I. AND I MUST SCREAM.
      "a mind witch with hardly a mind with which to witch! true, is it not, elizabeth braddock? you've been transmogrified and obliterated and possessed and killed and reborn so many times... you can't tell dream from reality, fantasy from history... you're everyone's plaything. a mismatched freak. a broken toy who isn't even sure if she exists."

silence. nothing but silence. left with thoughts of another merging with her own. memories were unclear, melding, shaped together, separating. words echoed through her thoughts as she struggled to get a firm grasp of the reality she had entered. was this a reality or simply another dream, one of many that haunted her? how was she supposed to tell the difference? the ivory of the bathroom counter was cold to the touch, the scent in the air was one of jasmine-- familiar to her, one of her favourite aromas. she could hear the cars in the street outside, the voice of neighbour down the street speaking far too loudly. all her senses told her that this was reality but it couldn't be.

      "who are you?"

      transmogrified.

the reflection in the mirror was not hers. the woman's features were elegant and graceful, not as cruel as hers had ever been. lips full, a dark gaze that contrasted her own amethyst coloured one. eyes that were never hers to begin with, had she ever belonged to herself? had she ever been herself? she continued to watch the reflection in the mirror, all too familiar with the dreadful feeling that began as a chill at the base of her spine. her outsides didn't match her insides, they never had. she had been pieced together to serve another's purpose and this was no different. a different path taken each and every single time only to end up in the same place.

      obliterated.

this wasn't her but betsy was not sure that there were any pieces of her left to collect. the memories faded in and out, almost like a dream. she tried to gather what she could to make sense of this, despite those that had tried to help her. were any of them real or were they simply figments of her imagination? pieces of memories that she had gathered and shaped in some weak attempt to feel comfort. ororo had offered guidance, as much as she could. she had offered her a piece of home that betsy had declined. it could have been a trap, a lure to capture her when she was at her weakest. powerless. unarmed. something to destroy the very last conscious bit of herself she had left. she couldn't go, it wasn't safe.

      "what do you want?"

      possessed.

the voice was persistent, a whisper in the back of her mind. this wasn't her telepathy, no this was unfamiliar. she could feel her, ava. that was her name: ava. she could feel her fighting back, she could feel the confusion and anger. the questions. the pounding in her head that made it nearly impossible to focus on anything other than the pain. "alcohol will fix it, if that's your thing." the words of advice given to her by one of the many illusions that had come to surround her... but the woman knew them. friends. family. allies. betsy fought for control because it was all she knew to do: to fight. if this wasn't real, then there was certainly a way back. she was somewhere, she had to be somewhere. this was nothing but another labyrinth to navigate until she found her way home. if she found her way home.

      killed.

or perhaps this was home. she tried to gather the last things she could remember but her memories were unclear. nothing seemed to make sense. were they even her memories? perhaps this death. it couldn't be. she had died before, she was certain of it. death felt like nothingness, it felt empty and dark. this was too much. she could feel, god she could feel. it was unlike anything. years it had been since she had sacrificed her sorrow and the ability to ever feel it again. it had formed a hollow in her, something that could only be filled with violence and the shedding of blood. it had made her kill until she found herself addicted to murder. violence made her feel alive. but she could feel that sorrow, regret for the lives she had taken. she could feel and that alone was enough to let her know that she was alive.

      reborn.

perhaps fate had been cruel. reborn once again into something she couldn't quite understand. this had to be real, it felt too real. "do i feel real?" the question had been right to ask, the answer had been yes. she had wanted to trust him for reasons that were unknown to her. he hadn't lied to her but then again he could have been just another fiction created by her imagination. perhaps fate had been kind and this resurrection had been a second chance at something beautiful.

but beautiful and true things rarely happened for the x-men. she was no different.

it took her a moment to realise that the sound of the cars had silenced, that the ticking of the clock in the living room at slowed. a moment longer to notice the darkness that had surrounded her. she glanced around, holding one hand before herself. the shadows themselves seemed to be alive around her. it didn't feel like home, not that it ever had. this was something else. there was that familiar dread, a chill that began at the base of her spine and moved through her form. the fear. she knew she wasn't alone in that moment, suddenly all the pieces began to fall together. this wasn't real, it had never been real.

"rise and face me, pig." the words were uttered with a confidence that she shouldn't have had. she knew what the parasite was capable of, the demon had been trapped in her mind once upon a time. she knew he would recognise her lack of power, all mental shields had been knocked down, and he would sniff out that very fear she so desperately tried to him from him. she could already feel his fingers running through her mind, hunting for fear. hunting for an entrance. and he would find it.

"false confidence, elizabeth. or is it ava now? do you know who you are, mind witch? have you finally succumbed to the truth? do you exist?" the parasite leaned forward, baring sharpened teeth in some strange mockery of a smile. "i will strip you open, expose your secrets, i will feast on your terror. a disembodied memory imprisoned within my mind, helplessly watching as i destroy the lives of everyone you love. you are nothing. you have always been nothing. and now you will become my nothing."

and she knew he was right. the parasite knew her as well as she knew him. time and time again, he had returned to the telepath, claimed her. used her. and this was no different. she felt his claws digging into her mind, finding the very fear he had been searching for. he would feast, and she would be his.

but this time, it wouldn't only be her he would find. another consciousness fighting him. terrified. confused. with nowhere to run. she just wanted to scream.

once upon a time, there was a princess, who was tricked by a trickster god who wasn't really a god at all. he pushed and cajoled and taunted her, until finally, the princess lashed out with all the power at her disposal and fell mind first into a trap.
ET