A Conversation

"I don't understand," Todd balanced himself carefully on a garbage can lid, "What's a cool guy like you doing hanging out with that bunch of geeks..."

"Because it beats the hell out of hanging around your bunch of geeks." Ray smirked.

Toad chuckled, "But, seriously, you can't believe all that lovey-dovey harmony crap? You were a Morlock, you had to live in the sewers for Pete's sake, just to get away from the humans and their hate. Do you really believe they'll change?"

Ray leaned back against the alley wall and looked down at his sandals, thinking back to his time as a Morlock, and the day he'd finally, and literally, crawled out of the sewer to join Xavier's school. "No. No I don't, but I think some of them will. Maybe even... Most of them. I might not agree with everything Xavier says, but I know that attacking them like The Brotherhood and The Acolytes will make it even worse for all of us."

"We gotta protect ourselves, bro. There's a war coming, and none of us can stop it. If Magneto went away, they'd still hate us. There are humans out there who'd knife you in the back while you're tryin' to save their life. Isn't it better to fight them than to fight your own kind?"

Ray's blue eyes shimmered, tiny sparks forming, a sure sign the Berzerker was angry. "I don't want to fight my own kind, but I don't want to be a terrorist either."

Toad knew he was pushing his luck, but he went on anyway. "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. George Washington and all those famous guys, they were traitors to the king and terrorists in the eyes of the Brits... In the end, history doesn't go to the right or wrong, only to the strongest."

Ray smiled thinly, "Now you're beginning to sound like Apocalypse."

"God, I hope not... That dude is seriously messed up." He paused, "And so is Mystique, and ..."

He hesitated.

"Magneto." Ray finished the sentence Todd did not want to complete.

There was silence for a moment.

"He has every right in the world to be angry, after what happened to him, to his family," Ray said, softly, "But when people say 'Never Again' it has to apply to everyone. If Magneto wins, what happens to humanity? Do they go into concentration camps?"

"Magneto may be a lousy father and arrogant jerk, but he's not that twisted, yo." Toad shook his head. "I'm sure he has a plan, he's just not much on sharing his plans, especially not with low-level grunts like us."

"You talk like the war has already started."

"Hasn't it? They blew up your school, remember! And it's not just a few humans, it's a lot of 'em, probably most..."

Ray closed his eyes, he thought back to his parents, how they'd beaten him and thrown him into the streets to fend for himself when his powers first manifested and he'd blown up the family T.V. If the people who are supposed to love you unconditionally, the people who gave you life would not accept you, how could you trust a stranger?

He sighed and focused on the green youth in front of him, dressed in ragged clothes, perpetually dirty, living in a run-down dump with a psychopathic, shape-changing harpy as his only parental figure. He thought of the Morlocks, hiding in the sewers, afraid to come out into the light... Was this the future of mutantkind, the perpetual outsider, the unwanted child of a hateful society?

He ran a hand through his blond hair, "It doesn't matter what history says, I doubt anyone will remember me a hundred years from now, anyway. Magneto believes he's right, maybe he is, in a way. Xavier believes he's right, and maybe he's right too... But... There must be a middle ground somewhere! Protecting ourselves while not turning into the monsters people think we are..."

"I wish I could believe that." Toad's large eyes widened, and he hopped behind a dumpster, Ray turned to see Cyclops heading his way, "Ray, what are you doing in that filthy alley? Everyone else is ready to go."

"I was just... thinking, Cyc. I'll be right there..."

"Todd." Softly.

"Yo?" Even more softly.

"If you ever want to... Join the school, I'll vouch for you."

"And deal with that idiot Summers? No thanks, dawg. I tried it before, it didn't work out. If you ever want to join The Brotherhood, yo..."

"Thanks, but I ..."

"RAY!" Scott shouted, "Are you coming with us or are you walking home?"

Ray walked toward the van and shook his head.

Scott knew full well he could never truly go home.

The End



in EVO his name is Ray Crisp, a truly bad pun, (but far better than Avalanche- Lance Alvers...), everywhere else his name is Ray Carter.

All characters copyright Marvel Comics.