Equal and Opposite Reaction
The Less Depressing Ending
I hold her hand against my cheek for a moment, then let go and watch her walk away.
Jean Grey once asked me who I'd choose: Magneto or Hannah. Guess I finally made my choice.
Morning. I only know I slept because I kept replaying the accident over and over in my head. I could have just been hallucinating, but I don't think so. And Agnes is here. I don't remember her coming in. Definitely must have been asleep. "Let's neaten you up for the judge," she's saying as she sits me up against the wall. How did I get these coveralls on? She's got a washcloth and a comb and is doing her best to make me presentable.
"Agnes, you don't have to..."
"Sssh. I want to."
"They're videoconferencing the plea-bargain session. Have you eaten anything?"
"I'm not hungry."
She turns to the police officers standing guard outside my cell and barks, "Someone get him an iced coffee." They look too startled to disobey. One of them takes off like a shot.
The professor and my lawyer are also out there. My lawyer says, "Now do us all a favor and don't bring up any other crimes. I've got this all planned out. When they ask you how you plead, say 'guilty.' I don't want you to say another word. Do you understand?"
I turn to Agnes, and she says, "Please do what she says."
"Okay." She's family. I'll do whatever she wants. I've hurt her enough.
The police officer comes back with the coffee and my sister fetches it through the bars and hands it to me. "Drink this. It'll wake you up. We need you looking alert and contrite. You seem to have the contrite part down already."
I give her a weak smile. She's trying. Don't want her to think it's not appreciated. Ugh. Coffee's too bitter, and it makes my stomach hurt. Agnes seems to think she's gotten me presentable enough, because she sits back on her heels and takes my hand. "You'll be fine. Trust me."
The professor catches my eye, and a voice in my head says, //I will be here to keep you steady.//
It's so weird. I suddenly feel calm. My head's clear. I try to put the words "thank you" in my head, but I have no clue if he can hear me.
My lawyer nods at the officers, and they come in to the cell and put leg irons and handcuffs on me, then lead me to a small room with a large screen on the far wall. My lawyer fiddles with the controls, then stands beside me as the screen displays a judge in full robes, with several men in suits around her. "Ms. Sloman," the judge says.
"Judge Feinstein," my lawyer says back. "We're ready to begin the proceedings."
The judge looks at me and says, "Mortimer Toynbee, you have been charged with eleven counts of manslaughter. How do you plead?"
I look over at my lawyer, who nods. "Guilty," I say.
"I've reviewed your file, Mister Toynbee, and your sister gave a rather moving deposition earlier this morning. You have by all accounts had an extraordinarily difficult life. Now normally in Texas, we don't take sob stories into account when dispensing justice." I see Agnes fidgeting out of the corner of my eye. "However," the judge continues, "your assistance in helping us locate Eric Lehnsherr and his two associates was invaluable. They just entered our custody two hours ago."
That fast? How did...?
"Mister Xavier," she says. "We'd also like to thank you and your team for their fast action."
I turn to see him nodding politely, and in my mind, he says, //We picked them up immediately after you gave us the information yesterday.//
It's really sinking in. Magneto's in custody. Mystique's in custody. I could care less about Sabretooth. I sold out my savior and my lover. How dare I? After all they both did for me. The blood starts thundering in my ears, but then I feel the professor's presence again, steadying me, clearing my head.
The judge continues, "Besides, your story goes beyond being a sob story. I could spend the money and time to order a psychiatric evaluation, but that would just be a waste of taxpayer dollars. And I could lock you up, but you'd just end up being the butt of anti-mutant discrimination at the hands of your fellow prisoners. I do honestly believe that with the right surroundings, you could be rehabilitated. So, I sentence you to ten years of house arrest, with eligibility for parole after five, to be served on the property of Mister Charles Xavier, where you will help him run his school however he sees fit. You'll wear a monitoring anklet made of adamantium for the duration of your sentence. Step off his grounds, and we'll throw you in prison for the remainder of your sentence." She bangs her gavel. "Make the most of this opportunity, Mister Toynbee. Most people don't get this kind of second chance."
"Thank you," I whisper just as my knees give out.
Agnes is by my side almost instantly, tears in her eyes. "You're coming home, Mortimer," she says as she wraps me in a huge hug. "You're coming home."
I dully notice the anklet being soldered on, but I really feel it when the restraints come off. They're letting me go. How can they let me go? I'm a murderer. I caused that little girl's death.
"Come on," Agnes chides. "Let's get you in the car."
I follow her to the professor's van, sitting in the back seat with my head on her shoulder as she says things I can't really hear. I can't focus. I just can't believe they let me out. This is a sentence? This is really all they think I deserve? This can't be right. It can't be.
We turn up the drive, pulling in to the garage, and wait while the professor's wheelchair gets lowered to the ground before Agnes takes me by the hand and leads me out of the van. Heading to the house, I look up and see Hannah standing by the door with Wolverine.
"Mortimer!" she shrieks, and races to meet me.
I can't move. I just watch as this little streak of innocence comes towards me. She trusts me. She loves me. How can she?
She launches herself into my arms, and I collapse to the ground, sobbing. I don't deserve this. Oh god, how could they let me have this back?
Her arms tighten around me, and I hear her little voice say, "Don't cry, Mortimer. Don't cry."
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