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FIC: 'fugue' R, Scott, X2 (2/3)

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  • swik13
    Title: fugue (Part 2 of 3) (see headers in Part 1) The halls leading down to sub-level 2 are blessedly empty. Most students are sequestered in their PM
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 27 6:00 PM
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      Title: fugue (Part 2 of 3)

      (see headers in Part 1)


      The halls leading down to sub-level 2 are blessedly empty. Most
      students are sequestered in their PM classes. There is no sign of any
      other adults -- Logan, Wagner, or even his brother.

      At the indoor track, Scott heads for the AV console and punches up
      something at random. Audioslave. Which works. As loud as he can
      stand it.

      He begins.

      A hundred sit-ups, then two hundred. Followed quickly by a hundred
      push-ups.

      The music rages, a howl of righteous frustration that helps blank out
      the terrifying stillness. And when that isn't enough, he hits the
      track.

      After five miles, Scott quits thinking. It is easier just to run --
      as far and as fast as he can.

      Ten miles. Then twelve. The mile marker keeps track for him, mocking
      him with its electronic vigilance.

      Fifteen now and he can really feel it. The last half mile he runs at
      a dead sprint. Faster and then faster, as if trying to escape the
      wicked truth that has him down here in the first place--

      She still won't be there when he's done.

      But he can see her in his mind's eye. Not through the bleak dye of
      the quartz, but rather as she is. Beautiful in body and spirit; full
      of grace and light. He can sense her keen mind, laced with humility
      and a self-deprecating wit.

      Here, in this place, on the edge of killing fatigue, his systems
      shutting down, he can feel everything.

      Run, he thinks. Run.

      Now.

      And Scott does. Harder, swifter, until his head throbs and his
      muscles shriek with annihilation.

      His palms tingle. His fingers twitch with the need to hold onto her.
      He remembers her delicate mental "touch," steadying, so constant, in
      his head--

      <<stop>>

      No.

      This is not happening. He cannot hear that -- the sound of her. Her
      voice, her heart, her soul.

      He sobs, unable to draw breath. The grief hits like a stab wound to
      his chest. Sweat and tears sting in his eyes, lungs ready to
      explode--

      <<scott>>

      His toe catches on the pavement and he stumbles before going down.
      Hard. Running too fast to catch himself as his momentum drives him
      right to the floor.

      Pain lances in his knees, up his arms. Scott braces himself just in
      time to keep his face from slamming into the track. A familiar
      split-second panic hits as he feels the glasses slide.

      He clenches his eyes shut and jams them back into place, but not
      before the fire breathing demon inside him manages a snarl. The acrid
      stink of cracked rubber and ruined asphalt compound poisons the air.

      Fuck.

      Rising, Scott takes a moment to regain his bearings. Slowly,
      methodically, he brushes himself off before strolling into the
      bathroom where he calmly vomits up what little he has in his stomach.
      Water, bile, a few flecks of blood. He heads for the mirror and
      stares at himself dully.

      His shirt is soaked through; forearms are scraped raw. Hell, it feels
      like he's just gone a couple of rounds with a Sentinel. He reaches
      down and splashes water over his face. The icy slap is barely enough
      to jerk his wits back into place.

      He should have seen this coming. Out there on the track, he lost
      control. It doesn't matter that it was only for a matter of seconds.
      The outcome was still the same.

      Stupid.

      He knows better. That kind of distraction has consequences, not the
      least of which might be harming himself.

      Maybe it is time, he thinks. Time to go, leave the team. Leave the
      school. It is a temptation that has been whispering ever since they
      laid her memory to rest.

      Scott won't do that, though. Not yet. He has a responsibility to the
      Professor. And the students. They have lost so much already. John.
      Jean. He cannot compound that by handing them another. Not when so
      little is certain in their young lives.

      No, he will not leave. Instead, he will keep running -- literally and
      figuratively. Punishing himself as much as he has to; clinging
      desperately to the remnants of his discipline and training. He can't
      perceive any danger in that. Not really. The fall on the track was a
      wake-up call. Nothing more, nothing less.

      Drained, he backs away from the mirror. This isn't healthy and he
      knows it. Always lean, he can ill afford to lose the muscle mass this
      routine is surely costing. Jean would be furious with him.

      <<yes>>

      He rubs at his temple, telling himself it doesn't matter. It can't.

      Damn it, *she isn't here*.

      Bowing his head, Scott runs a hand through his hair. He turns away.

      Time, he thinks again. Time at last to take care of a few things he
      has been putting off for too long.

      After a shower, he ventures back downstairs.

      It is later in the evening and he passes a few students here and
      there. Most of them actually look happy to see him, though they
      quickly avert their eyes. As always, it saddens him to know that kids
      this young have already learned to dissemble so well.

      Seeing him reminds them of Jean, he thinks. For that reason, his
      presence seems to generate a kind of waited-for relief.

      Scott wonders how they would feel to know that the last thing he tried
      to do was kill her before she died.

      Guilt rises, twisting like a knife inside his gut.

      He thought he could do this. Now he isn't so sure. But his strategy
      depends on convincing those around him not to be alarmed.

      Scott will no longer allow himself to be a liability in this place.

      Ororo and Professor X are already in the dining room when he arrives.
      There is no sign of Alex and Lorna. If memory serves, Hank cleared
      out a few days after the service. Logan, as always, boycotts any
      routine that even remotely smacks of civilization.

      To their credit, neither Storm nor the Professor show surprise at his
      sudden return. And they don't bother him with anything but a mundane
      query as to how he is feeling. Scott doesn't know if that makes it
      better or worse.

      Getting through that meal is one of the most difficult things he has
      ever done. Still, he manages to keep it down with a mixture of
      stubbornness and will.

      When the Professor mentions that Logan has been filling in on some of
      his classes, he cannot help a burst of resentment. With a twist of
      his lips, he informs Charles he is ready to get back to work.

      Too late, Scott regrets it, but he won't reverse himself now. That
      would mean having to explain. Instead, he sits back and listens to
      the Professor expound on his latest plan -- assembling a beta team
      from some of the older students.

      Storm jumps on the idea, offering a variety of suggestions.
      Ordinarily, that would be Scott's bailiwick, but times have apparently
      changed.

      The Professor makes no mention of the primary squad. Scott knows damn
      well why. The chair next to him has practically been screaming with
      its emptiness from the moment he entered the room.

      Scott gets the clear sense from Xavier that discussing a replacement
      for Jean is inappropriate at this time. Like he can't handle it.

      For some reason, that pisses him off. In the blink of an eye, Scott
      assimilates all he knows of their current status and decides on the
      most favorable course of action.

      He tells Storm it is time to sketch out a new Danger Room regimen.
      One with Wagner and Logan thrown into the mix. They have no idea what
      the opposition will be putting up next. Better to be prepared.

      Her eyes widen at the way he coolly asserts his authority. He holds
      her gaze for a beat longer than necessary. Scott doesn't like to make
      her uncomfortable, but he figures he owes her one for drawing the
      drapes up in his room earlier.

      Dropping her eyes, Storm nods her assent.

      Scott glances at Xavier to see his teacher regarding him steadily. He
      waits for the familiar "push" of Charles's mental probe. It never
      comes.

      It doesn't have to.

      This whole scene today, everything, smacks of the Professor's subtle
      hand. Consciously or not, Scott knows he has let himself be
      manipulated. That's okay. It won't be the last time.

      He wonders what Charles would think of how little he cares.

      Silence descends over their small group. Nobody seems to have much to
      say any more.

      It looks as though dinner is finally over.

      Scott excuses himself, meeting both of their eyes one last time. He
      leaves then. He has to. Before he sees the sadness and concern that
      they can no longer hide.

      On his way back, Scott hears the familiar strains of 'American
      Chopper' from the television in the common room. He pauses. Some of
      the boys have probably turned it on in the hope that he'll come in to
      trade insults or pay tribute with them to Junior's latest
      masterpiece.

      Old habits, comfortable routines. In the past, it's exactly what he
      would do.

      Not now though. He can't. Because those were also the times when
      Jean used to curl up next to him on the couch with the New York Times
      crossword or the latest Cornwell novel.

      Scott feels a tremor race along his nerves. He stands there alone in
      the great hall. The sounds of the school echo all around him. He
      bows his head; shoulders slumping. At last, the mask slips. Grief
      tears frantically inside.

      Then, a sudden movement near the main staircase catches his eye. He
      straightens abruptly.

      Logan emerges from the shadows, taking a drag on his cigar. His eyes
      reflect the darkness.

      "Still running, Summers?"

      Scott stares at him blank-faced. He has played enough poker to keep
      from giving up anything he doesn't want to.

      But Logan sees too much. He always has.

      Tension crackles in the air. Like glass on the verge of breaking.
      They stand there, opposite each other. Neither moves a muscle.

      "You're killing yourself," Logan finally says. "That won't bring her
      back."

      A casual observation. Simple. Brutal.

      And Scott literally sees red. Just like that, he can feel the deadly
      forces churn inside his head; hear the telltale ringing in his ears.
      His jaw aches with the struggle for control.

      He moves with raptor-like speed and precision -- a legacy of the
      Danger Room. Incredibly, he manages to catch Logan off-guard for
      probably the first and last time of his life. Grabbing the other man
      with all his strength, he slams their bodies together, trapping him
      against the railing.

      "You think so, Logan?" he hisses through his teeth. "Let me tell you
      something. You don't know anything about this."

      They are far enough now from the common room that nobody notices. For
      Scott, it wouldn't matter if they did.

      "*I can still hear her*," he rasps, deadly soft. "Do you know what
      that feels like?"

      His fingers tense around the other man's throat.

      "*Do* you?"

      He can sense Logan's response, a low growl curling just beneath the
      surface of his skin.

      A warning. But he has yet to unsheathe his claws.

      Normally, he wouldn't hesitate. Perhaps he can scent how close to the
      edge Scott really is. Or maybe he just doesn't want to break his
      cigar.

      Scott snorts, but there is no humor in it. Only despair.

      "You want to know what it's like, Logan? You think you've got a lock
      on obsession?" He taps his brow. "Come inside. I fucking dare you."

      Logan thrusts out his jaw, looking him dead in the eye.

      "Forget it, Sundance," he snaps, adding: "I been there already."

      And so he has. On the Blackbird. Damn him.

      Scott lets go abruptly and shoves away. His lips tremble. He is
      ashamed of his own weakness. Sickened that he can no longer hide it.
      Especially from this particular man.

      With a long breath, Scott swipes a hand over his mouth before taking
      another step back.

      "Looks like maybe I wasted my time," Logan finishes, crossing his
      arms.

      In fact, he has, but Scott doesn't have the strength to debate.
      Bracing himself with what pride he has left, he turns away from the
      pity in the other man's expression.

      "Logan," he says evenly, all business now. "Your concern is noted.
      But if you think you're in a position to give me advice on this, you
      can go fuck yourself."

      With that, he heads up the stairs, knowing Logan will let it go for
      any number of reasons. For starters, the utter weariness with which
      the words were delivered. Not to mention the fact that he actually
      cursed at least twice in a single conversation.

      Either way, he doesn't give a shit.

      For Scott is tired now. Too tired to argue, too tired to explain.
      Too tired to deal with any of this any more.

      Instead, he feels the call -- a boundless sense of relief.

      Time now, he thinks.

      Time at last, to sleep.


      (cont'd)
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