Thu, 09 Dec 1999
Dorothy Graves
Can't Not:
Sequel to Those Demigods--Marrow Fic

Standard Disclaimer: Marvel characters appearing here are the property of Marvel. Lyrics at the end are property of Alanis Morissette and Maverick Recording Company, used without permission but plenty of respect. Rating: PG-13/R for bad language.

Feedback: send to Ratmist :

Notes: THIS IS NOT A FILK. This is the companion piece to 'Those Demigods'. Both pieces are dedicated to D.B., who sent feedback and encouragement. ~*~ means interlude.

Can't Not

Rat Mist


Sarah was waiting for a reason to continue walking down that road and never stop. She was currently shifting her eyes from the road to the edge of the trees, wondering which path would be best.

The morning air was still brisk against her skin, the bright morning sun piercing her eyes. She glanced at her bare feet, and instead saw the shadow of her bones staring back at her.

Even the shadow is monstrous, she brooded uncomfortably, suddenly itchy in her own skin.

The meeting with Chuckie had not gone well at all. He had started out just asking simple questions. How are you today, Sarah? Are you sure you still want to stay in the mansion's basement, Sarah? How are you liking it here with the team, Sarah?

Then, out of nowhere: how is Callisto, Sarah? The events of the morning unraveled themselves in her bruised psyche.

As soon as the shock faded, she snapped her jaw together again. He would never surprise her again, she promised herself in fury. Mind games indeed.

The last question had infuriated her. All sarcastic, rude comments flew from her mind as she felt the familiar rage fly through her body, strengthening her bones, preparing her to rip and shred. The founder of the group whom had really done nothing, ever to help her Callisto was taunting her?

She rose on her haunches an inch, then found herself unable to move, caught in Xavier's reflexive telepathic grip. He was wisely protecting himself from her. She could not even change the look of shock on her face to the snarl she felt mentally.

~I know you blame us, Sarah, but that is not the issue I have called you here to discuss. What do you want from us, from the X-Men?~ He did not look like he was even breaking a sweat, holding her immobile and projecting his thoughts directly into her mind.

~Get OUT of my mind!~ she raged internally, but her treacherous mind had already let her other emotions leak through her slight shields. She had been pondering this question for weeks.

And the question had some merit. Charles carefully held his own feelings in check, buried far down where the Morlock could not sense them through the tenuous link.

~You have absolutely no control over your bone growths, but you don't want my help with that. You have considerable issues dealing with your past, but none of that has ever been addressed. Nor will they ever be, with your presence here such as it is."

~Why~ *NO!*

~Are~ *LEEeeEAVEMEeeeeaaaALONE!*

~You~ *OUtoutOUT!!!*


His voice was a strong golden caramel tone in her mind, devoid of any personal prejudices. He could have been a pyschiatrist, his tone such a great bedside voice. But he ignored her feelings, and it became apparent to Marrow he would hold her until kingdom come before he would release her without an answer. He felt the beginnings of a headache at the base of his skull, however, from the projected anguish.

She had still not answered him. ~Enough! My reasons are my own, as is my mind you hypocritical bastard! Get ooooOOOUUT!~ She screamed through the link, and was rewarded with the same questions.

~WHY, Sarah! You hate us, yet you wear the X just as Cyclops just before you attack Phoenix! You attack us within the convenient excuses of your rage, but you never leave. WHY ARE YOU HERE!~ This time, his voice thundered in her head. And her mind defenses cracked, weeping with betrayal.

Chuckie had never done this before, not even after the kitchen incident less than a week ago.

She knew she had no answer, he knew she had no answer, but she damned sure had her indignant fury. She fought against him. ~You crippled sonuvabitch, LET ME GO! As long as you're in MY mind, I will Never, EVER play it your way!~

~Have it your way, Sarah, and for what it's worth, I'm sorry~

And he dropped her back onto the chair, where she sucked her breath.

"You just lost yerself an X-Man," she hissed, and she wrenched herself from the now ruined chair. The door slammed hard.

Marrow, no--Sarah, had walked straight to the front door and let herself out, slamming that door as well. Which had brought her here. Pacing. And very confused over a simple question: the highway or the woods?

"Ya know, you could catch cold with your feet bare," a voice gently chided. Sam, always sweet Sam, had come. She idly wondered if the Professor had sent him, but no, Sam had always came for her. Shaken as she was, she gave him the benefit of the doubt, but did not spare him her residual anger.

"What would yer momma say if ya introduced me to her?" She whirled around, her question an accusation.

It was an unexpected question, but he handled it. "Why don't we find out?" he suggested instead.

"FUCK you, Sam Guthrie. You are such a liar, and I don't have the energy to gut you for it." Her face was lost in the shadow underneath the large elm hanging over the driveway.

"Where's the lie, girl?" His voice had gotten cold, the authority he had used when leader of the X-Force very clear.

"I aint yer family, pup. And you sure as fuck don't want me anywhere near yer momma, so don't play like it's even a possibility," she said.

"How would ya know what's a possibility in mah mind, girl? You never say anything but cold insults I know in mah heart ya don't really feel, and ya play like this place don't mean shit to ya, but it does." She stared at him, wanting a retort, and finally finding one after a brief silence and a ridiculous staring contest. He cut her off before she could throw another cruel comment.

"Everything ya do now, everything ya say, it's all just instincts. But you aintt in the Tunnels no more, Marrow. And yer damned sure not on the Hill, so why you still actin like this?" His voice held no room for answers. But he could not quite keep the accusational tone from his voice. She was tired of questions. Questions from the Professor, questions from him. She did not have time for these head games!

Her reply was to turn her back, and stare down the road in front of her. The paved driveway snaked around the treeline, and disappeared after a turn. Her last remaining heart churned.

"Why is it all you damned X-Men have to question everything? Why can't you let it be? Does every action have to be explained?" She sounded petulant, and she instantly wished she could take back her statement.

"When we see one of our own tryin' so hard, I guess we get antsy," he replied. "None of us know why you're still here, Marrow. We can only guess at reasons when you start attackin folk and slammin doors," he continued. Before she could defend herself, he said:

"But that don' mean nothin next to what ya really want. And ya aint like other girls, Marrow, for damned sure, so we're all in the dark. Just like you." He was conversational now, even relaxed in her presence.

A surge of instinct wondered just how antsy she could make him, but she beat that down cold.

"...prettyboy...allright I want to know why. Why Morlocks died underground, long before the massacre, and why it took a massacre for someone to notice us," she began, and she turned to look him in the eye.

"Isn't it just fuckin peaches that you people can band together and gnash yer teeth at how unfairly us poor Morlocks were killed? And to look at yer beautiful archangel Warren and pity him as you pitied us?" Sam tried to interject, but she threw a long index finger in his face, warning him to shut up.

"But it aint like that, oh no not really. Ya wash yer hands clean from then on, because ya go beat up a few Prime Sentinals t' make up fer the ones ya couldn't help, feeling all justified and vindicated later as ya lay exhausted in yer beds. Ya stay on the defense, never taking the strike to _make_... _it_... STOP," she snarled.

"Yeah... I want to know why this world hasn't stopped yet, and why ya can't explain to one ugly mutant just exactly why this Dream is the answer," she continued, anger starting to come through her voice.

"I want to know why the fuck you people think I should accept Xavier's answer with angst and resignation at worst, cheerful bubbliness at best, while it never did could do anything to save the very people it swore to protect."

Sam sighed. He hadn't expected her to really tell him all that, but he dealt with it the best he could.

"Sarah, all I can tell you is that we deal with our lives the only way we know how," he said quietly. "And so do you. And that's okay, but can ya tell me one other thing?"

She cocked her head, crossed her arms, and waited for the question.

"Are you really happy like this? Hanging on to the rage from the past, embracing the hatred you feel now? Can you truly blame it all on ya mutancy, or on Xavier's Dream that never seems t' become reality?" His eyes challenged her, and she answered.

"Can you really blame me, from all I've seen here? Ya fight fer Xavier, ya fight fer Callisto, ya die. We're all Morlocks here, Cornbread, ya just haven't realized it yet." Her voice pounded against Sam's ears, but he couldn't hide his ghost of a sad smile, as she finally admitted to the morning what had been there all along.

He let out the breath he did not know he had sucked in at her words.

She in turn could barely breathe at all. Bright One, it hurt to give him this. It was a double edged sword that could quickly turn into a burned bridge. It hurt to admit that the band of Upworlders had become for her what she thought could never be again. Her heart burned.

Before she could even contemplate slicing the smile off his considerably handsome face, they were interrupted.

"X-Men, please report to the Danger Room. All available X-Men, Danger Room in five minutes." The comm broadcasted command from Cyclops punctuated the gulf between Sam and Sarah, and she frowned as Sam ran his hands through his hair, a nervous habit. She growled as she ripped the commbadge from the cutoffs she had swiped from Stripe, feeling bile in disgust as she stared at it in her hand.

The road or the woods? She hated....

Cannonball did not register her thoughts. But his sad smile had morphed into a smirk beneath the dishwater blonde locks, the action out of place in the situation. "I thought ya said I was too pretty to be Morlock," he teased.

She snorted. "Fuck off," she automatically replied, still staring at her commbadge, but it was a statement without the threat of violence usually tacked on.

"Hmmph." Lame comeback, but he was in a hurry. He stuffed both his hands in his pockets, forming fists and looking a bit too casual. She looked up.

"So. You comin' with me or not?" His face looked vaguely hopeful, but he knew better than to look anxious. Like a little boy. She had been considering it from the moment she had heard Chuckie's mental voice that morning. Instead she looked at him, just looked at him. Sam, the sweet farmboy who thought if he could just make her laugh, the sitcom could end and the credits would roll. All nicely wrapped up before the evening news. Her heart had not stopped burning.

'Can you see why?' she echoed to him again, just as she had at Christmas. She stood beneath the falling leaves of the elm tree, feeling an ache as he was already turning to walk towards the mansion. This time, it did not matter that he was not a telepath.

She glared at his backside a moment, admired it absently, mentally kicked herself for the admiration. Stupid farmboy. Stupid-simple-minded-hick-grits-fer-brains-idiot.

She waited underneath the elm Charles Francis Xavier had planted with his mother almost thirty-five years ago, its branches sweetly shading her while allowing a bit of sunshine warm her bones. It was currently holding a battle with the driveway and cement. She snorted. She hated metaphors.

She quietly sat, and she waited until she was fifteen minutes late for the Danger Room session before heading back into the Mansion.

Her excuse was already intact, gleaming in the sunshine of the late morning on the grass beside the paved driveway leading towards the cool forest. She felt more shaken than she cared to admit, more confused than ever. But she grudgingly admitted privately: she had never been one for open roads or clean forests.

this is what i was listening to when i finished kinda amazed me how it seemed to define this fic, which is why i named this piece after it. think of it as a dialogue between sarah and the x-men, if you don't believe me.

Can't Not
i'd be lying if i said i was completely unscathed
i might be proving you right with my silence or my retaliation
would i be letting you win with my non reaction?
how would i explain? how would i explain this to my children if i had them?
because i can't not...i can't afford to be misread one more time

would i be whining if i said i needed a hug?
would you feel slighted if i said your love's not enough?
how can i complain? how can i complain when i'm the one who reaches for it?
because i can't not...i cannot walk without my crutches
because i can't not...i can't help wonder why you ask me

to all the unheard wisdom in the schoolyard
you think you're the right ones you think you're the charmed ones i'm sure
how can you go on with such conviction?

and who do you think you are and why do you question me?


why do you affect me...still? why do you hinder me...still? why do you
unnerve me...still? why do you trigger me...still?

- --alanis morissette, from 'Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie' on Maverick

Records, used without permission.