(Jean Grey School for Higher Learning)
It’s midnight and the school is enveloped in darkness. It’s all quite until a scared voice cries out for help. A woman, dressed in a black costume with a helmet covering her head, has gotten herself trapped in one of the school’s defense mechanisms. Her arm is caught in an invisible force field and, as much as she struggles, she can’t pull it out. A voice comes from behind her and says it’s been a while since they had a super burglar, but she is better off saving her breath. It’s Friday night and the X-Men are out saving the world or pretending they have social lives.
The woman continues to struggle and she turns to see the voice belongs to an overweight, balding man wearing an X-Men uniform. He tells her she is caught in a psychic security system that was designed by the Shi’ar. The more she wants to get in the place, the more it will digest her. But she shouldn’t worry, as he is here to help her because he is an X-Man.
She tells him she knows all the X-Men and he isn’t one of them. He tells her he has the ability to slide out of people’s memories the moment they look away from him. In fact, it’s taking a lot of effort just to get her to notice him now. As she continues to pull her arm, she comments that it feels as if it is being dragged inside the force field. She turns away from him for a moment and is startled to see him standing there when she turns back. She asks where he came from but he bypasses the question, as it demonstrates his previous point. He has been on the X-Men roster for six years, so she can spare him with her knowledge of the team.
It’s a handy super power when there is punching going on but isn’t so good when it comes to your official spot in the history of the team. He holds out his hand, introduces himself as ForgetMeNot and then tells her it’s her turn to explain. He reaches forward and takes off her helmet, despite her protests. When he sees her face, he notices a large scar covering much of the left side of her head. He awkwardly apologizes and she simply replies there was a boy who tried to get it on with her, she said no and punched him, and his friends laughed. End of story.
Except, on the way home, a car drove by and she felt something hit her. Then the light went dead in one eye and she smelt chemicals and heard him laughing. The girl becomes more irate as she tells the story and ForgetMeNot tries to calm her down. She becomes angrier and yells that she had seven operations, whilst he only got jail for six months. The whole football team ran a petition to free him and five thousand people signed. They called her names and said she should forgive and forget. Even her own parents can’t look her in the eye, which is funny because everyone else can’t stop staring.
ForgetMeNot looks away and then asks why she came to the mansion. She tells him he will think it’s stupid, as she has always been a fan of the X-Men and she thought if she could get inside then she could be one of them. Then for once she wouldn’t feel like the most interesting person in the room. ForgetMeNot is a little stunned at the response and, after gathering his thoughts, he tells her she needs to calm down so the security system will stop eating her. He also might have a few things in his head that could help her, so there’s only one sensible course of action right now and that’s story time. She becomes annoyed at his suggestion and tells him to just leave her there to be digested, as it would just be easier for everyone. He tells her it isn’t true but she is adamant that she’s right. All she ever wanted to do was to blend in, so she might as well just disappear for good. ForgetMeNot tells her it’s almost funny, because all he ever wanted was to be noticed.
ForgetMeNot starts his story and begins to tell her about the Age of X. It was another place they lived for a while… for reasons that aren’t too clear to him now. Every day, they fought for their lives against odds that were insanely steep. Tens of thousands of soldiers, guns, tanks and such throwing themselves at them day after day. The place was Fortress X and he loved it there. The same power that makes people forget him messes with their visual perception, aim and even weapons telemetry. Maybe no one noticed him but you could see where he had been.
In the chaos of the battles that rip through the ground around Fortress X, the various heroes fight for their lives as ForgetMeNot casually strolls through the carnage. Even when the soldiers can see him, their weapons cannot hit him. He looks across to see Legacy, the Age of X version of Rogue, tending to an injured man. He stops and marvels at her, as she would be the one to catch him if he fell in battle. She is the vault where all the mutant fallen are stored and ForgetMeNot can only fight for the moment she would touch his hand. The moment he would be gathered up into her and nevermore be forgotten. Of course, he would have to die for it to happen, which didn’t seem like it would be much of a problem in that particular environment.
One day, ForgetMeNot was in the battle when he was caught by an explosion and knocked unconscious. When he awoke, he found nighttime had fallen and the day’s battle was over. There was a reason why the X-Men retreated back to Fortress X at night… the area was littered with unexploded grenades and battlesuits that were semi-sentient. You never knew what you were walking into or stepping on. As forgetMeNot stumbles across the field, he comes across an injured human soldier, whose leg has been seriously wounded. ForgetMeNot kneels down near the man but the soldiers goes to grab a gun and aim it at him. ForgetMeNot calmly tells him to put it down, because he won’t be where the gun is aimed.
ForgetMeNot reaches into a pouch and pulls out some field dressing and tells the man he is going to stop the bleeding. The man freaks out and starts screaming that the muties have him. ForgetMeNot replies that he will put his use of the “M-word” down to the fever he is running because of his injuries. ForgetMeNot takes a syringe out of his pouch and tells the man he will give him a broad-spectrum zap for the infection he has picked up. The man seems oblivious to what ForgetMeNot is trying to do and he screams that he doesn’t want to be tortured. ForgetMeNot tells him he’s embarrassing himself and then jabs the syringe into the man’s leg. After realizing that they were only meds, the soldier calms down and seems a little surprised. ForgetMeNot turns to leave, stating that he will need help from the Fortress X to move the man. The man objects and so ForgetMeNot suggests waiting till morning until more soldiers arrive to help him.
The man says he won’t make it till morning and then asks that ForgetMeNot stay with him for a while. The X-Man tries to reassure him and tells him it’s only his leg, but the soldier admits it’s something more. He doesn’t even know his own name and, even though it’s written on his dog tags, it doesn’t mean anything. ForgetMeNot tells him it’s the fever talking and the soldier says that his name is Daniel Calhoun. He then gets the X-Man to repeat it back to him but ForgetMeNot can’t remember it. Daniel says that his name is just sounds with no meaning but ForgetMeNot finally recalls the name and repeats it back. He tells the soldier that he knows what it’s like to be forgotten and if he wants him to sit there and remember his name for a while then he will.
ForgetMeNot sat with him throughout the night and, despite the fever breaking. the crazy stuff just kept coming. Daniel said he felt empty, as if he were a bubble about to pop. ForgetMeNot said anything to make him fell better and take his mind off things but the real crazy thing was that Daniel was right. When dawn came, Daniel simply faded away to nothing, leaving only his dog tags. ForgetMeNot picked up the tags of the man who doesn’t exist anymore and walked back to the Fortress.
Later on, he meets with Magneto, who doesn’t know who he is but takes him on his word because he registers as a mutant. ForgetMeNot explains that the people they are fighting aren’t real and Magneto vows to investigate. ForgetMeNot tells him he should send someone outside the barrier to see what is out there, as it might not be what they think. As he leaves, Legacy enters the room and asks to whom he was talking. Magneto can’t remember and the two start to go over the daily running of Fortress X.
ForgetMeNot wanders back onto the battlefield again in a daze and notices something for the first time. The way the X-Men there live and how much they are intertwined with the other people around them. If he died right there and Legacy touched him, he still wouldn’t be a part of that. He would just be a story. But it’ll have to wait, because he has work to do which no one else is able to do.
That night, he finds Daniel injured on the battlefield again, this time with a wound to his chest. He approaches him and tells him not to move or he will make the bleeding worse. Daniel cranes around and points a gun at the shadowy figure nearby. ForgetMeNot kneels down and reaches into a pouch, telling the man if he shoots then he will miss out on some morphine and moonshine. Daniel asks who he is but ForgetMeNot just hands him and flask and asks if it matters.
The Age of X was a shadow war with no casualties but he still remembers every one of them. He also remembers that it isn’t about leaving a mark on the world; it’s about changing it for the better in any little way you can.
Back in the real world, the young girl, still caught in the force field, asks ForgetMeNot if he changed anything. He tells her he managed to calm her down and the girl realizes the security system isn’t hurting her anymore. ForgetMeNot points out that the less an intruder wants to get inside the les the psychic system will hurt them. She tells him she still wants to get inside but, as she does, she cries out in pain as the system reactivates again. She asks if he can go get help but he tells her that the second he leaves she would forget him and start freaking out again. He says to focus on his voice, as he might have a way out but it will take a while. She asks him to tell him more about the X-Men and himself.
He says after the Age of X he just got on with things, without looking for glory. He would watch as the things he did got rewritten in the X-Men’s memories, same as ever. She would be amazed at how many victories get put down to dumb luck once the dust is settled. If a bad guy’s lair pops open at just the right time, it’s put down to a glitch in the system. If a super sentinel hits the deck just as it’s winning, then it must have run out of fuel. If an unforeseen, undeserved and unforshadowed deus ex machina rocks up right when they need it, then fate must have been on their side. It was still worth it just to know that he was a part of something.
The girl asks if he still feels that way, even if it was only him who knew about all the things he did. ForgetMeNot is a little distracted, as he is trying to do something with the force field to free her. He continues and says it wasn’t only him who knew because, in a place like this, there are psychics and Professor X was on hand to help. He set up a psychic alarm clock in his own head to remind himself ForgetMeNot existed. That was enough for him, but it wasn’t to last though. When Professor X died, everyone took it hard, but for him it was much worse. When Xavier was alive, there was at least one other person who knew he existed, even subconsciously. But now… if nobody thinks about you, are you even real?
There were other telepaths like Rachel Grey and Emma Frost but, even if they took over the Professor’s role, they could just as easily be killed in action. He had never felt so isolated and disconnected; he just wanted the power gone. Then he thought of a way. Weapon Omega could absorb the abilities of another mutant. Not just copy but take them away altogether. He recently came to the school when his powers flared out of control and he stayed there for a while to recuperate. Once he was healed, he and his friend Mimic left. He wasn’t an option before because, if Omega took too much energy, then you died. But now it feels like there are things worse than death and so, if Omega could help him or kill him, he would be fine either way.
He just needed to find them but the good thing about no one noticing you is that you can use other people’s equipment, like Cerebra. Also, travelling becomes cheap and convenient, as no one asks for tickets on trains and such. ForgetMeNot eventually found Mimic and Weapon Omega helping the cleanup efforts after a hurricane, something they had started doing a lot of recently. They had no idea who he was but they soon believed him when he had Mimic look away and he was instantly forgotten. They didn’t like ForgetMeNot’s plan, though.
Weapon Omega emphasizes that ForgetMeNot could be killed but the X-Man solely tells him he accepts the risks. He asks what will happen to Omega once the power is absorbed, as he doesn’t want to inflict the curse on him instead. The two men seem a little surprised at hearing him call it a curse and Mimic points out that sometimes not being seen would be pretty good. He continues his work clearing up the debris from the hurricane, whilst telling ForgetMeNot that he has spent a lot of time recently thinking about what he wants to do. Omega joins in and says that, after his ordeal, they decided to help in a way that helps regular people. They don’t want to know any of the other teams and their crises, but it’s hard to help the people when you are in a constant battle with gods and monsters. Omega continues and says that, when you’re Wolverine, every cyborg and ninja wants to prove themselves by killing you. They have managed to accomplish a lot by flying under the radar for a while now, but sometimes they attract unwanted attention.
A voice calls to Mimic and Omega from behind them and they turn to see Cyclops and his team of X-Men walking towards them. Mimic immediately tells him he wants no part of their revolution but Magneto demands that they hear them out and traps Mimic in a cage of steel girders. Mimic loses his temper and tells them that they want to make a difference, and not just clean up the mess that other mutants cause. He blasts the girders apart with his eye blasts and Omega tries to calm him down. Emma confronts Mimic and asks if he is even a mutant, which causes the man to snap and fly up into the air, declaring that he is more powerful than any of them.
Cyclops starts shouting orders to his team but ForgetMeNot suddenly appears on a pile of rubble and gets him to stop. The X-Men have no clue who he is and try to get him to leave for his own safety. ForgetMeNot tells Mimic and Omega this can end peacefully if they copy his powers. He just needs a distraction first. Omega obliges and creates a large flash of light with his powers, as the X-Men start their attack. When the light fades, the trio of men have moved out of the X-Men’s eyesight, leaving them confused as to why they are there. Magik teleports the X-Men away and the three men celebrate their victory.
ForgetMeNot brings up their deal again and Omega says he is happy to help, as long as he knows the risks. Mimic interrupts and points out that if they do it then the thing that makes ForgetMeNot special will be gone and he will just be a regular person again. ForgetMeNot says it’s what he wants but Mimic continues and says he will have no personal or professional history, no special skills, no family or friends and no ties to anyone. If he thought he was alone before, just wait until people can notice him and still not care. Omega says that what sets him apart might cause him pain but also allow him to make a difference and maybe he should take a minute to think about it.
ForgetMeNot goes and sits down on a piece of concrete as the other two men stand around. They inadvertently turn away and forget all about him though and wonder what they were doing in the first place. They fly off to go and grab some food, leaving ForgetMeNot behind. He looks up at them and says to himself he can always find them again if he changes his mind. But they were right; it’s better to do something that matters and not be noticed than have it the other way around. The hard part is doing something that matters.
Back in the present, ForgetMeNot is messing with the force field around the young girl. He tells her that, if he had given up his powers, then he wouldn’t have been there to help her out. All she needs to do is help him make it count. With that, he pries her out of the force field and takes her place in it. She is confused and he tells her that the system won’t let go once it has someone in it. So he decided to give it a bigger target instead. She is shocked he would do that and tells him she is useless and not worth the sacrifice. He smiles and tells her she had already stopped wanting to get inside, otherwise the system would have never let her go. She reminds him it will kill him but he simply replies it will probably forget him in a few moments, as things like that normally do. She says that people should know what he has done but he points out that the way the world sees you isn’t as important as the way you see it.
Big or small, the things you do to make the world better all add up. The legacy is worth more than the person who left it. The girl kisses him on the cheek and he tells her she’s beautiful and to do something incredible. She runs off to get help but, the moment she turns a corner, she forgets why she was rushing. Her phones rings, and from his spot ForgetMeNot can hear her answer the call from her mother. She apologizes for running off, as she got overwhelmed, and she tells her mother that they should stay where they are after all.
As she walks away from the school, she cannot remember why she changed her mind about her outlook but she’s ok now. Trapped in the force field, ForgetMeNot can only contemplate the events and wait for the system to spit him out again.