FIC: Straight Line to a Curve [PG-13] -- RR #20 -- Jean, Scott
- Title: Straight Line to a Curve
Author: Andariel (andariell@...)
Summary: Jean gets an unexpected visitor at the lodge. A moment occurs...
Codes: Jean, Scott, AU
Rating: PG-13 (suggestive language)
Disclaimer: Not mine, though I do have much fun playing with them.
Archive: Lists, jenn's Indulgence, Muse's Fool.
Feedback: Makes strep throat bearable <lol>
Thanks To: victoria and jenn for their assistance in retaining my sanity on the
timeline here. This falls right after Eve's "Slight of Hand".
Notes: If you haven't heard Orff's "Carmina Burana", I highly recommend checking
it out. Lyrics contained in the text were translated from the Latin by Jeffrey
Jean let the mellow tones of the Chopin Nocturne soothe her frayed nerves as she
focused on her meditation technique. Granted, meditation was usually done in
silence, but she'd discovered since arriving at the lodge that there was such a
thing as too much quiet. In the week she'd been at the mansion, she'd become
accustomed to the quiet murmur of partially shielded mental voices in her mind.
She hadn't realized until her first night in the lodge, straining for sleep in
the complete stillness, that the presence of others had become a comfort rather
than a burden. But she'd begged the Professor for a place to find her lost
peace, and he'd provided it without question.
Be careful what you wish for...
After her thirty-minute session of focused mental relaxation, Jean opened her
eyes and took a deep breath. She unfolded her legs from the lotus position and
leaned forward to blow out the flame of the sandalwood candle she'd had burning.
Wanting something a little more powerful than the Nocturne to bolster herself
now that her meditation was finished, she selected a different CD from the
Professor's collection and put it in the tray.
She glanced at the mantle clock above the gas fireplace. Just past noon. She
went into the kitchen of the lodge and began heating apple cider in a saucepan.
While the cider she'd mulled with cinnamon sticks and nutmeg came up to a
simmer, she tossed a salad together and doused it liberally with a raspberry
vinaigrette. Making a concession for protein, she poured some cashews into a
bowl and placed it next to the salad on the table.
She'd finished her lunch and was nursing a mug of cider in front of the gas
fireplace when a knock sounded on the front door. A small furrow formed between
her brows as she set the mug down on the floor and rose from the pile of large
throw pillows she'd been lying against. She hadn't been expecting company --
the Professor had been by the day before and Logan was due to call the next day.
Jean smoothed the hem of her black blouse down over the waistband of her gray
slacks and quickly crossed to the door, a small, indulgent smile on her lips.
Logan must have needed to get away from the mansion and come a day early.
When Jean pulled the door open, her eyes widened and her mouth dropped slightly
open in shock. Staring uncomprehendingly at the figure on the doorstep, she
felt like the breath had literally been knocked out of her. "Scott? ... What
are you doing here?"
Scott smiled bemusedly. Good question. He'd been asking himself the same thing
for the entirety of the past two and a half hours he'd been driving to get
there. "I'm not sure, really. I just... needed to see you. Make sure you were
Jean leaned against the door for support. She had no idea what to make of his
sudden arrival, and the enigmatic answer he'd given didn't help matters.
"I'm... I'm fine. You didn't need to come all this way to check on me." Her
brow furrowed as a thought occurred to her. "How did you know where I was?"
She trusted the Professor to not have broken her confidence, and Logan? Well,
he and Scott weren't exactly friendly, so that didn't make sense to her either.
Scott tilted his head and shrugged. "Deduction. I knew the Professor was
keeping you somewhere, and with how long he was gone yesterday, it wasn't too
hard to figure out. When I noticed the spare set of lodge keys missing from the
keyboard in the garage, that pretty much clinched it."
Jean nodded, then noticed the rather chill breeze that was blowing into the room
from outside. The cold weather had come earlier to the mountains than it had to
West Chester, and the trees were already painted in hues of yellow, rust, and
deep red amongst the small patches of remaining green. Jean rubbed her hands up
and down her arms, simultaneously warding off the cold and releasing some of the
tension she felt building in her. She could sense that he wasn't dissembling
about his reason for coming to the lodge -- the normally confident posture he
held was slightly bowed with unease, and he was scuffing the bottom of his shoe
on the doorstep.
He clearly didn't have any more of a clue about why he was there than she did.
One way to find out... Jean stepped back from the door and motioned him inside.
"Since you're here, can I get you something to drink? I have some cider mulled,
or I can make coffee..."
Scott hesitated for the briefest moment. This was a *bad* idea from any angle,
but he stepped past her into the room. "Thanks. Coffee sounds good."
Jean smiled hesitantly at him and nodded, pushing the door shut while he removed
his jacket and hung it on a hook of the coat tree that stood in the entryway.
"I'll be a few minutes in the kitchen. Make yourself comfortable." Jean had to
choke down a chuckle at the raised brow and crooked smile he directed at her
before he crossed the room to stand in front of the fire. Silly phrasing, all
things considered. They'd never been 'comfortable' around each other since
they'd met. Stirred, confused, and intense, but never comfortable.
Jean watched him standing by the fireplace, rubbing his hands to warm them. He
hadn't been wearing gloves, but she couldn't quite place why that fact seemed
significant. The glow from the fire gilded his features, seen from her angle in
a one-quarter profile. The golden light danced on the brown waves of his hair,
giving him a nearly ethereal glow. Jean felt her pulse quicken and turned to
enter the kitchen, unable to suppress the musing thought that hit her.
And they call Warren the angel...
Scott finally felt the heat returning to his hands and stopped rubbing them. He
could hear Jean moving around in the kitchen area but didn't indulge his urge to
go watch her. Instead, he took a seat on the floor near the fire. He could see
indentations on the pillows Jean had been lying on and ran his fingers over
them, tracing the lines her body had formed in the down-filled cushions.
Realizing what he was doing, Scott snapped his hand away and looked around the
area, noticing a book laying open face down on the floor. Curiosity getting the
better of him, he turned it slightly so he could read the title. Self-hypnosis.
He should have guessed that she wasn't the type to be indulging in a novel.
There was a core of steel to her shaken spirit that he'd noticed from the
beginning -- she would be doing whatever was necessary to regain control of her
Need for control. He related to that very well.
"There's not much to do here other than read."
Scott looked up at her comment and watched her approach him, coffee cup in hand.
He reached up and took the mug from her, then watched as she retrieved her own
mug from the floor by his feet. "Thanks."
Jean resettled herself on the floor, leaving a reasonable amount of space
between them. Not too close, but not so far away that it would give the
impression that she was afraid to be near him. She hadn't come here to hide
from Scott, and she wasn't going to let either of them think that.
She *wasn't* hiding, damn it.
"You're welcome." She took a sip of her cider, now slightly cool but still good
for a distraction, and studied him over the rim of the cup. Scott was holding
both of his hands around the ceramic coffee mug. His hands must still be cold.
She caught herself wanting to reach out and close her hands over his to help
warm him up. Oh no... don't start thinking like that, Jean. He's too close to
start letting temptation in the door. Just drink your lukewarm cider like a
Scott lifted the cup and took a sip of the coffee. His brows raised in surprise
at the first taste -- very strong with a whisper of sweetness; black with a half
spoon of sugar. "How did you know how I like my coffee?"
He watched her gaze fly up to his, then skitter away. A little moue of
concentration on her face when she replied, "I'm not sure. I just... knew.
Maybe I saw you make it once, back at the school..."
Scott couldn't place anything matching that reasoning amongst his memories. The
scary amount of recall he had for every time he'd been in her presence since
they'd met should have bothered him. It didn't, and that just confused him
She was still keeping her eyes averted, staring into the fire almost
desperately. Scott studied her face, searched for the key as to why she
affected him so deeply. He barely knew her, but he felt as if he knew
everything that mattered already. It went against all logic that he should feel
this connection to her, but it was there and it was achingly real.
In that instant, it felt more real than anything he'd ever shared with Marie.
Scott tore his eyes from her and stared out the window, cursing himself for the
disloyalty of that thought. What had this woman done to him? No... it wasn't
her alone. He was doing this to himself. Being alone with her here, far away
from the mansion and the team and his responsibilities, it was so tempting to
let go and be swept away by it.
But Scott Summers had never been one to live in the moment without thought to
the consequences. The certain aftermath that would follow allowing himself to
reach out and touch her was there in his mind, mocking him. One touch... it
could break everything into a million pieces. Pieces that would never fit back
together and form the same whole, something intrinsically lost in the
He knew this too well, so he searched for a distraction. God... what kind of
small talk could he make with the woman who'd snatched all the certainty out of
his life and left him wondering how he'd ever been sure of anything? He latched
onto the sound emanating from the stereo speakers. Music was a safe topic. He
could make a little conversation, finish his coffee, and leave before his grip
on reality got any more tenuous. "What's that playing?"
Jean was slightly started by Scott's voice breaking the tense silence that had
settled between them. She glanced over at the stereo, then looked back at him.
"Carmina Burana by Carl Orff. It's a group of Latin song lyrics from the
eighteen hundreds that Orff set to music. The words are very powerful --
strength and renewal in the face of fate's unkind whims."
Jean saw Scott's brow tick up with interest, then a slow nod. "You know Latin?"
She smiled and gave a negligent shrug. "Comes with the territory, medical
degree. I took Latin to help me with the terminology. Makes it easier to
remember if you know how to translate."
"So... what's he saying?"
Jean listened to the lyrics carefully, picking apart the words as they flowed in
the rich baritone voice. "So cherish me with all your heart... such is the love
I feel... no greater love could I impart, no truer love reveal... Even times
when we're apart... your presence is no less real... who loves, and loves with
such a heart, lies wracked upon the wheel..."
She hadn't looked at him once while she was translating the lyrics. She stared
into the fire without pause, her voice dropping on the final words of the song
as the next part of the composition began, the full chorus taking over for the
soloist. Scott felt heat racing along his skin that had nothing to do with the
fire that burned low behind the grate. All thought of casual conversation
forgotten, he sat up slowly, moving closer to her inch by inch...
[-- his hands pushing the fall of red hair away from her neck, leaning in to
press his lips to the pulse point and feeling the jump inside her, inside him,
dragging his mouth slow and soft along her throat, reaching her mouth and she
opened it with a quick gasp, letting his tongue slip inside to play gently on
hers, her hand raising up to cup his head, falling back on the pillows,
following her down, bringing his hand along her side to brush across her breast,
feeling her breath catch and sinking in between her legs, fitting perfectly in
the cradle of her thighs, and his body hardening against her as the kiss turned
harder, her pulling, him pushing, both straining to meld into one being--]
Scott shook his head to snap out of the vision, noted that his body had
responded to the imagined caress like it was real. Breathing heavily and not
sure what he'd experienced until he saw Jean's eyelids flutter closed then open,
her breath shuddering out of her the same way his was out of him.
"You were projecting..."
He said it so quietly that Jean might have missed it if she wasn't so attuned to
his presence beside her. She struggled to force the fantasy images from her
mind and focus on what he was saying. "Projecting?"
"Yes... sending thoughts instead of receiving them. The Professor has done that
in the past, sent us messages with his mind." Scott realized too late that he
shouldn't have said anything. Even through the red of his glasses, he could see
the pale pink of her face deepen in hue, blush quickly spreading from her neck
up to her cheeks as she realized what he'd seen.
Faster than he could have predicted, she shot to her feet and practically ran to
the edge of the fireplace, eyes staring blindly out the window as her fingers
clutched the marble mantelpiece. "Oh God... I... I'm..."
Scott pushed to his feet and crossed to stand behind her, ignoring the voice of
caution inside that warned him that he was playing with fire. She was shaking.
He put a hand on her shoulder and she jumped at the contact. He'd felt the jolt
himself, knew exactly why she'd reacted that way. He'd wanted to offer comfort,
but that one touch changed everything. Caution gone, and all he could feel was
her. The world disappeared in a blink and became confined to just the space in
Her head shook side to side in small, frantic movements. "No... no it's not.
"Look at me."
Jean felt herself slowly turning to face him, trying to stop herself and
failing. She could fight her own feelings, but she couldn't deny his quiet
demand. She was lost, life caught on a breath, as she came fully around and
forced her eyes to his face. Liquid fire raced through her veins as he leaned
forward, bringing his mouth next to her ear. "Your hair smells like cinnamon."
She bit down on her lip. The words so inconsequential but said in that low
whisper she'd heard hundreds of times in her dreams. It was unreal to hear it
now, feel it stir the hair over her ear. God... he'd only touched her shoulder
and she was burning, aching to know what those lips would feel like against
hers, to discover if reality could surpass the fantasy.
Scott slowly pulled back, stared a long moment at her face, memorizing every
detail. Her eyes were already closed; her breathing as shallow and unsteady as
his own was. Nothing mattered. Nothing but this. His hand slowly traveled up
from her shoulder, coming to rest on the back of her neck as he closed the few
inches separating her mouth from his.
Jean's eyes snapped open and she pushed away frantically. "No!" She staggered
back a few steps from him, pressing the back of her hand to her trembling lips,
staring at his bewildered expression and knowing he didn't realize what he'd
Scott took a step forward, completely confused by her sudden withdrawal. "Jean?
He saw her hand fly up and felt pressure against his chest holding him in place.
Shocked that she was using her TK to keep him away from her, he backed up a step
and felt the pressure against him drop as her hand fell to her side. "I don't
"Your shield dropped, and I wasn't focusing. I saw it in your mind. I saw
enough to know this isn't right."
What had she seen? Scott tried to figure out what had made her panic, but he
didn't have enough time to discern the cause before she continued explaining.
"You haven't let go of her yet. You're not ready to let go. You... You think
you're ready, and maybe a part of you has moved on, but you're still holding
something back. There's still ... something ... between you and her that you're
clinging to." She shook her head and laughed humorlessly. "I am such an
"Jean, you're not an idiot. You're not the only one who feels this... bond
between us. I feel it too, and that's why I tried to kiss you just now. It has
nothing to do with Marie."
A small, bitter smile twisted her lips. "Not all of it, no. I know there's a
connection between us, but part of you wants to lash out at her for giving the
ring back and turning to Logan for comfort. I won't be your revenge, Scott, and
I won't be someone you regret, either."
Scott felt a flare of anger. "So you know me better than I know myself, huh?
Where the hell do you get off telling me what I feel or why I'm here?"
Jean sucked her bottom lip into her mouth, then forced out the words she wished
weren't true. "Marie gave you the ring back because she couldn't take your
half-way measures. I can't take them either. I can't let you in and then watch
you eat yourself alive with guilt because you hadn't resolved things with Marie
first. I won't let you do that to us. I won't let you do that to *me*. I want
everything, and until you're ready to give that to me, if you ever are... until
then, we can't move forward. I can't."
Scott felt the anger drain out of him with each word she spoke in that pained,
broken voice. It left behind a bitter tang that coated his throat like sour
milk. "I see..."
More confused now than he had been when he'd arrived on the doorstep, Scott
slowly crossed the floor to the coat tree and grabbed his jacket. He slipped it
on and turned his head to find her staring at him across the spanse of the room.
She had her arms wrapped tightly around herself as if she were afraid she might
break apart if she didn't hold on with all her strength. Or maybe it was that
she feared she might change her mind and call him back.
"Goodbye, Jean. Take care of yourself." Restrained the urge to shake his head
at the stupid platitudes the minute they left his mouth. Before he lost his
resolve to not push her, he opened the door and quickly walked to his car. Got
in and turned the key in the ignition, pulled out and away before he went back
and did something they'd both regret.
Because now, out in the car and away from the lingering scent of cinnamon on
auburn hair, he knew she was right. He hadn't let go yet, and she'd just saved
him from making a big mistake. He took a turn up a path that lead further into
the mountains, pressed down harder on the accelerator, hoping that driving
mindlessly for a few hours before he returned to the mansion might clear up the
jumble of conflicting feelings inside his head and heart.
He had to make a decision, a complete and final one, before he did any more
The minute the door closed behind Scott, Jean sank to the floor bonelessly.
Walking away from him, forcing him to see what he was doing so that he'd walk
away from her, was the hardest thing she'd ever done. She pulled her knees up
to her chest and wrapped her arms around her shins, tried to steady her
breathing and hold back the tears that threatened to spill over.
"I will *not* cry over him. I'm stronger than this. I will not. I will
She muttered it over and over, hoping the words would reinforce her resolution.
After a long time chanting the words, she realized she'd entered a near
meditative state. Feeling the calm wash over her, she pushed to her feet and
went into the bedroom she'd been occupying in the lodge. She retrieved her bag
from the closet and started packing it methodically.
She told herself that she was leaving to get away from the quiet. She needed
someplace that had more people but enough privacy that she could make due with
her imperfect shielding. She almost convinced herself that it was true, looking
up the address of the New York City women's shelter where she'd referred abused
patients in her old practice, closing up the lodge and heading back toward the
city as darkness fell. She could almost believe she wasn't running.
But the certainty lingered under the surface. She *was* running, fleeing from
the memories of what had happened between them and everything that could have
been instead. She was desperate to escape what might happen if Scott came back
to see her again.
She was running, because the next time, she wouldn't be able to turn him away.
~*~ End ~*~
The Insomniac Playground
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