Sequel to "Seeing Red." How're the X-Men gonna react when they find out Scott's
gone? This'll be an ongoing series that'll end...whenever I run out of things to
write. ;-) Hope you enjoy, and comments/suggestions are always welcome.
She sat on the bed and tried not to think too much. Thinking wasn’t a good thing right then…there was too much going on inside her head for any sort of real coherence.
Once, she would have been able to reach out with her mind…to find her husband as easily and naturally as breathing. One small thought would have brought them instantly into contact…instantly into that warmth and caring she’d come to know so well over the years.
Or thought she knew. It had been so strange, so different, to hear his words without the emotions backing them. To see him, for almost the first time, as everyone else must see him. Aloof. Cold. Distant.
<But he’s not that way. I know he’s not. He just…has trouble expressing himself.>
But that wasn’t good enough, was it? It wasn’t enough to know that in her mind…she had to know it in her heart. And when she’d looked there for the answer…she’d found only doubts. Emptiness.
And she’d tried to fill it.
<Scott…what have I done?>
Did she tell him? <Oh sure. "Honey, you know I love you. I slept with Logan. We dropped our clothes and went at it in the hangar bay. I feel much better now. How about you?"> She laughed shakily, bitterly. <What was I thinking?>
Filling the aching chasm inside…
She glanced around the room to turn her thoughts outward instead of in. They’d settled into this one temporarily after their return from Alaska. As tense as things were with the team, Scott had wanted to be very close in case things erupted. <Always duty…> But she hadn’t objected. No, she hadn’t objected to much since that…that day…
<Gone. Everything…empty.> Powers stripped from her…telepathy defunct. An awareness as vital to her as breathing raped away in the space of a heartbeat, taking with it so much of her confidence and surety in herself and her husband.
An object on the chest of drawers caught her eye. As sparse as the decoration was in here, little things out of place stood out. She stood and walked to it, as much to find something else to do other than think as to satisfy curiosity.
The black-on-red ‘X’ stared at her like an alien eye. A glint of gold broke the crossed lines…a ring of gold.
A wedding ring.
She felt a strange little shudder along her shoulders. Looked up, only now noticing the other new thing in the room. An off-white box clamped to the wall. Recently installed. Not even a small layer of dust marking the speaker. The brand new intercom looked out of place against the wooden planking.
A wedding ring.
Scott never removed his ring. It was a constant reminder of her…he said it reassured him…
Could he…could he have accidentally torn the ‘X’ from his uniform? Could he…
The ring. The intercom.
"No," she whispered. "No…please…" A slim-fingered hand reached out. Touched the golden band. Nudged it off the ‘X’ until it fell to the wood of the dresser with a little "clink." "Scott…"
Instinctively, she tried to reach out for him again. Nothing. Her thoughts were trapped neatly inside her own skull; locked away more effectively than any prison could make her. She couldn’t reach Scott. She couldn’t even reach past herself. Alone.
"Oh my god…what have I done?"
The short, hitching breaths reached Ororo even over the laughter from downstairs; Bobby, doubtless trying to lessen the tension again. She followed the sounds and found herself at the door to the room Scott and Jean had taken as theirs upon their return. Jean was sitting on the bed, staring fixedly down at something in her hands and taking in short little gasps in between what sounded like…sobs?
"Jean?" Ororo entered the room and walked quietly to the bedside. Jean’s fingers closed over the object in her grasp, but she didn’t look at the other woman. "Are you all right?"
The redhead’s fingers tightened. She took in a long, shuddering breath. "I…" Eyes were wide with apparent shock, newborn dampness making them shine. "Ororo…I didn’t know…"
Ororo sat down beside her, putting a supportive hand on one tense shoulder. "Didn’t know what, Jean?"
Glossy hair shifted across the woman’s back as she shook her head dazedly. "It was all…so distant. So quiet. And I just wanted…wanted…" Words were choked off with another hitching half-sob. "Oh my god…"
Dark fingers closed over the tightly clenched fist. "What is it?" Beneath her hand, Jean’s fingers slowly loosened. Ororo dropped her eyes to see what her friend held to so tightly. "That’s…that is Scott’s ring…" Jean shuddered, eyes closing. Ororo looked sharply to her face. "What has happened? Where is he?"
A tear slid down one cheek. "He must…he must have heard us…the intercom. He must have heard us…"
Blue eyes narrowed just a bit. "Heard…what?"
"I was so alone…"
The tone hardened. "Heard what, Jean?"
"I don’t know what…what I was thinking…"
Ororo’s hand tightened over the other woman’s, causing the emerald eyes to snap open and meet hers. "What happened?"
Jean looked into the eyes of her dearest friend, feeling walls inside crumble to mounds of dust. Surging emotion battled with protective numbness. "Ororo…" She swallowed hard, searching for strength. "I…Logan and I…"
Dawning realization on the dark face before her. "Jean…?"
Another sob escaped, bearing with it the confession. "Ororo…I slept with Logan. And Scott heard us."
Outside the mansion, the sky darkened ominously.
He exhaled a stream of smoke, following the dispersing cloud with his eyes. The sun was creeping down to where it waited out the nights, leaving stars to creep past the velvet darkness. It was a beautiful night.
Of course, it could have been hideous weather and he’d still think that.
<Jean.> One word. One thought. A thousand emotions. Years – an eternity, it seemed – of waiting, of watching, of wishing… Fire and passion that called to him. A strength that he knew better than most could match even his own oft-mentioned will.
And finally, only hours before, she’d been in his arms.
He closed his eyes and inhaled the perfume of the growing night past the thick scent of burning tobacco. His memory supplied the jasmine and musk of her scent, instead. The taste of that so-sweet flesh…those creamy limbs wrapped around him…that heart-stopping voice calling his name. His!
<Oh, Jeannie…it was worth the wait…>
The air thickened with the heavy dampness of a coming storm. Frowning just a little, he opened his eyes and gazed upwards. Looming clouds steadily choked out the blackening canvass of night sky. <Looks like ‘Ro’s in a mood.> He took a step forward off the porch to get a better look at the growing storm.
Wind snatched him from the ground unceremoniously, tearing the cigarette from his mouth and sending his Stetson flying. He caught in a sharp breath at the suddenness. "What the--" The invisible hand bore him up through the sky in the midst of the newborn lightning that crashed dangerously close to him. He gritted his teeth against the shocked exclamations that wanted to escape and sent a narrow-eyed gaze around him. Rain lashed from nowhere, cutting into him with icy fingers and plastering hair and clothing against him.
From behind him-- "Honor," she spat. He tried to turn to face her, but had no leverage for the motion. "Giri. Obligation." Every word was mocking, cold. He felt a numb finger of ice tickle up his spine.
"What’s this about, ‘Ro?" he asked as levelly as he could – though he was suddenly sure he knew.
Her words continued, scathing. "Indomitable will. How many times has that label been given to you?"
"I never asked for it."
With a wrench, the seething air that held him whirled him around. She was mere feet away. Her eyes blazed with a rarely seen fury, seeming to catch the dancing lightning in her gaze. "And what of your honor, Logan? What of your duty as an X-Man…your loyalty to your leader?"
He said nothing, staring silently with his jaw clenched tight.
Her voice dropped to a hiss. "I had respect for you. I believed in you…believed you were a man who would try to do the right thing." No answer, not by voice, and his steady gaze didn’t flinch away. A roll of thunder deafened them momentarily. Ororo didn’t even try to calm it.
"He. Heard. You." Each word enunciated clearly, distinctly; the impact all the stronger for it. Even the mask Logan was trying to maintain slipped just a bit at that, dark eyes widening marginally. Her lips drew up just a little in a trace of a snarl. "He’s gone."
Something cold clenched in his gut. "… Scott?"
Another crash of thunder. From the expression on her face, he wondered in a distant corner of his mind if she would drop him. "Of course, Scott. Jean’s husband." She drifted even closer, hands fisted in fury. "I did not bring you here to listen to excuses. I care nothing for your explanations. Is that clear?"
"Crystal," he growled.
"Good." Rain streaked her snowy hair around her face, sent it streaming in wet runnels over her shoulders. "Now you listen to me, little man… You will find him. You will go after him. You will stand there and let him beat you within an inch of your worthless life, if that is what he wants." One fist raised, golden electricity crackling around it in unsubtle warning. "Because if you do not…you will learn exactly what it means to face the wrath of the gods!"
She didn’t wait for an answer, and the air that held him was suddenly gone. He dropped like a stone…ten feet, twenty feet…earth met him with bone-jarring force, knocking all air from his lungs and slamming his teeth together hard.
The storm didn’t abate in the slightest…it even seemed to grow fiercer as he raised his aching head to stare upwards. Pain didn’t help chase skittering thoughts away, and his mind was left reeling with the multiple blows it had just taken. He clutched for the one thing that would give him some grounding, some support… <It was worth it.> Even the thought rang hollow in his mind.
With a curse he shoved himself to his feet. Something the fall had damaged tried to give in his leg. He ignored it. Unsteadily, he forced his way through twilight gloom and downpour towards the mansion, still trying to bring order to the chaos in his head.
He found her in her room. <No,> he told himself forcefully. <Their room…hers an’ Scott’s.> She was sitting on the bed as if frozen there, red-rimmed green eyes staring blindly at something in her hands. He wanted to cross the floor and go to her, take her in his arms, hold her tightly and chase the pain away.
Instead he stopped in the doorway and waited for her to see him. Water from his drenching pooled beneath him on the wooden floor, little drops splashing down with an out of place cheerfulness.
Slowly, almost mechanically, she looked up. Those brilliant emerald eyes met his deep brown ones. For just a heartbeat their gazes locked in silence.
Then she broke it with a rusty whisper. "Go away."
It was a plea, not a command. From this woman, he would have taken either.
A muscle tightened in his jaw. He held her eyes for another moment…but then the green ones flinched away, and somehow that hurt more than the words.
He didn’t even try to speak. Heart thundering a matching tempo to the now almost constant rumbling outside, he turned silently…and did as she asked.
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