Author’s Note: This piece is from an online X-men role-playing game that I participate in. My character is a feral girl with a Wolverine-esque power set (claws, heightened senses, feral nature) who is struggling with the dichotomy of her feral and human natures.
The woods are dark and the moon is full, the branches reaching their clawed fingers up to embrace the glowing orb. Or are they trying to catch it? She prowls the woods silently, eyes shining in the moonlight nose lifted to the wind. She doesn’t know what she’s looking for but she is looking for it, driven toward it, obsessed by it.
Her steps through the woods are silent, calculated. She can smell it more clearly now: another predator. But unlike any she has ever smelled before. Animal but…not. Picking up the pace, Betsy hurries through the darkened woods towards the scent that grows stronger and stronger until her head spins, intoxicated. It’s like inhaled wine and goes straight to her head. Finally, she’s on top of it. But…where is it?
“Good work, daughter. Your senses are keen and sharp,” comes a voice and the scent washes headily over her again. There’s the flick of a bright tail and, between the trees, Betsy spies something she has never seen before.
A lion. A white lion.
She lowers herself in a crouch, lips starting to pull back in a snarl. A bid to show who’s alpha. But, suddenly, it all seems…unnecessary. There is no bid to be won here, no need to proclaim who’s alpha. He is.
“Come. Sit.” The lion grooms its forepaws complacently before raising great golden eyes to the feral girl. It is larger than any creature she has ever seen and only seems larger as she approaches. It doesn’t move, just watches Betsy as she nears it inch by inch, finally coming to rest just before it.
“Are you frightened?” the beast asks, its maw moving gracefully with the words. There is a great sense of trepidation that surrounds him, as well great peace, as if he were the ultimate balance between the two.
“A little,” Betsy admits, kneeling before the great beast.
“Good. We are always afraid of the other. But it doesn’t take us away from it. Why are you so afraid?”
“I’m not afraid!” the feral girl retorts, though she had just said she was.
“Yes. You are,” the beast replies, “It is what makes you frail and weak and omega. Elizabeth…”
Her own name strikes her heart like an arrow.
“There is nothing wrong with you. Nothing to correct. Nothing to atone for. Nothing to “be better”. You are living in fear. Wasting away in it,” the beast tells her patiently, “You have put yourself in a cage. You are putting yourself right back into that closet again.”
The girl falls silent before the great lion, chewing on her bottom lip as she always does, trembling slightly as dark eyelids hide golden eyes of her own. “I…”
“Why are you so afraid?” it asks. Again.
“I…I’m supposed to be “normal”. I’m a mutant, yes. But I’m supposed to just be a girl. Everyone thinks so. I’m supposed to just fall to, toe the line, and accept the mate that everyone thinks I should have.”
“And you don’t want to?” the beast queries in its quiet way.
“I…no. Sometimes it’s like warmth all over, delicious and sweet and thick. Other times, every part of me screams against it, and I don’t know which is right!” Betsy’s voice cracks slightly as the words come tumbling out in an avalanche.
“Why must one be wrong?”
Betsy eyes the lion. “Because! Because…”
“You lost your first mate, child. And your bosom companion. It doesn’t mean that you must tie yourself to another, just to “be right”.” The beast then breathes, great golden light spilling from its mouth to wrap around her form. It’s musky, strong, and Betsy feels it sinking into her skin and infusing into her very bones.
“You are girl. You are beast. You are both in one. Your path is unique. The wolf mates for life. The jaguar does not. Humans may or may not. Your path is not like others’. So why do you try to force it to be straight when it curves and whorls, just like you?” the beast looks at her with eyes even more golden than her own.
“I don’t know.”
“Then stop. Don’t waste away. Live as you. And only you, Elizabeth. That is all you can do. You cannot live and walk the path designed or expected by others, only the one forged by your own soul at the moment of your creation.”
Betsy bites her bottom lip, seeming as though she is about to protest, but, suddenly, a giant paw wraps around her, drawing her against the great beast’s chest. He holds her close, so close that she can hear his heart pounding. Wild and strong and free. The scent overtakes her, mingling with all the happy pinpoints of her mind and memory, the thundering purr rumbling through her form.
‘Live as you and only you.’
= = =
In the darkness of the room that she shares with Anna, Betsy awakens, reaching out as though to sink her fingers into that softest of furs again. Finding only air, the feral girl breathes in deeply, the scent wafting away from her memory quickly. But, for a moment, it’s still there.
She is silent as she sits in the bed. Finally, a small smile curls her lips and she lies back on her bed quietly, reaching up a hand to touch something on the wall over her bed head before falling asleep once more.
She can only live as herself. Now she actually needs to do it.