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Notes: For Stephie and her blueberry tea.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, 'what the hell were you thinking?'

And that's okay. I don't hold it against you, and I won't argue against your logic.

She waited for me. I can wait for her.

After all, I don't expect for you to know what it's like to be bonded with a dominating, stubborn, prideful woman. That was a joke, Scott.

Telepathically bonded. Shite.

In Ireland, the word 'bonded' has an ancient meaning. Ach, don't look at me like that; I know it has meaning in America too.

Have you ever seen Celtic artwork? After all the MTV Jubilee subjected you to, I know you must have seen at least a few tattoos of it. Walking around Boston, I've noticed that particular trend in the college-aged kids. I seriously doubt any of the lot know what the intricate knots actually mean.

What I mean is, have you ever actually stared at one of those knots? While every knot usually has a different meaning, it all comes down to one thing: bonded. The knots usually loop into themselves, creating a beautiful, unique, little webs of infinity. The rest of the world may have their 'lazy eight' to indicate infinity: we of the Irish stock will stick with our Celtic knots.

I have that set of coasters, ScottÖ.given to me by a very dear woman, one Moira McTaggert. Ach, even now, Scott, it hurts to think of my lost love, my adcushla. Wasted away by a disease, torn apart by her own attempts to conquer it. Proud lass, proud and brave.

The coasters were a gift that went along with a case of Glennfidditch scotch. The woman never did forget my birthday in all the twenty-odd years we spent in each other's hearts. Before she finally passed on, a pale little shadow of my proud accushla, she joked that I should have a couple of drinks on her.

Fearless Leader, by heaven I obliged.

I know you tried to help. After your own period the first time Jean made her exit stage-rightÖ must be nice to laugh at it now. It's been nearly five years, Scott, and I still can't laugh.

Of the time I spent in the darkened rooms, scotch my ironic companion, only these beautiful coasters remain, still unsullied and strong. Shaped into squares, all six are carved from white oak. They're thick too, just a little over nine centimeters. Perfect to be hot pads for Emma's cup of blueberry tea.

I'm not usually so dramatic. Emma has never commented over the coasters, and I have never volunteered the information. She probably already guessed their history, though, being a psi and all.

I...must confess that I don't know why I use them. It doesn't make the void Moira left the day her heart finally gave from the strain of curing that fucking virus go away.

Hank named his vaccine after her. Scott, in a fit of drunken rage, I accused him of naming the cure after her out of guilt, not honor. I accused him of stealing her work, of reaping the benefits of her labor, even though I knew that Hank had worked just as hard on this side of the ocean. Our old friend---not the Dr. McCoy who won the Nobel, not the bouncing blue Beast---no, our old friend Hank then revealed to me with all the guilt of one confessing that indeed, Moira actually had found the cure.

I have never told anyone but Emma of this, and I expect it to remain in confidence, Scott. Moira didn't even want me to know, I suspect.

In the three weeks prior to her death, Moira had found the cure for those with the X-factor, the gene that gave me the power to become Banshee and become branded as a mutant. Moira had not, however, been able to use the cure on herself due to her lack of that gene. It was so goddamned unfair to see that mutant terrorist Pyro rob another bank in Austria last month while I mourned the fourth anniversary of her death. The humans had saved us all just so we could wreak havoc on their lives. Scott, living with the X isn't fair.

I know you already know thisÖ.I'm just indulging in a bit of self pity.

I battle the urge to scream when I think of Moira. Ironically, it is the memory of Moira that calms me down. I remember very well what it was like to lose my powers; Moira would not be pleased if I lost them again in grief over her after we worked so hard together to help my vocal cords heal the first time. No, it is only fitting that Banshee could not foresee Moira's death, and cannot warn of it now.

And now there is Emma. Sometimes I don't understand why God answered my grief with the intriguing puzzle of one Emma Grace Frost.

She didn't berate me about my alcoholism. She just warned me that if it affected the kids, I'd be kicked out of her school so fast my head would spin. I thought she just didn't give a shit about me, but then I found that my alcohol stashes would disappear. She would tempt me to scream at her for her intervention, but I never did. Those veiled looks which did more to taunt than her style of clothing.

Or as Monet states, Emma's clothing 'lack thereof'.

No Scott. Emma did not fully intervene. And I just bought more alcohol while she threw it away. It was a dirty open secret, followed by another dirty open secret.

Em decided to tell me we had a bond when I finally hit rock bottom. With those cold looks of hers and the tones that made her a Queen, she informed me that the bond was so deeply set that only death could sever it. With her mind, she pulled me through the astral plane and pointed it out. I don't know how I could have ever not known its existence. It is a thick knot, an eternity loop, complex as a spider's web and unending as infinity. It struck such fear within me. Does your bond with Jean ever scare you?

If infinity doesn't scare you, you don't understand it.

She told me to quit nursing the bottle because she was sick of trying to keep the urges from her. And I snapped.

I don't know what happened, but I snapped. When the fight was over, Emma was left standing fearless and tall above me, and the Danger Grotto was torn to bits around our ears. The little ones, Leech and Artie still don't seek me out, after nearly three years after the incident. They will be fourteen this year, Scott; don't forget to send cards.

Emma let me see her grief. She let me see through her ice blue eyes what was before her. And I saw myself, laying on my backside in the mud, snarling and hateful. Through the bond and her nose, I could even smell myself. The sickly sour smell permeated from me, and I laughed inwardly when I thought of how I'd tried to hide my dirty secret. I was so disgusted at what I saw in her eyes, and ashamed. But I was still proud, I was still Sean Cassidy, aka Banshee andÖ.and nothing.

Through the bond, I felt Emma's anger. Anger at what I had let myself become, anger at Moira for dying without giving me closure, and anger at herself for failing me. But she just stood there, legs slightly apart and platinum white hair fanning in the breeze. Her face was a mask, I realized, and the bond let me in her mind. A tendril of my astral form carved a knot of tears into the loops, and her faÁade cracked for an infinite second.

She then promptly slammed the bond shut for a while.

I remember standing up and walking away then aching in a cold shower as I viciously scrubbed the alcohol smell from my body. I remember throwing away all my bottles of booze and the glasses that went with them. Even the tiny shot glasses given to me at my wedding to Terry's motherÖ.even they were thrown out. I thought if I had the reminders out of the way, it would be easier. I was wrong.

I went cold turkey, as you Americans call it. And somewhere in the hazy desire for the bottle and hatred of myself, a soft silver presence made itself known in my mind. It called to me, like a siren or a beacon of promise in the muck and misery of my own puke. Emma herself kept away from me, sticking to the routine we had found when we first started working together those years before.

But it was different. I didn't feel alone. And in feeling the comfort of her presence, however masked she tried to stay in my mind, I realized I had felt alone for so long I hadn't even known it. Maybe it was Moira's death, but somehow I disagree. It was long before her death, I think. It wasn't the ocean between us or the paths our lives had taken: it was the haze of death that had hung between Moira and me, and the pride that kept us from admitting that we were not the same anymore. Yes, we loved each other still. But everything had changed, and we never took the chance to talk about it before she died. She pulled away and we both denied that subtle change. And it grew up until the day she died, never resolved.

It is only one of a thousand regrets.

Emma waited. She waited for me to find my feet again, to become strong. She waited for over a year after revealing the bond, and during that year we never once spoke to each other beyond the subject of the kids. And one day I cut her off mid-sentence and challenged her superiority, her safety nets, and finally just herself.

I threw the bond open and imagined myself pulling her astral form into my body. I didn't know what I was doing; it was the only thing I could think of to make her see. It worked just fine.

If you'd like to give me pointers in dealing with a bond from the astral plane, I'd appreciate it. It's irritating to ask Emma.

I felt her mind inside mine, felt her see herself through my eyes, through the bond her powers had inadvertently created. She saw how cold and aloof she was, how untouchable as a Madonna. Weak in her independence and denial. But through that bond, she felt my emotions too, the simple attraction and respect I had harbored since the day she kicked my drunken ass in the Grotto. And a wistful desire to end the games teased her side of the bond, much like bait for a trap.

The results weren't spectacular. She didn't break down crying into my waiting arms nor did either of us succumb to the bait; in fact, she just walked away. The bond was unnaturally quiet that day.

A few nights later, she crawled into my bed as I slept and curled up next to me. I woke up that morning to a slightly rumpled, softly snoring White Queen. Between you and me, in the soft dawn she just looks like an ordinary person. Maybe it was because she had forgone the leather that night and opted for sky blue cotton pajamas. Maybe it was because when she opened her eyes, the ice was warm and the bond sang with a peaceful acceptance. And for the first time in nearly three years, I welcomed a woman into my bed and confirmed her place in my life.

That's how the Banshee toppled a White Queen.

I love those light blue pajamas on her much more than anything white from her closet. You can't imagine how warm the Ice Queen can be.

So don't worry, Scott. She gave me years to gather my strength and become a real man. She gave me years to decide what only death could determine.

She waited for me. I can wait for her.

I won't pressure her. I'm not going to pull that small box from the drawer of the nightstand.

I'll wait until she pulls me into her side of the bond to make me understand what she wants. After all, this wasn't about marriage. This was about blasting away her defenses so gently that she has to make a choice.

This was never about confirming the feelings between us; we don't need any ceremony or metal band to prove that. Although I would love Emma to throw a wedding to topple Jean's. Hah!

No Scott. I just want her to trust her again, because she's started her hiding games again. Ever since we found out about the baby, she started hiding, second-guessing herself. Does Jean ever do that?

I really hate to see her fight everything.

Oh yes, Scott, she's pregnant. In two months, the X-family will welcome a new person into its midst. Jubilee managed to stay quiet for once, I take it, because everyone here has obviously known for a while. Your last letter was so nonchalant that I figured I'd tell you now while I still have the chance.

I'm going to give her time. I'll gladly give her space.

She waited for me, Scott. I can wait for her.

-Sean Cassidy


Good luck, Sean. You're going to need it. And congrats on the baby. Jean is jealous and keeps throwing meaningful glances my way. As far as I know, Jean and Emma still have their differences. I can't tell you how to work with the bond, or any easy way to live with a dominating, stubborn, prideful telepath. All I can offer is good luck, and the knowledge that learning this part on your own is far better than any advice you could follow.

I would like to say I wish I could've been there for you after Moira's death, but as you said, when Jean was gone that first time, I didn't handle it well either. I thought I could do it alone. Yes, Sean, I know I'm luckyÖit seems as though we Summers are rejected by Heaven as well as Earth.

My sorrow for you and your loss can be summed up in a very ironic sentence:

Hi, my name is Scott Summers, and I'm an alcoholic.

Shocked, are you Sean? You aren't the only one good at hiding things. If the rest of the X-family knows, no one has ever approached me about it. I don't know if that's a blessing or a curse.

I don't know if I could have helped you when Moira passed. I can only offer my support now, in the hopes that you will forgive my lack of attention. I of all people should have seen the signs.

You seem to have everything wrapped up there, so now I'm just going to tell you about what's going on in the land of the X. By the way, Cecelia and Hank want to do some work on Emma, so let me know if Emma is willing to comply. Marrow has gone with Wolverine on a mission. I can't give you any details, so I'll just say I'm hoping for the best. Nathan dropped by yesterday as well, and I am thinking of sending Sam to Snow Valley in light of his recent bereavement...

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