Author's Note: Well here you go. This little baby came to me one dark evening while I was lying amidst green field of....well okay, let's be honest - it hit me about two am one night when I was too jacked up on Mountain Dew to be sensible and sleep like a NORMAL person. The below is my first (though hopefully not last) venture into two of the most intriguing charcters I've ever come across. It's meant to be set any time after X-Force # 60. Feed back welcome - I hope you enjoy.

All standard disclaimers apply..I'm not the creator of this universe or these characters..and since they seem to attract INORDINATE amounts of trouble I'm glad...

Now on with the Show.

All She Is

She thinks I don't know.

She thinks I'm too single-mindedly focused on my mission: that the combined stresses of fighting a war which knows no time constraints and worrying over a team of often miraculous, always terrifying teenagers consumes me to the point that I have no more room left in my psyche to see it.

She imagines that she fools me as well as she tries to fool herself - believing that the feelings can be repressed, ignored, denied, or at the very least hidden, deep down, safely out of the way.

She believes I don't grasp why she seems to crave the danger - that I don't realize she finds the gluttonous rush of adrenaline to be less terrifying than the burning hunger that her soul would demand of her if she were to give her heart instead of her gun. Her love instead of her loyalty.

She thinks that I don't recognize her wealth of loss any more clearly than I can acknowledge my own. That if she locks the pain up, tightly enough inside, somehow she'll cease to hear her own screaming.

She thinks she can hold on without ever touching - that she can release without letting go.

She's afraid to be close, and more afraid to be alone.

Most of all, she's afraid of knowing that I know.

I know she has a past, though she's tried to deny it. She's constantly trying to bypass her history.

But the past carves its initial deep below the skin.

And I *know* her, even if I don't know her name.

She's the warrior who fought, because her fists were all she had to offer. And the traveler trying to find a reason to stay.

She's the builder who pounds wood, but never moves into the mansion.

She's the child lost a half mile from her home.

She thinks I don't know that she plays the piano - late at night, when she thinks no one's listening.

She was afraid while fighting Bastion, and even more afraid of what came after.

And yes, she did cry when they shaved off her hair.

She's a soldier.

She's a scholar.

She's very good cook.

She's the one who checks on Caliban at night.

She's the leader who teaches our 'children' combat skills in the mornings, and the one who threw the first pea in yesterday's food fight.

She's so many things, and so many people.

Partner, best friend, and in the end, a scared child.

But knowing that doesn't change the grim facts at this moment.

The truth is, all she really is now is running away.

Mail the author, BJ Carlson, with comments!