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2033FF: Summer Solstice : Interludes [The Usual Suspects] [PG-13]

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  • Elizabeth
    Feb 5, 2001
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      TITLE: Summer Solstice - Interludes One
      AUTHOR: Elizabeth Vines
      DISCLAIMERS: Sahra and her clan own me. The X-Men belong to Marvel, Stan
      Lee and anyone else who holds the rights. All deities belong to themselves
      and their religions.
      SERIES: Summer Solstice. Previous stories are: Curiosity (#1) and Cat's
      Cradle (#2). There are more to come, I promise you.
      RATING: PG-13
      SUMMARY: Read and find out what happens. Warning - character death.
      Nothing graphic though.
      THANKS: Go out to Majestrix, my wonderful BETA reader, and all those who
      wanted to know what happened. So here goes.

      Summer Solstice: Interludes
      Instead of a wedding, they were holding a funeral. The entire
      population of the school had turned out, as well as those in the medical
      community who lives had been touched by her strength and courage as well as
      her humanity. Scott Summers stood dispassionately to one side, only the
      tightness lining his jaw and the iron rod that had replaced his spine gave
      any indication of the thin thread of control reining in his emotions.
      Silence descended on the group standing graveside, the site a dark
      wound in the brilliant white-gold of the snow. At some unheard sign, the
      six members of the Ghost Cat Clan stood up from their positions outside the
      semi-circle. Although an immediate onslaught of fear-stink slithered into
      the air, the Clan soothed it away. They did nothing to alleviate but the
      worst of the grief and the pain, only that which would only generate more of
      the same.
      They paced up the slight hill to the gravesite and, as one, sank to
      their haunches. Then they began to sing. The sound was an eerie keening
      wail that somehow carried all the sorrow that a heart could bear. It lifted
      into the sky to be born away by a slight breeze. Goosebumps rose at the
      unearthly song. One at a time, each member dropped out of the song to make
      his or her way to stand in front of Scott.
      Each one would then bow, head low. Upon rising, they would wind around
      his legs and bump an enormous head against his hip. They would return to
      their Clan-mates and take up their thread in the song. As they paid their
      respects, the strong-willed man slowly broke down. So it was only the cats
      and one lone human who saw the tears slide down his cheeks.
      Finally, Kai dropped out of the pattern and padded over to the man.
      Whatever the cat-man said, it had an unusual effect. Scott dropped into a
      crouch and rested his forehead against that of the great cat in front of
      him. As they remained in that rather uncomfortable position, the eerie
      wailing of the song glided off along the breeze.
      It was the silence that first jarred Scott out of his �communion� with the
      large tiger; the absolute silence was unnerving. He was alone but for the
      cats and a shadow under one of the trees, waiting respectfully just out of
      earshot. Somehow, he knew that the others would be waiting for him back at
      the mansion for him. Whether or not he would need them was another story
      all together.
      Kai scrambled to his feet and spun around, looking as if he had been stung
      by something. Scott followed his example, but at a more sedate pace. A
      quick glance behind him showed that the entire Clan had ranged themselves as
      an honor guard. Further away, that same shadowed figure refused to resolve
      itself into a recognizable figure.
      He received as great a shock when he turned back around as when he learned
      that Jean had been savaged to death in yet another running fight with those
      A fresh blanket of snow had fallen just the night before. It lay untouched
      and serene; at least until the students had gotten to it. Snowball fights
      broke out across the yard. Even the teachers had gotten into the spirit.
      Scott crouched behind a wall of hard-packed snow, waiting out a new student.
      It was a �no-powers� game so everything was as even as possible.
      He was up and running, the fun and games forgotten, before the scream was
      cut short. A cluster of students stood huddled around a dark form on the
      ground. It had to be one of the new kids who had screamed, one who hadn�t
      been through the intensive training sessions and had panicked. The rest
      could have protected themselves. It couldn�t be Jean. He sent a pulse
      along the bond and found only an echo. JEAN! No answer. A small lance of
      sunlight twinkled off auburn hair. Now that he couldn�t help but look, the
      snow was scarlet against the white. NO! It couldn�t be. Jean couldn�t be
      dead, but she was. The bastard would die for killing Jean. Think again,
      asshole, a voice said. Nothing can defeat me.
      Dark forms danced evilly around the group. It seemed they were guarding
      the kids from escaping to warn any of the teachers. One or two had flecks
      of red on their flanks, and one sported red across its muzzle and teeth.
      That was the one he focused on. Near the edge of the forest, a two-legged
      waited silently. Even though it was too far for him to see its face, he
      knew it was grinning evilly.
      He skidded to a stop well outside the range of these beasts, a malign copy
      of the Ghost Cat Clan, and took aim. Beam after beam targeted any possibly
      vulnerable point. Shit! It wasn�t working. What would have killed any
      �normal� creature only annoyed these guys.
      That�s it! An angry voice grumbled into his mind. I�ve had it with these
      attacks. Leave it to me Laser-Boy. These guys shouldn�t come knocking
      around here again any time soon. A single yelp was all the sound that
      escaped. The four-legged walking disasters were yanked off their feet,
      hurled into the air like rag-dolls, and suddenly acted as if they were
      living baseballs. They flew across the blue sky and disappeared. Now only
      the two-legger was visible. A roar, not unlike Sabretooth�s, echoed across
      the snow and the creature, too, disappeared. This time, though, it was by
      his own hand.
      When the creatures had disappeared, the students had vanished into the
      mansion, some crying hysterically, some totally silent. Still, a few had
      managed to keep themselves together enough to make sure that each of the new
      students were handed into Ororo�s care. Scott barely noticed. All his
      attention was on the still form in the snow. Scott only had eyes for Jean.
      The hole that had opened when her couldn�t find her through the bond now
      ripped wide open. It felt as if acid had washed over him and continued to
      lap at his soul. She was dead. Never again would she tease him over
      morning coffee or kiss him good-night. A thousand and one things she used
      to do came back to haunt him.
      �I know. It hurts. It will never stop hurting, but the pain will be there
      to remind you of her. Just as her love will always be there.� Scott�s eyes
      refocused on the figure in the snow. She stood knee-deep in snow yet looked
      as if it were midsummer. She was heart-stoppingly goregous, yet he knew she
      could kick his ass without really trying.
      Scott�s eyes refocused on the figure in the snow. She stood knee-deep in
      snow yet looked as if it were mid-summer. She was heart-stoppingly
      gorgeous, yet he knew she could kick his ass without really trying. She was
      the perfect balance of beauty queen and deadly weapon. �Jean died to
      protect the students. One was about to lose her head, literally, when Jean
      stepped between her and the beast. She tried to stop it, but mutations are
      rarely, if ever, useful against mage-born beasts.�
      How the hell had she gotten onto the property, he thought inanely. She
      laughed, her golden-brown hair rippling over her back. �It�s a little late
      for that, but the sentiment is there.� She strode forward, the snow no
      hindrance to her progress. She also left no tracks behind her. How in the?
      He stumbled backwards over a much-suffering Kai. A lithe hand prevented him
      from falling inelegantly on his ass.
      �No need to do that, young man. I much prefer people to stand on their own
      two, or four, feet than kneeling at mine,� the stranger said. �If you need
      a name, call me Bast. By the way, you won�t be needing these,� and she
      reached up to caress his face. He drew back in horror and closed his eyes
      as she drew off his sunglasses. �Oh, please open your eyes. Do you really
      think that I couldn�t do a little thing like flip a switch? It�s only
      temporary, but she did say you had a beautiful set of baby blues.�
      Slowly, Scott opened his eyes, expecting to demolish the local scenery with
      one glance. Nothing happened. He couldn�t help but stare around him
      stupidly. The colors were so intense, he drank them in thirstily. It
      almost made him forget the pain. Bast laughed at his wonder.
      �She was right, you know. You do have pretty eyes. But,� and her face
      sobered, �you have yet to face that she will not walk in the door, or laugh,
      or do any of the million things that you remember. Jean has been given a
      choice. She made her decision. Now you are being given a choice. What
      will your decision be?� She looked thoughtfully at him, tapping a single
      clawed finger on her delicately pointed chin.
      He grinned sadly. �Depends on the choice.�
      Bast motioned to the cats. They leapt silently away to sit at the feet of
      the still motionless, and unknown, figure some distance away. Although he
      didn�t know who, or what, he/she/it was, he didn�t feel any concern over the
      fact. The Goddess grinned ferally at him. �You�ve got only two. Will you
      open your heart to someone new and regain your joy in life or will you close
      off your love and die just as surely as so many others have?�
      He started to answer, in fact had even started to open his mouth, but
      couldn�t get the words out. He couldn�t say the words that were tumbling
      around inside his head. You don�t need to say them, just know what they
      are, a kind voice whispered inside his head. He had to admit it was good
      advice. He just let those words echo in his heart.
      Then he had his answer. �I�ll take the former. That second choice just
      doesn�t seem appealing. Jean was my heart, but she gave me hers.�
      Bast just nodded. �Good choice, boy. Now, I suspect you want to know of
      Jean�s choice. She wanted to keep an eye on you, make sure you didn�t get
      into too much trouble with those friends of yours. So she chose something
      akin to yours. In much the same words, too, if I recall.� Scott just
      waited, impatience warring with curiosity. Raising her voice, Bast called
      to the group under the tree. �You were right. I didn�t believe you at
      first, but he did.� Evidently that wasn�t all she said, but he couldn�t
      hear the rest. There must have been some sort of signal because the entire
      group, both four-footed and two, came to join them.
      The stranger was hiding in a cloak, much as Rogue had when she had arrived
      at the school. It was when she pushed back the hood of the cloak that he
      got one of the biggest shocks of his life. Jean stood there, looking as
      beautiful as ever she did in life, but it was the changes that made him
      realize she would never be there again.
      Her beautiful auburn hair, so often caught up into a band of some sort, now
      fell loose in heavy waves. Her face, once as familiar to him as his own,
      (with the protective eyewear), was now subtly different. He couldn�t place
      it at first, but then it slapped him upside the head. She had the same
      blend of cat and human features as Sahra and the others. He could only
      guess at the other changes she had experienced.
      �Not as many as you would expect,� her quiet voice interrupted his musings.
      �I am still the person you knew when I was human. Now I am more. Bast
      offered me the choices of either semi-deification, with all its attending
      benefits and drawbacks, or something of a guardian angel.�
      Scott raised a hand to stop her. �Let me guess. You chose the guardian
      Jean shook her head. �I also didn�t choose deification. I was both when I
      was an X-Man. I chose this. Become one of Her Priestesses was more to my
      liking. I am Her connection to this world as She is mine. I couldn�t leave
      you to face the world alone.� She rested a hand along his cheek. He
      covered it with one of his own and closed his eyes. �No. Always remember
      me as I am, and let my memory guide you through. Love, Scott, and love
      again. Don�t follow me into death, but into life.� With that, and a swirl
      of her white cloak, she was gone.
      He raised one hand in protest, but she was gone. He turned to Bast. She
      stood there, surrounded by her Clan, her arms crossed across her chest, one
      eyebrow cocked. �I will see her again, won�t I?� he asked.
      Her expression softened at his tone. �You will always be as one, but
      apart. She was right, you know. Don�t follow her into death, but into
      life. She has found both a new life and a new love. You have to find both
      for yourself. Now go. Someone is waiting for you.� Bast pointed. He
      followed her gaze to a small threesome standing, and shivering, in the snow.
      When he turned back, she was gone. Only the cats remained.
      Sensing his acceptance, they bounded away down the hillside. Sahra
      headed straight towards a slim, graceful figure in white. That would be
      Ororo, he thought. A burly male, Seth, pounced on a gruff, burly man in a
      heavy coat and boots. Logan. One of the females, he thought it was
      Kathleen, maneuvered around the third figure. He had often seen her deep in
      conversation with Rogue so he figured that was who the third was.
      Wait, weren�t there supposed to be six of the big nuisances? Scott only
      counted five. Something big and furry nudged at his hand. He looked down
      to find Kai staring up at him, deep blue eyes an echo of his own. I will be
      your eyes, he heard. One hand drifted up to explore the familiar weight of
      his glasses. Yes, he would see again. Just as he would love again.
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