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In the Dark

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When I was a little girl, I pretended to be afraid of the dark.

It didn't last very long. Just long enough for Mommy to make a fuss, issuing strict orders to the housekeeper and my nanny. Neither was all that impressed, but they didn't show it in front of her. She lost patience with it soon enough, of course, telling me I was really much too old for such foolishness, Tandy darling, didn't I want to be a big girl?

And that was the end of that game, and off she went to Hungary or somewhere to play Anne Boleyn in a TV pilot that never got picked up. I watched it when they ran it as a movie-of-the-week once, but it ended before they cut off her head. I was very disappointed by that.

The truth is, I was never afraid of the dark. All my nightmares were brightly lit. One started out with an idyllic mother-daughter shopping trip and ended with a mob of paparazzi cornering us in a changing room, flashbulbs multiplied off the mirrors until the world was nothing but blinding glare. In another, I danced a flawless solo variation in a spotlight, took my bow, and then found myself trapped in a glass bottle on a gigantic collector's shelf.

Light reveals and burns, and now I can never escape from it. Even the half-seen things that live in the depths of Cloak's dark dimension run away from it. My daggers sear those they strike, then it's gone after a second, leaving shock and chill behind. But for me, it never stops.

I tried to explain it once to Spider-Man, how it's only here, in the darkness that torments everyone else, that the fires cool and the pressure is relieved. I think he started to get it, but he hasn't quite let go of that idea everyone seems to have, that I could have a normal life if I walked away from the darkness Cloak fights so hard to contain. That I stay with him out of some sort of obligation, and he just takes from me without giving back. That I'm some kind of princess who needs saving. They don't understand that he's the one who saved me, that even when I'm feeding him the light sometimes burns so fiercely I'm afraid I'll explode.

Professor Xavier says we must have been born with the potential to become what we are, and that's why we survived whatever genetic switch the drug flipped while all the other kids died. I sometimes wonder if they got powers too, wild ones that killed them. If we hadn't been there for each other, would the dark dimension have swallowed Ty whole? Would I have burned myself out like a giant Roman candle?

We're back at the church now, I can feel it, and see the ghostly image of it around us. Then I spill out of the cloak, Ty willing his arms solid to hold it open before wrapping them around me.

They'll never understand. I'm safest in the dark.