The characters depicted in this story are all copyright properties of the Marvel Comics Group and are being used without their permission. Their appearances here are for private non-profit entertainment only.
It was one of those nights again. But for the1 8-year old lying restlessly in his bed, every night was"one of those nights". He could never sleep (and rarely did because of recurring nightmares that would horrify him more than others would think his appearance made possible), and his mind was awash with a storm of thoughts and images that he kept to himself.
His mind's eye was now fixed firmly on the image of a face, beautiful in its own plain manner, which seemed to stare out of the center of the storm. He spoke her name to himself, by the only means which had been available to him since the power took his voice away.
His psychic voice was nothing like the physical voice he once had. The pitch was there, but there were overtones in that voice which screamed his pain and self-loathing as though he somehow projected those emotions he now had, emotions which evolved from realizing the disfigured state of his body which resulted from the power, into the world at large. One of his fellow students at the Academy once referred to it as "The psionic howl from beyond the grave." More than once, it would trigger fearful reactions in those unfamiliar with the man he truly was. No doubt it could do so again.
~Bloody 'ell. I probably woke the entire dorm with 'at one.~ he "sighed".
It was at moments like these that he turned to the one thing he believed had kept him sane through all the months of horror and suffering that his life had become. Rising from his bed, he turned to gaze at the acoustic guitar leaning against the opposite wall. It was his final tie to the life he had left behind.
~Oy, I might bloody well have to get on with it.~ he thought to himself as he walked towards the waiting instrument,~It's not as if they're going to give me a standing ovation,anyway.~
Shaking off the thoughts of his classmates and headmasters rushing from the doors of the dormitories to castigate him for the impromptu performance, he lifted his guitar from its perch and headed towards the door. Within five minutes he was there, barely noticing the chilly November air (as if his transformed body would notice cold). Leaning against one of the old maple trees across from the dormitory where she now slept, he peered up at the darkened window.
No movement. No sound except for the rustling of the now-bare branches in the trees as a slight breeze swept through them. No light except for the faint glow of streetlamps from the driveway and the light inside the main building to his right.
Wasting no more time, he pulled the guitar strap over his head, letting the instrument hang from his shoulders.Even in the darkness, he knew just where to place his hands. The guitar was as much a part of him now as it was apart of a more carefree mood that was no longer with him. He had but to slide his hands along the neck to get his bearings.
But was the happiness truly gone? ~Perhaps.~ he"said" to himself, before quietly going into his work.
He didn't play loudly at first, letting the simple chords that came to his mind find their way into the hand that worked the frets. The chords were like a rhythmic beat in his heart (if it were still there), and the lyrics that ran through his mind were as familiar to him as they were to any young man in his native Britain. He could no longer sing them with a human voice, but the ghost of his old voice was in his head, singing along with a hint of the aggressive demeanor that he once put across to audiences in seedy London dives before the "accident". Somewhere in that scarred shell of a youth,the Old Jono was still plugging away at his rented Stratocaster,nearly shouting out his youthful rebellion at the Establishment which had given him and his peers so much grief.
But now the angry youth was silent except for the rhythmic chords which grew louder and louder with each pluck of the strings, as though he were trying to make the accoustic instrument do what the Strat and his old voice used to do so long ago. The notes appeared to jump more than weave their way towards the upper-story window where his object of desire was.
He had no idea of knowing how long he was there playing his heart out. He was so far into the reverie brought out by his improvised solo jam that he didn't sense the uneasy stirring that started in two of the upstairs dorms facing his"stage". His eyes were closed, so that he didn't see the lights go on in the two rooms above. He was playing just loudly enough on his acoustic guitar (so that one would think that he was trying to break it!) to block out the muffled voices that came from behind closed windows...
Until one of the windows, not the window that belonged to his object of desire, swung open with a sigh and a thump. A dark-haired girl leaned out and muttered a few words in French.
"Jonathan Evan Starsmore!" said the dark-haired girl in slightly accented English, "It is three-thirty in the morning. People are sleeping!" To emphasize her point, she was pointing frantically to a rather elaborate alarm clock she held in her left hand.
Jono paused just before the correct window opened this time, letting two girls, his blonde-haired Goddess and her hysterical Asian-American roommate, pop out and nearly fall out trying to outshout each other.
"Jono!" the Blonde Goddess began to shout.
She was cut off by the hyper Asian. "YO,STARSMORE! CUT IT OUT! GIRLS'RE SLEEPIN' HERE,ENGLISH!" As if to punctuate her screeching, a few sparks seemed to leap from her hands and cracked in the chilly air like miniature fireworks.
Jono's Blonde Goddess rolled her eyes, "Thank you,Jubilee, now go back to sleep and shut up."
"Go. To. Sleep!"
Jubilee disappeared into the room. Mutter,mutter, mutter.
Jono felt his face blush (??) as he stared up at his Blonde Goddess. Her scowl didn't change. ~Paige?~ he projected meekly, ~Uhm, sorry.~
Paige looked startled at the black-clad youth who stared up at her in embarrassment and confusion, "What is it?"
Jono hesitated, keeping his gaze fixed on her so that he didn't notice the puzzled stare he was also getting from the dark-haired girl in the nearby window. Paige's expression grew more confused.
"Well, c'mon. Speak up, I can't keep this window open all morning."
Jubilee's voice whined out from behind Paige, "Aw,shut th'window, Hayseed! He's not gonna stop gawkin'atchya!"
Paige spun around briefly, "Shut up, JUBILATION LEE,or I'll toss ya out there myself!"
Jubilee made no physical response (except for: mutter,mutter, mutter). Paige calmed down in spite of the expletive that must have been thrown her way.
Paige turned back to face Jono, the puzzled expression of her face now replaced by a pensive frown. "Well?" she said.
Jono finally found his "voice". ~Well, I wasthinkin' about you tonight and I guess I couldn't sleep.This was the only thing I could think of doing, anyway.Sorry if I woke you up or something, luv.~
Confusion flashed across Paige's face again, "Is that it?"
~Well, no. I wanted to make up for the fiasco from last Thanksgiving at yer mum's place.~ he continued, ~I suppose you 'ave time tomorrow to...talk it over, do you?~
Paige regarded the young man before her for a moment,ignoring another round of whining from Jubilee behind her.From where he stood, Jono sensed a softening of the emotion that she had projected at him a few minutes earlier.
"Okay, then." she finally replied, "How about tomorrow morning at eleven?"
Jono nodded. Paige said nothing more, but there was something comforting in the way she looked at him as she closed the window to her room. He turned to go, finally noticing the angry scowl that the dark-haired girl was directing his way.
~'Ello, Monet. Are you 'aving a 'appyThanksgiving, yet?~ he projected with a chuckle in his "voice".
Monet hissed a short curse in French (whatever it was mustn't have been printable) and slammed her window closed with enough force to crack the glass. Jono ignored it and went merrily on his way (as merrily as such a troubled youth could go).
Tonight had been another sleepless night. And yet, in spite of it and the brief misunderstanding that took place below Paige's window, Jonathan Evan Starsmore felt as though he had accomplished something important to him.Perhaps on this day, he had begun to lay to rest one of the demons which had haunted his soul.
Perhaps he was going to have a new start.