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Second Chances
Part 18

Disclaimer: Cyclops and X-Men are the property of Marvel Comics so donít sue please.

Cannon: Comic universe. My own little take on what would happen after 
the Scott and Jean break up.

Rating PG-13 for violence and language.

Cyclops hated the feeling of uselessness, and that is how he felt right now, useless.

The first day had been okay. At first Helen had wanted him to stay away. She was ashamed and didnít want him to see her in that state. He had managed to sit her down and tell her that he understood, and that he wanted to help her get clean. She had been overjoyed that he didnít care about her past. It was as if he truly was her knight in shining armor.

She had also managed to tell Scott the whole story of what happened, when her real grandmother died, and when she met Nick. Scott had told her that it would be all right and that he wouldnít be able to hurt her again.

Then came detox.

As soon as it started they had called Sydney over. It started with uncontrollable shivering and shaking then moved to vomiting. It had stayed like that for a while, a couple of hours. When it had gotten worse Sydney went to work and managed to keep things to a controllable level, one that she would eventually get through. Scott thought she looked like someone who was going to die. For Helen, thatís exactly what it felt like.

However, it wasnít what she looked like that bothered Scott or the physical problems she was having. He knew that in time those would pass and she would be okay. It was the begging that really got to them. "Please, Scott. Just one thatís all Iím asking. Just one last fix please." She pleaded.

This was not only the test of her endurance, but also his. Scott found himself wanting to help her, needing to help her. His mind was telling him that this was for her own good. If she wanted to get clean and have a normal life she had to go through this. No matter how hard it might be for her.

Then his heart was telling him to give in. He saw the pained look in her eye and he wanted desperately to help. That is what made him feel useless, the fact that he couldnít do anything to help her but sit and watch as she went through the motions.

"You know I canít do that Helen. Please donít ask me to." Scott said with a pained look on his face.

"Bastard, you donít care jack about me. Youíre just going to sit there and watch me suffer? Youíre no better then Nick." She shouted at him.

"You know thatís not true Helen. Itís the pain talking right now. You donít mean what youíre saying." He said that more to convince himself then her.

"Bullshit. Just leave me alone to die in peace." She turned her back to him.

Scott stood up and started walking away. Tiffany stopped him just as he was about to leave the room by placing a hand on his shoulder. He looked into her eyes, and found them slightly comforting, "Donít listen to her Scott, youíre doing the right thing. Just hang in there, weíll get her through this."

Scott covered her hand in his and squeezed it gently, "Thanks Tiffany, for everything."

She shrugged and gave him a half smile, "Hey, what are friends for?" she said, "Why donít you take a brake for a while? Catch some sleep will you? Iíll watch Helen for a little bit."

He returned her smile, "Thanks Tiff, I appreciate it."

"Donít mention it."

Scott walked over to a wall, placed his back to it, and slid down to the ground. It wasnít the most comfortable spot in the world, but it would do. Exercising the skill that would induce sleep, Scott was out like a light.

Tiffany looked at him for a moment and figured that he must have been really tired to be out that fast. Tossing the thought aside, she walked into the room where Helen was. She sat down by her friend and stroked her blonde hair as she had done so many times before.

"Youíre really lucky to have him you know that Helen?" Tiffany asked.

"He doesnít care about me. He only wants to see me suffering. Just like every other guy Iíve ever known in my entire life." She replied not turning to face her friend.

"Thatís not true Helen. Itís just the pain talking right now. You donít mean any of it."

Now she did turn. Tiffany saw how her best friend looked and felt like crying. She had only seen her like this once before, and she wished that she never would see her like that again. Her wishes werenít met.

"Yes it is Tiffany. He used me like everyone one else ever had. Heís probably just staying with me right now to get lucky. Thatís all. Well, Iím not going to let him. Itíll be a cold day in hell before he touches me again." Then she turned around again.

"You donít know how wrong you are Helen," Tiffany said with an absolute certainty in her voice that surprised Helen. "You have no idea."

"How would you know?" There was something in her voice and Tiffany knew her friend was going to vomit. Moving as quickly as she could she tilted Helenís head downward so that it wouldnít go back down her throat.

"Trust me Helen, I know."

There was a silence between them for a long time, as Helen continued to shake and vomit.

He had just dropped the last guard when their eyes met. Even though his visor covered his eyes, she could tell he was looking directly at her. Barely aware of the other people in the hallway, they moved towards each other and their lips locked. He then picked her up and moved to the closest door. Elbowing it open he laid her down on the bed inside and then bent over and started kissing her again.

He reached to undo her jacket when... RING... RING... RING...

Selene bolted awake with a start. She looked around for a few seconds before finding her phone and picking up the receiver. She spoke into the mouth piece with a tone that would chill lava, "Whoever this is, Iím going to personally make sure your life from this moment on is a living hell."

"Why Selene dear, you sound like youíre in a bad mood." Shawís cocky voice came across the earpiece.

"What do you want Shaw?" she asked. The ice was still in her voice.

"I just wanted to call you to inform you that since youíve extended the Inner Circleís strength by including a White King. I took the liberty of bringing in a White Rook for him. Iím very sure you will agree I couldnít have made a better choice." There was sarcasm dripping from his voice.

"Who is it Shaw?" She asked.

"Oh I think youíd better come to my office and see for yourself. I think youíll be quite surprised." Saw said and Selene could picture the smile he must have had on his face.

Selene shook her head, "Fine. Iíll be down there in an hour."

"Excellent, I look forward to your arrival." A second later she heard the dial tone.

The Black Queen forced herself out of her bed and threw on the first business suit she could find. Then she picked up her phone and dialed her limousine driver and told him to be outside her apartment in five minutes. She did one quick glance of herself in a wall mirror and decided to finish preparing herself in the car.

The ride took less time then she had expected, but she didnít mind. She was more then presentable halfway through the trip. She waited for her driver to open her door and step out. Not because she needed to, but more of appearance sake. She didnít even bother waiting at the receptionist desk like she usually did, Shaw had rudely interrupted her while she was asleep, and so she was going to be as rude as possible. The door to his office opened, and she walked right in. Inside the room there was Shaw, and Rosho, but no sign of this new White Rook, whoever he was.

"Ah Selene," Shaw greeted with a false smile like he always did when he was sure that she was going to be furious, "Please sit down, Iím expecting our new member any minute now."

"Spare me Shaw, just tell me who it is and get this over with." Selene said, not even trying to keep the distaste out of her voice.

"I donít think that would be very appropriate. I had to spend many long hours tracking this man down. Even more money on actually getting him to join. And who knows how much I will have to spend on keeping him obedient."

"It sounds to me like this man costs more than heís worth. Maybe you should just forget the whole idea and move on." Selene said only now becoming interested in who it might be.

Just as she finished her sentence, the phone on Shawís desk beeped. He walked over to it and pushed the button. "The man youíve been waiting for has arrived Mr. Shaw." Rebeccaís voice came over the other end.

"Excellent Becky, send him in please." Shinobi let go of the button and walked over to the door of his office. He had a huge smile on his face "My dear partner. Allow me to introduce you to," the door slowly opened and in walked a massive figure, "Cain Marko. More commonly known as the Juggernaut."

"Hereís JUGGY."

"Jack, you never cease to amaze me," Sydney said as she sat on the edge of Jackís bed.

He looked up from what he was doing and replied, "Well, I try."

She shook her head in laughter, "Yes you most certainly do." After a short pause she asked, "So, what are you doing this time?"

"Well, I figured that since youíre going to be staying here a while I thought that maybe youíd like to start things off with some familiar things. I hope you donít mind, but I had Johnson bring some of your stuff over here to help you feel at home."

"That really wasnít necessary you know that Jack," she told him before kissing him on his forehead, "But thanks for the thought."

"It was my pleasure. And it was no problem. You got your things over here that makes you happy. Youíre staying here, that makes me happy. And Johnson got paid, that makes him happy. This way it works out for everyone." He said with his ever-present charming smile.

"You know Jack sometimes you can be so sweet I almost want to kiss you."

He looked at her with a little bit of a confused look; "You already did kiss me."

She leaned over so that her mouth was pressed up to his ear; "I meant someplace else."

When she pulled back Jack had the biggest grin on his face that she had ever seen, "Please, donít let me stop you."

She slapped him playfully on the arm, "I take it you told Johnson to put the things in my room?" she asked.

"Where else would he put them?"

"Thanks Jack. I think Iíd better go and unpack them then. I donít think Johnson would have the slightest idea where to put my things. Donít even think about moving until I get back. You wont be doing that leg of yours any good if you do." Sydney turned and left after she said that last sentence.

Jack waited a few minutes until he heard the loudest scream he had ever heard in his life, "JACK."

A few seconds later Sydney was back in his room seething with anger, "Is something the matter?" He asked with an innocent little smile on his face.

"You know damn well whatís the matter. Those things in those bags are not mine." She told him.

"Well, they should be. I think youíd look great in them. Thatís why I bought them." He said, his smile still unwavering.

"You know what Jack," Sydney started, "I take back what I said about you being a sweet guy. I now know without a shadow of a doubt that you are the most thickheaded, stupid, clueless man that I have ever met when it comes to women. I want you to tell Johnson to take those outfits that you got and burn them. Or I will."

"I take it this means you donít like them?" Jack asked.

"Donít like them!" She shouted in disbelief, "Jack, no woman in their right mind would buy thirty sets of clothes that look like something a hooker would wear."

"I donít know, they look kind of sexy I think." He said innocent smile still in place.

Sydney walked over to his bed then she took of the bandage that was around his knee. Taking two fingers she placed them on his shattered kneecap and pushed ever so slightly. Jack started howling in pain, "Jack, I want you to repeat after me. I Jack Blackman."

Through his screams of agony, Jack managed to say, "I Jack Blackman."

"Will never again."

"Never again."

"Purchase such horrific and offending clothes."

"Buy bad clothes."

"For Sydney Gill again."

"For Sydney again."

She took her hand off his knee and Jack sighed in relief still clutching the outer rim of his knee. "There, that wasnít so hard now was it?" She asked.

Jack just glared at her.

"What do you mean you couldnít find them?"

"I mean exactly that Mr. Crone. Theyíre nowhere to be found. Weíve searched everywhere and we canít find them." A man dressed in a casual business suit tried to explain to his employer who was being characteristically unreasonable.

Nicholas slammed his fist down on his desk, "I want them found and I want her back here. Then I want him brought to me. Since the incident the night before last do you know how much money Iíve lost?" he asked one of the men sitting around the room. When the man just shook his head Nick shouted, "two hundred and fifty grand. Sheís the highest paid whore in New York City for crying out loud. The one to find them and bring them in will get a cut of her earnings for the next month. I donít think I need to tell you that with that bonus the person who receives it wonít have to work for the rest of his life."

There was silence in the room pondering the thought. After five seconds Nicholas shouted again, "What the hell are you waiting for the return of Christ? Get moving!"

Almost in the blink of an eye the room was empty save for two individuals. Nick walked over to a window that overlooked the slums of New York. He liked it here; there was good business. All you had to do was know how to negotiate the market. He had managed to do that for a long time.

Nick had been raised in a middle class family. He always had everything he needed, and sometimes what he wanted. There were never any real money problems, but there also never seemed to be enough of it. Nick was your average student. He got steady grades, which could have been better if he didnít spend so much time with his friends.

He wasnít a problem child or anything; he just didnít have any respect for authority figures unless it was himself. When his mutant telepathic powers first developed, unlike Charles and Jean, he used them openly and without the consent of others. His grades jumped dramatically, while his workload reduced itself to almost nothing.

His relationships with the more popular girls in school also picked up. However, at this time all of his girlfriends started to fit the bill of the blonde bimbo. They all seemed to stop having their own opinions on things, and began repeating what Nick thought until he broke up with them. No one really paid attention to it though. If they did, they would find themselves miraculously made fun of by everyone in school. Not to mention their grades would drop dramatically and they would get in trouble for things they had no part of. After a while everyone just thought of Nick as weird.

His real fun began in University however. That was when he met one Professor Charles Xavier. It was the Professorís last year teaching at that school before he moved onto starting his own school. Sufficed to say, it was a very educational year for Nick in more ways then one. First, he was surprised to find that his mental commands didnít work on the old bald man. He was even further surprised when his abilities stopped working all together. It seemed that just as easily as they had come they went.

It was then that he was confronted by Xavier, and learned what he was. The old man offered him a proposal in which he could learn how to control his powers for the sake of his dream. Nicholas immediately declined and actually attempted his first mental attack. Xavier easily defeated him at which point he was expelled and exposed.

Nick returned home humiliated; it was then that he met Helen. She was young, about fifteen and beautiful. Her grandmother, who had taken care of her since she was ten, just died. She was vulnerable and desperate to get by.

Also at that time was when the perverted side of his mind took over. Realizing that he couldnít control her twenty-four seven, he decided to use a combination of telepathy and drugs. He got her hooked on heroin, and had her started prostituting herself. From then on, he slowly started to build his personal and clientele bringing himself to the top of New Yorkís lowest profession.

He had lived at the top of the bottom ever since until Helen ran when she was twenty-one. It only became possible for her when she found her first real friend in Tiffany. When they met the two started spending more and more time together. Eventually, Tiffany found out what Helen did. When that happened, she helped her break her drug addiction and run away.

At first, Nick decided to let her have her freedom, after all he wasnít completely without compassion. She turned out to be worth more money than he had expected and after one month he realized if he wanted to maintain his income, he was going to have to get her back. He also vowed that he would have Tiffany share Helenís fate.

For the few years, he paid people to look for her. Then after what seemed like a lifetime, he caught a break. There was a little mishap, a purse happened to fall into the hands of one of his lackeys. In that purse there contained an address for Helen. At first he was skeptical but after considering what he would lose he sent someone to check it out. When it turned out that was indeed where Helen lived, he wasted no time at all in getting there.

Helen returned home and they surprised her. Drugging her and taking her back to Nickís business they immediately put her back to work. It was only recently that Nick learned that Tiffany also lived with her. It was a huge bonus for Nick; he was about to give the go ahead to bring her in to when Helen was taken.

They searched high and low for her but to no avail. Then he decided to take a different approach and just take Tiffany and forget about Helen. Then it turned out that Tiffany wasnít there either. Needless to say it only furthered agitating Nick.

"You really shouldnít do that you know," the woman in the room said comforting.

Without turning to face her he replied, "Spare me, I donít need your opinion at this point. The only reason I keep you here is because you are useful."

"The time being so close to when you will enter the Inner Circle, it is not wise for you to obsess over such trivial matters. To do so would be foolish."

"Then I am a fool," it was said more out of spite than anything else.

"Still, it does signal a turning tide," she said.

"How so?" he asked turning to face her. There was a mixture of confusion and curiosity on his face.

"Helen returned to you and soon after you were given the chance to join the Hellfire Club," she explained, "Even further asked to join the Inner Circle. Your profits were once again up and everything seemed to be going well. Then someone took your forgive the expression ĎCash Cow,í right in front of the very person who invited you into the Inner Circle. Now if that doesnít show a complete lack of security, competence, and professionalism, it would be very hard to find what would. Chances are, it also made them second-guess their decision for your entrance in the Club. All signs of a turning tide."

"I see your point," he said stroking his chin, "Well, Iím sure that by the time that my admission to the Circle comes, I will have Helen and her friend Tiffany as Ďemployees.í That should allow me to regain whatever stature I lost. Donít you agree?" he asked.

She looked him dead in the eye, behind them he could see the doubt in her mind. "If you say so," she said with a false smile. Then she got up from her seat and also left the room. Leaving Nick to ponder her words.

Part 19

<Other Stories By Mark Howes>

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