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