and Time ripped as Pane's body tore into the space!
"Pane?" Jean asked.
The Hollow looked around.
"Hollow?" Jean asked.
The Hollow's black eyes centered on her.
"You shouldn't be here, you are not..."
"I must belong here. If not here, then where?" The Hollow asked, "With the human scourge on Earth?!"
"I do not know your place." Jean said, in shock at what had just happened. The Hollow had done something unprecedented, it had ripped its way into the White Hot Room!
"You should not be here." One of the other hosts said.
The Hollow's dark, distant eyes centered on the host, "I shall make a trophy from your spine." It said, its voice dripping with a mixture of calmness and anger.
"This is not your place!" Another called.
The Hollow said nothing, it turned and walked back to the rip and climbed through.
"Thank you for having us, Colonel Fury." Professor Xavier smiled, sitting at the table with the Avengers. Scott sat faithfully at his side, a bundle of nerves, though you could never tell it from outside, but his mental state was tired. The Avengers had been working tirelessly to find a cure that could help Pane fight his way back into the world, but they had found no such cure of any kind.
Colonel Fury nodded.
"I am sorry that we have not found more information, we've been working around the clock." Scarlett Witch said.
"You're doing your best." Scott interjected.
"Is there no way to return him?" Thor asked.
"We've been having the same problem, there's no sign of his mental signature." Scott said.
"We've had a mass of sightings, a little girl said that a man fitting his description broke her doll, and that's earlier today." Fury explained.
"Breaking dolls?" Ironman asked.
Fury laid a folder filled with papers on the desk, "These are all the death and destruction...that we know of." He said.
"He's a large threat." Captain America said.
"Which means..." The Vision began.
"No." Scott said, standing, "There's got to be another way!"
"Is there no other way?" Thor asked.
"I'm afraid not." Fury sighed, "The Avengers are set to take him down in a few hours."
"You know where he is?" Professor Xavier asked.
"We've lost track of him, but he should resurface in a few hours." The Vision said.
"Avengers, disassemble." Fury said dryly.
"Not just yet." Future Pane said, walking into the room.
Connor and Raiden stood in the center of Manhattan, following a lead from Cerebro. Kitty, Rogue, Bobby, and Piotr joined them in the search, but thus far, the only thing they had found was the cold, lonely streets.
"Did you guys find anything?" Kitty asked, rejoining the team.
"No." Connor answered tiredly, "And I'm exhausted."
"The café guy said he saw a guy fitting Pane's description a few hours ago, but he hasn't been back around." Bobby said.
"Maybe he vas in need of chaffeine." Piotr said, his thick Russian accent following from his lips.
"I don't think he needs caffeine." Raiden said, "If only you'd seen this guy..."
"Yeah, he was pretty hopped up already." Connor frowned, massaging his face, "One punch is all it took."
"Maybe ya just a lightweight." Rogue chuckled, playfully punching his arm.
"Ow! Does everybody around here have super strength?" Connor asked, now massaging his elbow.
"Thin skin." Rogue chuckled.
There was a rustle of a cape and Kitty looked back.
"What is it, Kitty?" Bobby asked.
"I thought I heard something. And saw..." Kitty trailed.
"Maybe it was the wind, it's getting a little chilly." Raiden said.
"Feels fine to me." Bobby smirked.
"We should go, we're all tired and there's no way we're going to be able to take him...it...it without a good rest." Raiden said.
They all agreed and set off to the Suv, not knowing that they were being followed by the Darkness.
"You brought me here to show me the big moments in my life, but what about me dying? What about me leaving my family? What about every moment I had with Scott?" I asked.
"You didn't die." Pane said, "You didn't give it time."
"Are you going to show me the future next?" I asked.
"What do you want from me?" Pane asked, "You want me to be some kind of seer? And maybe on some level, I am. I'm just here because YOU came to me! You! I was doing just fine."
"Just fine? You sold mutants to humans! You're living in the Astral Plane, hiding from them when you have all this power...you're a victim." I said.
"That's it! That is it, get out! Leave!" Pane said, "I quit!"
"What? You can't quit, you're my guide!" I said, following him, "And we're on the Astral Plane! The free Astral Plane!"
"Free my ass, you know how many wars there have been? A lot!" Pane said angrily, "Don't you get it, I'm just you a few more centuries older, but I'm you!"
"The world looks like that centuries into the future?" I asked.
"The future changes every other second. What's going on now won't necessarily happen the way it's predicted." Pane said, "I just want to live out the rest of my life in peace."
"You can't." I shouted.
Pane turned to me, "Why not?" he asked.
"What do you think they'll do when they figure out how to get here? They'll come and you won't always be able to take them."
"I always will." Pane said.
"How can I get my life back? Get back to my time?" I asked.
Pane stopped for a minute, "I don't know, it just happens." He said, "That's the moral of our stories, it all just happens."
"Okay, no more of your cryptic! Tell me what's so damn important about me coming here?!" I asked.
Pane sighed, "I brought you here, I don't know why, I just know that I made the wrong choice." He said, "We have a chance to make the right one."
"And what choice is that?" I asked.
"To let the power corrupt us, like it does everyone else." He said, "It starts in minutes, then hours, then days, then months, and it never stops...never stops.
"There's still something, isn't there?" I asked.
"We watched." Pane said.
"We watched?" I asked.
"We watched the Hollow kill everything we hold dear, then we vanquished it. It was too late. And we were left to mourn." Pane said.
"When did this happen?" I asked, thinking deeply.
Pane didn't answer, "You'll see." He said.
Wolverine stood outside, puffing on cigar. The world never made sense, but now it made even less. Pane was a good guy and for him to be taken out, in his prime, the way he was, was wrong. Logan had known a lot of people in his time, most of whom he couldn't remember, but he knew people. Logan puffed the cigar, inhaling deeply, when he caught a scent in the air!
Logan dropped the cigar and extended his claws, "What're ya doin here?" he asked into the darkness.
"I do not fit into this world." The Hollow said, walking into the moonlight.
Logan couldn't help but stare at his face, how could he be in Pane's body, but not be him?
"I feel. I feel this agony! This anguish! I make this, I do not feel!" The Hollow said.
"Whaddya want me ta do about that?" Logan growled.
"I wish to be here." The Hollow said.
Logan dropped his stance, not knowing exactly what to say.
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Well, if you liked it please tell me so I can start work on the next one. I really need feedback, especially if you like it. If you don't, I need advice and suggestions, please.