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Volume 3 -- Supreme Reflections -- Alex Summers

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Alex Summers
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Alex’s Reflections (AN: Takes place after issue 57)

There are only two kinds of people in this world…those who stand and fight and those who turn the other cheek and submit. I’ve only dealt with one of those kinds in my life so I don’t much care for the other. I am and always have been a fighter. Even if I haven’t always been that strong, I stand up and fight. It’s not always a fight with my fists or even a fight with my powers. Fights take on many forms and shapes. I’m still a teenager and I’ve probably seen them all. The only reason I’m still alive and doing something what my life is because I’ve never yielded. I’ve always stood my ground. From head to toe, I am a fighter whether the people around me like it or not.

Alex Summers was in a foul mood and in need of some peace and quiet. On a volatile nation like Genosha, that was pretty hard to come by. Magneto’s citadel offered some reprieve, but even in a structure this size it was difficult to find a place to gather his thoughts. The only place he could find that allowed him to be completely alone was the roof just below where the transport orbs were stored. Rather than risk losing his temper around the other Brotherhood members, he came here to cool off.

The young mutant was fuming. A mere 24 hours ago he took part in his first mission with the Brotherhood. Magneto entrusted him to be the leader they had been sorely lacking. He was supposed to make them better fighters so they could take on the seemingly endless challenges of turning Genosha into a powerful mutant nation. The first of those challenges was taking on the grossly illegal military raids the naval blockade had been running. That fight was easy enough, but it was the fight against the X-men that really got Alex worked up. It wasn’t just because they got in the way. It was very personal to him and not just because his older brother was leading them.

Damn you, Scott. You always tried to fight my battles for me. You and everyone else who thought I was too young and too weak to hold my own. I get that I’m still a teenager. The most fighting kids my age do takes place on message boards and Facebook. Taking on a hostile world in the midst of a human/mutant conflict does seem out of my league. But I can rise to the challenge. I’m stronger than people give me credit for.

I come from a long line of fighters. My father was a military man and his father before his father was a military man. These are the kinds of people who are born and bred to fight. They don’t run away from a challenge. I had to learn that lesson at a young age. I don’t have the luxury of remembering a whole lot about my life on the military base with my parents. What few memories I have involve seeing how everybody around my father was always prepared. The moment the order came in, they were ready to fight. That stuck out for me more than all those other little intricacies. For whatever reason, Scott took to the whole discipline act. It sure didn’t make him the nicest guy to be around. I can’t remember too many times during that period when I didn’t think he was a jerk.

We probably would have developed quite the sibling rivalry, but then came that night that pretty much destroyed any hope  of a stable life for me or my brother. It still sticks out in my memory, even if it is a little vague. I was so young at the time…young and weak. All I remember was sitting in the back of my dad’s private plane. I don’t know where we were going or why we were going there. The only part where my memory gets really clear was when we hit some turbulence that felt like the world’s worst roller coaster. Then came the smoke and the fire. The next thing I know my mom and dad are running into the back and pulling me and Scott out of our seats, saying we have to escape.

I couldn’t really understand what was going on. All I knew was that this was bad. Me being the youngest, my dad gave Scott the instructions while he and my mother strapped parachutes to our backs. I was too weak. I just started crying for no reason. I cried because I was scared. I knew something bad was going to happen. I just didn’t know what. I don’t think it really dawned on me until my dad opened the door and I felt that cold air come rushing in. Looking down, I really didn’t see anything other than darkness. It was like jumping into the pits of hell.

I didn’t have a say in anything. My parents told me and Scott we had to jump and Scott was supposed to protect me. I was completely helpless. All I could do was close my eyes and hang on. I don’t even remember jumping. I just remember feeling this blinding blast of hair blow across my face. Then I remember hearing this loud bang. I know now it was the plane. It was gone and so were my parents. But I didn’t have time to cry or mourn. Scott and I were still falling through the night sky. I was so terrified I practically froze. Scott had to pull the chords to the parachutes. He was able to fight through the fear and I wasn’t. I had felt weak and helpless before, but never like that.

Alex held his head low, consumed by both anger and sorrow. The loss of his parents was hard enough. Being so young, that moment stuck out in his mind as the most vivid memory of his youth. At least Scott had the luxury of being a few years older. He had time to make other memories that could buffer the agony of that moment. He had no such luck. The memories of his childhood began and ended with the plane crash that left them orphaned.

Almost as traumatic as the loss, there was also that feeling of sheer helplessness. He may have been only five-years-old at the time, but he was still old enough to feel weak. That was something that didn’t sit well with anybody, man or child. He was alone and vulnerable, unable to fight back. He was too paralyzed by fear and sorrow. It would have been bad enough if the plane crash was all he had to deal with. The tragedy just kept unfolding, leaving even deeper scars that had yet to heal.

It would have been somewhat bearable if this was where the nightmare ended. Unlike Scott, I was called in for overtime. He had the miserable luck of being knocked out because his parachute caught fire. His landing was rough while mine was just bumpy. I don’t know where the hell we landed. It may have been deep in the woods or just some park in the middle of nowhere. Wherever it was, it felt like hell. It was so dark, so cold, and so scary I felt like I was still falling even after I landed.

Being young and full of fear, my first instinct wasn’t to fight back. It was to find my family. My parents were gone and the only one I had left was Scott. So I did my best to look for him. I ran off blindly and foolishly into the darkness. I could have been running in the opposite direction for all I know. I didn’t care. That’s what fear does to you. It makes you stop thinking and it robs you of any strength you may have had. By the time I did find Scott my little body was about to give out. I thought finding him would make everything just a little bit better. Turns out, I was dead wrong.

If I wasn’t scared before, I was damn near petrified at that point. When I first saw Scott, I thought he was dead. He was lying under a tree, this bloody wound gushing from his head. I was so paralyzed I didn’t even bother to check if he was still breathing. I ended up doing what pretty much every five-year-old would do. I cried. I cried and I cried, praying that this was some kind of nightmare and I would wake up in my warm bed back home at any minute. I curled up in a fetal position next to my brother and did everything I could to shut it all out.

I was probably there for hours because it felt like an eternity. At some point all that fear and terror numbs you up. You reach a point where you’re no longer capable of processing any more fear. You cry so much you run out of tears. I really thought I had lost it. I really thought it was over for me. That’s not an easy thing for a young kid to process. Once you get to that point any fear you feel afterwards is kind of trivial.

By the time someone did find me, I had long since passed that point. It turns out my dad let out a distress call from the plane before this whole nightmare unfolded and rescue teams came looking for us. When they found me and Scott, I was pretty much out of it. They took us both to a nearby hospital where they gave me a few band-aids while Scott fell into a coma. I was still so paralyzed I didn’t even know what that meant. All I knew was that it was pretty bad. Except at that point something being bad was all relative.

He’ll never admit it now, but Scott had it easy. He was in that coma for months and I was wide awake, living every terrible moment of this loss on my own. I basically lived at the hospital all that time. My days consisted of waking up, spending time with my brother, eating a few meals, and then going back to sleep. A lot of crazy things run through the head of a five-year-old when his parents are dead and the big brother who was supposed to protect him is hanging on by the skin of his teeth. The strange part about that time was I never cried. I didn’t shed a single tear. I couldn’t anymore. I had cried a lifetime of tears in the span of a single night.

There was no more room for fear and sorrow. If I was going to move on, I had to follow my father’s example and be strong. That meant from that point forward, I couldn’t be afraid. I had to stand and fight. Nobody was going to protect me. I couldn’t rely on anybody, not even my own brother. That more than anything sent me down this path I’m on now and despite the many flaws I encountered, I’ve never looked back.

Alex rose up from his saddened state and stood strong in the face of such frustrations. He had a lifetime of struggle bearing down on him. Nothing came easy for him after the death of his parents. He never knew a life without loss and hardship. The faint memories of his parents were too distant to have the impact they needed. He was a kid who had to raise himself and he did so by being a fighter every step of the way.

When Scott finally awoke from his coma, there was already another challenge before me. Since there was no telling how injured my older brother was at the time, the state wanted to separate us. I was perfectly healthy even if I was traumatized and the social worker assigned to our case wanted to get me into a foster home. This time I didn’t stand for it. I fought back, saying I wasn’t going to leave my brother. He was family and that was it. At one point they tried to drag me away. I kept on fighting, but not with your typical kicking and screaming. I actually bit the social worker and poked her in the eye. That left such an impact the social worker quit our case and let someone else take over. This time it was someone smart enough to keep me and Scott together.

My brother proved pretty damn tough and made a full recovery…physically anyways. Once the hospital cleared him, an old army friend of my dad’s had us taken to this special orphanage in New York City for the children of veterans. It wasn’t your typical orphanage at all. This place was operating under the US military’s dollar so we had it pretty nice compared to other orphans…nice being another relative term. It didn’t even call it an orphanage. They called it a “group home” to be politically correct. It basically had all the essentials: food, clothes, shelter, and a warm bed. While it may have been comfortable, it certainly wasn’t what you would call a cheerful environment. A lot of these kids were pretty damaged. Scott and I were in a league of our own.

Before we even got used to the place, I encountered a major challenge that would plague me for the next decade or so. Once we moved in, my brother took it upon himself to baby me through this rough transition. It’s like he became dad all of the sudden. He never left my side, always trying to fight my battles for me so that I wouldn’t have to. That would have been great if I was still weak and feeble. In a ways I was, but what really got on my nerves was that he never gave me room to grow. When we started off, we were in this fight together and we couldn’t have been closer. Over time, this unofficial family structure that Scott and only Scott imposed drove us apart.

Years went by and it got easier at a painfully slow rate. Every so often, we would get some potential foster parents. We even stayed with a couple of families briefly, but being young and angry it wasn’t easy calling someone else my parents. It was sort of my way of showing Scott and everybody around me that I was a fighter. I didn’t need to be propped up because I was young and weak. I admit now that I was probably a little overly aggressive back then. It’s not like I didn’t have reason. I was nowhere near as disciplined as my big brother, but I could tell he was fuming just as much as I was. He never showed it even when he probably should have. Between the two of us, we were unadoptable.

Those failed foster families really didn’t bring me and Scott any closer. As I got older he got more obsessive. It was like he wanted to hold my hand through everything and not let me grow on my own. I called him out on this so many times and his response was never all that reasonable. Simply because he was older and he took it upon himself to look after me meant that somehow he had the authority. I didn’t understand it and didn’t care to. He also didn’t let me return the favor. When he turned ten he started getting these headaches and from time to time, his eyes would flash red. I wasn’t scared, but I was worried. Scott’s standard response was to just brush it off, wearing sunglasses to cover them up. He would never talk about it with me. He didn’t want to worry me. Except I’m his brother, I deserve to worry even if I was younger.

When I wasn’t clashing with Scott, I was clashing with pretty much everyone else. The people that ran the orphanage treated me like I was sick. They kept trying to counsel me and I always got so angry at them. I probably came off as a little brat to them, but they would probably react the same way if someone was always treating them like they were weak when you were fighting every day to be stronger. Something had to give and that’s when fate threw me and Scott a wildcard.

Alex held up his hand and made a fist. As he did, a soft yellow glow engulfed his arm. The simmering power that resided within him was strong and destructive. It was a power that so richly defined him and the Summers family. They all had their share of strength and potential. Sometimes it manifested in different ways. Sometimes it was a strength while other times it was a burden. Whatever form it took, this power often dictated the course of their lives.

In the span of a day, our tenure at the orphanage came to an end. I had just gotten through another lousy session with the staff psychologist. He kept trying to make me talk about my parents and wouldn’t take no for an answer. When he started getting on my nerves, I lashed out. I tried to shove this man who was twice my size away from me. He then grabbed my arm and tried to hold me down. I wouldn’t let him. I kept fighting back, hitting and scratching him as much as I could. Scott was outside with some doctors. When it got too rowdy, they came rushing in. One of them tried to stick me with a sedative. Scott, being the overprotective brother that he was, had a major overreaction and not in a way anybody could have anticipated.

His eyes flashed bright red again. This time it didn’t stop there. Just as they were about to inject me, he unleashed his first optic blast. It was a pretty destructive one too. He not only knocked the doctor and the staff away from me, he blew a huge hole in the building. It only stopped when the closed his eyes and covered them with his hands. Everybody around me was terrified, but I was curious. I knew in my gut something was up with his eyes and this proved it. Before I could make sense of it, Scott was rushed to the hospital and I went along with him.

For once, the tables had turned. Now Scott couldn’t protect me and I had to watch over him. It was a hell of a role reversal and while he’ll never admit it, he needed me. When they took him to the hospital, the doctors kept trying to open his eyes again. I made sure they didn’t. I told them what happened and when they didn’t believe me, I pushed them back. It probably saved them and us from another damaging blast. While this was going on, the media really got worked up. It’s not every day a destructive energy burst shoots out from an orphanage. Word quickly got out that it was a mutant incident and Scott was sure to be in some serious trouble.

I wasn’t afraid, but I was scared for Scott. He was really shaken. It was hard to tell with that stone-cold demeanor of his, but I could sense it. I never left his bedside while he was in the hospital. He was so confused and couldn’t think beyond playing his role as the big confident brother. That was a big problem because I was taking in the situation and I overheard a lot of ominous conversations from the doctors. They did not like the idea of having a mutant in their hospital. There were also some cops lofting about, talking about whether or not they should bring Scott up on charges. You don’t damage an orphanage without getting that kind of attention from the authorities. I sure as hell didn’t like what that implied. Not only would it split me and Scott up, but it would turn us into criminals.

We managed to get a lucky break. About a day or so Scott had recovered enough to get back on his feet. The cops were going to come in and take him away, but then this teenage kid snuck into the hospital and offered us a way out. This was a kid who used to live in the same orphanage we did and he had been through the same struggles. He knew that no good could come our way now that one of us was a mutant. He offered to help us escape. I accepted without hesitation. Scott was a lot more stubborn about it. He thought going to the cops would be better. I had to spend ten minutes arguing with him. He got so worked up his eyes flashed again and that essentially ended the debate. We had to leave.

The kid helped us escape. By the end of that day it was official. We were living on the streets. I was ten. Scott was twelve. We were going to have to find a new way to survive. For me, it was a much tougher fight. But unlike Scott, I was read for it. I wasn’t going to find my way at the orphanage. I felt in my gut that this would lead me down a better path.

Alex laughed to himself as his hand stopped glowing. It was strange how anyone who had to live on the streets could find humor in such a life. Most stories about life on the streets were full of despair and hardship. For many people that was probably true. He would be foolish to say that this life was somehow a step up from living in a stable environment, even if it was an orphanage. That wasn’t what allowed him to smile about it. What really stuck out was how this life made him stronger. It was this life on the streets that made him the fighter he was today.

After Scott and I escaped from the hospital, the guy who helped us introduced us to this little gang he belonged to. Now when I say gang I don’t mean a pack of criminal deviants. I mean gang as in a group of like-minded outcasts who simply have nowhere to go and no one to turn to. There were a lot of young kids, but I was still one of the youngest. They heard about what happened with us and offered not only sympathy, but a place with them. Scott remained suspicious, but I went with my gut on this one. These were people I felt I could trust.

What really stood out about these guys was they didn’t give me therapy or anything. They gave me a chance to stand on my own two feet and I proved I could be strong. I impressed a lot of people, showing that I could fight without being foolish. When most kids fight they’re just lashing out. I was different. I was a Summers. We have the uncanny ability to focus and channel our passions. We may not wear our emotions on our sleeves, but we know how to make them work for us. I certainly needed that with this gang of outcasts and runaways.

I proved myself early on by helping some of the other go on food runs. While we may not be criminals, we did steal. But we only stole what we had to in order to survive. We didn’t resort to drugs or trafficking or any of that shit. We all saw how those paths were losing battles in the long run. By steering clear of them, we stayed under the radar from the police and the civil authorities. I showed I could do my part, sneaking into grocery stores and raiding a few trucks. It was always quick and we provided for those who couldn’t, making sure we never went hungry. Scott did his part too, but he still worried about me. To him, I was still his responsibility and he just wouldn’t let it go.

For the first few years, we did okay for ourselves. I actually thrived on this kind of life, always preparing for the next fight and always going the extra distance. For the first time since the plane crash, I felt I wasn’t struggling. I felt like I was actually growing into my own person. I was still a kid, but I was a kid who found his own way. Also during this time, Scott did some growing and eventually took on a leadership role. The gang really looked up to him because he was so disciplined and he knew how to put together these elaborate yet efficient plans. He was the brains and I was the bronze. I don’t think he embraced it as much as I did, but he did take on the responsibility. I think it also helped that he had firepower on his side.

Since leaving the hospital, Scott slowly learned to use his mutant powers even if it was a bit crude sometimes. At first he did everything he could to suppress them. Then with some encouragement from the gang, he started practicing with it in junkyards and empty lots. He eventually was able to focus it in a useable weapon and it sure came in handy when we had to bust through crates or cause a diversion. Having that kind of power gained him even more respect and I admit I was a little jealous for a while. That jealousy wouldn’t last long though. I soon found out I had some firepower of my own.

Alex clenched both his fists this time, focusing more energy and causing a bright halo of energy to form around his hands. It was invigorating and intense. He felt so in tuned with this power it was overwhelming at times. Whereas Scott saw his power as a burden, Alex had a real connection with his. Maybe it was because he didn’t have to wear some goofy shades to control them, but this energy felt like a genuine part of his spirit. It certainly helped shape the young man he had become.

I was twelve when it first manifested. Scott led us onto the docks where some fresh crates of clothes were coming in. We needed to stock up because winter was just around the corner. We ran our usual divide and conquer strategy. A couple of the kids would get the dock workers’ attention by fooling around near their gear. They would then get chased to the other side of the dock, giving us time to unload the goods. It all went according to plan at first. Once Scott blew a hole into the crate, I let the others in so we could sift through the merchandise. It all went smoothly at first. Then we got a little sloppy.

While we were trying to pull down a stack of boxes, this kid tried to reach too high and ended up causing the stack to come tumbling down. It covered both him and me under a heavy pile of heavy gear that left us trapped and way too vulnerable for comfort. If that weren’t enough, it got the attention of a few other dock workers. Scott instinctively ordered everyone to run their escape plan. Pretty much everybody did, but some stuck around to help us get out. It was not a pleasant feeling. The kid next to me was freaking out and crying. I kept fighting and pushing, telling him to not give in. I told Scott to just blast the junk away. He refused. He said it was too dangerous. I told him we had to risk it, but he wouldn’t. Scott’s just too damn stubborn. If I was going to get out of that mess, I was going to have to do it myself.

That’s when it happened. While I was pushing as hard as I could against the pile above me, my hands started burning. It felt like I just dipped them into hot lava or something because it was really excruciating. I thought I had broken a bone or something, but then I looked down and saw that my hands were glowing. They were glowing in a way similar to how Scott’s eyes glowed when he used his powers. When I realized this, instinct took over.

I told Scott and everyone to stand back and the next thing I know, I fire this powerful energy burst straight upwards and blow a hole through the debris. This freed me and the kid while shocking the hell out of Scott and the others. It was a good thing we didn’t have time to be shocked because those dock workers were already coming back. So we high tailed it out of there before they could get the jump on us. We didn’t get a whole lot of merchandise, but I came out of there with something far more valuable. Now I had a new kind of strength. I had firepower that could carry me through much tougher fights. I didn’t feel scared or confused or anything like that. I felt strong on an entirely new level.

This ended the jealousy between me and Scott about powers, but it started a new rift. Suddenly, he wasn’t the only one with exotic talents. Now I garnered respect from others and I could bring more to the table with my abilities than planning and leadership. I could thrust myself into a fight knowing I had an edge. I wasn’t afraid to use that edge either, but I always stayed within my limits. I wasn’t a killer or a monster. I was a fighter and I was determined to stay that way. Scott still didn’t like what I was becoming. He wouldn’t even teach me how to use my powers. He encouraged me to limit their use just like he had been doing. That may have worked for him. It wasn’t going to cut it for me.

Our rift became a rivalry. Scott was still the leader, but I was the one people got behind when we went into action. One time we were raided by this crack gang looking to expand their territory. Scott encouraged us to flee so we wouldn’t get caught up in a gang war. I decided to stand and fight. A few even got behind me. That way when I confronted the gang and showed them a little firepower, they got the message loud and clear. They were not going to mess with us. It was the first time I really got a taste for the kind of leadership Scott had a monopoly on. I still had some catching up to do, but after a year of refining my powers and my skills I had to work overtime.

In the span of a single night, my brother and I finally started walking separate paths. There was this incident behind a grocery truck where Scott accidentally blasted this guy coming at us with a shotgun. He blasted him so hard the guy died. None of us had ever taken a life before. None of us ever wanted to. I don’t blame Scott for being really messed up about it, but he really let it consume him. He unofficially stepped down from his duties and started covering his eyes for every waking hour, vowing never to use his powers again. This really hurt the gang because we needed leadership. Since he was stepping aside, I stepped up. I was no longer the vulnerable youngster that followed his older brother’s lead. I was a kid who could hold his own and lead by example. At age 13 I basically skipped ahead a few years in maturity right then and there.

Shortly after this all went down, a guy named Charles Xavier entered the picture. He came to Scott offering him a chance to re-learn how to use his powers. He also offered him a chance at a new home in a fancy school where he could get all the education we had missed over the years. It was a pretty sweet deal. I don’t blame Scott for taking it, but he wanted me to come with him. It was tempting, but it meant leaving the gang behind. I couldn’t do that. I was responsible for them now. They looked up to me and relied on me. I told Scott plainly I wasn’t going to just up and abandoned this life. Scott’s argument was that this wasn’t a life. It was a dead end.

As soon as he said that, we spent the next ten minutes just yelling at each other. We started pushing and shoving. I almost decked him. He went on and on about how I was his responsibility and that we were a family. To me that was an excuse and not a reason. We kept going back and forth until it finally happened. Scott made his decision and I made mine. He left and I stayed. It wasn’t on good terms to say the very least. That would be the last time my brother was a major part of my life.

Alex sighed bitterly as he stood up. Over the years he and Scott shared many heated arguments. None were ever as heated as that shouting match that sent him to the X-men and left him with the gang. It became painfully clear afterwards that they would never be a real family again. The loss of their parents and the lives they lived made it all but impossible.

That didn’t mean it was easy. Scott was still his brother. They were still family whether they liked it or not. There was always going to be some love between them, but that love was vastly overwhelmed by anger and bitterness. They had both made so many mistakes with each other. Alex wasn’t arrogant enough to believe he was completely without fault. For a time, it looked like Scott had made the right decision. Even if that was true, Alex still ended up stronger in many ways.

Once Scott was gone, the gang continued. I picked up the mantel and ran with it. I did things Scott never attempted like recruit more disadvantaged kids like us and train everybody to be a bit more self-sufficient. We could no longer just keep running away from obstacles when they sought us out. We had to be able to fight back so we weren’t pushed further to the brink.

For the next two years, we had what we all called a happy time. We started staying in nicer areas and we stockpiled more supplies to make live just a little more bearable. We were all like a big family. We fought together and we looked out for one another. I really developed myself as a leader during that time. I took some of the lessons from Scott and made them into my own style. I didn’t just get people to fear and respect me. I got people to trust and care about me. I didn’t take it. I earned it. That’s how real fighters operate. With every drop of sweat and every bloody wound, you earn what you strive for. So long as you stay focused, the fight unfolds as it should. It’s a simple facet of life.

While these times were good, they came at greater risks. By fighting more, we made ourselves bigger targets. I thought we could stay a step ahead of the authorities and any rivals that got in our way. We eventually discovered that luck wasn’t on our side because in just a few short days, the gang came crashing down.

It wasn’t entirely are fault either. We set up shop in this local projects building in Jersey City that we thought was safe. We had stayed there before and without any incident. This time it would be different. For whatever reason, this fugitive drug runner from Miami was trying to get to New York City with a big bag of cocaine. His original ride got busted back in Florida and he had been basically clawing hitch-hiking his way up north. Every step of the way, he brought trouble with him. The same authorities that busted his ride were trying to bust him. Of all the projects he could have stayed at in the city, he chose ours. I swear if I ever meet this guy again, I’ll separate his jaw from his skull.

We were all just hanging out near the top floor, sleeping and playing cards like we usually did. We had no idea the freakin’ DEA and ATF were surrounding the building just to catch this one guy. At around midnight they came storming in, guns blazing with SWAT gear and all. They guy tried to get away and ended up passing through our den in the process. Before any of us knew what was going on, the whole place was raided and the gang was surrounded.

This was a fight that was essentially doomed. I only got off a few blasts before I saw just how much heat these guys were packing. By the time they surrounded us, everyone around me had given up. Most didn’t even try to fight. I managed to resist a bit longer, but it still ended the same. Once the DEA had their guy, they called in the local police and social services. One-by-one, they rounded us up and hauled us off. It was a pretty low point for all of us. Most of those guys I never saw again. For all I know some of them are dead. Since I was the leader, they made sure I got sent somewhere a little rougher. Thus began my stint in New York State Juvenile Hall.

Alex laughed again. This was another instance of what should have been a dark moment in his life turning into an opportunity. What did it say about him when otherwise dead-end paths like street life and juvenile hall helped make him stronger in a new way? Was he a deviant by nature? Or did he just thrive on overcoming the darker aspects of these gritty worlds? It was nice he could laugh about it now because like his time with the street gang his time in Juvenile Hall could have turned out very bad for him.

I was fifteen years old and once again on my own. The courts along with social services declared that since I hadn’t committed any major crimes other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time, I wouldn’t face any charges. However, I did have to enter into this special youth program as they called it. It was kind of like a boarding school and a prison. This is where a lot of runaways and other kids who hadn’t committed serious enough crimes to go to jail lived when they had nowhere else to go. I didn’t look forward to it and I was tempted to bust out at first. But seeing as how the gang was gone, I probably wouldn’t have lasted very long so I sucked it up and went along with it.

It was kind of bland at first. I basically stayed in this tiny dorm not much bigger than the one at the orphanage. Most of my days centered around attending group therapy and going to the special school program they had going on. I hadn’t gotten much of an education from the orphanage or the streets so I had a lot of catching up to do. I could barely read and do basic math. I didn’t care a whole lot for it at first, but I did care about not being stupid. So I fought my way through it and I did okay for myself.

While I was adapting to this new life, I made it a point not to use my powers unless I had to. I had a feeling that if they knew I was a mutant, then they would look for a reason to throw me in jail. Mutants were starting to get a little controversial at this time. There was always some crazy story running on TV about some mutant going berserk that the authorities had to ‘contain’ as they called it. I knew that containment probably meant something that didn’t involve basic schooling, a decent bed, and a limited amount of freedom. So I wasn’t going to screw it up.

While I was finding my way at this place, I was also making new friends. That same leadership and charisma I developed with the gang worked just as well here. I connected with a number of other runaways and deviants who had it rough. I told them about what I had been through and what I had done and wouldn’t you know it? I earned their respect. That respect meant that we helped each other during the rougher times that came with being in Juvenile Hall. Whenever we got a pass to head out into the city, I would lead them and we would have all sorts of fun. We would see the sights, pick up some girls, and just hang out.

This was really big for me because for once it made me feel like a normal kid. It showed to me that I didn’t always have to be this stray that had to claw his way forward in order to survive. I could function and interact with people. I could gain their respect and for all the right reasons. It made me stronger and smarter in ways I really needed at that time. I couldn’t last very long just being this thug who fought all the time. I had to be a little more strategic like Scott. This all worked out pretty nicely for three years. By the time I was 18 I had caught up with my school work and I had a pretty solid circle of friends. But like the gang, I knew it couldn’t last. This time I wasn’t all that surprised when it came crashing down.

My status as a mutant was what did me in. I couldn’t hide my secret forever. It was going to come out sooner or later. Not a whole lot of people in Juvenile Hall had positive views of mutants. They were just as ignorant and fearful as every other law biding citizen on the planet at that point. So when they did find out, all that respect I earned took a major hit. It also didn’t help that they found out during a pretty fucked up incident in downtown New York.

We were out on a day pass from the center and passing through Brooklyn. Along the way these thuggish looking school kids challenged us to a basketball game. Being the fighter I am, I accepted and the others followed me. It was a close match and we held our own. We were on the final point when I had the ball and this guy just up and fouled me. He wasn’t very subtle about it either. He literally head-butted me when I was about to make a shot. Once I was stunned, he took the ball and scored the winning point. Needless to say, I was not pleased and I was not going to walk away either.

I walked up to this guy, who was at least six inches taller than me. We got to pushing and shoving. Pretty soon his friends and my friends gathered around, looking to see a fight break out. This guy seriously had issues because when I made it clear that he didn’t scare me, he reached into his back pocket and pulled out a knife. This was a game changer and my friends knew it. Some of them encouraged me to back off because this was getting dangerous. I refused, even though I could tell that this guy was willing to use it. I warned him several times. I told him he would pay the price if he came at me. He didn’t listen.

He went right for my face. I didn’t let him get even halfway. On an instinct, I used my powers and blasted the guy halfway across the basketball court. This shocked both him and my friends. Now that I look back on it, that probably wasn’t the smartest way to end this fight. It turned what was just a tense situation into a disaster. Suddenly, my friends were looking at me like I was a monster and the thugs got pretty worried. They started screaming “Mutant! He’s a mutant!” and in the middle of a big city, someone was going to take notice.

My friends basically left me out to dry. They didn’t stick by me this time when the cops started coming my way. I told them we could get away if they just helped me. They didn’t do shit. It was not a pleasant feeling, being betrayed by the people you trusted. I should have been used to it at that point, but it still pissed me off. With nobody watching my back, I once again found myself in a fight I couldn’t win. Seeing as how I couldn’t go back to Juvie or rely on my friends, I had to resort to my least favorite tactic…running.

With cops already taking notice, I blew a hole through a gate and ran away from my friends, those thugs, and my old life. I didn’t have any direction in mind. The plan was just to run until I couldn’t hear the yelling and the sirens anymore. It took me quite a while. By the time I did get away, I was not in good shape. I had nothing but the clothes on my back and I was wanted by the authorities. I even saw my picture blared on the evening news. For a while I was actually tempted to call up Scott and see if he could get me out of here. That would be the equivalent of waving the white flag and admitting defeat. I wanted that to be a last resort and I came way too close to using it.

For a few days I waited for the heat to die down. I stole this hooded jacket and tried finding another place to hold up. Eventually, I found myself in this weird part of New York City that people seemed to avoid for some reason. I soon found out that I had entered District X. That’s where I met Lucas Bishop and Tessa. That’s also where I went from being a fighter who happened to have mutant powers to a mutant who happened to be damn good at fighting.

Alex took a step closer to the edge of the roof so he could look down towards the busy streets below. The capital city of Genosha was by far the busiest part of the island. This was where most of the mutants congregated, going about their new lives and not showing any reservations about using their powers. It was like a much bigger version of District X. A place where a mutant could be a mutant was something that really didn’t resonate with him until he experienced first hand how much regular humans hated and feared them. Even the friends he thought he had simply turned their back on him once they found out he was different. That put humanity in a very different light while allowing him to relate to mutants in a very different way.

“My new gang,” Alex said to himself, “It’s not just a whole island either. It’s a whole freakin’ species.”

I couldn’t help but be a little thrilled. I never got a chance to really embrace my powers when I was with the gang and I had to completely suppress them when I was in Juvenile Hall. In District X I had the best of all worlds. I could be a mutant and be Alex Summers.

I arrived at a time when District X was going through a bit of a boon. This little mutant community had been one of those unspoken parts of New York City for years, but it was only recently that it gained a sense of community. Most of the mutants who lived there were just your normal, hard-working mutants who wanted a safe place to stay. A lot of them were outcasts like me and couldn’t fight for themselves. When I showed Bishop and Tessa what I was capable of, they put me on this neighborhood watch crew with Jamie Madrox and Jubilee. They were even nice enough to work out a deal with the authorities to get me out of Juvie. How Tessa managed that is beyond me, but I could care less how she did it. What mattered was I had a new home and a new identity. It seemed like the perfect place for me…or so I thought.

I spent about a year in that community and I earned myself a pretty solid reputation. Whenever someone was looking to make trouble, human or mutant, I would be the first on the scene to confront it. I wasn’t very subtle about it either. If a guy wanted a fight, I gave it to them. That didn’t always go over well with Madrox and Bishop, but it worked and others soon took notice.

My role as an enforcer wasn’t enough in District X. I still had the desire to lead and inspire just as I had done with the gang and in Juvie. When I wasn’t fighting, I was talking to the other mutants of District X and learning their stories. A lot of them had it rough no matter where they came from. Being a mutant is like a death blow to your social life. No matter where you were from, regardless of what class you were in or what kind of community you were born into, once you were discovered to be a mutant your life was over. I didn’t think that was right. Hell, I knew it wasn’t right. District X was just one of the very few options these mutants had and if that weren’t bad enough, there were those who wanted to take it away from us.

This is where I started overstepping the boundaries Bishop and Tessa laid out for me. I was to keep the peace, not encourage others to fight back. But that’s what happened. It wasn’t really something I could control. Others saw how I fought and they wanted to follow me. I can’t say I blamed them either because a lot of these mutants were in the same boat I was. They were outcasts who had been oppressed all their lives and they wanted to fight back. I just inspired them.

I got plenty of lectures from Bishop and there were a few times Madrox wanted to strangle me. Problem was, they couldn’t just cut me loose because I was so good at my job. There were a number of times these anti-mutant protests broke within our boarders and I was sent there to help keep them at bay. I lost track of how many times some overzealous mutant-hating asshole tried to do pick a fight. I was always there to end it and not very subtlety either. That didn’t always make for good PR, but it kept District X safe. Then the whole Bastion mess happened along with an impromptu family reunion.

Alex’s demeanor soured once more. No matter what he did, sooner or later his path was going to cross with Scott’s again. It was never a matter of if it was going to happen. It was only a matter of how messed up it would be when it finally went down.

“Damn you, Scott,” he said into the night, “I can escape a rough life, but I can’t escape family. It’s not fair!”

It didn’t matter if Scott couldn’t hear him. It didn’t even matter if saying it out loud made him sound crazy. This was how he felt. This went to the very heart of the conflict that brought him here to Genosha.

I got way too arrogant for my own good. I walked right into the trap set by the Friends of Humanity. Those assholes played on the emotions of everybody I inspired. I should have suspected something was amiss. I should have made a plan. It wasn’t going to pan out either way. Bastion was going to leave his mark on District X and the responsibility fell on my shoulders.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the X-men got involved. Somehow they knew something was going down and they didn’t see fit to fill is us in before it went bad. It was the first time Scott and I had stood face-to-face in years. He really made something of himself with the X-men. He was a confident leader with better control over his powers and a hot girlfriend to boot. He and the X-men were the heroes that day. They defeated Bastion, saved District X, and exposed the Friends of Humanity’s plot. They came to the table with all the right tools to win the fight. Once it was over, I was the guy who had to shoulder the blame.

It was a case study in bullshit. I didn’t have a fancy school, a supersonic jet, and two powerful psychics guiding me. I had my bear hands and a bunch of inspired mutants ready to take on thugs like the Friends of Humanity. I lost the fight before it even began. Not only that, my own brother upstaged me. He and the X-men could have worked with us. They could have stood by us as we confronted the Friends of Humanity. But no…they had to swoop in just as Bastion was going nuclear. It’s like they were better than us when on the most basic level, they’re really no different than anyone in District X. They’re a bunch of mutants. They say they’re making a difference, but all they’re doing is setting themselves apart from the rest of us. Not every mutant is fit to be a costumed hero. They may make it so the X-men are beloved. That still won’t do squat for the rest of our kind.

My brother still thinks I’m a selfish little punk. But would a selfish punk take responsibility for all of District X and turn himself into the police? Would any of the X-men ever make that kind of sacrifice? Hell no! It would clash too much with their hero image. I’m willing to make that sacrifice for the mutants of the world. They’re my crew now. I look out for them and they look out for me. Even if it means being the odd man out, I’m willing to do what’s necessary.

I was ready and willing to rot in that jail cell for as long as I had to. So long as it meant District X stayed safe, I could care less if Bishop, Madrox, Tessa, and Jubilee kicked me out of the neighborhood watch. I could care an even less what Scott and the X-men thought of my stunt. I could see it in their eyes that they thought I was just another troubled youth who happened to be a mutant. I was the kind of guy they fought against. Hell, I’m okay with that. I won’t lose any sleep over being on their shit list.

Jail would have still sucked. There’s no doubt about it. But once again, a bad situation turned into an opportunity. It’s good thing the mess in District X made the news because it probably never would have caught Magneto’s attention. I guess to him, a kid who could lead an entire mutant community against the Friends of Humanity was fit to lead his Brotherhood of Mutants. He was willing to give me a chance when everyone else including my own brother had written me off as a lost cause. This time, I’m not going to take that chance for granted.

Now I can fight my battles on a much larger stage. Like the X-men, I can fight for my entire species. We’ve been under attack for too long. We can’t just stand back and take it. We have to stand and fight! That’s what we’re doing here on Genosha. That’s what Magneto’s doing with the Brotherhood. I’m proud to be part of it and I’m not going to take my responsibilities lightly. There are a lot good things for me here on this island and I’m going to fight to hold onto them. That’s all there is to it.

Alex’s demeanor remained stern and stoic. Gazing out over Genosha, he saw a manifestation of everything he was fighting for. He wasn’t a kid anymore. He was the leader of the Brotherhood and a soldier on the front lines of the human/mutant conflict. It was a cause that put him at odds with his brother and pretty much the entire human world, but that didn’t matter to him. It was still a cause worth fighting for.

“I swear I’ll keep fighting,” he said under his breath.

“Fighting for what, Alex?”

The younger Summers brother was jolted from his daze by an unexpected voice. He shot around, ready to jump into another fight if he had to. That proved not to be the case since the voice came from one of the few people in this world that didn’t test his nerves.

“Lorna?” said Alex, now feeling a bit awkward in her presence, “What are you doing here?”

“I could ask you the same thing,” she said as she walked up to him, “Isn’t it usually cause for concern when someone is standing on the roof at midnight staring off into space?”

“Well when you put it like that, you make it sound like I’m going to jump or something.”

“You’re the leader of the Brotherhood. I imagine it causes all sorts of stress,” she said sheepishly, “Sorry if I was assuming too much.”

“Don’t apologize. I can’t say I blame you, but there’s no need to worry. I’m used to dealing with stress.” said Alex with a half-smile, “That’s kind of why I’m up here. I cope with that stress by taking a moment every now and spending it somewhere quiet where I can collect my thoughts and talk to myself if I have to.”

“Really? Does it work?”

“I haven’t jumped yet, have I? It works pretty damn well. If you don’t believe me, try it out. It might work for you too.”

Lorna smiled awkwardly, still showing a fair amount of shyness around Alex. She didn’t really know him that well and he did come off as somewhat hostile. That was to be expected from someone who had been in a jail cell not long ago. But she showed no fear around him. If anything, she seemed remarkably comfortable near him. Alex certainly didn’t mind her presence. A fellow mutant with her share of issues was more than welcome. It also helped that she was a pretty girl.

Alex smiled back and let her join him near the edge. It seemed she was in need of some stress relief as well. Whatever reason she had for being up this late really wasn’t a concern for him. He let her stand with him and gaze out over the landscape of Genosha. It made for a peaceful moment in what was still an unfolding struggle. He made his fair share of mistakes to get to this point. He was probably going to make more with this new cause. Beyond the cause itself, Alex Summers was still a fighter and there were an ever growing number of reasons for him to keep on fighting.

End of Supreme Reflections Volume 3

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