Two complaints that I've heard recently included 1) there aren't enough friendship stories out there, and 2) there aren't enough stories about the junior X-Men. If you agree, then this is really up your alley! Also, heavy Scott/Jean angst from the kids POV. This first part is a bit heavy on the exposition, but I had a lot of ground to cover, and the piece is already fairly long. Though this has been betaed once, I am still tweaking, so please, please, please let me know if you have comments or suggestions. I'm a new writer and I'm trying some new things here.
X-Men AU � 2020 Universe
Bobby�s Monster (October 2020)
RATING: PG (mild swearing)
PAIRING: Bobby/Rogue (implied), Scott/Jean (implied)
ARCHIVING: Lists yes, others let me know where it�s going.
FEEDBACK: Yes, yes, yes, yes! Please, please! Tarchannon@...
DISCLAIMER: All recognizable X-Men belong to the people at Marvel and 20th Century Fox. The other supplementary characters that you don�t recognize are my original characters. This is just for fun and academic exercise, absolutely no money will be generated. I�ll only use and abuse them a bit � probably less than my muses did!
SERIES/SEQUEL: Yes, the 2020 Universe. It occurs between Alterations and Homecoming. This story takes place just before Halloween.
SUMMARY: Emotions are running high as Jean and Scott approach the end of their relationship, and a stranger arrives just in time for Halloween. Mostly Bobby POV.
1) This is an AU � the movieverse with a twist. Expect a few changes.
2) They made me mad by not having Hank in the first movie. Gotta have Hank! Plus, the movie folks seem think you can cure the mutant plague without a virologist! Hank�s back in, period. <g>
3) Logan�s arrival and subsequent departure has significant repercussions for Scott and Jean that are playing themselves out here.
4) �_� contains spoken dialog, /_/ contains thoughts, *_* contains mental communication
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Thanks to You-Shan Feng for the beta and great suggestions! You are
ORIGINAL POSTING: 5/28/02
* * *
Things had taken a serious turn for the worse.
That was saying something considering I had a girlfriend for the first time, Kind of.
Ever since the Wolverine from the Great White North had taken off, things had slowly fallen apart. The atmosphere at the Academy was tense at best and I knew it had to have something to do with Mr. Summers and Dr. Gray. The teachers weren�t talking, but it was clear that they were keeping a lot from us and it was making the students jumpy. It really bothered me a lot, but I tried not to show it.
The trouble started when Wolverine and Rogue arrived. Everything was just fine � well as fine as controlled chaos could be considered fine - until the furball showed up. Then suddenly Mr. Summers looked unhappy all the time and Dr. Gray looked upset. The Professor got sick after Mystique stole my face, broke Cerebro, and scared Rogue away. The team had to go and rescue her, and when she came back, she wasn�t the same for a while.
We all tried to help as much as we could. Having been around the longest and being one of the oldest students, I helped out more than most. The professor woke up a little while after the team got back, and ran some errands for him until he was back to normal. I also visited Rogue, when she would let me. I guess the remnant of Logan�s personality doesn�t like jokes.
Things seemed to get better at the end of the summer. Mr. Summers was quiet, almost thoughtful, but not grim. Logan had recovered and seemed to be getting used to having kids around. He always looked at me as if I could be a between-meal-snack. That was probably because I was kind of hanging around Rogue a lot and he was acting all Big Brother-like. Or Big Uncle. Hell, Big Grandfather for all I know. He couldn�t be completely bad though � he liked Pinky and the Brain.
Then Logan left and things started to go downhill again. Classes started and a lot of the new students were having some trouble adjusting. Ellen Rosenberg was really smart, but she was a know-it-all and a control freak. She just couldn�t get used to the college-style classes at the Academy. We had to do it that way in order to fit things around the fact that half the faculty got called away periodically to save the day. Her younger brother, Tommy, was doing OK, but he was just so young compared to the other kids. Martin Runningbear was also a new student, and his previous education wasn�t up to where it should have been. Fortunately, he was really calm about it, which I liked. Allison, the quiet girl, was just so� quiet. She�d been around nine months and she�s barely spoken to anyone. I�ve only been able to get her to laugh twice. Twice! Then there was Nicholas, the youngest, who was going through another cycle of nightmares. This time around, after he woke up from his bad dreams, all he wanted was for me to hold him. I wasn�t getting much sleep between a clingy eight year old and a kind-of-girlfriend that had two other people running around in her head.
Beyond that, Ms. Munroe had been going out quite a bit at night, so she missed a lot of the stuff going on between Mr. Summers and Dr. Gray. Kitty and Jubilee seemed to be in the right places at the right times and caught a lot of it, but I saw it too. I could tell anyway, because I�ve known them for almost four years now. They are kind of like my brother and sister in a way. I was a little closer to Warren than Scott, but he was away often on business these days. Scott and Jean had always been this feature of my life since I arrived here, and their relationship was a rock that I could depend on, kind of like the sun coming up. The fact that they could hardly look at one another was just� disturbing and freaky, in a really bad way.
The whole situation was really starting to get to me. Beyond the fact that I was screwing up because I could barely keep my eyes open in class, I was also failing the one thing that I could usually do right � make people feel better when they were down. I�m not sure what was worse, Scott and Jean self-destructing or my inability to face it, let alone do anything.
* * *
It was the looks that told the story, really. Scott didn�t look at her like he used to. The lines on his face have gone horizontal above and below the visor, rather than radiating outward from the corners of his red goggled eyes. He looked at her only for a few seconds at a time, then looked away, usually downward like he was embarrassed. She just appeared tired and a little sad when she thought no one was looking. The dark circles had started to betray her after a while.
It didn�t surprise me when I found Scott in the kitchen alone late one Thursday night.
It was very late, maybe 03:00, and I had just gotten Nicholas back to bed after one of his nightmares. Flora, the lady that they had hired a couple of weeks ago, had tried to get Nicholas to come to her so I could sleep. But she was new and he would have none of it. Though I liked the little fellow, I hoped that Nightwalker could take over soon so I could at least attempt to pass my classes.
I had been up long enough that I was hungry again � no big surprise there. I remembered the chocolate cake that was left over from dinner, so I headed down to the kitchen. Barefoot and clad only in a pair of blue and green flannel pajama bottoms and an old Marvin the Martian T-shirt, I quietly trudged down the hall, down the stairs, crossed the study hall, and ducked across one of the main hallways to the backdoor of the kitchen.
The fact that the light was �on� broke me out of my hazy stupor, the slight potential for gathering blackmail material sharpened my brain just a bit. I hesitated to listen before I touched the door, but I could only hear an occasional soft sound. I quietly turned the knob and stepped into the dark, short hallway that opened out into the kitchen. I stayed in the shadows, thinking that I might be able to catch John sneaking a couple of beers or something. I peered around the corner, and what I saw brought me up short.
Scott Summers was sitting alone on a stool at the far end of the stainless steel counter near the refrigerator Anna�s mom kept it stocked with food for after dinner meals. The man that I thought of as a big brother was hunched over the end of the table, loafered feet caught up in the rungs of the stool, back arched uncomfortably, elbows on the silvery gray tabletop and face cradled in his hands. His clothes were rumpled � his khaki chinos were wrinkled and his pale pink Oxford was partially untucked, sleeves haphazardly turned up � and his normally perfect dark brown hair was disheveled. It was the same outfit that he had had on at dinner, which had been in much better shape then. There was a full glass of milk on the counter in front of him, but it looked like it hadn�t been touched. I waited for a moment, knowing that Scott was thinking, and I�d just wait until he didn�t look so� vulnerable before I went in.
The evening was silent outside, and the only real noise in the kitchen was the whirring of the fans on the freezers. I heard the sounds then, short faint gasps, and watched as our Fearless Leader�s frame quivered with nearly silent sobs.
I froze, no pun intended. I didn�t know what to do. My heart was wrenching with sympathy, and part of me wanted to go over and hug him. The other part simply wanted to run and forget that I had ever seen him sitting there. I have never been able to stand seeing anyone in pain, especially since mom died, and my first reaction has always been to try and make everything better. The fact that I knew it wouldn�t work this time held me back. It made me feel small.
Maybe it was that I hadn�t ever seen him cry. Hell, it was a rare thing for him to show anyone that he was upset - the recent cracks in his �Cyclops� persona were the rare exception. Maybe I hesitated because it was 03:00 and he had obviously sought out some privacy far from the dormitory wing. He was private like that, and I knew what it was like to try and hide a part of yourself.
The more I thought about it, the more I knew that I should just turn around and sneak back out before he discovered that I was there. He was obviously upset, but he didn�t seem to be in a dangerous state.
/It�s OK to be upset, and it�s OK to let it out./ I repeated it several times to myself. Jean had taught me this the first week that I came here, the same Jean I�d bet was upstairs tossing and turning, as wide awake as I am.
I really didn�t want to add to his problems by embarrassing him. After nearly four years, I knew that he didn�t like to show his emotions very much - well not his private ones anyway. I could respect that.
As I turned and snuck back out to the hallway, I decided that I would try and do what I could to let him know that he had support, from me anyway. Just not now � I�d find him in the morning and ask him to go do something. Maybe play basketball. He liked to play basketball with us. We could joke around, and I could get him to laugh. After all, that _was_ one of the few things I could do right.
I trudged back up to bed, stomach rumbling, with not much hope for sleep.
* * *
It was late, probably after 20:00, and it was fully dark outside except for the pale sliver of the new moon. It was just under two weeks until Halloween. Rogue had fallen asleep early, but had awakened screaming in terror about an hour ago. I had heard the screams. Dr. Gray had gone to her almost immediately, but after a few minutes, she had called out to my mind as asked me to come to Rogue�s room. I sighed, doubting that I�d be able to stay awake long enough to finish my physics homework. Thank god Professor Xavier had offered me a single room at the end of last school year.
Normally Rogue roomed with Kitty and Jubes, but after absorbing both Magneto and Wolverine�s memories so close together during the Liberty Incident, she had kind of lost it � wigged out. She was bad for the first couple of days, and then they gave her a room to herself - the one just above mine. After Jean and Professor Xavier had gotten her mentally clamed down, she immediately asked to see me. I was happy and flattered, still am really, especially considering that she could be really mad at me for convincing her to runaway, even if it was Mystique using my face. We had walked in the garden and talked. She was very strange, sometimes sounding like herself, but other times echoing Logan or a smooth, confident, cultured man that I assumed was Magneto. She had needed some space, and she really wanted to be sure that I knew she wasn�t mad at me. She held my hand in her smaller gloved one, and for the most part we just talked quietly. She held my hand fiercely, I remembered, and the fact that she needed me brought unshed tears to my eyes.
I�ve been there for her ever since.
It had taken her several weeks before she stopped taking on the characteristics of one or the other man, sometimes adopting a superior air and staring strangely at the professor, and at other times growling and acting like the semi-savage that was the fuzzball. The professor, with Dr. Gray helping, had worked with her, doing something I didn�t understand. Rogue called it mental balancing. The memories faded over time, so now all she had left were the nightmares, bad ones, but they were fading over time as well. The one tonight must have been a doozy.
So without reservation, I ran down the hall, up the stairs, and knocked before entering the open doorway of her room. Rogue was flushed and wide eyed from the nightmare. I recognized the look, though which man�s horror she had relived wasn�t apparent. Probably Magneto�s since I didn�t heard any growling.
I took her hand, and asked her if she wanted to go for a walk. She nodded, still wild-eyed, and took my hand. I loved that. This was something I could do right.
We walked for about an hour, until we were cold from the late fall air. I got her to laugh, and she was back to normal when I dropped her off. She looked at me gratefully, and I couldn�t help but grin at the way that made me feel. She shyly closed the door, and I wandered back to the stairs.
I felt restless as I loped down the stairs, probably from being so overtired, so I decided a little TV might help me unwind.
The TV room was empty, so I plopped down on the couch and flipped to the tail end of the news, praying that someone interesting was going to be on the Tonight Show. I dazed for a few minutes, TV turned low, when I heard sounds from out front.
A vehicle pulled up in the portico of the Hall, and being, well, nosy, I snuck over to the doorway, hoping to catch a tipsy staff member coming home, or a late night rendezvous perhaps. You have to have source material to kid someone, after all.
Quiet footsteps approached from down the hall, traveling quickly toward the door. Jean. She looked expectantly at the door.
Dr. Jean Gray, also known as Redstar, Red, Jean, or Jeannie depending on who you were, was like the resident house mom, er.. house big sister. I ducked the expected telekinetic swat involuntarily, pulling back in the shadow of the doorway, hoping she didn�t hear that. She was the one that most people, including me, went to when we had problems. Scott did a lot of the guy stuff, but Jean was a lot easier to talk to. In fact, sometimes you didn�t even have to talk. She just looked at you with this knowing look. It was nice sometimes.
I wondered whom she went to with her problems, because I didn�t think it had been Scott lately.
After a few seconds, she opened the door and stepped just outside into the shadows where I couldn�t see. She didn�t turn on the porch lights. Strange.
I listened closely, but couldn�t hear much. Jean sounded happy, a deep voice responding could be heard. I could just make out a very large shape beyond Jean, and I watched as she threw her arms around the figure. They embraced for a few moments, and then she stood close. After they talked in low voices for a minute or two, she turned back to the door.
I had to pull back to avoid being seen. I didn�t want to get caught spying. Plus I really wasn�t supposed to be down in the TV room this late on a weeknight.
My mind raced a bit as I listened to them come through the door.
�Well, I�m so glad you�re here. I missed you,� he heard Jean say excitedly. I hadn�t heard her get excited in a good way since before Logan had left.
The footsteps continued, passing the door to the TV room and down the hall toward the dormitory wing.
�I have missed you as well,� a very deep, resonant voice formally intoned, affection evident.
My mouth dropped open, and I flushed. Late night male visitors being escorted toward the bedrooms by a maybe single, probably attached woman, was scandalous. Maybe this is why Scott was so upset.
I couldn�t resist looking, so I peeped around the corner.
Jean had her arm draped around the waist of a very big man. They were speaking together in low voices as she guided him around the corner. I couldn�t make out much of the man or his face, as he was wearing a tan trench coat and a wide brimmed hat that was pulled down low like the secret agents in the movies. The most significant thing was that the man was huge. He stood maybe 6�1�, with simply immense shoulders, like a linebacker with pads on.
Then, just as they turned the corner, I noticed the man was carrying a briefcase in his right hand. The briefcase wasn�t significant, but the hand was. Giant. Furry.
*********** end Part 1 - send feedback! Tarchannon@...
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