Note: this story takes place out of X-World X-Factor continuity and stems from normal continuity after X-Factor moves in to the CIA building and takes place assuming a week or so has gone by. Dragon, Cryz, Phase, Seraph, Myriad, Rhythm, Talon, Click, Eve are used without their creator’s permission. Shadowcat, Polaris, X-Factor are the property of Marvel Inc. and are used without permission. Every attempt to portray the aforementioned characters with accuracy has been made.
Dear Dad – Part 3
Back at the base, Sklyer shouted at me and ordered me to see a therapist. I didn’t take that suggestion very well.
“I don’t need a therapist. Dragon needs a therapist. Myriad needs a therapist! Hell, they all need therapists, but me?! I don’t. I was just doing my job.”
“Since when does your job entail putting a suspect into a coma!” Skyler burst out angrily.
Gage retorts, “He was resisting arrest!”
“He’s a terrorist! You think he was going to come willingly?” Skyler screams as he throws a file down at Gage’s feet. “Read those Gage…read them and tell me you’re fine.” Gage gives a cold stare. “They’re your personal logs, Gage. Page after page repeating the incident where your teammate Eve was killed…and how you killed her. How this is all your fault. So, you’re going to see a therapist.”
“Fuck you, Skyler. Fuck this whole deal. Fuck X-Factor. They’re all a bunch of kids who don’t know shit about anything.”
Then from behind him he hears, “Obviously.”
Dragon was standing in the doorway. I could feel my stomach turn over.
“I mean, what were we thinking following you for so long? What was going through our heads? Could it be we thought you were right? That no matter how mixed up your head was, we knew that your heart was in the right place?”
Gage stares for a moment then forces his way past her quipping, “Yeah, well you were wrong.”
“Like I said, ‘obviously’.”
So, I went to see a therapist, as ordered.
The office was pretty bare, a simple picture framed on the wall, and it looked like child had drawn it. Probably one of this psychiatrist’s kids painted it for him. It looked like a duck in a pond. But why would he put it in his office where he treats people?, Gage thought. A diploma from some medical school hung on the opposite wall with “Andrew Wright” printed on it. Gage sat sideways on the therapy couch, not laying down, and tapped his foot as he waited.
The door opens and a man in a dark gray suit walks in. He could be more than 30. “Good afternoon, Mr. Lidler. Sorry to keep you waiting. Lets get started, eh?”
“Gage. Call me Gage. It’s my codename… my call sign when I’m in the field. I prefer to go by that.”
“Certainly. Now, Gage, I’ve been asked to…,” Dr. Wright says as he picks up his notepad, “…evaluate your current state of mental balance and determine if you are fit for duty. Or so it says here… but lets forget that for now. Right now, I want to know if anything is bothering you.”
“Sorry. I know you’re supposed to get me to open up, but there really isn’t anything bothering me right now.”
“Okay, then lets talk about the suspect.”
“The one I beat nearly to death?”
“That would be the one. Did he evoke something in you that made you attack in him such a away?”
“No, he didn’t provoke me. I was just-”
“Excuse me… evoke. Did he evoke some sort of feelings in you?”
“I-… no. I mean, well, yes. He attacked one of my teammates and I responded. I just lost control.”
“Your teammate, male or female?”
“Okay, and you prevented him from harming her, yes?”
“Did he hurt her before that?”
“Yes. Grabbed her by the hair.”
“So you tackled him. Then started hitting him, despite that you had restrained him already?”
“And kept hitting him…”
“Hard. Really hard. I…” Gage clenches his fists, “just…ugh, I was so mad.”
“Because… he was going to hurt my friend.”
A pause, then, “Why do you have a child’s painting on your wall?”
“A kid’s painting.” Gage points.
“My daughter drew it.”
“But why is it in here?”
“Patients sometimes empathize with the child-like quality of it and open up more easily.”
“Because my daughter painted it.”
The session dragged on. He would ask questions and I didn’t want to answer them.
“Which brings us back to why you were hitting the man over and over again…”
“Stop calling him a man! He wasn’t a man!”
“What would you prefer I call him?”
“The terrorist! The criminal! The evil doer! Whatever, but he’s not a man! You can’t call him that…”
“Because it makes what you did to him seem not so bad?” Gage doesn’t respond. “Hmm.”
“What was that? That ‘Hmmm’. What was that?”
“Just a ‘hmmmm’.”
“Don’t placate me! What did you mean by that? You act like you’ve come to some kind of conclusion and I want to know what it is.”
“Too bad. You don’t tell me anything, I don’t tell you anything.”
Gage pauses for a moment, then, “I don’t get why you don’t believe that I just got mad and let loose on the guy.”
“Then why am I here?”
“Because I have to find out why you got mad. Mad enough to beat a man into a coma.”
“He deserved it.”
“It. The beating. He was attacking committing a crime, not to mention attacking a an operative of the CIA. One of my friends.”
“Well, maybe not one of my friends. Nobody on the team are really friends. Never seem to have the time to form close relationships.”
“Yeah, you know, ‘cause we- wait a minute. I know what your doing.”
“Yeah, that. Repeating the last word of my sentences…trying to keep me talking.”
Gage grunts angrily and rolls his eyes. He looks around the room again, as if looking for something specific. “How much time do we have left? You don’t have any clocks in here.”
“As much as I want. I can stay here as long as I need. I get paid by the hour, and since the government is picking up the tab...”
Standing up in frustration and starting to pace, Gage shouts, “Your not going to find anything wrong with me! I’m fine! I just got mad!”
“Why? Why did you get mad?!”
“Because, he was trying to hurt my friends! He grabbed Myriad by the hair, was gonna murder her!”
“So, one good turn deserves another? He’s nearly dead, Gage! He’s probably going to die!”
Pacing more frantically now, “I didn’t mean it! I didn’t mean to kill her!” Gage freezes. The therapist opens his mouth about to say ‘her?’ but Gage responds first, “Him. I didn’t mean to kill him.”
…but I knew what I meant from the moment the words came out of my mouth.
“Gage you didn’t kill Eve. A sentinel did.”
His eyes beginning to tear up. “I- yes, I did.”
Wright stands and emphatically begins to speak, “No, Gage, you didn’t. You can’t blame yourself. You know this already, though, don’t you?”
The tears slowly slip down his cheeks, dropping off the side of his face, “Yeah. I know.”
“I’m going to guess that this mission went a little differently than most missions. I mean, you acted differently, right?”
“Yeah, I’m more tense in other situations. I...”
“You maintain certain distance.”
“That’s right, I- I- must be afraid…”
“No, not afraid. You’re tense because you’re watching your teammates. Watching to make sure they are okay.”
“So, what happened this time. Why did I lose control?”
My mind zoomed back to the night Eve was killed. Her attacker, he had her by the hair before he…murdered her.
“It triggered an unconscious replay of events, and so you took action and that’s what made you lose control. You’ve been afraid to relive that day in your mind, to come to terms with it all, and so it became so repressed that the criminal pulling Myriad’s caused you to let loose. And he was the object of your frustration.”
So, there it was. We finished up our session, I thanked him and agreed to see him again next week. I think this can really help me, Dad. I know you’ve been worried about me, and I’m sure the beginning of this letter didn’t belay any of those fears, but you can rest assured in knowing I’m not alone here anymore. I have my therapist. I have a boss who knows what I need. I have my teammates. My friends.
Gage arrives back at the Reeves building. It’s late and most of the team has gone to bed, but as Abe Lidler arrives in the lounge he sees Phase in an armchair watching TV. Myriad is sleeping on a couch. Gage whispers, “Hey. Everyone asleep?”
“`Sides me? Yeah. All went and tucked themselves in …or in Click’s case, went and plugged himself in, or whatever he does at night,” Phase whispers with a smirk.
I’m not afraid anymore, Dad. Of leadership, that is. I know I don’t have all the answers and that I can only do my best for my team.
Here’s hoping I see you soon.
Glancing at Myriad, Gage notices she’s frowning with an almost worried look on her face. “Looks like she’s having a nightmare.”
“Yeah, been too afraid to wake her. Might castrate me.” Phase snickers and Gage follows suit. A beat goes by, then Phase whispers, “How are you doing, boss?”
Sitting down on the floor in front of the couch the sleeping empath lays on, Gage responds, “You know...I’m doing better, now.” He smiles at the comment and nods to himself. And behind him, on the couch, the sleeping Myriad smiles too.
Love, your son,