CHILDREN of the MIDDLE WATERS 12
Notes: A disturbing ending. The song Scott sings is, of course, U2's
"Pride" off WAR (imo, one of the great rock albums of all time �-
gritty, defiant and full of passion). A note on Scott singing: way
back when I first started writing movieverse fanfic, I had no idea
that James Marsden is, himself, a very talented singer. It was pure
accident, making Scott one. Now, after seeing multiple episodes of
"Ally McBeal" with Marsden singing on stage, the idea of Scott on
stage is even easier for me to picture, if not necessarily doing old
And if you want to see The Picture(s) (you'll know which ones after
the chapter below), bounce over to the website.
Jean Grey was not a forensic pathologist, but there wasn't much
question about the cause of death in this case: multiple gunshot
wounds to the chest, abdomen, and several extremities and one,
perfectly placed bullet, right through the windpipe. Sharpshooters
The boy's head, at least, was intact, so Jean and Hank had decided to
run a CAT scan on his brain and optic apparatus. It wasn't invasive
-� certainly less so than what the body would have undergone at a
morgue -� yet she still felt slightly guilty, as if she were
trespassing. This boy should have been out riding bicycles and
flirting with girls in the mall, not lying on a metal slab still cold
from the icebox. But she couldn't pass up this opportunity. She and
Hank had justified it because it wouldn't involve a single incision,
and if it could tell them anything about Scott . . . .
Jean was finishing up preliminary preparations. Hank would be down
shortly. In fact, when the lab door swished open, she assumed it was
him, turned to find Logan instead. And immediately turned back,
She had been ignoring him for the past week, ever since Scott's
wounding, when he had held her back for what might have been critical
seconds, 'protecting' her.
He sauntered over to the opposite side of the table. She kept her
eyes on the boy's body. He studied it a minute, illumined harshly
under halogen lights, and then studied her, didn't say anything. She
didn't say anything either. Two could play at that game. Finally,
he broke down and spoke. "I thought you weren't gonna do any
experimenting on him? That's what the Storm Queen said."
Jean considered not answering, but that would be childish. Of
course, avoiding and ignoring him for a week had been childish, too.
"We are not experimenting. We're only running a CAT scan on the
body. After discussion, Hank and I decided that there were too many
possible gains, and this procedure is not invasive of the body's
integrity in any way. It's not an autopsy. We don't know what it
can tell us, if anything, but it's the first chance we'll have to
compare Scott's scans to those of someone else with a mutation that
appears to have been similar to his own. Scott can't turn his beams
off, so CAT scans, even carefully calibrated for the increased
energy, are next to useless."
Pulling up a stool, Logan sat down and watched her work. It made her
self-conscious. Finally, she stopped and just glared at him.
"I could ask you the same thing. Or maybe 'why' would be a better
question. You've been avoiding me, Jeannie. So why don't we just
have it out and get it over with?"
She slammed down the measuring tape on the tray. "All right. Since
you brought it up -� do not ever so patronize me again as to keep me
away from a patient in a medical crisis."
"I didn't. I kept you out of the line of fire. There's a
difference. Those S.W.A.T. guys weren't aware you're a doctor,
darlin'. They wouldn't know why you were running out there and they
might have interpreted it as a threat. Probably not, but they
*might* �- and might is good enough for me. I was watching your
back. I thought that was the whole point of a team, eh?"
She didn't want him to be rational. She wanted to yell at him.
"Don't tell me you weren't 'protecting' me, Logan. I saw what was in
"If you saw what was in my head, then you know why I did it; and if
you think I did wrong, then there ain't nothing to talk about, since
I think I did right."
Sighing, she took off her glasses and rubbed at her eyes. Then she
dropped the hand and glared across at him. "I have spent half my
life being 'protected,' Logan. I am not fragile."
"I know you're not, darlin'."
"Don't call me that!"
"Call you what?"
"'Darlin'.' I'm a grown woman. I am not your 'darlin', 'baby' or
'kid,' however old you may really be."
He sighed, almost grandly. "You really want to fight, don'cha?
Well, I'm not going to oblige. *Darlin'.*" And getting up off the
stool, he headed for the doors.
"Don't you dare walk out on me!"
He turned back. "Then quit looking for some stray straw men to beat
Running her hand over her surgical cap, she sighed. "I'm mad."
"No kidding. But you're getting mad at all the wrong things, because
you're getting mad at what happened in the past, not what's happening
in the here and now." He walked back over to face her. "Don't try
to fool me; I'm too good at that same thing. And you never seemed to
mind when I asked how you were feeling, or brought you food, or a
chair to sit down. You can't have it both ways, Jeannie. I'll
pamper you a little if you let me, but you gotta trust that I respect
you, underneath it. You're a damn fine researcher. I'd never tell
you how to do your job. Don't tell me how to do mine." They were
eye to eye. "Deal?"
She gave a nod. "Deal."
And then he did what he hadn't done in all the weeks since she'd
asked Scott to move out. He bent forward and kissed her.
It was nice. It didn't rock her world or realign the planets. It
was simply nice, if not quite what she'd expected. He smelled of
cigars and V-8, and kissed like he meant business -� thorough, rather
than rough. He was, if anything, less assertive than Scott, but more
certain. Scott had always kissed like a man who knew he was
attractive to women. Logan kissed like a man who knew what he was
doing. She liked that and put her arms around his neck, let him pull
her against his solid chest. She could feel the metal in him.
Right then, the door swished open. In the heat of their argument,
she'd forgotten about Hank. "Oh," was all Hank said.
Jean jumped away from Logan as if she'd been caught *in flagrante
delicto*, and Logan turned to face the other man, who appeared less
than pleased. "You gonna slug me, too?" Logan asked. It was
delivered too deadpan to be completely sarcastic.
Hank appeared momentarily taken aback, then moved into the room, over
to the CAT scanner and began flipping dials. "Hardly," he replied.
"I did go to Scott, you know -� that same day -� and admit that I had
. . . acted before I had all the data. He accepted my apology. If
he is content, you should be. It won't happen again."
"Glad to hear it," Logan said �- dryly.
"I am only human, Logan. I can and do make mistakes." Hank still
wasn't looking at them.
And Jean could hear what Logan didn't say: *Especially when Jean's
involved.* But he simply looked down at the floor, then back at her.
"I should be going, let you two get to your work." And spinning on
his heel, he left.
It was silent for long minutes after, and Jean couldn't recall, in
all their years, ever feeling this awkward with Hank �- not even when
she'd started seeing Scott. "You don't like him, do you?"
Hank's big hands paused on the dials, but he didn't immediately
reply. "I do not particularly like or dislike Logan, Jean," he said
finally. "But I do remember you saying �- not so very long ago �-
that you wanted to be 'plain Jean Grey' for a while. Yet it seems to
me that you have simply leapt from one relationship into another, and
I can't tell if you have done so because you miss Scott, because you
are jealous of Scott and Grace, or because you genuinely like Logan."
He turned then to face her and took off his little glasses. "Do you
yourself know the answer to that?"
They were good questions, honest if difficult questions, and not
motivated entirely by jealousy. Hank wanted what was best for her.
Once, he'd stepped aside for Scott, when he'd become convinced that
Scott was best for her. He would again, if he decided that Logan was
best for her, or at least, that Logan was what she genuinely wanted.
In the meantime, he would push and challenge her, make her think. It
was one of the reasons she loved him, if not loved him in the way he
And why couldn't she love him that way? Was she really so shallow
that she couldn't look past his appearance?
The truth? The real, hard, painful truth? She was.
She might love him, look up to him, sometimes even adore him, but the
thought of having sex with him . . . her mind simply didn't want to
go there. She had heard people remark that she must be a special
woman to love a man whose eyes she couldn't see, but that wasn't
true. Being attracted to Scott was easy. He was beautiful -�
shockingly so �- and possessed an assertiveness that made him sexy,
much like Logan, if truth be told, though either would cringe to hear
the comparison. It was a large part of why they clashed so often.
And for all that Logan liked to seem rough around the edges, he had
lovely eyes and a charming smile, when he bothered to use it. Both
men were physically appealing in their own ways, and to more women
than just Jean.
And poor Hank? He really wasn't ugly �- blue fur aside -� but she'd
never seriously considered him as a romantic possibility, and that
*Maybe you shouldn't dismiss him so quickly,* some rebellious part of
her mind whispered. He was, after all, the only one at the mansion
who actually understood her work, and who shared it. The professor
understood some, but only Hank understood it all.
She shook her head then. Attraction couldn't be reasoned with. It
happened, or it didn't, and with Hank, it had never happened. So
now, she answered his question as honestly as she could. "I haven't
decided yet what I want with Logan, but it's not just jealousy, Hank.
And it's not missing Scott. I do miss him, but I've been single
before. I've been single longer than I've been with any man. Maybe
I just feel ready to try something new. I'm almost thirty-five years
old and the only man I've ever really known is Scott."
He gave a short nod and turned back to the machine. "Fair enough. I
simply don't want to see you get hurt."
"I know, old friend. I know."
Later that same day, she was coming up from the lab, ready to call it
a day, when the elevator door swished open and sound assaulted her -�
music, at a rare decibel level for the mansion. Live music, and
she'd know that sound, and that voice, anywhere.
Soapbox had made a resurrection.
Slipping out of her lab coat, she hurried down the hall to the dining
room. She'd almost forgotten that tonight was Valeria's going-away
party. Ironically, Valeria had done all the cooking. But Jean
hadn't realized that music was on the agenda. It sounded a bit
rough, to her ears, but then, she had heard them at their best, when
they'd practiced together almost every day and played out once or
twice a week. To the students, though, Scott and EJ, even at their
roughest, were a revelation. "I didn't know Mr. Summers could play
like that!" she heard someone shout as she slipped through the door.
"I didn't know he could *sing* like that!" someone else said.
"You weren't here when he used to serenade Dr. Grey, were you?" That
came from Bobby, who had been around long enough to remember. Then,
realizing that Dr. Grey was standing right behind him, he spun and
stammered out an apology.
"It's all right, Bobby. And yes, Scott can sing very well. You
should have heard him in college." She glanced at the stage to take
stock of who else was there. Grace's brother Victor, off to one side
with a violin in his hands, not playing at the moment, and St. John
on the drums, a double-bass trap set, in fact. She'd heard that
Bobby, Johnny and Kitty sometimes got together to play, but it had
never seemed to last long. Now, she had an inkling as to why.
Johnny was so far beyond the other two, he probably couldn't tolerate
them unless he got desperate enough to play anything with anyone.
Just now, though, he was in heaven, grinning from ear-to-ear, and she
wondered how much he was going to have to revise his opinion of
'Stick-up-his-ass Summers," if his teacher could play like Geddy Lee.
The fifth musician was the new boy, Kurt Wagner, with an amplified
acoustic guitar in his lap. It surprised Jean, but probably
shouldn't have. The professor had said that Kurt had eked out a
living for a while as a performer in Italy, before Frank had found
him. But at the present time, he, too, was sitting it out,
apparently unfamiliar with Rush songs.
In any case, Jean could see that the idea of Mr. Summers playing in a
college band just boggled most of the younger students, and that gave
her a wicked idea. Slipping out into the hall again, she headed back
to her own room, where she dropped off her lab coat and then rummaged
through the small stack of CDs that she had left after Scott had
moved out -� came up with the one she was looking for. He'd let her
keep it. This, she took back to the dining hall and, with a little
grin, handed it over to Jubilee. By giving it to Jubes, she was
quite certain *everyone* would see it in short order. "Don't forget
to give it back," she whispered and headed off to find a seat along
one wall with Ororo and Frank, where she could watch the general
Word spread slowly at first, and then faster; small clumps would
join, disperse, then join again in a different configuration -�
rather like accelerated molecules, actually. "What is going on?"
Ororo whispered in her ear. The band "on stage" (really, in a
cleared out corner of the hall) had noticed the commotion, too, and
had ended their song to whisper among themselves. "It's the liner
notes from Scott and EJ's old band CD," Jean whispered back to Ororo.
"It has a picture of Scott in a tank top and black leather pants -�
without his glasses. He had his eyes shut, but it's far enough away,
you can't tell."
"Black leather pants?*" And Ororo hopped up, to go see. Jean just
Scott had broken out of the band huddle and now spoke into the mic,
"You're up to something, Jean Grey." He was looking right at her and
it made her stomach do a flip-flop. She'd forgotten how magnetic he
was on stage.
But it was Grace who answered him, calling out, "Hey, white man!
Where are you hiding these *pants*!" And she held up the little
square of folded liner notes. Jean knew he couldn't see the picture,
but he could guess what it was, and he slapped a hand over his face.
He was turning as red as a beet.
Behind him at the keyboards, EJ just howled.
There was a bit of a ruckus for a few minutes, as students who hadn't
already seen the picture made their way over to check it out.
Meanwhile, Scott and EJ took a minute to confer with John, Victor and
Kurt. Victor shook his head, but Kurt said something affirmative and
stood up, slung the guitar strap over his shoulder and ran a pick
across the strings. The sound of it, amplified, settled down the
noise in the kitchen. He started a distinctive opening riff and the
rest dropped in a few bars after.
Jean recognized the tune instantly. Once, it had been Soapbox's
closing song, played so often (and in such various states of
inebriation) that Jean thought EJ and Scott could probably pull it
off deaf and blind, no matter how many years had passed in between.
Kurt managed a tolerable imitation of The Edge, but it was Scott who
made this song work -� always had been. He believed in it with every
fibre of his being, and sang it that way. He could bring down the
house with it, or the mansion as the case may be.
One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come he to justify
One man to overthrow . . . .
In the name of love
What more in the name of love?
In the name of love
What more in the name of love . . . ?
The choice was -� perhaps not surprisingly in this particular crowd
-� an instant hit.
One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed up on an empty beach
One man betrayed with a kiss . . . .
In the name of love
What more in the name of love . . . ?
The students were clapping and singing right along with him on the
chorus. Jubilee had climbed up on a table to dance. Stamp, stamp,
Early morning, April four
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride . . . .
Jean felt an arm slip around her shoulders, bringing a sharp smell of
European tobacco and light cologne, and then a hand offered her a
handkerchief. She hadn't even realized she was crying. "Thanks,
He ran a knuckle down her cheek. "You are welcome. And you're not
over him, are you, *bella*?"
"I'd thought so."
"It's not that easy. I know this, no? If a love may not be for the
best in the end, it is never easy to let a great love go."
She wiped her eyes. "Did you know this would happen to us, Frank?
You knew, all those years ago, that we'd wind up together. Did you
know, too, that we'd fall apart?"
"I see many things," he replied, enigmatically. He might have said
more, but the professor's voice spoke directly into her head,
interrupting further conversation. *X-Men, I have just received a
call from Rogue, in Winnebago, Nebraska. John and Warren have gone
missing. We have an emergency, it seems. Parties will have to
Continued DIRECTLY in the FINAL part, 12b/12 ....
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