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Risen: Part 3

Disclaimer:  Marvel characters belong to Marvel and are used without
permission for no monetary gain. 

~Bad dreams in the night
They told me I was going to lose the fight
Leave behind my wuthering, wuthering
Wuthering Heights.

Oh it gets dark, it gets lonely
On the other side from you

Too long I roam in the night
I'm coming back to his side to put it right
I'm coming home to wuthering, wuthering
Wuthering Heights.

Heathcliff, it's me, Cathy come home
I'm so cold, let me in-a-your window
Heathcliff, it's me, Cathy come home
I'm so cold~
~Kate Bush

The afternoon sun was warm and mellow, reflecting off of the clear waters of the small lake and absorbing into the aging wood of the dock where Scott sat, lost in thought. He knew he had done the right thing when he quit North Star and moved back to Westchester; but now that he was actually here, the next step in his life wasn't as clear as it had been.


He sighed and watched the ripples spread outward from the spot where a fish had jumped up for it's lunch. Circles in the water, mimicking the circles of his life for close to the last two years. Leave the X-Men, come back. Leave, come back. And so on.


He left because of all it had cost him, because of disagreements with Charles, because he had discovered he wanted more out of life. Somehow, he always wound up back at this house, as if it were meant to be.


It was good to be back though, with friends, people with whom he could be completely comfortable and who understood him. It was Charles' assumption that he was going to become a full-time member again that was bothering him. Originally, the X-Men had given him purpose, meaning, respect, direction. Now he found that he could - and did - find those things without them. He still believed in the dream with all of his heart; and would fight for it until the day he died, but he wasn't only Cyclops. Scott Summers needed to fit in somewhere as well; and now that he wasn't absolutely necessary to the team - his role as leader filled by Ororo - he could figure out exactly where that was.


He stood and stuffed his hands in his pockets as the wind suddenly gusted, ruffling his hair and quickening the lapping of the water against the shore and dock. The muted clicking of heels on wood came from behind him and he froze as the sound of the walk registered in his ears. It was slow, and slightly hesitant; but he would recognize it anywhere, anytime, as he would anything that was her's.


His heart pounding, he tried to turn and face her; but he feared that if he did she would not be there after all, or that his mind was playing tricks on him, like what had happened with D'Spayre. And although he would never admit it, especially to himself, a part of him was afraid that she would be real.


He took a deep breath and turned.


"Jean." It was a statement, not a question, for as soon as he saw her all doubts were driven from his mind. By some miracle she was alive, standing before him. An answered prayer.


"Scott." He embraced the sound of her voice in his ears, the sound of her saying his name, even though it brought up the memory of the last time she had spoken it, when she had died by her own hand as he stood by, helpless to stop her.


He had seen her die, her body disintegrated before his eyes. He had heard her scream. He had felt his soul torn in two. And yet, despite all that, he had never truly accepted that it was final, never given up the faint hope that someday she would find a way to return from the ashes, as she had done on the shuttle. And so, with all the emotions suddenly coursing through him, threatening to overwhelm him, disbelief was not among them.


She was crying. Without a word he took her in his arms and they sank to the dock, holding each other close as the rest of the world disappeared.


"Feeling better, Jason?"


"Yes. What do you want?" He hobbled across the room, leaning heavily on his cane, and collapsed into a chair across from Emma's desk.


She laughed coldly. "You show very little respect for the woman who gave you your life back." She seated herself on the edge of the desk and looked down at him. "I have been going out of my way to be nice to you, Jason. Haven't I healed most of your mind? Haven't I given you the best medical care possible? Haven't I promised you I'll pave the way for your return to the Inner Circle?"


He nodded uncomfortably under her gaze. It was sad, really, he was so proud and conceited, trying so hard to stand up to her; but failing miserably. Just you wait, you bitch, he thought. When I'm stronger, I'll --

"You'll what, Jason?" She leaned forward, her eyes mere inches from his. "If I even hear you think something like that about me again, it'll be the last thing your inferior brain will ever do. What I have fixed, I can undo. Do you understand me?"


"Yes," he replied curtly.


"Good." Her smile was like a snake. "I called you here because I need your help on a little project."


"What does this project involve?" He lit a cigarette.




"Go on."




"Against whom?"



"Tell me more, Emma."


"HOW COULD YOU NOT TELL ME?!" Charles demanded, slamming his hand against the wall of his study.


"Don't you raise your voice to me, Charles Xavier. Don't assume I'm wrong before you even bother to find out why I didn't tell you right away," Moira replied angrily. Sean, leaning against the far wall, tried to stay out of it.


Xavier took a deep breath. "All right, Moira, Sean, WHY have you kept the knowledge that Jean was alive from me for the last ten days? Didn't you feel I had the right to know?"


"Of course you had the right to know, Charley; but Lilandra did not. Tell me that if I had told you, you wouldn't have told her. Truthfully."

"Lilandra and I do not keep secrets from each other." He stared out the window across the clear expanse of lawn down to the lake. He could see Scott and Jean sitting together on the dock; but restrained himself from reaching out to her telepathically. She was obviously shielding herself from him and he was afraid to discover that she blamed him for what had happened to her. As he blamed himself.


"And what would Lilandra have done when you told her?" Moira questioned. "She would have ordered Jean killed before she regained her strength, and you know it."


"Maybe that would have been the best thing," he said quietly.


"How could you even think that, Charles?"


"Have you forgotten what happened last time, Moira? Maybe it would have been better to prevent that from happening again, for Jean's sake as much as everyone else's."


"It isn't going to happen again! What do you think we've been doing for the last ten days? Twiddling our thumbs while waiting to ask The Great Professor Xavier his lofty opinion on the matter? Charley, your opinion does matter, very much; but I have run every test at least twice, asked her every question, and thought a great deal about this. Dark Phoenix is NOT inevitable. Every factor that contributed to her snapping can be eliminated or drastically reduced. I'm not saying it's impossible; but with the right precautions it's extremely unlikely. Jean has already begun to take steps in the right direction; and you want to condemn her?"


"Of course not. I'm sorry, this is just such a shock." He sat down at his desk, his head in his hands. "I don't want to fail her again, Moira."


She laid a hand comfortingly on his shoulder. "I know you don't, Charley. You have a second chance. Use it."


One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Chronicle Of A Death Foretold, Love In The Time Of Cholera. Those certainly sound like cheerful stories, Kurt Wagner thought to himself as he browsed through the shelves of used and worn books. Aha! Here was the perfect one for him - Of Love And Other Demons. He shook his head as he flipped through the pages to see if any were missing. Amanda certainly did have depressing tastes in novels. She had been pestering him to read something by Marquez, and since he was more than willing to do whatever it took to make his love happy, this sunny Saturday afternoon found him at the Book Nook instead of Harry's, where he usually waited for Kitty and Illyana to be done their dance lesson with Stevie.


He had just rounded the corner on his way to the register when he was blindsided from above by a large stack of books and almost knocked to the ground.


"Oh, gosh, I'm so sorry!" For a dazed second he thought that perhaps the books were talking to him, then realized that the throaty voice belonged to a young woman who was peering down at him from over the top of the shelves. It was a good thing he hadn't automatically teleported, he thought, he would have scared her silly.


She hurried down from her ladder and over to him, genuine concern in her dark eyes. "Are you all right?"


He rubbed his shoulder where a particularly large tome had landed and smiled reassuringly. "I think I'll live."


"Are you sure? I mean, do you want some ice? I'm really sorry, I was trying to fit too many books up on that shelf, I should have known better. Did you hurt your head?" She reached out and took his hand, leading him to the front of the store where she produced a bottle of aspirin and an unopened bottle of spring water. "Here, take some, please."


He complied, not having the heart to tell her that on an average day, he received worse than this in the Danger Room. Not that he could even tell her that if he wanted to. Sometimes all this cloak and dagger, secret identity stuff became tiresome. Just once he'd like to be able to use the fact that he was a superhero to attract a woman, he thought jokingly, then stopped cold. What was he doing, thinking about finding other women when he had Amanda? Not other women, just this one. There was something about her that drove all thoughts of the lovely Miss Sefton from his mind.


{Nightcrawler, you and Shadowcat are needed at the mansion immediately for an emergency meeting of the team.}


{Yes, Professor.}


He grinned disarmingly and kissed the woman's hand with flourish. "Thank you for your concern, madam; but while it is much appreciated, I assure you it is not warrented. Unfortunately, I must run. It has been a pleasure."




Kurt was already headed next door to Stevie Hunter's dance studio, a spring in his step. Few people realized that making an exit could be just as important as making an entrance.


Normally, Jean's constant fidgeting would be driving Scott to distraction; but so happy was he just to have her alive and here that he was hardly bothered as she paced quickly up and down the length of the common room. The rest of the team should be convening shortly, her presence having been psionically masked from them by herself and Charles for the last hour or so, and she was worried as to how they would react. Yes, they had fought for her even after all the atrocities she had committed; but that was to save her life. Deciding whether or not to trust her again as a friend, or even a human being, was an entirely different matter.


The reunion with Scott was easier and happier than she could have imagined; but with Charles it had been a little harder. He was overjoyed to see her, and she him, but their meeting was tinged with the dark cloud of unspoken feelings, withheld emotions, on both their parts. They would deal with their personal feelings later, she supposed, after everything else had been worked out.


She paused at the window, pressing her palm against the cool glass pane as she watched a jeep pull into the drive and Logan get out and walk toward the door. This was going to be hard; and that knowledge didn't make it any easier. She had to prove that she was deserving of a second chance, that she was stable, and that she would stay that way. The hardest part would be trying to justify what she had done before, not only because she would have to talk about it; but because in her heart of hearts she knew it could never be truly justified, no matter what the extenuating circumstances. Some things were simply unforgivable.


"It's going to be okay." Scott put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. She appreciated his support; but it didn't calm the butterflies fluttering around her stomach. "Moira, Sean, and I are completely behind you and Charles is giving you a chance. So will they."


Oh, Scott, she thought. You don't even know you have doubts about me, do you?


"Thank you," she said, leaning back against him. "I need you now. More than you know."


"I appreciate your swiftness in arriving," Charles announced as he seated himself behind his desk. "Now that you're all here, I have some rather shocking news to share with you; and decisions must be made."


Logan stood up with a start. "Where is she?"


"Who?" Peter asked.


"Jean. She was here. Recently. Her scent's still fresh." He looked at Charles piercingly. "Where is she?"


Ororo gasped audibly. "Professor, is Logan correct? Has Jean returned somehow?"


"...Yes. She's in the common room--"


Logan crossed the room swiftly, yanking open the door and heading down the hall, Ororo on his heels; the rest of the team still sitting in shocked silence.


Already visibly edgy, Jean jumped as the heavy door slammed open. Logan strode purposefully over to her, eyes blazing.




She nodded silently, waiting for him to determine in his mind if she was truly who she appeared to be. It took him less than a minute. He reached down and took her hands in his, squeezing them tightly. "It is you."


"Yes." She felt the tears beginning to well and bit her lip, trying to hold them back.


"Darlin', how?"


"It's a little complicated. Moira will explain most of it." She smiled softly over his shoulder. "Hello, Ororo."


"Goddess, Jean, you--" she broke off, speechless, as she stared at the other woman, who approached her slowly and reached out her arms.


"I missed you so very much, Ororo."


"And I you, my friend," she whispered as they embraced. Jean had been her best friend, her first in this strange, new land; and they had grown so close that they were sisters, in every way but blood. Having her back, the void that had been left in her heart filled, seemed too good to be true.


Kurt appeared at the door, followed closely by Peter. "I do not believe it," the young Russian breathed. "Jean, you are dead."


"She certainly doesn't appear to be any longer," Kurt said as he came into the room, astonishment in his voice. "Jean, I...I'm so happy you're here!" She laughed as they hugged, her nervousness beginning to melt away. Maybe things would work out after all.


She greeted Peter, who was still standing dumbstruck; and then noticed the young girl leaning against the door frame, who was regarding her with a mixture of suspicion and wonder.


"I remember you. You're Kitty Pryde." The memory of her first meeting with the girl sent a multitude of unwanted ones washing through her mind, memories of a descent into madness that had just begun it's final, frenzied stage; and she pushed the images and emotions back, burying them deeper than before. She couldn't think of them. She couldn't deal with them. It hurt too much.


The London pub was dark and seedy, lit only by the bloody, smoke veiled light emanating from cheap red table lamps. A low, pulsating beat from the jukebox filled Nathaniel's ears, contrasting with the rapid staccato of his heart.


His eyes flickered nervously around the room, trying intently to catch sight of the man he was meeting. A futile exercise, of course, since he knew nothing about him except his last name and that he was a member of a government organization looking for some freelance work; but it gave him something to do while he waited.


He was just about to give in to the gnawing doubts at the back of his mind and leave when a scruffy, thirtyish man wearing a wrinkled black suit and apparently suffering from a hangover stumbled over to his table, dragging deeply on a cigarette.


"Dr. Essex? Sorry I'm late." He extended his hand, leaving the cigarette dangling limply between his lips. "Goddamn girlfriend left me again," he muttered under his breath as he sat down.


"I...I'm sorry to hear that." Nathaniel shifted uneasily. He was beginning to doubt this man's ability to find his way home after dark, much less find out who had been responsible for Adam's death.


As if he could read his mind, the man gave what could have been construed as a smile if you looked at it the right way and announced, "I'm not as inept as I look, Doctor. Just having a bad few months is all. I'm hoping that this job you say you want done can turn things around for me; especially if you're not lying about how much you're willing to pay for this information."


"I don't lie, Mr. Wisdom," Nathaniel answered coldly. "Ten thousand if you agree to take the job. Twenty-five more when you deliver to me the name and location of the person or persons who killed my son."


"That sounds reasonable. Just so you know upfront - if you want this 'person or persons' taken care of, you'll have to look elsewhere. I don't do that on my side projects any more; although if it comes to that, I can give you the names of a few who wouldn't mind a little extra income."


Other Stories By Sequoia


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Shadows In A Mirror


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